20/20 Vision, Entry #8

He said to them, “Come and you will see.”

John 1:39 (context, 1:31-51)

The calling of the 12 was one of the more remarkable events in history. Some experienced amazing things–Nathanael for instance (1:47-48). But I suppose the most astonishing thing was how the disciples left everything to follow in the steps of God.

“Come” is a word of submission. To obey it they must trust him. Jesus wants these men to follow Him. He wants them to ‘travel’ with Him. Jesus deeply desires that these new disciples see for themselves the things of God. He wants them to engage in the work and experience the Kingdom first-hand.

“You will see.”

There is a need for people who can really look at things and ‘see’ what is real. Today it seems the world is living in a fantasy. There are very few who can understand things as they really are. For many the ways and presence of God are never real. The world never understands what the Kingdom is all about. They are truly blind.

A Physician With Power, Entry #7

“And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘“Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’”

Luke 4:23, (in context, 4:25-27)

Jesus does heal, the Gospels attest to that fact. Generations since then have been beneficiaries of a ministry that alleviates pain and disease. Many have been touched, and many more will encounter Him in this way. We may carry our difficulties poorly, but if He chooses to heal us that is His prerogative. Some will be dramatically healed, others will not. Jesus chose to pass by dozens before He encountered the paralytic.

We cannot manipulate Him.

Sometimes we use our faith like a tool to try to get what we want, but He decides, not us. Sometimes we think that healing comes to the really ‘spiritual,’ as if it were attainment of our faith alone. In the Gospels we see Jesus initiating and alleviating disease, and I believe that. But I also know that He passes by many faithful believers who still endure pain.

Jesus’ reputation has grown.

The synagogue leaders in Nazareth have heard of Him, of His phenomenal teaching and His earth-shaking miracles. When He stands to read from the scroll every eye is fixed on Him. In verse 22 the leaders speak very highly of Him, but a few verses later they’re filled to the brim with anger and want to throw Him off a cliff.

Human beings are fickle creatures.

We seldom realize our inconsistencies and our erratic behavior. Many wonder why their faith doesn’t work– but what about the faith needed to remain sick? Doesn’t it work both ways? It seems that it also takes significant faith to follow Jesus when we remain terribly ‘unhealed.’

“Christ is the Good Physician. There is no disease He cannot heal; no sin He cannot remove; no trouble He cannot help. He is the Balm of Gilead, the Great Physician who has never yet failed to heal all the spiritual maladies of every soul that has come unto Him in faith and prayer.”

-James H. Aughey

Completing Scripture, Entry #6

“And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:21

Jesus initiates the conversation, as He usually does. He is talkative without being irritating or tedious. “He began to say” is just the start, and He intends to penetrate our defenses with His words. As ‘hard-headed’ as we are, we desperately need a spiritual jackhammer. And Jesus promises to keep His word.

The Bible is ‘God-breathed.

It isn’t like any other book, it discerns “the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). There is nothing–absolutely nothing that remotely compares to God’s Word. It is the ultimate authority in the entire universe. By the Lord’s eternal Word all of creation came into existence. By His speech He changes our calloused hearts to be like His.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” 

John 1:1-3 

When Jesus stands up and reads, He ‘bonds’ His ministry to these scrolls. Both He and God’s words are fully connected with each other. He ‘fulfills’ everything that is written down in ink. The authority of Christ and the power of the precepts are fully cemented together. God’s wondrous work is truly seamless.

“I will answer for it, the longer you read the Bible, the more you will like it; it will grow sweeter and sweeter; and the more you get into the spirit of it, the more you will get into the spirit of Christ.”

-William Romaine


The Spirit is on Me, Entry #5

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Luke 4:18-19

The Trinity is seen at work redeeming man in these two verses–the Spirit anoints, Jesus proclaims, God pours out His favor. The ‘three-in-one’ is active and moving, and He is incredibly involved in each one’s salvation. This quotation is taken directly from Isaiah 61:1 and it completely defines the ministry of the messiah.

The focal point here is on the needy and desperate. The poor, captives, blind, and all of the oppressed become the chosen ones of Jesus’ ministry. His specialty is neglected and the needy, that is His work and I believe that those are still the specific ones He has had His eye on all along. His mind hasn’t changed in 2000+ years.

The Holy Spirit is critically needed to do this work.

If Jesus needed to be consecrated for this task, how very much more do we. The message is always one of healing, the needy, and the beaten down. That really must be our M.O. We must do the work in God’s way, with God’s power. We must be energized to reach the very lost with the presence of God. This is His heart cry.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

John 14:12

Jesus Begins His Public Ministry, Entry #4

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Mark 1:15

Time. We are all on a definite schedule and affected by its relentless pace. Jesus now declares that His moment has finally come. It seems that the Creator of time is subject to the pace at which it unfolds. He is precisely on schedule for the ultimate event of all of history. It all begins at this moment.

Jesus now officially recognizes the start of “the Kingdom of God.” The Jewish people have sought this moment, they have looked for it and waited. But now they must respond to His message of repentance and faith. They have to make the decision, they must settle themselves into God’s purpose for their lives. There is no other way.

Our response to that good news is repentance and faith.

Both are absolutely critical to really becoming a Christian believer. Both situate us to the certain place where we can receive from God. We can’t just ‘admire’ His person and message. Far too many people make this mistake. Instead we must vigorously respond to all that He says; we absolutely need to make a decision. We have to change.

There is no other way.

“A sinner can no more repent and believe without the Holy Spirit’s aid than he can create a world.”

-Charles Spurgeon

  

Tempted by the Devil, Entry #3

“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God are’”

(Matthew 4:4)

God’s Words are equated to bread, emblematic of God’s kind of food. Bread signifies life. Jesus addressing the tempter places the Word of God as the final Sustainer of life itself. By His declaration, He establishes what is real and necessary to every disciple.

The Word of God is the food that the believer needs. Without the promises of God, we’ll “starve” inside spiritually. We must have what God is speaking, all that “the mouth of God” wants to share with us.

Deuteronomy 8:2–3 parallels Matthew 4:1–4. When Jesus is tempted three times, He quotes exclusively from the book of Deuteronomy each time. We see Him strengthening His calling by using the truth found in the OT, He establishes His ministry using the Law of Moses.

God’s words have a profound effect on our hearts. They change us from the inside out and nothing can do that. Without his words, something dies deep inside us. We look around and realize there is no real meaning.

“I will abundantly bless her provisions;
    I will satisfy her poor with bread.”

(Psalm 132:15)

(See also: Matthew 3:15, 4:7, 4:10)

Image, “Christ in the Wilderness,” Briton Riviere

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

The Boy in the Temple, #1

Art: William Holman Hunt, oil 1890

“And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke 2:49

His parents are somewhat frantic. Jesus is missing. He can’t be found in the pilgrimage crowd journeying back to Nazareth. The travel time from their home back to Jerusalem would have taken several days on foot, a trip of over 60 miles.

They find the youth in the Temple, and it’s there they questioned His decision to stay with the rabbis. Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary are somewhat astonished. Why did He call the Temple, “my Father’s house?” Why did the teachers of the Law find Him so compelling?

A lot of boys would’ve found a more exciting place ‘to hang out.’

What we learn I suppose is the primacy of the things of God. Jesus has a definite connection to the place God dwells, His presence, and the rest God gives to each one who will only come. He is waiting for ‘ignited desire’ for each believer to come. Our hearts are now His home.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

(1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Let’s Consider What Jesus Said

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

John 21:25

Jesus explained the kingdom of God to people who were just like us. He spoke simply and directly, not at all like the Pharisees. He never made it complicated, or mysterious, instead he “simplified” things. He took theology and clarified it. His simple teaching was such that little children understood.

Many publishers print Bibles with everything Jesus said in red.

It’s that conviction that this website has been created–it’s the red ink that teaches God’s Kingdom to us clearly and perfectly. Jesus is talking about the nature of the reign of God. It’s good for us to consider, and put these teachings into practice

Good theology asserts that Jesus Christ is the “God-man.” The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the supreme Creator, and the one who holds all things together (Col. 1:15-17). Christians believe he is the second member of the Trinity. When he was born he still was God–but now with flesh!

I assert that this means that He deserves to be actively listened to, obviously, and carefully. What Jesus said must be considered in the light of who He is–if he’s really who we believe he is, his words are authoritative, and critical. After all, he is the one who guides the stars and planets and holds atoms together.

But it’s not that all the “black” verses are in any way deficient.

They’re not outdated or easily deficent, rather each of them finds a connection to a red-letter principle. The Old Testament promises look forward to a New Testament fulfillment. It’s been said by commentators that the OT is the NT concealed, and the NT is the OT revealed.

The “Sermon on the Mount” is a case in point.

There is simply nothing like this particular teaching in any work of man. (Shakespeare’s words aren’t even a blip on the radar.) Believers are those people who believe that Jesus Christ’s words are completely authoritative.

Moses climbed Sinai to obtain the Law from the Almighty, the Lord Jesus sat in the grass on a mountainside to teach. (Matthew 5:1-2). He opens his mouth and teaches his disciples the Beatitudes–those amazing verses that are the very foundation of God’s active rule in our lives.

He declares salvation and God’s profound love for us. He keeps sharing it over and over. He wants us to understand the Father, to be obedient to the truth, and live the Kingdom. What Jesus says will often shake us up, but they’re God’s clear will for us.

It’s imperative we take a closer look.

Your brother in Jesus,

Bryan

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The Great Commission, #111

“Jesus came near and said to them, 

“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””

Matthew 28:18-20

Well now. Red Letters is now done. We’ve traversed our way through Jesus’ acts and teachings. I’m quite aware that I have overlooked much of it. I just maybe lose some sleep over this.

But I rest in John 21:25–

” And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the book that would be written.”

John 21:25

“Authority” is the key.

The Greek means “freedom of choice,” or having “the power to make decisions.” Jesus alone has that right, if we’re to evangelize the world, it must be under his auspices. We need to remain dependent on him, and serve under his authority.

Very precise instructions are given.

  • Discipleship
  • Baptism
  • teaching them to observe
  • under command
  • his presense–right until the end.

Each of these is under his authority. He’s in full control of each believer, and commissions them to act on his behalf, and under his lordship. In a definite sense we don’t act apart of him–everything we do, all of our actions must reflect that truth.

Someone wiser than I reflected that we’ve essentially changed this to “the great omission.” Perhaps that’s true for many Christians–and churches. It’s easy to do, and often we alter the express command of Jesus into our own personal improvement plan.

“I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou can eat it all to thyself.”

   Charles Spurgeon

The adjustment is terribly subtle, and the enemy has his fingerprints all over it. His work makes perfect sense. Stop the Church at any price. Some suggest that we’ve become a cruise ship now, instead of a battleship. I think that a simple study of the history of the Church would back that up.

“Everything God does is love — even when we do not understand Him.”