Archive for April, 2014

Why Do You Follow Jesus

April 30, 2014

John 6

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

The time setting of this passage is unclear, but we know that it follows Jesus’ time in Bethesda where He had healed the invalid. I am sure this is where the great crowd of people came from. The “people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick.” From this statement, we know their motive in following Jesus, but Why Do You Follow Jesus if you do at all?

Let’s face it. We all follow someone for different reasons. The heart of one’s motive in following Jesus is intensified because of who He is, the Son of God and God incarnate. I am convinced that people follow Jesus for a variety of reasons. What does follow mean? According to dictionary.com, the following definitions were given:

1.  to come after in sequence, order of time, etc.
2. to go or come after; move behind in the same direction
3. to accept as a guide or leader; accept the authority of or give allegiance to
4. to conform to, comply with, or act in accordance with; obey: to follow orders; to follow advice.
5. to imitate or copy; use as an exemplar

The people in this passage followed Jesus because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. All those who follow Jesus follow because of what Jesus gives, but that is the only similarity. Some follow Jesus just to get something from Him that they perceive is only for their good. When the difficult times arise, they abandon Jesus because they were only following for what is convenient, for that which just meets an immediate need.

In the definitions above, the people in this chapter followed (2) Jesus meaning that they moved in the same direction to get to where He was going. Those type only follow Jesus’ position in proximity and for convenience but not for an inward change. On the other hand, true followers pursue Jesus to become like him (3, 4, 5). True believers are accept Jesus as guide, leader and the authoritative figure for their lives. It means that they are willing to conform or comply with the principles taught in His Word in efforts to imitate His behavior. For them, Jesus is the exemplar.

Why Do You Follow Jesus if you do at all? Truly, only God and you knows. Our motives will be revealed when Jesus returns. Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Those who have done what is good (follow Jesus as leader and exemplar) will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

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“Lord, to whom shall we go?”

April 29, 2014

Today, I am going about this post a little differently. I am starting at the end of John 6. Why? I read the entire chapter and reflected over what was the primary point. The word bread continued to surface over and over in the text. I thought that I would be writing about bread as this is the chapter where Jesus took five loaves and two fish to feed the people. I realized that act was only to show who He was. As I got to the end of the chapter, a challenge in following Jesus arose among the people, some disciples and the twelve.

As I asked in Whose Report Will You Believe?,there will be many experiences where people or circumstances that challenge what you believe about God. John 6 is no different. Like us all, the people were challenged by a teaching Jesus presented. Those points of contention are what drives us to God or drives us away from God. This was the point of the post The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed. Jesus is a divisive figure. One will either be drawn to Him or not.

Consequently, this is why I started at the end of John 6. Some disciples turned back and no longer followed Jesus after He presented a difficult teaching. They said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” They left Jesus. We all will come to moments in life where a difficult teaching/lesson will face us. At that moment, we have to make a decision to continue following Jesus or not. Will we too leave Jesus? I noticed that in the text Jesus does not engage those who turned backed. Jesus engages the twelve asking “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

Peter’s answer is what captured my attention because we share the sentiment. Again, Jesus ask the twelve “You do not want to leave too, do you?” I am not sure what is going on in your life now, but I know that we all will face moments where Jesus asks us “You do not want to leave too, do you?” How we respond will determine how we face life and how we face death. How we respond reveals what we believe about Jesus. Peter responded by saying “Lord, to whom shall we go?” You have the words of eternal life.” Peter assessed the situation. He juxtaposes what another offers in contrast with Jesus. Peter realized and believed that Jesus had the words of eternal life. Peter realized that Jesus was his best shot at the best life. 

You are either facing a moment of challenge or will face a moment of challenge. Jesus is asking “You do not want to leave too, do you?” He is also watching to see how we will respond. I want to respond like Peter who recognized that he does not have any better choice than Jesus. Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

Who do you go to when things get tough? Do you walk away from Jesus or do you walk close to Jesus? Again, I realize like Paul who said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

Read the Word of God.

John 6

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

Why You Will Not Believe God’s Report

April 28, 2014

In the post Whose Report Will You Believe?, I shared that people will always have various reports about you. I also shared that God has a report about man. The question of that post was Whose Report Will You Believe.

What we believe determines what we think, say and do. Since that is the case, it is vitally important to have the right thoughts about everything. One will have off-center actions because he has off-center beliefs. As Creator and Sovereign, God has the proper, righteous and correct report about the man or woman who believes in Him. With believers, it is imperative that they seek God’s wisdom/perspective in their daily dealings whether in the valleys or mountains of life.

Also in John 5, Jesus also tells us Why You Will Not Believe God’s Report. Let’s face it believer or not, there are times when we struggle to demonstrate our faith. Jesus addresses this reality in the text for today.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

In addressing the Jewish leaders or non-believers, Jesus tells them that their motive is the primary reason Why You Will Not Believe God’s Report. Jesus says that they are seeking glory or praise from man. Their goal is to impress man rather than God. As Brother Darryl Wattley preached yesterday, “The fear of the Lord is His treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6b) God is impressed by our faith or trust in Him. Imagine that God treasures our faith/trust in Him. When we have no faith or trust in Him, it displeases God. It assaults His character as sovereign, true, faithful, righteous God. Whether believer or unbeliever, we disappoint God when we fail to recognize and accept His Report about Himself.

Why You Will Not Believe God’s Report is attributed to seeking glory or approval from man rather than God. Jesus expressed an interesting point about those who fail to trust Him or the Father. “43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” Jesus says you will believe some person who comes in his own name. The implication is that he is just a man just as you are, but since you want glory or acceptance from man, you believe him rather than God. They are not seeking to have God’s glory demonstrated in their lives. They are not interested in God showing who He is through their circumstances. With that, Jesus asks a rhetorical question: How can you believe since you accept glory from one another.

How about us? Are we more interested in gaining glory from man than God? No need to answer. Just look at our response in a crisis. If you are believer and have not trusted God as you should, repent and seek the Lord and His favor, strength and help. One thing we know about God is that He wants His glory to be made know to all man, so that they may believe.  Give God the chance to work that out in your life. I will believe the report of The Lord.

 

Whose Report Will You Believe?

April 27, 2014

Everyday, there is someone one who makes claims. That person’s claims are either true or not. I see it in my own life. Some value what I represent others don’t. I see it on a daily basis where one student will say something about another. The student who is the object of an unsavory report often responds to that negativity. None of us should ever allow a person’s report about us define or color us; however, that is question of our earthly and eternal lives. On many occasions, we have sung a song at church title Whose Report Shall You Believe to remind us about our spiritual life which defines our earthly life.

Jesus speaks to this point in John 5. First, Jesus, being God incarnate, makes his own claim about himself.  In John 5:24, Jesus says, “24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Let’s face it, some believe Jesus’ testimony about who He is and others do not. In the following text, Jesus asks Whose Report Will You Believe?  

30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Jesus models how we should respond to what is said about us. “There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.” For those who have trust Christ as Savior and Lord, God has a testimony about you. As the aforementioned song, His report says I am healed; His report says I am filled; His report says I am free; His report says victory. In order for us to know God’s report about us, we need to what God has said about us in His Word, The Word of God. When we do, the question of Whose Report Will You Believe is answered.

In the text above, Jesus, for the sake of the people, referred to the report of a man, John the Baptist. He did that to condemn those who have a penchant for believing in man but for their convenience of avoiding the truth. When Jesus says, “Not that I accept human testimony” He makes the answer clear to the question of Whose Report Will You Believe.

Not only does He answer that question, Jesus extends our understanding of what we should believe. He says, “36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Whose Report Will You Believe will determine whether you experience eternal life. Remember eternal life is not going to heaven. “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 How you believe will drive your peace of mind, comfort, joy and eternal estate. It is vitally important for you to ensure you answer correctly to Whose Report Will You Believe.

In the face of assessments about me, I believe God’s testimony about me. What about you? Who do you believe?

 

Resurrection Day

April 25, 2014

In the post Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned, I wrote your belief about Jesus determines whether you will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. Believe Jesus; receive life. Do not believe Jesus, receive condemnation. The choice is yours.

While we have choice, it will be Jesus’ decision on Resurrection Day. Again, we recently celebrated Easter which commemorates Jesus’ rising from the dead. As He rose, all who trust in Him as Savior and Lord too will rise for life. Again, we go to John 5 for instruction and direction about Resurrection Day.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Jesus provides us insight into His Second Coming, Resurrection Day. Did you notice that He said all who are in their graves. This means that every person who has died will hear the voice of Jesus in His Second Coming and respond. They will come out of their graves. At the Second Coming, they will respond to Jesus though not all respond to Jesus now. This is why He is telling them that you can either respond to me now and be blessed, but all will respond at His Second Coming. Jesus states that He will judge their response during their lives. He says, “those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned

Resurrection Day has everything to do with judgement. Jesus forewarns us about what will have face on that day. The Father has given us time to respond to Jesus, so what will you do with Jesus? On Resurrection Day, you will not have a choice, the question at hand will be what will Jesus do with you? That answer too has been provided. Again, Jesus says, “those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned

Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned

April 24, 2014

In the post Crossed Over from Death to Life, it was submitted that some of us wish we had the power to preserve life or bring back life as we reflected on Jesus’ resurrection. In actuality, we all will be resurrected. We will be resurrected to Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned.

Yes, it is true that all who died will be raised to life. Listen to the Words of my Lord, The Lord Jesus Christ in John 5. Again, we will either Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. Jesus says..

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

There you have it. Jesus, The Lord, says that all those who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. If that is not a resurrection, resurrection does not exist. Those who have been buried will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. What is the condition that causes one to rise to live or to be condemned? The text tells us “those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” What is meant by done what is good or done what is evil? It all has to do with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us “21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.” Paul only reiterates what Jesus says in John 5.

In verse 24, Jesus says, “24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” The condition or factor that determines whether one will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned is their hearing Jesus’ Word and believing him who sent Jesus, God Almighty. We can gain further insight into life or condemnation by looking at what Jesus said about eternal life in John 17. Jesus defines eternal life in verse three – “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The question is do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son who was born, buried and raised from the dead to offer us life? Your belief about Jesus determines whether you will Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned. Believe Jesus; receive life. Do not believe Jesus, receive condemnation. The choice is yours – Rise to Live or Rise to be Condemned.

Crossed Over from Death to Life

April 23, 2014

I am sure the thought is intriguing to us all especially after recently celebrating The Resurrection. Moreover, I am sure that some of us wish we had that power to preserve life or bring back life. There have been many people who have died that I wished could live. Several years ago, I sat in the hospital room with my aunt. I had been praying for her. When I got to the room, I was so convinced the God would spare her life. I prayed like I had never had with her. When I left, I was confident that God would raise her up.  In less than a week, she died. I couldn’t imagine how her husband and kids felt, but I know that I was despondent. I was shocked because I truly believed that God would raise her up.

I share this story because it illustrates my powerlessness to cross someone over from death to life. As I reflect on the frailty of life, I think about my parents, siblings, children, friends and people in general. There will come a time when someone will wish he/she could bring us back to life. It will all be to no avail just as I discovered with my aunt. I desperately wanted life for her and her family, but no matter how much I wanted it, I did not have the power or authority to grant it or produce it.

There is only one who can – God Almighty. After celebrating Easter this past Sunday, we know that Jesus too is omnipotent. Omnipotence means God is all-powerful and thus has unlimited authority and influence. He has the ability to do whatever His will dictates. We serve a triune God. The Father has given The Son the authority and power to raise the dead to life. This is not only applicable after physical death, but it also applies to the spiritual death we are all born into as children of sinners. Romans 6:23 testifies to that truth. It says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What did Jesus say about that matter? For that, we will look at John 5 where Jesus uses His healing of an invalid as a transition to address crossing over from death to life.

21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it…  24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live…28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”

In verse 21, we see that Jesus has the power or omnipotence to give life to whom He pleases. In verse 24, we see the spiritual of crossing over from death to life while in verses 28-29 the physical crossing over from death to life is discussed. Jesus is the key for both crossings. Do you know how to cross over from death to life? If you didn’t know before now, you know now. Should you not hear the voice of the Lord, you will not cross over from death to life whether here or in the after-life. Jesus is omnipotent. He is God Almighty. Choose Him and choose life.

“Stop Doubting and Believe”

April 20, 2014

In the post The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed, the issue of people believing Jesus was the Christ or Messiah was addressed. Jesus Himself quoted prophecy (Psalm 118:21-23) about Himself in efforts to help people believe. Peter too used that scripture to show how what people believed about Jesus would determine their eternal estate. 1 Peter 2:7 “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

This same phenomena occurred after The Resurrection as Jesus interacted with Thomas. Jesus calls for all to “Stop Doubting and Believe”. Read with me John 20

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Thomas did not believe because he did not see. The truth is that attribute of Thomas is in us all. It is true that some people’s faith is stronger/bigger than others, but God gave those that faith. We are all in the same boat in terms of needing evidence before we will commit to believe in Jesus.

Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus as a sign that He truly came from God and was God who can deliver on the promises He made about everlasting life. Before Jesus died, He, as always, perfectly prepared His disciples. If you recall, Jesus defined eternal life for them in John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Eternal life is not solely about going to heaven. It is preeminently about knowing God and Jesus Christ whom God sent.

This is the essence of Easter. It certainly has nothing to do with bunny rabbits, eggs or new clothes. For the true believer, Easter has everything to do with a new life in Christ. We celebrate that new resurrected life everyday as we demonstrate faith in Christ who suffered a beating and crucifixion for that new life. The beating and crucifixion represent the punishment we deserve for our sin. The spilling of His blood symbolizes the cleansing we receive of our sins from Christ.

Today, Christ offers a new life for him who believes. For him who believes, Jesus offered this prayer to God. John 17 – “15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

In John 14:11, Jesus said, “11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” Easter, the recognition of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and ascension to the Father is the evidence that we must believe. “Stop Doubting and Believe

The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed

April 18, 2014

As Easter fasts approaches, the normal traditions of people preparing are in still in place for some. As I spoke to a student yesterday about an incentive I was going to give her, she replied to me that she would not be at school tomorrow. The adult with whom I was speaking told her to tell me why she would not be at school tomorrow. She told me she was going to get her hair and nails done before she went to buy her dress for Easter. Well, considering the young lady, I am elated that she is engaged in going to church; however, I am not sure if Christ is the focus of her life – not even close.

Long before God called me to surrender my life to Him, I remember being a part of the Easter tradition of getting dressed and going to church. I was nine. I put on a suit. Walked to the church about a mile or so from my house. As I approached, the thought entered my mind “you have not been to church all year; why are you going now?” With that, I assessed the validity of the statement. Then, I went home.

That young lady and I are indicative of what Jesus told the chief priest, teachers of the law and the elders as they looked for a way to get rid of him. The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed. We, in response to Jesus will either be broken or crushed. Join me in reading Luke 20

20 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”

17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”

Whether one is broken or crushed solely depends upon how he/she responds to Jesus. Either we believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life or we do not.  If we do, we will be broken of our self-reliance and pride, so God can repair the damage to our soul done by sin. If we do not, we will be crushed, ground to powder because we will not humble ourselves before God. In doing so, we ensure Christ’s judgement for our refusal to surrender our lives to him.

The Cornerstone: Broken into Pieces or Crushed Will you be broken or crushed? The resurrection of Jesus gives us the hope that we too can be raised from the dead both spiritually and physically. There is no use of getting one’s hair done and dressed up if we fail to surrender our lives to Christ. Easter is about the power of Christ exhibited in Christ being raised from the dead to bring about fulfillment to that which He promised about Himself and those who would follow Him. What will you do with The Cornerstone?

“Do you want to get well?”

April 17, 2014

As I have grown older, physical health has become a greater point of emphasis. That is true in the lives of friends and their parents and in the lives of my parents even me. I recently shared that a brother called me to convey that his wife had been given thirty days to live. Just yesterday, my Pastor’s brother passed away. As we look around, physical infirmities abound. I am sure that all of would have answered in the positive if we were asked “Do you want to get well?” by one who could deliver.

This is reality was not any different in Jesus’ time. We see this reality in John 5.

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Here, the pool, represented the hope of the sick. We are not certain of the origin of the healing, but we know that numerous people demonstrated a belief even a faith of a chance of being healed if they entered the pool. Maybe, God honored their faith. We do know that people believed if they got in the pool while it was being stirred that they had a great chance of being healed.

This hope of healing drew a great number of disabled, the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. As always, Jesus (God) is the main character in this account of His interaction with man. The object of Jesus’ attention is the invalid which is a person unable to care for him/herself due to infirmity or disability. The invalid suffered for 38 years. I am amazed that he still had hope after all those years. I am even more amazed that no one had helped him in the pool when it was stirred. He had lost his place for 38 years. Wow.

The invalid was acutely aware of his disability as well as his failed attempts to be healed, so when Jesus asked “Do you want to get well?” as an example of compassion for one who had suffered so long. What do you think he said? He did not exuberantly say “YES!”. Why? He did not see Jesus as one who could heal him. He saw the pool as the source of healing not God incarnate. Listen to his response “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” From his response, we know he did not recognize Jesus as Jesus, the hope of all who believe.

Jesus does not allow this man’s lack of knowledge in who He is to deter Him from his offer of “Do you want to get well?” Jesus continues to pursue him. Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The man just did what Jesus told him to do. When you want to get well, you will do whatever one who seems able to offer you hope.

Man is spiritually sick. This sickness will end in spiritual death. Romans 6:23 says, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. If you have never surrendered your life to Jesus as Lord, master, boss, and Savior, you are a spiritual invalid. You need Him to heal you just as the invalid in John 5. He suffered for 38 years. How long have you suffered? The more important question is “Do you want to get well?” If you do, follow the invalid’s lead, do what Jesus says to another, Martha, who was looking for healing in John 11. 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die”

“Do you want to get well?” Believe in Jesus.