Archive for June, 2010

5th Master Class of Jesus Christ (35)

June 30th, 2010
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Scripture of the Day: Luke 8:40

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.(NIV)

Now that Jesus has returned from the Gentile lands to be back on Israel soil, we come to third story in the trilogy to illustrate the parable of the sower. All three are presented in order to illustrate the emphasis of the story of the sower on appropriate responses to the promulgation of the Word of God.

Since the parable of the sower we have witnessed the disciples fail the test of their faith during the storm, we have seen a whole region tell Jesus to depart after he has displayed his power and authority in liberating a man from demonic bondage.

We are now going to see Luke exemplify in explicit form the nature of saving faith. He has contrasted faith with fear and faith that does not manifest itself in the midst of testing.

Two stories are deliberately interwoven which is reflected in numerous commonalities which we will notice as we go through the narrative. Taken together they document the sort of faith for which Jesus has been looking.

There is also a connection to the earlier resuscitation of the widow’s only son.

The positive reception is quite a contrast to the crowds from city and country that urged his departure in the Gasarenes.

But as we proceed the role of the crowd becomes ambiguous and can begin to reflect a sense of choking of the Word as we will see.

Message for the Day

5th Master Class of Jesus Christ(34)

June 29th, 2010
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Scripture of the Day: Revelation 3:14-22

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (NIV)

If we know we are not hearing correctly we should ask God for a noble and good heart that is open and responsive to his Word.

Therefore consider carefully how you listen.

And don’t treat carelessly the invitation.

There is a generosity and a perseverance in the invitation. We have a choice but there is also a warning attached to that choice, just as in the parable of the sower.

Message for the Day

5th Master Class of Jesus Christ (33)

June 28th, 2010
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Scripture of the Day: Luke 8:37

Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. (NIV)

Jesus cross all ritualistic boundaries to go to a Gentile area, to face a demoniac with unclean spirits, who lived among tombstones with large herds of pigs nearby.

What is your name? It is a command. It is a command from the King. They know it. They tremble in fear. They beg for a reprieve. There is no confusion in the demonic world of who is standing in front of them.

This is one who has all power – the Son of the Most High. And there is nothing they can do to whatever decision he makes.

After the stampede of the pigs into the sea the fearful people from the surrounding town and countryside ask Jesus to depart.

Perhaps the most remarkable statement in the whole account is:

So he got into the boat and left.

No recriminations, no fire from heaven, no dire warnings. He just leaves.

And as a farewell he assigns the only one who responds, the good soil, the one who has a good and open heart, to continue to share the good news with these people.

One senses the coming ascension – in which Jesus will in one sense depart and the Feast of Pentecost in which he comes again in the Spirit to empower his church to be his witnesses.

On several occasions I have quoted from John Piper:

In other words, God’s purpose is to defeat Satan in a way that not only glorifies Christ’s raw power, but also his superior beauty and worth and desirability. Christ could simply exert sovereign power and snuff Satan out. That would indeed glorify Christ’s power.

We saw that in action. It was a frightening display. Jesus could easily have cowered these people and out of fear controlled them.

They were terrified of him. They could not see past this terror. What would he do to them. Was he a vengeful person who would now destroy all those who had been against this man?

But it would not display the superior worth of Jesus over Satan. It would not display the transforming beauty and power of Christ’s meekness and humility and lowliness and self – emptying love. The aim of the gospel is to put the glory of the crucified Christ on display and to shame Satan by the millions of people who ‘turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. (Acts 26:18) and forsake Satan’s lies in preference for the beauty of Christ in the gospel.

And as such it cannot be imposed. It is an invitation. Jesus had displayed that no power can resist the good news. No darkness, no power of Satan.

Yet: So he got into the boat and left.

In one sense the gospel is God wooing the world back to himself. It is a love story. The man who now delivered from his bondage is now one who loves Jesus Christ. He wants to sit at his feet, humbly learning, he wants to be with him in his ministry.

Jesus seems to leave him alone with a disbelieving and terrified town people. But he is not alone. In him is the love of God transforming him through the beauty and power of Christ’s meekness, humility, lowliness and self – emptying love. So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

Jesus had his witness in the region. An unknown man who shared in the sowing of the Word. We don’t even know how abundant was the harvest from that sowing. But we know that Jesus was able to leave the area knowing that this is the way the Kingdom infiltrates the world.

NT Wright said: Jesus’ followers were clearly as puzzled by his resurrection as they had been by much of what he had been saying to them. They were unsure what they were supposed to do next. They were unclear what God was going to do next. At one point, they went back to their fishing. At another point, the last time they saw Jesus before he disappeared from sight for the last time, they were still asking him about whether all these strange goings-on meant that the old dream of Israel was going to come true after all. Was this the time, they asked, when Israel would receive the kingdom, would be free at last in the sense they and their contemporaries had been hoping for?

As so often, Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly. (Many of the questions we ask God can’t be answered directly, not because God doesn’t know the answers but because our questions don’t in fact make sense.) He gently puts them off. ‘It isn’t for you,’ he says, ‘to know the times and periods which the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ (Acts 1.6-8).)

They would be like this unknown man in the region of Decapolis: So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.

They would be sowers of the Word. People had a choice to make. The Gospel would not be imposed on them. They like Jesus would leave areas to those who lived there to share their life with others, witnessing the good news of what Jesus has done for them, and sow in new fields.

What appears to be abundance can become scarcity through human choices, and what appears to be scarcity can become abundance by human choices.

Thus again we hear the warning of Jesus:

When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Message for the Day