Saturday, January 26, 2019

190127 Jesus Establishes His Identity

Luke 5:1-11 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Jesus had come from his time in the wilderness establishing his authority over Satan. From there he returned to Galilee and taught in their synagogues. When he came into the synagogue at Nazareth, as we have already seen, he was rejected. We were reminded of the words of Isaiah, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3) Then he healed a man in Capernaum and many others including Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. Now we come to Jesus establishing his identity.
We need to remember that one’s identity is a good deal more than what might appear on your driver’s license or even your birth certificate. Your identity is what you have grown into throughout your life. Your identity is what other people see when they look at you. Your identity includes what you think about yourself, the characteristics that define you.
We know Simon Peter knew Jesus was special because he had been one of the first four who was chosen by Jesus to follow him. He had received his new name the very first time he met Jesus. Jesus clearly put a call on Simon the son of John by calling him, Peter, or Cephas. We will come back to Peter in a moment. In the meantime…
Jesus had become a magnet for the crowds. There are many examples of this found in the Gospels let’s look at a couple of them. Matthew 4:25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Matthew 8:1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
And… Matthew 14:14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
It was practically impossible for Jesus to get away from the crowds. More than once Jesus crossed the lake to get away from the crowds. He had to dismiss the crowds from time to time in order to pray alone. Right up to the very end when the crowds followed him into the city on what we now call “Palm Sunday”. And then finally the crowds gathered in the judgment hall of Pontius Pilate and then on to Golgotha the place of the cross.
Going back to the beginning and that day beside the lake we see…
He chose Peter’s boat. Peter had already met Jesus when his brother Andrew, and, we assume, John had been following John the Baptist. John told us about it John 1:40-42 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
What happened? If Jesus had called them to follow him that day after Jesus’ baptism why were they back pulling their nets through the water? I believe it was because Jesus had gone into the wilderness for his battle with Satan and also fishing was what they knew best. They did not know anything about fishing for men. They had not been to Bible school or seminary! Little did they know that they were now enrolled in the school of the Savior! No school on earth had ever been so complete. Wherever they went…
He taught the people the word of God. Let’s look back at Luke 5:1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,
I have often wished that someone had recorded Jesus’ teaching. I know there is a good number of accounts but at times like this — when he was teaching the people the word of God! It would be so awesome to know exactly what he taught them and what it meant. We do have some knowledge of what it must have included. Whenever Jesus spoke who was speaking? God! Any good preacher, and many who are less than “good spend a good deal of time and study preparing to teach or preach. We never find Jesus “studying”! You see, he was there when “In the beginning God”. In fact, Jesus, the son of God, was there eternally before that day of creation. When he sat with the people — by the way it was traditional for rabbis to sit while they taught — wherever he took his text from the Bible he was simply sharing what he had seen at the time it was written. The crowds gathered around him because they recognized they were hearing words different from what they had heard from their teachers. They were listening to the word that comes from God. It was the word about salvation! It was the word about entering the kingdom of God! It was the word about the forgiveness of sins! It was the good news that the poor could be made spiritually rich. It was the good news that prisoners of sin could be set free! It was the good news that the spiritually blind could be given spiritual sight. It was an account of the glorious inheritance God gives to his children! All of that! And much, much more because when Jesus spoke it was God who was speaking!
The crowd was pressing in and Jesus needed a distraction as well as a place to sit.
When he chose Peter’s boat it was not a random choice. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he was working on Peter’s spiritual growth. Peter was a recognized leader of the apostles. It was important for him to recognize Jesus’ authority.
In order to establish that authority…
He asked for the nets to be lowered. Let’s continue with Luke 5:4-6. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.
These fishermen had been fishing all night and had taken nothing! NOTHING! I am sure this was more than unusual. These were professional fishermen and that they knew how to catch fish. They would have known where the fish would usually be and would have been able to spread their nets in such a way that they would catch something! This time, when they drew the nets in…
Their nets overflowed. This event was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry now let’s look at the end of his ministry after his resurrection recorded in John 21:6-8. He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
In both cases, there was a remarkable lack of fish until Jesus told them where they were. He wasn’t a fisherman, he was known as the carpenter but in reality, he was God! In my imagination, I can see angels obediently moving the fish away from the nets all night long! In Luke’s account, this was done to establish his identity. In John’s account, it served much the same purpose. It was Peter who had led them back to fishing after his resurrection and it was Peter who jumped from the boat and waded ashore.
Peter, that day early in his relationship with Jesus, did not expect to catch any fish but he would obey Jesus. After all, Jesus had healed his mother-in-law!
As soon as that net filled with fish…
Simon Peter realized who he was. Let’s continue to read Luke 5:8-9. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, Peter, overwhelmed with the conviction of his unbelief had an experience similar to Isaiah’s some 700 years before. It is recorded in Isaiah 6:5. Isaiah had entered the temple after the death of his beloved King. When he did he saw the Lord God high and lifted up and, in Isaiah’s words, “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
For both of them, this was not an “aha moment”. It was an “oh-me moment”! The realization they were in the presence of God himself was more than they could stand. Everyone should have such a life-changing experience — at least once! I don’t mean to make it a condition of salvation but it certainly is a springboard for sanctification. We need to know the presence of God in our life. It was easy for Peter, and for Isaiah, because they were physically in the presence of the image of God. We, on the other hand, do not have a physical representation of God. That is, of course, if we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus. From that point forward he has promised he will not leave us nor forsake us! But we grow accustomed to his presence and slowly become unaware he is even there. Then, without a doubt, we will grieve the Holy Spirit. And we will quench the spirit in our life. In the same way that we no longer sense God’s presence with us.
That event was a game changer…
Peter’s life changed forever. Let’s read on Luke 5:10b. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Jesus recognized that in Simon’s response there was fear. He was not so much rejecting Jesus’ presence as he was rejecting his own unworthiness! And one thing we can certainly be sure of none of us are worthy. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God! (Romans 3:23) And the wages of sin is death! (Romans 6:23). But we have good news, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). That being true, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9).
Immediately Jesus began to encourage Peter as the crowd continued to look on. We might not have recognized it but Peter was afraid of who Jesus was. We know that because Jesus said, “Do not be afraid;” after all, he had been chosen by God himself. Having brought in the largest catch of fish they had ever seen at least four men left their nets to follow Jesus. We know that they came back to the fisherman’s life more than once. At the same time, they were obediently following Jesus. They did not understand who he was but they could not leave. If you will only put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ you will find it is impossible to leave him. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised from the dead and you will be saved.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

190120 Jesus Enters the Battle

Luke 4:31-37 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
Jesus’ life begins to take on new significance as he moved toward the cross. He is described in Isaiah as being “a man of sorrows”! (Isaiah 53:3) These words were written about 700 years before Christ’s birth. It is obvious that Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus Christ because his descriptions were so precise. Jesus lived a rather boring life as the son of the carpenter and, after Joseph’s death, as the carpenter in Nazareth. Then at about age 30 he walked away from the little town he grew up in. He went to be baptized by John in the Jordan River and then the Holy Spirit took him into the wilderness of Judea to be tempted by Satan. So far as we know, this was the beginning of his struggle. When he came out of the wilderness he began to preach the gospel of the kingdom in the local synagogues.
All of this was growing out of the fact that Jesus moved from his human identity into his divine identity. When he came out of the water at baptism the spirit descended upon him “like a dove”. I do not believe the spirit was in the form of a dove but instead, it was settling on him with a fluttering motion like a dove. The next time you see a pigeon coming into land look at the pattern of its wings. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, he was baptized, and he went into the wilderness.
The Holy Spirit compelled him to go into the desert. I think we should remember this event when we think of being filled with the Holy Spirit today. Most people who are tuned into a Holy Spirit filling, by their remarks, would definitely not expect the Spirit to drive them into a wilderness! Jesus’ ministry was not marked by being carried along on flowery beds of ease. Using the words of Isaac Watts (Am I a Soldier of the Cross?) Jesus sailed through bloody seas. His ministry was marked by a daily battle. But along the way…
He began to gather followers. Let’s look at the account in Mark 1:16-20. Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus had met these men sometime before this account. John tells us of an earlier encounter at Jesus’ baptism. This would be at least six weeks before the formal calling of these men to follow him. While he was in the wilderness fighting with the devil they were back home with their family business — fishing.
John the Baptist was arrested and his public ministry came to an end. This marked the time for Jesus to begin his ministry. At least two of Jesus disciples had spent some time with John the Baptist. According to John’s Gospel (not the Baptist but the Apostle) Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and another person who we believe was John, the brother of James, identified in Mark’s gospel.
It seems that, at least in the early days, Jesus’ disciples came and went from their homes to his ministry. Only toward the end of his life were there with him 24/7. Because we see an account in Luke’s gospel where Peter was back at work and Jesus came and spoke from his boat. Jesus confirmed Peter’s call at that time.
After he had begun to gather his disciples…
Jesus established a new base of operation. We will continue with the story in Mark 1:21. And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching.
Several times in the Gospels — all four Gospels — Capernaum is mentioned as being his base of operations or his home. Many miracles and much teaching came down in Capernaum. So much so that Jesus pronounced woe on the city. He compared them to the evil city of Sodom. Saying “if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:23-24).
It was in Capernaum that he was approached by a Roman centurion whose servant was sick. Because of the faith of the Roman, Jesus healed him at a distance.
It was at Capernaum that the tax collectors questioned Peter about Jesus paying taxes. It may be discouraging to many people today that Jesus immediately covered his tax as well as Peter’s.
At Capernaum, he questioned his disciples about their ambitions. He had just told them that he was going to be delivered into the hands of men and they would kill him. Then they immediately began to discuss who would be greatest in his kingdom. They never got the message clear. Only after his crucifixion and resurrection did they begin to understand. Along the way…
His teaching was powerful. Let’s continue with Mark1:22. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
Jesus did not spend his teaching time quoting the professors. In fact, he had begun teaching them when he was 12 years old. He taught as one who had authority because he does have authority. His authority comes from the fact that he is the eternal Son of God! Before anything at all existed Father, Son and Holy Spirit existed together. His authority grew out of his person. When he became man he carried that authority with him. He had the authority to lay down his life and he had the authority to take it up again.
At least once, and possibly twice, he cleared the temple of moneychangers and those who would cheat the people in regard to their sacrifices.
He had authority on earth to heal the sick and to forgive sin. He had authority to cast out demons and he shared that authority with his disciples.
His teaching was powerful and with it…
He began to challenge the enemy. Let’s go back to Luke 4:12-13. And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
When Jesus went into the wilderness, compelled by the Holy Spirit, he went there for the very purpose of confronting Satan himself. Now we often think of Satan as being an enemy of ours but I dare say none of us qualify for such a powerful enemy. A junior demon can take on any of us anytime anywhere. But Jesus’ confrontation was with the enemy himself. Satan challenged him to turn stones into bread because he was hungry, having fasted 40 days. Jesus replied with Scripture. Then the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and again Jesus replied with Scripture. Satan challenged Jesus to jump off a building so that the angels would come to protect him. Again Jesus answered with Scripture. We can learn a great deal from the way Jesus dealt with temptation. We need to know the word so we can use it as a double-edged sword on our enemy who comes to “steal and kill and destroy” in contrast, Jesus “came that they (we) may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). As he challenged the enemy…
He confronted demonic forces. Let’s read Mark 1:23-27. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
Again, he had this experience at Capernaum. I don’t know why the demon-possessed man was in the synagogue. I would have thought that the rulers of the synagogue would not allow a person who was clearly demon possessed to come into the synagogue. Neither do we have any explanation as to what is meant by an unclean spirit. We do not know how it manifests itself. But it doesn’t take much imagination to consider what unclean means. He might not outwardly have shown any symptoms. I am sure people with unclean spirits have been in our churches over the years. I am so grateful to God that he has authority over all these spirits. What happened, in this case, was the spirit saw Jesus and immediately challenged him. Jesus knew exactly what to do. First, silence him and then cast him out. When this happened the crowd was amazed at his exercise of authority. One of the consequences of this exercise of authority was…
He became widely known. Let’s look at Mark 1:28. And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Again and again, Jesus instructed those that he helped to tell no one. However, they felt a compulsion to tell who he was.
We can use the songwriter Don Francisco’s imagination on this topic. In one of his ballads, “Gotta Tell Somebody”, he recounts the story of the raising of Jairus’s daughter from the did. Afterward, he instructed Jairus and his wife not to tell anyone what happened. Then, in the song, not in the battle, Jairus says, “gotta tell somebody”, and that becomes a repeated theme throughout the song. Any parent can easily imagine how hard it would have been to remain silent if your child had been brought back from the dead!
His healing ministry was not confined to the synagogues. Wherever he went, wherever there was a need, Jesus healed sicknesses and cast out demons. There is no other period of time in which so many miracles were compressed in such a short time. Their purpose was obvious! John, in his gospel, refers to the miracles surrounding Jesus as “signs”. God the Father, beginning with his baptism, and continuing throughout his ministry provided evidence that Jesus was, without a doubt, who he claimed to be. It’s not enough to believe that Jesus existed we need to also believe he died as a substitute to pay for our sins. Also, he did not stay dead! We put faith in his work on the cross, repent of our sin, and confess him as Lord. When we do he saves us not by our works of righteousness but by his! If you have not done so, confess him as Lord so he can be your savior.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.