baptism, Bible promises, called, crowds, decision, discernment, fasting, Father God, Holy Spirit, humility, Kingdom of God, transformation, Trinity, truth

Jesus’ Baptism, Entry #2

“But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Matthew 3:15

The Jordan River is quite remarkable. It stretches from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, a distance of 156 miles. In the Bible, it is the scene of several miracles, from the OT we see Joshua who amazingly crossed it to get to the Promised Land to the baptism of Jesus by John.

Believe it or not–the water of the Jordan river is used today for the christening of some royals.

It is commonly believed that it holds significant properties that enable a king or queen to rule over their country.

The baptism of Jesus is of major significance.

I suppose the descent of the Holy Spirit, like a dove (and a voice) establishes Jesus’ future ministry. It seems that what happened there instilled in Jesus the strength for His future. We see the next event will be His temptation by Satan and it really seems that He now has the power to overcome the enemy.

We all need to be touched by God’s Spirit to overcome darkness, and often our baptism becomes the foundation of that which He ‘arranges’ this work. Jesus declared that it would “fulfill all righteousness.” That mystifies me, but it seems to connect with His humanity. He has chosen and decided to connect with people in this special way.

“Indeed, baptism is a vow, a sacred vow of the believer to follow Christ. Just as a wedding celebrates the fusion of two hearts, baptism celebrates the union of the sinner with Savior.”

 -Max Lucado

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authority, blessed, broken people, called, compassion, discernment, evangelism, faith, fasting, follow Him, forgiveness, humility, Jesus Christ, seeking Him

Being Short of Stature, #86

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.”

Luke 19:5-6, (context, vv. 1-9)

I see no problem with assigning this story to a Sunday school lesson. It’s imaginative, witty and seriously funny. Kids enjoy the story, especially when the teacher decides to use flannelgraphs. If the teacher is any good at all it can verge on the hilarious. I must admit I enjoy it far more than Leviticus or Numbers.

Just moments before, Jesus–who was travelling the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, had just healed a blind man (Luke 18:35-43), who was wildly enthusiastic about receiving his sight–a crowd had stopped to watch and wonder. The road was a busy one to begin with, so the clog of people was definitely unusual.

Then there was Zacchaeus, “a head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.” (Luke 19:2-4, Message).

There something funny here. First–he’s so short that he looks for a way to see Jesus. That tells me that he’s a true seeker, and he’s resourceful. Second–he climbs the tree in a robe, which is a bit challenging I suppose. It does seem he’s lacking in the dignity department. But he really doesn’t care what others think of him.

For years I’ve thought about this story. I’ve come to see some things that have blessed me, and I hope they will somehow help you to climb the tree of discipleship.

There are many branches on a sycamore tree, which made it easy to climb. I would suggest something to you. I’d like to think of these as the ways we see Jesus. The different disciplines are attached to a singular trunk, perhaps that’s obvious.

Perhaps that trunk is our prayer life. It seems that each of the list below will have that in common. In all of these branches that make-up our discipleship, prayer is truly our definite beginning point. Below are the branches we can climb out on, but remember, they’re all attached to prayer:

  • Meditation
  • Fasting
  • Fellowship
  • Chastity
  • Submission/Obedience
  • Evangelism
  • Solitude
  • Self-Examination
  • Silence

Let’s be very clear. Zacchaeus climbed the tree only to see Jesus. These disciplines are not the Christian’s life. Zacc. only climbed to see Jesus; he didn’t get attached, or find a comfortable spot up there. He didn’t build a tree fort. He only used the branches to see Jesus.

Fasting, or prayer or meditation are incredibly useful. But they’re only ways that we can see him. There comes a point where we come down to be with Jesus, and have a feast with our Lord. When he calls our name, it’s time to climb down. (Luke 19:5-6).

“I wish there were more of us who did not mind being laughed at if only what we did helped us to see Jesus.”

(Maclaren’s comments)

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Waiting for Our Bridegroom, Entry #22

“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Matthew 9:15 (context vv. 14-17)

I detest fasting, I really do. I blame this spiritual deficiency on the fact I’m quite slender and tall and need all the calories I can get. I don’t think that this passes muster though. But I do it anyway. God forgives me but I suppose I’m missing out on something quite wonderful though. (I hope you’re different.)

Jesus makes an announcement. He intends to leave them behind. The disciples will ‘fast’ instead of partying. They will begin to do this with the understanding that He will return for them.

True fasting will clarify the spiritual.

We begin to understand things that we have missed up to now. When we discipline ourselves like this we begin to see and discern the real and the eternal. Fasting is much like a ‘telegraph line’ to a future glory. We are learning to communicate with the throne room and it teaches us to ‘listen.’

We are being prepared for something quite grand. If we start to see this particular discipline as a way of bringing us clarity, we’ll find it much easier and more rewarding. Fasting is hard for most of us, and maybe we need a refresher course. (Just writing about fasting is easier than doing it, trust me.)

When we start to fast we’ll begin to see reality. We can visualize the return of the true King, who is now setting up our future home. We’ll begin to walk, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Bible world is the real world.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Revelation 21:2

 

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