Tag Archives: son

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – SON…FORGIVEN

SON…FORGIVEN

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2:1-12

What did Jesus see and value in the paralysed man? He may seem like a passive player in this scene but he most definitely was not. Until Jesus appeared on the public scene in Galilee, the man was helpless and hopeless. There was no cure for his condition and he was doomed to lie motionless on his mat day after day, relying on someone else to help him with every little detail of his life. He was a prisoner of his useless body with no hope of ever being released.

In that condition, his mind must have been hyperactive. How much time did he spend alone, just thinking? He was unable to do any religious exercises like offering sacrifices, attending the synagogue or celebrating the feasts, which might have brought some relief to his conscience. How many times did he lie wondering what caused his condition? What an internal hell he must have endured with no answers and no-one to give him hope.

What Jesus recognised in him drew out deep compassion for the man. He must have seen a repentant heart and a desperate longing for peace. Before He addressed his physical need, Jesus touched his heart. Forgiveness was a far greater need than healing and, with a word, Jesus swept his conscience clean. The man didn’t argue with His right or ability to forgive sins; he felt it, and his strengthened body responded.

Jesus values a broken and contrite heart. Until a person owns, not only his sin, but also his responsibility for his sin, he remains a prisoner to what is worse than sin itself, the pride that refuses to be accountable for the heart that rebels against God. Jesus values the ruthless honesty that confesses, “I did it and I alone am responsible for what I have done.” This includes the thoughts and motives that may never issue in any kind of action, but that remain in the heart to poison the inner life and cast a shadow over relationships with both God and men.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – ANOTHER LESSON LEARNED

ANOTHER LESSON LEARNED

“When they came down off the mountain the next day, a big crowd was there to meet them. A man called from out of the crowd, ‘Please, please, Teacher, take a look at my son. He’s my only child. Suddenly he’s screaming, thrown into convulsions, his mouth foaming. And then it beats him black-and-blue before it leaves. I asked your disciples to deliver him but they couldn’t.'” Luke 9:37-40.

This is strange. Not long before this, the disciples went out on a preaching tour, authorised by Jesus, and were very successful. They did everything He sent them to do including casting out demons. Why were they incapable of evicting this one?

The description of this demon’s vicious activity in the boy seems to indicate that it was a particularly nasty and tenacious spirit that had hold of him. It was not about to give way easily and it made its intentions known. The disciples were obviously intimidated by its resistance and perhaps believed that it was more powerful than they were, and they gave up.

The boy’s father was relieved to see Jesus and wasted no time in pleading for His help. Jesus’ reaction to His disciples’ failure revealed His exasperation with them. They had been with Him long enough to know how to deal with the opposition from the dominion of darkness.

“Jesus said. ’What a generation! No sense of God! No focus in your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring your son here.'” Luke 9:41.

This paraphrase captures the essence of the disciples’ failure and Jesus’ frustration. He perpetually lived in the environment of God’s presence. His God-awareness kept Him from being intimidated by apparently uncontrollable circumstances and enabled Him to restore to wholeness what the evil one used to destroy people. Demons were part of the devil’s arsenal of destructive weapons against people whom they had overpowered but Jesus easily overpowered them because He, not the devil, is Lord.

Jesus knew that the power of God and the kingdom of God were greater than Satan’s power and in that awareness and environment He ordered demons to leave. The disciples, on the other hand, were yet to live in the mind-set of God’s presence and power. They had not yet grasped His authority them.

“While he was coming, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into convulsions. Jesus stepped in, ordered the vile spirit gone, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. They all shook their heads in wonder, astonished at God’s greatness, God’s majestic greatness.” Luke 9:41-42.

This demon was a show-off! He had to have his last fling before he left. But leave he had to, because he knew who had authority over him. In Mark’s version of the story, after this final thrashing, the boy seemed to be dead but Jesus had him up on his feet, healed and delivered, and handed him back to his relieved father.

The disciples were puzzled, according to Mark (Mark 9:28-29). Why did they have no power over this demon? Jesus’ reply is equally puzzling. The implication of His response seems to be that, before they could cast out the demon, they had to spend time in prayer. But that was not practical.

Prayer is essentially not about getting our needs met. Jesus said that that was the Father’s responsibility. Prayer is about developing a God-awareness that places us, like Jesus, in the environment of God’s presence and power.

Circumstances overwhelm us because they are more real to us than God. The more time we spend engaging with God and opening our spirits to His Spirit, the more real He becomes to us in the difficult circumstances of our lives. This is the essence of faith – and the outcome is God’s intervention to bring us a step closer to wholeness.

God is as real and powerful to us as we want Him to be.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – YOUR PRAYER HAS BEEN HEARD

YOUR PRAYER HAS BEEN HEARD

“But the angel reassured him, ‘Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer had been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you – many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.'” Luke 1:13-15a.

“Your prayer has been heard.” That must have been a shock for Zachariah. What prayer? He and Elizabeth had prayed many prayers in their long lives together. Which one was the angel referring to? Perhaps they were still awaiting answers to some of their prayers and some had long been shelved – especially their prayer for a child. You don’t keep praying for something that is long past its “sell-by-date”!

Perhaps it just wasn’t God’s will or perhaps He had forgotten that childbearing ceases after a certain time, or perhaps, God forbid, He had just not heard them. Isn’t that the way we think when God is silent on the things that we are screaming about?

Zachariah had some important lessons to learn about God that day.

Firstly, Zachariah had to learn that God’s time table and his didn’t necessarily have to coincide. God was putting their details into a much bigger picture. If that entailed a long wait for them, it was a part of their discipline in God’s kingdom. God’s silence did not mean He had not heard. It means He was working on a bigger plan and Zachariah needed the patience to wait until His bigger plan was revealed.

Secondly, he had to learn that chronological age is no deterrent to God. The fact that they were old was irrelevant; in fact is suited God’s plan because no one would doubt that it was God at work.

Thirdly, God only works in supernatural ways when there is no possibility of working through the natural. The angel made it clear to him that Elizabeth would have a child by him. This was not going to be a virgin birth like the birth of Jesus. John the Baptist was as human as anyone else. He had an important role to play in preparing the way for the Messiah, but it would be through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, not through any supernatural birth or abilities given to him by God.

We often have the false idea that God overrides the natural and arbitrarily does miracles in answer to our prayers. This is not to deny the miraculous but to put it in perspective. For instance, Jesus refused to turn stones into bread at Satan’s instigation, not only because “Daddy hadn’t told Him to”, but also because that would not have been a miracle; it would have been magic because stones have no “bread” properties.

Yet Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, using ordinary food in an extraordinary way to meet needs because there was no other way. How often do we ask God to step in and do things for which He has made us responsible? We ask Him to make us more patient in the hopes that He will suddenly fill us with patience, or some other virtue, supernaturally. Instead, He orchestrates circumstances that demand that we exercise patience, and patience grows!

The lessons Zachariah had to learn are for us too. God is writing His big story, and giving us the privilege of being a part of it if we put ourselves at His disposal. He wants us to move away from demanding His attention to willingly fitting into the bigger picture for His glory.

SOS

SOS

Most of us know that SOS is a distress call, but for me it means something far more important than that.

Slave, Orphan or Son?

For most of my life as a believer in Jesus, I did not know that I had the mind of a slave and an orphan, not a son (or daughter). How tragic that there are many like me who live like slaves and orphans! We do not know that God has adopted us into His family and that we are now beloved sons and daughters of the Most High God.

Why are we ignorant of this important fact of our relationship with the Father? Is it perhaps because one of the central themes of the New Testament has been made peripheral. We have shifted the focus from what God has done in Christ for all eternity to what we think He has done for us now. What I mean by this is that we have obscured God’s eternal purpose for humanity by believing the lie that God wants us to be healthy, rich and famous now.

The message of salvation for the most part has been reduced to “come to Jesus. He will forgive your sins so that you can go to heaven when you die.” This leaves would-be believers thinking that they can continue to live as they always have, with the added benefit of a passport to heaven.

What the Bible actually says is a far cry from what many of us have been taught and what we believe. Why did Jesus come to earth? Many will reply, “To save us from our sins,” and they would not be wrong. However there is much more to His coming than just dying for our sins.

I believe that there are three main reasons why He came and everything He did falls under one of them. He came to reveal the Father, to reconcile us to the Father and to take us to the Father. The Apostle John got it right! After years of study, prayer and meditation, he wrote the Gospel of John, which the early church fathers called “the spiritual gospel”. It was his purpose to present Jesus to his readers as the Son of God.

John begins his story at the same point as Moses did in Genesis 1 – “In the beginning…” Just as God was in the beginning, so Jesus was with the Father in the beginning, fully involved in the work of creation with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He revealed Himself throughout the Old Testament era through His Word and His works but the people did not understand Him. Then He came in the flesh to be the perfect expression and revelation of the Father in a way that human beings can understand.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The disciples were puzzled by Jesus’ words:

If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him (John 14: 7).

Philip’s response reveals the depth of his misunderstanding.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:8-10a).

On the eve of His death, He prayed, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of this world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word (John 17:6).

Why did Jesus come to reveal the Father? Throughout the history of God’s people, they had missed the heart of the Father. They needed to see Him in person, to hear Him, to watch Him, to recognise Him as their loving and perfect Father. They had so misunderstood who God was that their leaders killed Jesus for showing them the true nature of the Father. They knew God by many different names but the one name by which they did not know Him was “Father”. It was this name, representing the nature of God that Jesus came to reveal.

Tomorrow, we shall explore the implications of the name, Father, that was most precious to Jesus and by which He wanted us to know Him.

Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or Kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com

Watch this space!

My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available.

 

 

Our Fellowship Is With The Father

OUR FELLOWSHIP IS WITH THE FATHER

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1: 3-4)

John makes it clear from the start that he was not propagating another religion in opposition to the religions that were already in the world. He was writing of something far deeper and more real than that. He testified to being an eyewitness of what had happened when God broke into history through the coming of His Son into the world. He had seen, heard and touched the one who had come from the Father. There was no denying the witness of someone who had been that close, especially when there were others to back up his story.

But what was the purpose of Jesus’ coming? Did He come from God to tell the people of the world how sinful they were and to bring judgment on them from an angry God? No way!

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3: 17)

What did He mean by “saved”? Salvation, in modern times has been pared down to mean “saved from hell so that we can go to heaven when we die.” Is that the best that Jesus could do; shed His blood so that we can have a passport to heaven? What about now? Do we just go on living as we have and hold on until we die?

Salvation from God’s perspective, is far bigger than that. When Adam and Eve plunged the world into darkness by their disobedience, it affected every part of creation. Every creature, every plant and tree was doomed to die. Animals turned on each other; humans turned on each other and, worst of all, we turned on God and became His enemies. The fellowship God so delighted in with His children went out the window and the people God created to be His beloved children were thrown out to make their own way in life, which was the choice they made.

But God didn’t leave it there. He went to enormous trouble to prepare a nation – one He painstakingly built from one childless couple whom He trained to trust Him, to obey Him and to raise their miracle-born son to do the same – to receive His Son when the time came. It took many centuries and much frustration on God’s part to bring them to the point where He could send His Son into the world, born among them into a human family as a helpless infant, raised by a godly couple to show His people what He was really like.

What was His intention? Just to rescue people from hell so that they could go to heaven? What a pathetic purpose if that was all He could do! No, Jesus came, first of all, to reveal the heart of the Father. Was He the demanding, disciplinarian God His representatives, the religious leaders made Him out to be? Far from it! He was a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. The prophets of the Old Testament knew that and taught and wrote about it, but His people ignored what they said because they were bent on rebellion.

Jesus specifically came to show His people that God was a gracious and loving Father. He, Jesus, was the exact replica of His Father. But He did something even more wonderful than that. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father and then gave His life as though He were a sinner, so that sinners could be reconciled to their Father.

Why did He do it? Just to save sinners from hell? No, He did it so that sinners could be forgiven, washed clean of all their sin, given a new heart, a new start and restored to God’s family as His holy and beloved sons and daughters. But best of all, from the moment of their “new birth”, their new beginning, they are restored to fellowship with the Father. That was the problem. They were out of fellowship with Him. In spite of their rebellion against God, they were still in a relationship with Him as His children, although they were estranged from Him because of sin. This happens in families the world over all the time. Kids rebel, run away and dissociate themselves from the parents. This does not make them “unborn”. It cuts them off from fellowship with their families.

God’s desire, when Jesus did all this for us, was to bring us back into fellowship with Himself, not when we die, but here and now. And He did it! Jesus died to clear away all the barriers to fellowship and to restore everything that we lost through sin so that we can be one with the Father again. Fellowship with the Father has great benefits for us – the more time we spend with Him, the more we get to know Him and become like Him, shedding our old self-centred ways and learning to do what pleases Him.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is learning to do God’s will so that His purposes on earth are fulfilled through us. That’s what fellowship with the Father accomplished for Jesus. John’s gospel is full of assurances that Jesus lived in such harmony with the Father than they did everything in tandem. No one could accuse Jesus of sin because He only said and did what He heard the Father saying and doing. How did He learn these things from the Father? Through many hours of fellowship with Him.

With no more obstacles in the way, John assured his readers that they, and we, can also have fellowship with those who are one with the Father and with the Father and the Son. And how that delights the heart of God, fulfilling His desire from the beginning!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3,                                                                              eBook 978-4828-0511-6

Available on www.amazon.com in paperback, e-book or kindle version, on www.takealot.com  or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.

For more details, check my website:

http://luellaannettecampbell.com/

Have you read my blogs on www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com ?