Accredited #likeJesus

Today I began reading through Eyewitness:  The Life of Christ Told in One Story.  This harmony of the Gospels was compiled by Frank Ball.  One of the uniquenesses of his work is that when the Gospel writers reference an Old Testament scripture, giving us only a portion of the text, Eyewitness gives the full text to offer a more comprehensive view of the writer’s intent.  Ball’s contention is that because the original readers were much more familiar with the Old Testament scriptures, there was less need to put the entire text into the gospel.  A mere reference to the text would bring to the minds of the original readers the full text they were drawing from.  In writing this way, they also saved on scroll space, since it was at a premium.

Eyewitness begins with a pre-gospel introduction that weaves together passages from Genesis 1:1-3, Isaiah 9:2 and Malachi 3:1 together with Mark 1:1, Luke 1:1-4, John 1:1-18, 2 Peter 1:16, 1 John 1:1 and Revelation 1:3-8.  One Perfect Life by John MacArthur does something similar, but in much more extensive fashion by including sections covering Creation, Fall and Prophesies of the Coming Messiah.  The simplicity of the introduction to Eyewitness is refreshing!

“The prophet Isaiah wrote:  People who walk in darkness will see a bright light.  Upon those who live under dark shadows of death, the Light will shine.”

“Here begins the wonderful news of Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb who has been slain since the founding of the world.  God sent John the Baptizer to spread the news about the Light so people might believe….”

“Moses gave us the Law, but Jesus Christ gave us grace and truth.  By being born again, not physically out of human desire but spiritually by the will of God, all believers can benefit from His rich grace by which He has blessed us repeatedly.”

“The eyewitnesses have seen the majestic splendor of Jesus Christ, the Word of Life, with their own eyes, touched Him with their own hands, and heard Him with their own ears.  He is the Father’s only Son, who existed from the beginning.”

“Many people have written about what God has done in fulfillment of His promises.  These are not clever, fictional stories from our imagination.  People have carefully investigated all these accounts so you may be certain that this record is accurate.”

These highlighted sections from the introduction to Eyewitness are simple yet powerful in how they convey the confidence we as Christ-followers can and should have in the story of Jesus.

No person, no story has been more investigated, critiqued and maligned than the Story of Jesus.  I have to ask, “Why is that?”

Well, I think it’s obvious.

There has never been anyone like Jesus.

There has never been anyone born of a virgin like Jesus.

There has never been anyone that made the claims that Jesus made and then backed them up.

There has never been anyone that claimed they would rise from the dead and then walked out of the grave alive.

There has never been anyone that inspired the hope that Jesus inspires- forgiveness, healing and restoration.

There has never been anyone that divided people and nations like Jesus’ divides- He alone is The Way, Truth and Life.

There has never been anyone like Jesus.

And I too am an eyewitness to His power, glory and grace, for He has rescued me from my sin and given me the hope of eternal life.

Every day I am an eyewitness to His grace, goodness and greatness.  In what ways are YOU an eyewitness?


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

Visible #likeJesus

What appearances of the risen Christ are recorded, and why are they significant?

The Gospel of Mark tells us that “He appeared first to Mary Magdalene.”  The Gospel of John tells us that after finding the empty tomb, Mary ran to get Peter and John.  Returning with them, Mary stayed after they left, and there she encountered two angels and then had an intimate exchange with Jesus.

The Gospel of Matthew records that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  After an angel told them He was risen, the women left to tell the Disciples.  “Suddenly, Jesus met them.”

The Gospel of Mark tells us that after meeting Mary, “Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.”  The Gospel of Luke gives the full account of this encounter on the road to Emmaus.

(Because Mark says Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, and then to the two men on the road, does that mean that Matthew’s recording of Jesus appearing to the women is the same as Mary Magdalene’s encounter?)

The Gospel of John records that Jesus then appeared to His Disciples that night (Resurrection Sunday), but Thomas was not with them.

The Gospel of John then records that a week later, Jesus appeared to them again, but this time Thomas was there.

(Is it with or without Thomas where Luke records Jesus appeared to the Disciples, telling them He was hungry, and eating a broiled fish?)

The Gospel of John records that the third time the Disciples encountered the resurrected Christ was up in Galilee.  They were fishing.  Jesus helped them have a miraculous catch, 153 fish, and called them to shore to eat with Him.  There Jesus reinstated Peter, asking him three times, “Do you love me?”

From the Sea of Galilee to the Mountain in Galilee where Jesus told them He would meet them, we then have Matthew’s record of the Great Commission.   This was likely where the 500 witnesses Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians appeared, since this was an appearance Jesus told the Disciples about in advance.

Then the final recorded appearance comes from the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts.  Jesus and the Disciples were back in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where He commissioned them again as His witnesses and then ascended back to the Father in Heaven.

So here are the Risen Christ encounters recorded in the Gospels:

1a  Mary Magdalene

1b  Mary and Others

2  Two Men on the Road to Emmaus

3  The Disciples without Thomas

4  The Disciples with Thomas

5  Disciples Fishing, Peter’s Reinstatement

6  The Great Commission

7  The Ascension

A couple of thoughts…

Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene.  She had been forgiven much, freed from seven demons.  An interesting choice for the first person to appear to.  What an honor!  Could Mary Magdalene also be the sister of Martha and Lazarus, Mary from Bethany, who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume and wiped His feet with her hair?  He did say that what she had done would be remembered.

Also, I’m puzzled by why Jesus appeared to the Two BEFORE He appeared to the Twelve.  First the women.  Then the Two.  They all told the Disciples, who struggled to believe.  Was Jesus giving them the opportunity to exercise faith, to take Him at His word?  He said He would rise.  Would they believe it before seeing Him?

(1 Corinthians 15:5 tells us that Jesus appeared first to Peter, and then to the Twelve, but none of the Gospel writers tell us when this appearance took place.)

I’m encouraged that Jesus came back just for Thomas.  The others believed.  Thomas doubted.  Jesus cared deeply for His doubting friend.

Before Jesus commissioned the Disciples in front of 500 witnesses, He first had an intimate encounter with Peter to reinstate Him.  Peter needed to know Jesus had confidence in him.  Peter was not only the leader among the Twelve.  He would be the leader of these 500.  And more than that, Peter would be the vocal leader of the early church.

How many times does Jesus repeat the Great Commission?  Mark 16 might be the same account as Matthew 28, but before Matthew 28 it appears Jesus tells them “I am going to send you” while He’s with them eating in a home near Jerusalem.  And then of course Jesus tells them in Acts 1:8 , “You will be my witnesses.”  So Jesus told them at least three times to make disciples, preach the gospel, be witnesses, preach repentance and forgiveness of sins.

We need to be continually reminded to live “sent” lives.  We get comfortable with staying.


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

Well Spoken#likeJesus

Fifty words.  That is all Jesus said from the cross.  Fifty words.

The agony of the cross coupled with the suffocating weight of His body crushing against His lungs made every word extremely difficult.  Every word spoken was carefully chosen.  Nothing He didn’t need to say would be said, yet nothing needed to be said would be left unspoken.

Fifty words.  Seven statements.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

“Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.”

“Woman, behold your son.”  “Behold your mother.”

“Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani.”  (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”)

“I am thirsty.”

“It is finished.”

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

Fifty words.  Seven statements.

Jesus speaks…








Through Jesus, we can be forgiven of our sin.  All of it.

Through Jesus, we can confidently claim the hope of heaven.

Through Jesus, we become a part of God’s family and care for one another.

Through Jesus, we can call God our Father.  No longer are we orphaned, never forsaken.  He pulls us close as dearly loved children.

Through Jesus, our deepest longings are satisfied.  We come thirsty.  We leave satisfied.

Through Jesus, we have victory over sin and death.  The battle is won.

Through Jesus, we can trust the Father with everything.  We can put it all in His hands, even our very lives, knowing that He is good.  Our Father can be trusted.

Fifty words.  Each one spoken purposefully.  Each one packed with meaning.  Each one worth remembering.  Each one for me.


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

Clear the Path #likeJesus

The Life and Ministry of Jesus is placed in a very specific historical context.  Luke, with the meticulous eye of a physician and careful recording of a historian, writes:

“The word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.  This was during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor, when Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea.  Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee, and his brother Philip ruled over Iturea and Traconitis.  Lysanias ruled over Abilene.”

Annas, Caiaphas, Tiberius, Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias.  That’s seven distinct historical figures, political and religious leaders, that Luke mentions are in power when John the Baptist begins his ministry and shortly after, Jesus begins His as well.  We’re told that Jesus is around thirty at this time.

If this were a scene from Law and Order, Cold Case, CSI or NCIS, the defense would be presenting a very strong case for the reliability of the Story of Jesus.  Eyewitness testimony.  Meticulous detail.  Historical record.

Our confidence should be strengthened that the story we have been given, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is reliable and true.  Our faith has a firm footing, an unshakeable foundation.

Concerning John the Baptist, Isaiah wrote:

“Listen!  Someone is shouting.  “Clear a path in the wilderness, for the Lord your God is coming.  Fill the valleys and flatten the mountains.  Straighten the curves and smooth the rough places.  The glory of the Lord will appear for all to see.  God has spoken.  It will surely come to pass.”

And Malachi wrote:

“See, I will send My messenger to prepare the way before Me.  Then the Lord you seek will come to His temple.  The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight is surely coming, says the Lord of Hosts.”

I love the picture Isaiah paints of the role of John the Baptist.  “Clear a path, fill the valleys, flatten the mountains, straighten the curves, smooth the rough places.”  Do all that you can to remove any obstacles that stand in the way of people seeing Jesus for who He is and being able to place their faith in Him.  I’ve always known that John was sent to “prepare the way,” but reading Isaiah’s words in the full context gives me a much stronger picture of what preparing the way actually looks like.  John was sent to clear the path, removing any obstacles he could.

Luke’s writing as a first-rate historian helps to remove obstacles.  By giving “an orderly account” Luke strengthens the argument that the Gospel is historical fact.

Many Christians, by the way they live or the words they speak, create obstacles for the Gospel rather than removing them.  Am I creating obstacles or removing them?

In what ways is God asking me to “clear a path, fill the valleys, flatten the mountains, straighten the curves and smooth the rough places” to prepare the way for the Gospel in people’s lives?  Through my life, my testimony and my words, how can I prepare the way for the Gospel?

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

Praying Intentionally #likeJesus

Before going to the cross- even before the garden in Gethsemane- what did Jesus pray for?

He prayed for His disciples.  He prayed for us.

Jesus was sent by the Father.  He was sent with authority to give eternal life.

Jesus asked the Father to “keep them in Your name.”  He was asking that their faith would be preserved.  Jesus guarded them and “kept” them while He was with them.  He loved the Twelve (well, now Eleven).  He knew the Enemy wanted to destroy them, so He asked the Father to now continue to protect them.

Jesus asked the Father “that they might be one as We are.”  He wanted them to experience unity, to be family.  Jesus knew that one of the Enemy’s tactics is to drive a wedge between us because it is easier to attack us when we’re isolated and alone.  Disunity makes us vulnerable.  Unity makes us strong!

Jesus asked the Father “that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.”  He’s not just asking for them to have joy.  Jesus was asking for them to have the same joy He had.  So where did His joy come from?  It came from the intimacy He experienced with the Father.  It came from His obedience and knowing He had “finished the work the Father gave Him to do.”  And I think Jesus’ joy also came from His disciples.  He had poured His life into them and that gave Him great joy.  He knew as they discipled others they too would experience great joy.

Jesus asked the Father to “keep them from the evil one.”  In this context, Jesus says, “I have given them Your word.”  Then He said, “Sanctify them in the truth.  Your word is truth.”  The Word of God is powerful.  Jesus knew that the truth of His word is transformational.  To “sanctify” is to set apart, to keep pure.  Jesus was praying for the transformational power of His word to keep His disciples pure and thus protect them from the Enemy.

Jesus asked the Father to sanctify and prepare them as He “sent them into the world.”   Jesus had a mission for His disciples, just as the Father had a mission for the Son.  To “sanctify,” as in to set apart, means that Jesus had a special purpose for His men.  Others might look at them and call them “ordinary, unschooled men,” but Jesus saw them as much more than ordinary.  He saw them as special, set apart, having a purpose.

Jesus then turned His attention toward us.  He asked the Father that we would be one.  He knew that our unity would have a profound impact.

“That the world might believe that You sent Me.”

Jesus continues.

Our unity is a display of God’s glory.

Our unity is perfected as we remain in Him.

Our unity is evidence of the Father’s love for us.

Jesus then asked the Father that we would “be with” Him.  His disciples were with Him.  This brought Jesus great joy.  Being with us will also bring Him great joy.  “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.”

To “be with” is to experience God’s glory.

To “be with” is to experience God’s love.

To “be with” is to experience confidence in knowing God by name.

To “be with” is to experience God’s indwelling presence.

Jesus prayed all this and more for His disciples.  Jesus prayed all this for me.  Jesus prayed with intentionality.  Jesus prayed missionally.  Jesus prayed relationally.

I should pray like this for myself.  I should pray like this for those the Father has given me… my wife, my children, my family, my own disciples.


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

Others-Centered #likeJesus

Sometimes I wonder how the Twelve could be so thick-headed.

Once again they were arguing about who was the greatest among them.  They were jockeying for position, chests puffed out, claiming their right to be Jesus’ number two in command.

But how could they be having this conversation in the Upper Room?  Was it instigated by the lingering conversation about who would betray Jesus?  Can you imagine the conversation?  “I would never betray Him!  I love Him more than any of you.  I’m closer to Him than any of you.  He likes me better than any of you!”

But how?  How could they be having this conversation at that time?

Jesus has just taken a towel and water basin and washed their feet, instructing them to do the same for one another.

“You also ought to wash one another’s feet, for I gave you an example, that just as I did for you, you also should do.  Truly, truly I say to you, a slave is not greater than his Lord, nor an apostle greater than He who sent him.  If you have known these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

Pretty clear!

And then they share the Passover meal.  John records Jesus saying, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  Can you hear the tenderness and affection He had for them.  Jesus was being vulnerable.  Sharing the bread and the cup with them, telling them His body would be broken for them and His blood shed for them, I can almost imagine the look in His eyes as Jesus spoke from the heart.  Were there tears?   Did His voice quiver with emotion?

How could they have this moment with Jesus and then immediately begin to argue about their greatness?  If I’m Jesus, I would be incredulous!  I would be thinking, “Really guys?  Way to ruin a moment!  Great timing.”

Jesus reminded them yet again that their greatness would be demonstrated through serving, and their lives would be a testimony of His glory and greatness only when they were marked by love.

“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.  Just as I loved you, that you also love one another.  In this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The disciples needed to be reminded of this again and again.  Before I come down too hard on them, I have to ask, “Do I also need to be reminded of this again and again?”  The truth is, putting others before myself doesn’t come naturally.  It isn’t easy.  I can be just as prideful as the Twelve.  I can think I know better than others, that I’m right, and that I’ve got it all figured out.

What a great reminder the disciples’ thick-headedness is for me.  It’s like looking in a mirror.  Pride or Love.  Which do I see?


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

In the Light #likeJesus

John 3 has some of the most memorable verses in all the Gospels.

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  John 3:3

“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.”  John 3:16

Because the camera lens of our mind is usually zoomed in and focused on these verses, we often fail to see John 3:19-21.  At least I’ve failed to really give it much consideration.

Reading this passage today in Eyewitness, my camera lens diverted from where it normally gravitates to and zoomed in on these verses.

“This is why God condemns people.  Light has come into the world, but people love the darkness, not the light, because their deeds are evil.  People who do evil hate the light and will not come near it for fear that the light will expose their sins.  But those who love truth and desire to do right will come to the light so others can see they are doing what God wants.”

When John writes that Light has come into the world, he is speaking of Jesus, the Light of the World.

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it….  The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  John 1:4,5,9

The primary reason people hate Jesus, the Light, is because He exposes the ugliness of their sin.  When it comes to sin, we want to cover up, rationalize, justify.  Our consciences won’t afford us that luxury though.  The Spirit of God convicts us of our guilt before a holy God.  Deep in our hearts, we know something is amiss.  We still have a choice.  We can run from the Light deeper into the darkness to hide in the caverns of our own deception, or we can run to the Light and discover the freedom of forgiveness.

John writes, “those who love truth and desire to do right.”  Does that describe me?  That’s not a condition of salvation as much as it is a description of the one saved.  To love Jesus is to love the Light.  To love the Light is to love truth and desire to do right.

Do I desire to “walk in the light,” as John writes in 1 John 1:7?  To walk in the light is not just a matter of righteous living, of “walking as Jesus walked.”  No, to walk in the light is not just walking AS Jesus but actually walking WITH Jesus.  Walking in the light means drawing close to the Savior’s side, being in close relationship with Him, being a friend and intimate of Jesus.

I want to walk as Jesus.  Oh, but more than that, I want to walk with Him!

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