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Weekly Word

Entries in Word of God (5)

Monday
Nov282016

Not by Bread Alone

Matthew 4:1-4.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on November 27, 2016.

The commercialization of all things good usually brings out the worst in humanity.  Thus, after a day that is focused on being thankful, many go out and shout, fight, and wrestle over the best deals of the year, Black Friday.  As Christians we must not lose sight of the reality behind Thanksgiving, or its reason for being.  In fact we dare not lose sight of the reason for our lives themselves.  Thanksgiving has nothing to do with getting the best deals on the latest electronic gadget.  But, rather, it is about stopping in the midst of our often busy lives and showing appreciation for what we already have, despite what we may not have.

Today we are going to look at Jesus during a time in his life where we are allowed to see Satan trying to tempt Him.  I believe these temptations are instructive and valuable to us so that we can know that we do not live by bread alone.

We are tested by material things

In Matthew 4 we are told that Jesus is “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  It is clear that the Spirit had a purpose that involved this word “tempted.”  In the passage the devil is also called the “Tempter,” (same word but as a noun).  Now we know that the Spirit is not in league with the devil so what is going on here?

Part of the mystery lies in the word that is translated “tempted.”  When this word is used in a situation that is for something good, say refining metal, it means something more like “to prove or test.”  When the word is used in a bad situation, say blowing all your money on gambling and drinking, it means “to tempt.”  We would never say that a teacher is tempting a child when they give them a test because our focus is on the intent.  The Greek’s chose to use the same word because in both cases you are being tested.  Here we know that it is the Spirit’s purpose to test Jesus in order to prove who He is.  But it is Satan’s purpose to tempt Jesus, disqualify Him, and bring Him under control.

Perhaps you have struggled with understanding why God lets temptation or challenges exist in your life.  It is because He knows that they can strengthen and prove our faith in Him.  Even our past failures are used by God to make our faith stronger.  Times of temptation can help us grow by revealing areas of weakness that we need to surrender to God.  God can and will give you the victory over your spiritual enemy if you will trust Him.  On the other hand, Satan actively tempts us in order to pull us away from God and bring into bondage under his dominion.  He uses our past failures as chains to keep us from turning to God and believing Him.

One of the main things that Satan tempts us with is material things.   This is on display in the first temptation.  But let’s further explore the setting.  We are told that Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days in the wilderness.  You see, the Spirit was leading Jesus towards spiritual purposes.  Jesus was spiritually preparing to go to war against the evil spirits that had taken control of Israel, and then the whole world.  Satan may have showed up throughout the 40 days and Matthew may only be recording three of many temptations.  Regardless, the first we are told about involves breaking his fast by creating bread from the stones around him.  It is here that we should recognize that we often lose the spiritual by pursuing the material.  Even deeper, often letting go of the material is necessary to receive spiritual gain.  Another thing to recognize is that most of what we have spiritually has come through combat with the Tempter.

Most translations quote the devil as saying to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God.”  It sounds like Satan is questioning this fact.  However, this Greek conditional does not necessarily bring the first part in question.  It has the sense of this, “If you are the Son of God [and we both know you are, why don’t you] command that these stones become bread.”  The temptation is to prove what you know to be true for fleshly reasons, rather than trusting God to demonstrate the truth at the proper time.  If we boil it further down, the temptation is to follow your flesh rather than the Spirit of God.  The Spirit of God had led Jesus to a hungry, weakened condition, where there was no food around.  Why not use your power to get off such a loathsome path?

This doesn’t always have to be about something material like bread.  The Corinthian Church members even used the spiritual gifts that God had given them of speaking in unknown languages to please their fleshly desire for pride and high standing with the other Church members.  Thus the material is not so much the problem as the desires of our flesh.  When we let our fleshly desires lead it always takes us away from what God wants to do in our life.

So God is not against the material things in your life.  However, He knows that they cannot save you.  Jesus responds to the Devil by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”  The passage Jesus quotes is not about forbidding bread to people.  In fact God had supernaturally provided bread (manna) for Israel while they were in the wilderness.  The passage is pointing out that God had revealed to Israel that their life was not about the things we see around us, but about what God says.  Thus a person can be surrounded by food and yet lack life, especially eternal life.  Yet, a person can be in a wilderness where there is nothing and they will live because of what God commands.  Up to 6 million Israelites survived in a barren wilderness because God commanded it.  Can he not take care of you?  God knows that you have physical needs, but He also knows that the desires of your flesh generally pull you away from Him and His ways.  This temptation that the Devil brings to Jesus, he also brings to us.  He wants to rob you of the greater treasure that God has for you, and trap you in a materialistic prison.  If you have failed this test then quit trying to “make bread out of stones,” (a.k.a. trying to make it happen by your power).  Yes, we don’t have the same power that Jesus had, but we are tempted in the same kind of way.  Let it go!

We are given life by the Word of God

Throughout history Christians have pointed to the tactic that Jesus employs here as the key for our own victory.  Jesus used God’s Word (or The Truth) to counteract the twisted, false logic of the Devil.  This doesn’t make it easy.  Often the “lie” that Satan is offering us is something that our flesh wants to believe.  Now Jesus had the power to attack Satan head on.  Through His divine power He could have commanded Satan to be locked up in the Abyss, or Bottomless Pit (a spiritual prison for evil Spirits, 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6; Revelation 9).  But Jesus did not stand against Satan in this way.  Instead, Jesus resisted Satan as a human can, or as you and I can.  If we take time to familiarize ourselves with the Truth of God’s Word, then we are equipped to neutralize the lies of the enemy of our soul.  Each of Satan’s lies and temptations are like a small chain that is used to tie us up into spiritual knots.  Though you may be tied up in a pretzel and powerless, the Word of God through Jesus Christ is not.  No matter how bound up a person is they can be set free through this same tactic: stop trusting the lies of Satan and start trusting Jesus, the Son of God.  Don’t settle for others in your life to know the Bible.  You need to know it for yourself.  Your spiritual life depends upon it.

The Word of God not only counteracts the deceptions of Satan, but it also keeps us in connection with the Source of Life.  Satan ultimately wants to sever any connection you have to the Spirit of God by getting to your trust.  In Romans 8:14 Paul says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.”  One of God’s amazing truths is that He adopts into His family everyone who dares to believe Jesus and follow Him.  As a believer in Jesus and a disciple of Jesus, the Spirit of God leads us to put to death the deeds that are inspired by our fleshly desires.  However, Satan tempts us to give into satisfying those same fleshly desires.  In fact Scriptures tells us that our flesh is hostile to the things of God even as a Christian (Romans 8:7).  Rebellion against God’s revealed will, or ignoring His Spirit because we are so inebriated with our fleshly desires and materialism, both become a barrier between us and the Source of Eternal Life.  Even though the world around you may say that you cannot live without such and such, it does so because it has given into the temptations of Satan.  When we are trapped in materialistic lies, we become a part of a system that helps the Tempter by being a temptation ourselves.  Why would you want to be like the devil and take on his image, when the Spirit of God is offering to make you into the image of Jesus?  May we shine out as bright lights in this world of darkness.  May we be the children of God who are being led by the Spirit of God to inherit all things along with the One and Only Unique Son of God, Jesus.

Not by Bread Alone audio

Tuesday
May272014

Creation Obeys the Word of God

The underpinning of what we call science today is the simple idea that all of creation follows laws that were made by God.  God is not an author of confusion.  He does things in an ordered, well thought out, and logical way.  Thus it is He who sets the boundaries for the interactions of all things.

Though scientific discoveries have been made throughout history, the Christian ideas concerning God is what enabled a methodical search to understand the laws of nature to really take off.  Yet, not all of creation is the same.  Dirt, rocks, wind, storms, and solar flares are not sentient and have no choice of obeying God’s laws.  They simply follow the physical Laws God has created.  Animals have some form of thinking.  However, observation clearly shows that there is a clear difference between their thinking and man’s.  Animals operate on an instinctual level and on a base physical desire.  If they are hungry they eat what is available.  Man is the one creature that can make choices that are contrary to its nature.  We can analyze the past and project into the future and thereby act contrary to what our emotion and flesh tells us.  We can calculate the “oughtness” of an action and choose a path different from what we desire.

Today we are going to look at Luke 8:22-25.  Although this section may seem to be separate from what is going on before it, I think there is something deeper going on here.  Up to this point Jesus has been focusing on a theme which says, those who do God’s Word belong to Him and will be blessed.  So in this section the common tie is to see that in this arena most of creation does a better job than mankind.

When It Seems Like God Is Sleeping

Jesus often ministered to the point of exhaustion.  So in this story He tells the disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee and catches some sleep.  It is during this time that the disciples are piloting the boat and Jesus is sleeping that a strong storm comes upon them.  Now I don’t believe this storm is by accident.  Yet, Jesus is sleeping through it.  In this sense Jesus represents the righteous man who has perfect peace about his situation.  Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You.”  As a righteous man, Jesus can sleep and not fear that a storm is going to destroy him before his time.

However, as God, Jesus appears to not care about their problem.  It is common for people to feel that God is not caring about their problem or that somehow he is asleep at the wheel.  Now, this storm is clearly a freak “perfect storm” because 4 of these disciples are seasoned fisherman and can handle a boat.  Yet, this time they are afraid that they are going to die.  They can’t keep up with bailing the water out of the boats and are in danger of sinking.  Is this a coincidence or is something else going on here?  God could have sent a perfect storm in order to allow Jesus to demonstrate that he is more than a man.  Or, the storm could be caused by Satan.  If you haven’t thought about this before then take time to remember the account of Job.  In Job we see Satan attacking his animals and family by causing fire to fall from heaven and burn up his servants and sheep.  He also caused a huge wind to destroy a house inside of which Job’s adult children were feasting.  It killed them all.  This is mentioned again in Revelation 13 when the False Prophet causes fire to come down from heaven in the sight of men in order to convince them to believe him.  Whether we know the source of difficult times or not doesn’t really matter.  In fact sometimes I might simply be encountering the results of my own poor choices.  Either way, we may feel like God is silent to our problem.

In our story things changed when they cried out to Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t a sailor.  They were the ones with the skills in this area.  This was one area where they were the experts and Jesus was the one in need.  Yet, after exhausting their own efforts and being at the end of their strength, they finally turn to Jesus and cry out for help.  They don’t expect him to start bailing.  Rather, they are turning to him as the one who has a connection to God that is miraculous.  Notice that this is the Gospel in a nutshell.  In some ways, God is reminding the disciples that no matter how hard they struggle against sin and the flesh, they are going to need God’s help.  None of us can be good enough in ourselves to overcome the storms of life.  We need to learn to cry out upon God for help, even when it seems like He is sleeping.

Jesus Has Power Over Nature

The next point is perhaps the most obvious.  Jesus has power over nature.  Now, all of creation came into being at the Word of the Lord.  In John 1:3, the disciple describes that this is Jesus.  “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  Thus, creation follows the laws of nature, or physics, that given to it at the beginning.  This is a general obedience that all creation has.  It was God’s design of atmosphere and temperature differences that gives rise to wind, weather, and even perfect storms.  Yet, there is also a specific obedience that happens here.  At the specific command of Christ, in a specific point in time, at a specific location, the storm stops immediately.  “Peace, be still!”  Those famous words actually come from the gospel of Mark, who gives us greater detail on what is said.  Now wind doesn’t have a will of its own in order to go or stop.  It is a force of nature’s own physics.  Thus the miracle is far greater than it appears, as if the storm could stop itself.  The truth is that all of the factors that came together to create such a perfect storm are being perfectly cancelled out by an opposite and perfectly balanced force at Christ’s command.  Thus God didn’t just cause weather in general by the design of the earth.  But has the power, if He so chooses, to specifically control weather if He wants to.  This shouldn’t surprise us since humans have been trying to manipulate weather over the last century, with various levels of success. 

This brings up several questions.  How can this happen, or, how is this possible?  The freak storm came to a freak ending.  They go from being freaked out about dying to being freaked out about what Jesus just did.  That also brings up the next question.  Who is this man?  No mere man can do what Jesus just did. 

His command over nature is often called a miracle.  However, the word “miracle,” to most people, has come to mean that the laws of nature are broken.  Yet, when you study into the “miracles” in the Bible, they seem less to be about broken natural laws and more about the power of the One who is intervening.  God can control His creation because He created it.  When you think about it, if God could create all of the universe and put it in motion, could He not operate within it?  Wouldn’t He be far greater than us in doing something that He wants through His understanding of natural laws?   Now what about mankind, should God control us in such a way?  Would we really want that?  Would that really be good?  Instead of commanding men along with controlling force, God gives man his command with the freedom to obey.  We can choose.

We Need Faith In God

When the storm is calmed Jesus speaks to the situation.  He asks, “Where is your faith?”  I don’t believe Jesus is chiding them for waking him up.  The emphasis is on their trust.  Jesus is the one who said to cross the lake.  He is the one leading them.  Don’t you trust me?  Many times following Jesus does not seem to be working out so well.  We encounter storms, which we struggle against as best we can.  They often bring us to the end of our physical, emotional, and spiritual resources.  Yet, Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Our prayers need not be as desperate as our situation if we are following God.   If Jesus is in our boat we need not fear.  Those who have put their faith in Jesus and are following His words belong to Him.  He is in them and they are in Him.  This is a relationship that cannot be severed by any storm that this earth has to offer.  If Jesus is in the boat we need not wake him with the words, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?” [according to Mark]  Yes, he cares.  They don’t know it yet.  But, his caring goes so deep that he will hang on a cross for them to show it.  The beauty is that even when we are desperate and failing in our faith, He will still help those who are following Him.  We need to trust God.  But trusting God involves calling out to Him for help in our time of need.  And, at the same time, we can know that He will work all things to the good for us.  If Jesus would be willing to go through the cross for you, do you think He is going to fail you? 

This brings up the question of what I will call “The Martyr’s Storm.”  Jesus had a perfect relationship with God the Father and yet, on the night he is betrayed he goes through a storm that would claim his life the next day.  However, even here He knew that God would work it all to the good.  In fact, if Jesus had not died we could not be saved from our own sin.  No one understands the why and when behind the call to give the ultimate sacrifice to be a witness for God.  Yet, even this storm, ends when the martyr enters into God’s presence.

Thus Jesus brings up the issue of fear.  Fear undermines our faith and drives us to unbelieving actions.  We feel that we are losing and that God has failed us.  If left unchecked it will cause us to leave Christ at the very moment that we need Him most.  Somewhere Judas let fear of where Jesus was leading divert his course.  Thought they traveled together, somewhere their paths diverged and the two never came together again.  Don’t let this be you today.  No matter what storms have come in the past or you are experiencing today, God has a plan that you can trust.  As the Scriptures say, “Trust in the Lord forever, for in the LORD is everlasting strength!”  Trust God even if it requires you to lay your life down because He has your greatest good in mind.

Tuesday
Mar112014

The True Jesus: Authority To Heal

We ended Luke chapter 6 with the issue of whether or not Jesus really is our master.  If he is our master then we will live our life as His teachings direct.  Chapter 7 then starts with may at first appear to just be another healing story.  Don’t get me wrong.  Jesus does heal someone.  But, there is more being taught here than that Jesus could heal.

Jesus was not just a so-called “healer” who was somehow operating slightly above the level of a snake-oil salesman.  Neither was he a complete fake who was feeding off of the gullibility of a backward people.  People have always been gullible.  But it is in accounts such as these, that we see aspects that demonstrate that Jesus wasn’t a charlatan.  Here we see that Jesus demonstrating that he is Lord of creation and has the authority to command healing at will.  This may bring up the question of why He doesn’t then do more commanding of miracles.  Let’s look at the passage and establish His authority first.

The Request Of Intercession

In verses 1-7 we see that this is initiated by others coming up to Jesus in a city of northern Israel called Capernaum.  Rome had troops stationed throughout all of Israel and Capernaum was no exception.  A centurion would be an officer in charge of up to 100 men.  So there is no reason to expect some kind of collusion between him and Jesus.  This centurion has demonstrated a love for the Jewish people but we are not told his religious “status” with the rabbis of Israel.  Is he a convert, a proselyte, or just generous?  Whatever his status he paid enough attention to what was going on in Israel that he had heard of Jesus.  When a servant that was very dear to him was about to die, the centurion does what he can to find Jesus and ask him to heal the servant.  Now in this story the centurion asks some Jewish people to talk to Jesus first.  This is a great story illustrating intercession.

Intercession is to ask something for the sake of another out of love.  The word basically involves 3 parties: the one in need, the one who can help, and the one who goes to get the helper.  Intercession at its heart is a person serving as a mediator on behalf of another.  It is the servant who is in need.  However we have several layers of mediators.  The Jews mediate for a gentile centurion.  There are friends who also mediate for the centurion.  Lastly, although it is not clear in this telling, it seems from Matthew’s account of this story that the centurion himself speaks with Jesus in the end.  Each of these layers demonstrate an affinity or love of the other person.  The centurion cares about the servant.  The friends and the Jews probably don’t know the servant, but they do care about the centurion.  Now I point this aspect out because the Bible warns us that in the last days people will be lovers of themselves.  Thus we can use intercession as a type of barometer.  Do I pray?  And, when I do, how much of it is praying for others because I care about them?  If most of my praying is only for myself, then most likely I am being molded by the spirit of this age to love myself.  It is not wrong to pray for yourself, but we need to pay attention to this aspect.  Do I have a love for others that drives me to my knees in order to pray to God for them?

The first layer of mediators is the Jews.  They approach Jesus with some reasoning for why He should heal the man’s servant.  He is a worthy man.  They press it home by pointing out his love for the Jewish people and how he had even given money to build a synagogue.  Now before I diminish the reasoning of these Jews, let’s note that it is not the centurion who thinks he is worthy.  This is an important part of intercession.  Often, people don’t think they are worthy of God’s notice.  Or, they think that God doesn’t care about them.  Intercession is powerful because it uses the worth that they have to us, to propel us into prayer on their behalf.  However, we must be careful and not confuse their value to us with their value to God.  Yes, the centurion has shown love to God’s people and has benefitted them.  It only seems right that they should benefit him back in some way.  Yet, the centurion knows himself.  In verse 6 and 7 he states that he is not worthy.  This beautiful picture would really have been ruined if he had an attitude that he was worthy and Jesus owed Him a miracle.  Intercession can never be about demanding something and making our best case as to why God must do something.  Rather, it is a reenacting of the beauty of God’s heart that gets His attention.

Jesus does not address the worthiness issue.  He could have.  Instead he lets it drop.  However, the teaching of Christ and the apostles is that Jesus is the only one who is worthy to receive anything from God.  No one, but Jesus, is worthy of anything from God, in and of themselves.  Paul talks about his ability to be used powerfully as an apostle in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”  Thus, the Jews did not convince Jesus to come heal the servant by their reasoning.  Rather, they helped convince him by demonstrating that they had a heart like his.  Jesus is the ultimate intercessor and mediator.  God’s heart was so broken over the lostness of mankind that His Son comes to earth in order to intercede and mediate with the Father for man.  This wave after wave of intercessors compels Jesus to give the request, a healing. 

If we are blessed by God it is not because we are worthy, but only because we are believing on the only One who is The Worthy One.  All the money that helped build a synagogue for the Jews would be later destroyed.  It is doing them no good today.  All the love and well-wishing he had for them would do no good to stop the tragedies that lay ahead.  In a material and temporal sense, the centurion’s gifts were wasted and of little value.  But in a spiritual sense they were of great value.  Through them a heart was revealed that believed there was something more to the religion of this people called the Jews.  Through them a heart was revealed that wanted to bless what God was doing.  Through them a heart that believed was revealed, which is of eternal value to God.  God’s heart is about taking those who are far removed from Him and bringing them close.  This centurion was right in thinking that he was a nobody when it came to asking the Messiah of Israel for a healing.  But, good news!  That is exactly who Jesus is looking for.  He is looking for some nobodies.

The Power Of Christ To Heal

If Jesus is famous for anything it is the miracles of healing.  But this passage reveals something deeper about the ability Jesus had to heal.  First, of all it is not by coincidence that the centurion tells Jesus to just “say the words.”  In the Bible the Word of God is everything.  In fact in John 1 it is revealed that Jesus is the ultimate Word of God.  Thus it really is the Word of God that heals.  We must never forget this.  You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.  The Word of God is Truth.  The centurion doesn’t know that Jesus is the eternal Word of God.  But he does understand the power of authority.  When a general gives a command the centurions obey.  When the centurion gives a command the legionnaires obey.  Thus the Father spoke the Son into the world and that Word is not done.  He came first to heal the wound of sin.  But He will come again in order to remove the scourge of sin through judgment.  Yet, even that judgment is a completion of the healing of the creation.  He must remove that sin and those sinners who refuse to be healed.  The primary purpose in all that God says and does is to give life of which healing is a subcategory.  Even when God’s Word speaks judgment it is so that we will see our need of healing.  This truth is everywhere in Scripture.  God’s Word doesn’t just heal physical problems.  It is the answer to every situation and problem, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.  Does this idea get abused by some religious people?  Sure.  But what does that have to do with the Truth?  You hear the Truth and embrace it.

Next, we see that Jesus has the authority to heal.  Authority is sometimes translated as power because of the close relationship.  The word here specifically means that Jesus not only has the ability to heal, but that he is free to do so.  He has the right to heal.  Thus Jesus is unique in this area.  He alone has the authority to heal on command.  Even those who have the spiritual gift of healing technically do not have such authority as Jesus did.  Rather, we have the authority to point people to Jesus who does have power to save and heal.  When we point people to Jesus the Holy Spirit will quite frequently come and reveal this saving and healing power.  Thus pastors and teachers do not have the Truth in and of themselves.  The best they can do is point you to the One who does and that is Jesus.  When pastors faithfully point people to the True Jesus the Holy Spirit will be there working to open their eyes and encourage belief.  However, We have the right and authority to share the Truth of who Jesus is with everyone.  The world will challenge us on that.  Even some Christians are beginning to dream up reasons why certain people shouldn’t be evangelized.  However, no matter what man says, our authority is from God Himself.  You be the judge should we obey man or God?

Notice here that faith is centered on Jesus, the One who can heal.  Today, in our desire to get Jesus to do something, we can be a lot like the Jews in this story.  We can do all manner of things in order to be worthy enough to get a healing.  But this is not what gets God’s attention.  Such motivations is what has led people to focus more on believing that the healing will happen rather than Jesus can heal on command.  Thus the miracle becomes the object of our faith instead of Jesus.  Another step away from Jesus is when we actually focus our faith on our faith itself.  This happens when we teach people that they didn’t have enough faith to be healed.  It is possible to not have faith.  But we should be talking about faith in Jesus.  People end up trying to work up some mystical powerful faith that will get them healed on demand.  We need to get back to the simplicity of this story.  A man in need, with friends helping him, intercedes with Jesus for healing.  The rest is up to Jesus.  If He says, “my grace is sufficient for you,” then we need to trust Him and leave it at that.  Thus there are two tensions in our day.  Some refuse to believe that miracles can happen today.  Notice even that statement is not focused on Jesus.  Can Jesus still heal today?  Can the Creator of the universe still create?  Of course He can.  Then healing and miracles can still occur.  We need to be using the rights that Christ has given us to point people to Jesus as their answer for sin, and sickness.  Yet, others have abused this area and turned it into a ludicrous show.  Through sleight of hand, crowd manipulation, bad interpretation of Scripture, and other means, some have abused this area of healing.  Put your faith on Jesus not the healing.  Put your faith on Jesus not your own faith.  Walk forward in trust and Jesus will give you all that you need.  Believe that.

 

Authority to Heal Audio

Tuesday
Oct222013

Becoming A Disciple Of Jesus

We continue our discovery of the True Jesus in the Gospel according to Luke.  In chapter 4 we saw how Jesus was initially rejected by those from his hometown and yet sought out by those who were in the region of the Sea of Galilee.  It is clear that Luke is not giving a strict chronology, although his Gospel does follow the pattern of the birth of Jesus, the ministry of Jesus, and the death of Jesus.  Within this ministry section we find Luke giving detail but also skipping around chronologically.  In chapter 5 Luke gives us insight into the calling of some of the disciples to not just be those who believed him, but to also follow him wherever he went.

Hearing the Word of God

In verses 1-3 we see that Jesus had gone down to the Lake of Gennesaret.  This is just another name for the Sea of Galilee, which is also called Lake Tiberias.  They are most likely near Bethsaida where Peter lived, however the exact location is not stated.  What is stated is that Jesus was there to share the Word of God.  Jesus was popular and soon an unorganized crowd had developed around him as he shared God’s Word.  This is an important part of understanding what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  It starts with a desire to hear the Word of God and then coming to Jesus to receive it.  He is the ultimate Light of the World that stands above all the prophets of the Old Testament.  To be a disciple is to be one who sees Jesus as the one who has the Word of God.

As it gets crowded on the beach we are told that some fishermen are nearby.  We know that there has been interaction between Jesus, Andrew, and Peter in the past due to John’s gospel.  So Jesus most likely chose this spot and this time on purpose.  He just happens to be preaching when Peter and his partners are cleaning and mending their nets after a long night of fishing.  Notice that Jesus asks Peter for help.  Perhaps if we were there we would think that it was unspiritual or rude of these fishermen to clean their nets while Jesus is teaching.  But Jesus sees an opportunity here.  He asks Peter to lend him his boat so that he can preach from it.  That would solve the practical problem of the difficulty of the crowd to hear and see Jesus.  This is typical of God.  Though he can do all things, He wants us to join Him in what He is doing.

At this point I would ask you what the goal of preaching is.  Why is Jesus preaching to these people?  Simply put they need Truth.  The goal of preaching is for the salvation of its hearers.  Yes, not all believe and are saved.  But without the Truth no one could be saved from not just problems in their life, but primarily the bondage of sin.  The Apostle Paul demonstrates this in Romans 10:13-15.  He starts with the Truth: All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  He then asks this question.  How can we get people to call on the Lord?  Answer: they first have to believe that the Lord can help them.  How can they believe?  They have to hear the Truth about Who Jesus is, there own predicament, and what he has done about it.  How can they hear?  Someone has to preach the Truth to them.  Who will preach?  God must give His Truth to someone and send them.  Thus God sends us to preach so that others can hear the Truth, believe in their heart, call upon the Lord and be saved.  Every disciple is the result of that process.

Listening To His Directions

In verses 4-7, Jesus has finished preaching.  However, he now has some personal business for Peter and Andrew.  This part of the story ends with them catching more fish than they could imagine, enough nearly to sink two boats.  Is Jesus just paying them back for helping him?  We could think of this passage as Jesus showing that you can’t out give God.  But I don’t think that is what is going on here.  In fact, there is no indication that Peter and Andrew materially benefit from this catch.  It seems more that Jesus is giving them a personal lesson of just what he can do.

Now it all starts with some simple directions from Jesus.  Go out into the deep and cast out your nets.  Jesus doesn’t ask something difficult, nor is it something illogical.  However, it isn’t the sense or logic that they would have employed.  This is a big obstacle to being a disciple of Jesus.  He will ask us to do things that we wouldn’t.  We have all kinds of reasons why we shouldn’t do it.  We have all kind of feelings that are opposed to doing it (whatever it is).  Other obstacles that can keep us from being true disciples of Jesus are lust, pride, fear, and many others.  Disciples don’t just hear the Word of God from Jesus.  They also listen and obey.  Peter is tired.  He has fished out that whole area.  Why is this carpenter from the hills down here telling me to go back to work when I’m done for the day?  Yet, he responds with surrender.  “I don’t want to, but nevertheless because you ask it I will do it.”  He could have missed out that day.  But he had heard and seen too much of Jesus to not listen to this man.

Now Jesus isn’t just about miracles.  In fact they are actually secondary to why he came to earth.  Miracles are to reinforce the message.  So let me insert an end-times warning at this point.  The Scriptures tell us that the antichrist and false prophet will do lying signs and wonders.  People will be astonished at the power they have.  However, the problem will be that their message is not the message of the True Jesus.  We don’t receive Jesus just because he did miracles.  But we do so because only he has the words of life, the Words of God.  Miracles can help us to surrender our flesh when we know he is right.  But never let it push you to surrender the Truth when the Bible shows someone is wrong.

Understanding The Truth About Jesus And Me

Now verses 8-11 teach us something about being a disciple.  Somewhere in the middle of that great miraculous catch of fish, somewhere in the midst of pulling in nets, signaling the other boat, wrestling all the fish into the boat and struggling to get to shore…somewhere in the middle of all that Peter understands something.  Peter saw himself for what he truly was in contrast with Jesus.  The shame and guilt of his own sin becomes so obvious and hideous to Peter that he begs the Lord to leave him.  Even as the light dawns on Peter, the flesh and the devil are working overtime to keep him in the dark.  Pushing Jesus away because he is so righteous and we are not, is a mistake.  All disciples enter by the narrow gate of understanding this problem.  He is good and I am not.

With great tenderness, as only he can do, Jesus tells Peter to not be afraid.  Don’t let your fears rob you of being my disciple, Peter.  Leave your fears behind and come follow me.  Yes, I am holy, but I am also love.  I don’t love your sins, but I am committed to transforming you if you will enter into relationship with me.  You must understand that your fears will cause you to separate from the very thing you need.  A true disciple of Jesus has to learn to wrestle with fears and lay them at the feet of Jesus.

In fact let me close with this picture.  The Bible tells us that marriage is a picture of Jesus and his disciples, his Church, his bride.  If marriage is a picture of that relationship then we should look at that original marriage of Adam and Eve.  The Bible says that this is why a man will leave his family and cleave to his wife.  All successful marriages learn the lessons of how to leave others behind and cleave to one another.  Forsaking all and following him, Peter became, not just a hearer of Jesus, but a true disciple.

O friend, make sure today that you aren’t chasing Jesus to get something out of Him.  These guys actually walked away from what Jesus supplied that day in order to have a closer relationship with Jesus.  Be a true disciple of the true Jesus today.

 

Becoming a Disciple audio