Jesus Healed Them Anyway

In Luke 6 we get three groups of people. It starts with Jesus’ disciples. From that group Jesus selects the 12 apostles. After that selection, Jesus and all his disciples go out to the plain to preach. When he gets there the crowd grows from just being Jesus, his apostles and other disciples to also including people from surrounding towns and regions. There is the third group, the crowd. They aren’t Christ-followers. They show up when convenient and when Jesus is done or they find it convenient, they go back home. Luke tells us the crowd came for three reasons: to hear Jesus, to be healed of disease and to be delivered from evil spirits.

These guys came, got their healing, heard a little preaching and went home. They didn’t immediately follow Jesus. Jesus healed them anyway. I can’t tell you how many times that I have reached out to people I initially encountered through benevolence ministry. In the back of my mind I am always wondering if this person will become a Christian through our acts of compassion. Most of the time they don’t. Most of the time they just want a bill paid or some food and then, like the crowds Jesus healed, they leave. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus showed compassion and mercy to people who would never become disciples and so should we.

The Holy Spirit’s Role in the Coming of Jesus

We often associate the Holy Spirit with the beginning of the church in Luke’s second volume, the book of Acts. What is interesting is that the Holy Spirit also played a key role in kicking off Luke’s first volume, the Gospel of Luke:

  • Luke 1:15 – John the Baptist will be filled with the Holy Spirit before he is born
  • Luke 1:35 – The Holy Spirit will take part in the conception of Jesus
  • Luke 1:41 – When Mary and Elizabeth meet, both pregnant, John jumps in Elizabeth’s womb and it is Elizabeth who is filled with the Holy Spirit! It prompts her to speak a blessing on Mary.
  • Luke 1:67 – The Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and he prophesies. I am really unsure why this prophesy always gets the heading “Zechariah’s Song” when it is a prophesy.
  • Luke 2:25 – Simeon had been promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. He also had the Holy Spirit on him.
  • Luke 3:16 John the Baptist tells the crowds that the one who comes after him will baptize people in the Holy Spirit
  • Luke 3:22 – the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus at his baptism (interesting that Luke says this happened “as he was praying” at his baptism)
  • Luke 4:1 – Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as he went out into the wilderness to be tested.

The Holy Spirit played a huge role in the coming of Jesus and the beginning of his ministry. What is more, the Holy Spirit was present in the ministry of Jesus as well:

  • Luke 10:21 – The Holy Spirit wasn’t just present at Jesus baptism and temptation. The Holy Spirit was upon him in this verse as well
  • Luke 11:13 – Jesus says God will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask
  • Luke 12:10 – a warning against blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This warning means the Holy Spirit was a driving force in Jesus’ ministry and miracles. That is clear because Jesus is warning them against calling his miracles from the devil and saying that to deny his miracles is to blaspheme the Spirit, which means the Spirit was at work in the ministry of Christ.

It is easy to think the Holy Spirit was absent from all of this because we spend more time on Jesus’ promise of the coming of the Spirit from verses like John 16:7,

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

Some then assume the Spirit wasn’t much a part of anything until after Jesus ascended to heaven. As you can see from all the verses above, the Holy Spirit played a central role in the coming of the Messiah from before he was conceived, through Mary’s pregnancy, to his birth and through his ministry and then, finally, to the church. The Spirit’s involvement in the start of the church wasn’t anything new. It was very much in line with everything the Spirit had been involved in up to that point.

Review of Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection – Part 3

AllJesusAsksThe third book in the Logos “How to Read the Bible” Collection is Stan Guthrie’s All That Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us. Guthrie takes the majority of questions Jesus asked during his ministry and weaves them into an investigation of the identity and mission of Jesus Christ. In later chapters he turns to questions that explore our identity as disciples (character, (in)competency, attitude, etc) and finally concludes with some apologetics.

After being fairly critical of the other book he did in this collection, “A Concise Guide to Bible Prophesy“. I am really happy to say that this book was excellent. It is thorough. It is insightful. The illustrations are excellent. If I had to compare this to something, I would call this book “Jesus’ Questions for Everyone” as his style reminds me of N.T. Wright’s “For Everyone” Series of New Testament commentaries. He touches on the relevant verses, illustrating and commentating along the way.

I would recommend this book not just to people who want all of Jesus’ questions in one place but to people who enjoy investigation. He doesn’t just linearly and analytically make a list of questions and address them. He weaves the questions of JesusI really love that because any book about questions should feel like an investigation…it is just being fair to your subject…and Guthrie really does pull it off.

There are only three criticisms I have of this book. First, he admits that he is no biblical scholar so there are times I think he missed the point. One of those times in in Chapter 4, “His Humanity” where Guthrie interprets some of Jesus questions to mean that Jesus asked certain questions because he really had no idea of the answer. Here is one example,

When Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, and a Roman execution for sedition looms large, the procurator asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus is not concerned with saving his own skin, but learning whether this brutal Roman official might be a spiritual seeker, one in whom the seed of faith is likely to grow. “Do you say this of your own accord,” he asks, “or did others say it to you about me?” Jesus genuinely wants an answer because he doesn’t know. – Guthrie, S. (2010). All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us (60). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Jesus was making a point in asking the question that goes beyond him just being ignorant of the answer (much like God asking Adam and Eve “Where are you” after they sinned – Gen 3:9). Of the recorded questions of Jesus in the Gospels, Jesus doesn’t normally ask questions out of ignorance. His questions make a point. This entire book was about how Jesus taught through questions, so I am not sure how he missed it on this one.

The second criticism I have of the book just comes with the territory. Any time you deal with passages out of context and develop a whole book that strings together related topics and verses out of context you run the risk of missing some of the meaning. Like the above examples, that happened a few times in the book. Again, that is to be expected due to the way the book is laid out. Third, when you take out of context verses and force them into a self-made framework you run the risk of twisting some passages to fit your topics. That doesn’t come across too much in this book but it does happen. (See Procrustean bed)

Overall, great book and one I would recommend. What the book lacks in scholarship (which overall is pretty insignificant) Guthrie makes up for in his journalistic style, engaging commentary, and ability to connect the reader to the thrill of the investigation, relevance and application. Questions are powerful and Guthrie does a great job of handling the questions of Jesus from his own perspective without getting in the way.

What Does It Mean To Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother? 1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

When we hear Jesus laid down his life for us, usually the first thing that comes to mind is his crucifixion. Jesus died for us on the cross…that is what laying down his life looks like. I think John is letting us in on a little more to the story than just the crucifixion. Notice what he says next, “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

John tells us that, like Jesus, we ought to lay down our lives for others. No surprise there, but notice the example he gives of what this looks like. He doesn’t tell of a Christian dying for another Christian. John’s illustration of how to lay down your life for others is to help someone in need. The truth of the matter is, few of us will ever die for another person, while all of us have the opportunity to put others first on a daily basis.

That brings us back to Jesus. When did Jesus lay down his life? It started well before the cross. It started when he invited a tax collector to follow him, even though he knew people wouldn’t like it. It started when he got an adulterous woman out of being stoned, even though he knew it would cost him. It started when he raised Lazarus from the dead and the plots to kill him started to swirl. It started back when he told them he would tear down the temple and raise it up again in three days but they didn’t understand him and were angry with him for saying such things.

The point is, Jesus laid down his life all along the way. The ultimate demonstration was in the cross but the reality is, it started way before that. The cross was the natural progression of a life that was already given up for others. So when we are called to lay down our lives for others, don’t get all focused on dying for someone else and never put this into practice for lack of opportunity. Realize that laying down yourself for others is about how you value people and how you see yourself.

Loving Those On the Margins

Be very careful to never marginalize others. Jesus frequently took people from the margins, excluded from their community, into fellowship with himself: the 12 disciples, the woman at the well (and all her neighbors), the woman with the perfume, Zacchaeus, you and me. Remember that prior to our salvation, we were dead in sin. When Christ raised us to life we were powerless, helpless and dead. It takes humility to remember where you came from. He has done it before and, before you look down on someone else, remember he will do it again. I would hate to be the guy who stood between anyone and Jesus! I am so encouraged that Christians today are serious about that part of our mission. It has taken some time but I am convinced that in many instances the church is turning the corner on this one!

Living Inside Out: Guest Post by Adelle Gabrielson

“If thou indeed derive thy light from heaven,
then to the measure of that heaven-born light, shine…in thy place and be content.”

~William Wordsworth

Every Sunday morning, my family would go out to breakfast before church. I remember one of those Sundays in particular when my father suddenly looked up at me across the table and said:

“You’re 10 years old. It’s time you were baptized.”

I remember feeling stunned – baptism! It hadn’t come up in a while, not since I’d given up the idea that crackers and juice were an adult snack I was missing out on. I had seen other people baptized, mostly adults, and a few teenagers at camp every year. I hadn’t really considered it for myself.

But, being a girl who did as she was told, that Sunday night I was baptized by my father, before the evening worship service with as little hoopla as I could orchestrate.

I was ten years old, in fifth grade, and I always wanted to do the right thing. If my dad said this was the right thing, then it must have been the right thing. I loved God. I wanted to be saved.

I did as I was told.

I remember feeling somewhat saintly that night falling asleep, and dreamt horrible dreams of the sins I would soon commit, destroying my perfect, sinless, saintly self and woke up the next day bereft and confused.

Following Christ in the act of baptism did nothing to prevent me from sin. From missing the mark and messing up. Over and over and over again.

I thought somehow that baptism would make me more holy, sin-free and saintly. I would be less tempted, guileless and free. I come from a long line of female perfectionists, good girls who were great at keeping up appearances and worrying about what the neighbors might think.

Yet sin seemed to find me, no matter how good I was, or how well I followed the rules.

I came to realize that despite my best efforts, sin remains. As much a part of me as my gender and humanity. Parenthood and perhaps simply age have helped me realize that being perfect was never the objective. The true objective is equally simple as impossible.

Be like Jesus.

Does that mean be perfect? Spotless? Sinless? Worldly perfection is an exhausting task master. In a million ways I will never be enough…daily I am faced with my imperfection as a parent, a wife, a daughter, a friend. There is always more that could be done, greater heights to which I should aspire, and always, always, someone better with whom to compare myself.

I will never be enough.

Rather than striving (and failing) for perfection, maybe I just ought to be striving to be like Jesus.

A man who made Himself nothing.

Be like Jesus.

A servant.

Who didn’t follow all the rules.

Who questioned tradition, social mores and legalism.

He got angry when anger was justified.

He wept when grief was called for.

Most of all, he loved the broken, beat-up and bewildered.

Most of all, he loved the ones who could never be enough.

Be like Jesus.

Living in such a way that the Light, that heaven-born light, shines from the inside out.

And so I tread onward, trying to live with the inside on the outside. Allowing the cracks to be exposed. Setting aside the unattainable and simply being me – in all of my brokenness and flaws.

The cracks are how the Light gets through, and being perfect isn’t my job. It’s His.

 

About Adelle:

Writer, speaker, and wife to her first love, Adelle is a former marketing executive turned boy-mom of two. Adelle speaks and writes about fearless, authentic living, and blogs weekly on her website www.AdelleGabrielson.com. For more, follow Adelle on Facebook or Twitter: @ReadyGoGetSet

I received the blessing of meeting Adelle at the Pepperdine Lectures last week. Be sure to have a look at more of her writing at the above links. Thanks Adelle for taking the time to write this. I am sure it will impact many.

Do Not Just Be Yourself!

You hear it all the time, “Just be yourself” or “don’t try to be someone you are not.” Self expression is popular. Give a kid a school uniform and she will find a way to make it her own. Uniformity is not seen as a plus. That’s why people talk about solutions being outside the box because staying in the box with all the other people who have done it a certain way before is just old and boring.

None of that is wrong but it is important to remember a few things about being ourselves when it comes to self-expression. But when it comes to our identity, we can’t just be ourselves. Left to ourselves, we are dead in sin. Left to ourselves, we make terrible decisions. Left to ourselves we are helpless. The Bible teaches us that God’s desire for your life is that you become someone you were not before. Don’t just be yourself, be like Jesus.

  • Imitate him – 1 Cor 11:1, 1 John 2:6
  • Be conformed to his likeness – Rom 8:29, 1 John 4:17
  • Be transformed in your mind – Romans 12:1-2
  • Have a mind like Jesus – Romans 15:5
  • Being made complete in Him – Ephesians3:19

I am so appreciative that God loved us enough to send Jesus to show us how to live. Words on tablets weren’t enough. God expressed himself through the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. His desire for us is that we follow Him so intimately that we become more and more like Him each and every day. So don’t just be yourself…try to be like Jesus.