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Tag: Jesus

Just Have Faith

Back in January, we began our current message series – following the life and ministry of Jesus from birth to resurrection – from Christmas to Easter. And since we are trying to condense all of this into a fairly short timeline – from Christmas to Easter – it’s been a challenge to decided exactly what parts of Jesus’ life and ministry to include in our study. A more in-depth look at the life of Christ could easily take several years worth of sermons to fully explore, but we’re trying to fit it all into a 4 month window. So what do we include and what to we leave out?

Well, so far, we’ve covered the early life of Jesus and the beginnings of his public ministry – and we’ll certainly give some significant attention to his final days as he journeys to the cross – but for this middle part, I’d like to just give us a sampling of what Jesus’ ministry typically looked like. 

Last week we touched on how crowds of people followed Jesus everywhere – and while Jesus often tried to get some time away by Himself to relax and reconnect with his Heavenly Father – none-the-less, He always seemed to have time to minister to people. He had incredible compassion for them and always provided for their needs! Sometimes in miraculous ways – such as feeding 5000 men and their families with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish! But of course, more importantly than meeting their physical needs, Jesus came to address their real spiritual needs. He hadn’t come just to feed them fish and bread – but he had come to feed them the Bread of Life! He had come to offer Himself as the sacrifice for their sin so that they could have eternal life through faith in Him.

Of course, at this point, the crowds of people didn’t understand that – all they knew is that Jesus had incredible compassion and love for them – and that He had met their physical needs in an amazing way!

And so today, I want to look at a similar but slightly different aspect of Christ’s compassion for people and how he met their needs. This time not by providing food for the hungry, but this time by providing healing for the sick and the suffering.

And I do confess that today’s story will be slightly out of order on our timeline – we’re actually jumping back in time just a little bit before the feeding of the 5,000 – and so I probably should have switched these two sermons around and done this one first – but hopefully, you can make that adjustment in your notes and we won’t be too confused.

Our passage begins in Mark chapter 5 – and we’ll begin reading at verse 21. 

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Jesus Feeds 5000

The Bible records that Jesus did nearly 40 different miracles during his time on earth – but of those 40 different miracles, (with the exception of his resurrection) there is only one miracle that is recorded in each of the four Gospels. 

Now I found that to be pretty surprising! Of all those miracles that Jesus did – only one was so important and so significant that each of the Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – all decided that they need to include it in their Gospel.

And so, as we journey through the life and ministry of Jesus in our current message series, it seems only fitting to include this miracle as one of the milestones that we’ll stop and take a look at along the way.

Now before we get to today’s passage – I do want to point out roughly where we are on the timeline. Last week we saw that Jesus just starting out his public ministry – calling his disciples to follow him. Specifically we looked at how he called Peter and Levi, but by the time of today’s story, Jesus had called all 12 of his disciples and had commissioned them as his apostles. Over the next little while as they followed Jesus, Jesus began to teach them and to prepare them for ministry. This meant watching and listening to Jesus as he taught the crowds, cast out demons, and did miracles such as healing the sick and even raising the dead.  

Then after that initial period of learning from Jesus – Jesus sent them out on what we might consider a short-term mission trip. It seems that Jesus would agree with the old 4H moto – “Learn to do by doing!” And so the disciples were sent out two-by-by into the surrounding towns and villages to preach the Word of God – calling people to repent of their sins and turn to God. And as they preached, Jesus also gave them the authority to cast out demons and heal the sick as he had been doing.

And so, as we begin our passage today, we’re going to see that the disciples had just returned from their missionary tour and were ready to debrief with Jesus regarding everything they had just experienced.

Of course, while they had been gone, Jesus had continued his ministry of preaching and teaching, performing miracles and casting out demons – and so by now, Jesus could hardly go anywhere without huge crowds of people following him. And that’s about where our story today begins.

As I mentioned earlier, this story is recorded in all four Gospels, and I may jump back and forth a little bit to see some of the unique details in each Gospels, but I’ve chosen Mark’s Gospel as our main text today. So if you want to follow along, you can turn to Mark chapter 6 and we’re going to start at verse 30.

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Jesus Invites Sinners

As most of you know, for the past month or so, we have been creating a timeline of significant events in the life & ministry of Jesus. Now of course, we certainly won’t get a chance to touch on every event in Jesus’ life – as we intend to wrap this all up around Easter time – but we do want to point out some of the more significant milestones along the way.

And so last week we looked at two significant ‘firsts’ for Jesus. We met some of his first disciples (specifically Peter, Andrew, John, Philip, and Nathanael) and then we watched him perform his first miracle as he transformed ordinary water into wine for a wedding celebration.

And we noted that Jesus didn’t perform this miracle in a flashy, spectacular way as to announce his arrival to the public – but rather, this was a rather subtle miracle – where only a handful of people even knew what He had done. But for those people – specifically those first 5 disciples who where with him – this was their first glimpse of the glory of Jesus, and as a result, his disciples believed in Him.

Of course, this would not be the only time that Jesus would reveal his glory to his disciples in miraculous ways so that they would believe in Him. This would continue throughout Jesus’ ministry. In fact, at the end of John’s Gospel we read:

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. John 20:30-31

And that’s really the overarching purpose of Jesus’ many miracles – so that his disciples (and us) would believe that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him we would have life by the power of his name.

God’s purpose and desire is the same for us as it was for those first disciples – it hasn’t changed over these last two thousand years – He still desires for us believe in His Son Jesus and have life through the power of His name!

And that’s exactly what we’re going to see this morning as we continue to look at the early days of Jesus’ public ministry. Today, we’re going to see how Jesus continues to gather his disciples – showing them his glory in miraculous ways – and then inviting them to come and join Him in his mission.

We saw last week that Peter was one of the first disciples of Jesus – and was introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew – although at that time, Peter was still going by his given name, “Simon”. 

Jesus would rename him “Peter” at that first meeting, but it seems’s he’s still going by Simon in today’s story. But AFTER today’s story we see Peter adopt his new name. And I think that makes sense.

If someone met me for the first time and declared, your name is David, but you shall be called “Henry” – I don’t know that I would immediately go around and start introducing myself as Henry just because this stranger told me so.

But after what happens in our story today today, it’s not surprising that Simon would suddenly give a whole lot more weight to words and instructions of Jesus. But you’ll see what I mean as we go through the story. 

If you want to follow along in your Bibles, we’ll be reading from Luke chapter 5 today – and we’ll be starting at verse 1.

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Meeting Jesus

For those who haven’t been with us for a while, we are currently working our way through the life and ministry of Jesus – creating a bit of a timeline to help us see how all of the stories and events of Jesus’ life all fit together.

And so far, we’re really just begun. We looked first at the one event recorded for us in the Bible of Jesus childhood – that is, the time when his family visited Jerusalem for the passover and Jesus got separated from his parents for three days. Eventually they found him in the temple – sitting with the religious teachers – listening to them and asking questions – growing in his understanding of God and already beginning to carry out His Father’s will.

Then we hit the fast forward button and jumped ahead in time to when Jesus was an adult and was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Although Jesus certainly didn’t need to confess or repent of any sin, his baptism marked the first step in his journey to the cross where He would take all of our sin upon Himself and take our punishment once for all.

And then right after His baptism, we saw that the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for 40 days and 40 nights. Of course, Jesus had complete victory over every temptation that Satan brought his way and he modelled for us how we too can have victory over the temptations that we face.

And that brings us now to the beginning stages of Jesus’ public ministry. Today we want to look at two “firsts” for Jesus. I had originally planned just to look at Jesus’ first miracle, but as I read through that, I realized we should probably back up and also look at Jesus’ first disciples as well – since they are a significant reason for why Jesus did this first miracle in the first place. So we’ll start with his first disciples in John chapter 1 and then we’ll move to chapter 2 to look at his first miracle. It is quite a lot of material to cover in one message so we are going to go through it all fairly quickly – but hopefully, we’ll be able to pick up on the major themes that run through these two passages and learn something important for our lives today.

Now as we mentioned back at Christmastime, the Gospel of John really doesn’t say much about Jesus’ birth or early life. Instead, John gives a brief summary of who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish, and right after that, jumps into the narrative of John the Baptist. So in John’s Gospel we don’t actually meet Jesus until after Jesus had already been baptized and presumably after he had returned from his 40 days in the wilderness.

And before we start, I should mention that we will be talking about two different John’s today. There is John the Baptist (whom we’ve talked about already) – and then there is the Apostle John who would eventually write the Gospel that we’re reading from. I’ll try my best to clarify which John I’m talking about as go through it. I did a word count when I was finished this message and apparently I’ll be saying the word “John” about 75 times! So hopefully we won’t get too confused.

And so as the Apostle John begins his story of Jesus, we see John the Baptist preaching and baptizing – explaining to the people that He Himself was not the Messiah – but He was only preparing the way for the Messiah. 

And it’s at this point that Jesus happens to be walking by and John spots him from a distance. This is where we first meet Jesus in John’s Gospel – this is in John chapter 1 verse 29…

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

John 1:29-34

Even before Jesus performed any miracles or preached any sermons or taught any parables, John the baptist was boldly declaring that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. There was no doubt in John’s mind that Jesus was the Chosen One of God – the Messiah that everyone had been waiting for. And so John was very enthusiastic and intentional about pointing people to Jesus.

And that’s actually one of the things that impresses me most about John the Baptist – he always pointed people to Jesus – both figuratively as he called the people to repent and to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah – and now quite literally, as He points out Jesus in the crowd and declares that Jesus is the Chosen One of God. John’s focus is never on himself – he’s not trying to build up his own ministry or increase His own following – but He always very plainly points everyone to Jesus… 

Of course, at this time, John had huge crowds of people coming to see him and hear what he had to say. He himself had several disciples that were following him and learning from him. We even see many years later in the book of Acts that the believers in Ephesus were still preaching and practicing the baptism of John – and so John’s influence was quite far reaching!

But John was always very careful not to make it about himself – it was always about Jesus. In fact, John would later say in John 3:30…

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Facing Temptation

Last Sunday we spent some time looking at the baptism of Jesus. And of course, one of the big questions that comes out of that story is “Why did Jesus need to be baptized anyway?” 

John the Baptist had been baptizing people as they confessed and repented of their sin. But as the sinless Son of God, Jesus had no sin to confess or repent of. He had lived his life in perfect obedience to God and so baptism would seem really unnecessary. John the baptist even said to Jesus….

“I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”

15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”

Matthew 3:14b-15a

And that’s the key right there… Jesus had to carry out all that God required. 

Namely, that Jesus identify with sinful man – taking our sin upon himself as if it were his own. This was a key part of God’s plan to redeem mankind. This would be one of the first steps in Jesus’ journey to the cross where he would ultimately give his life as the payment for our sin.

And of course, as Jesus obediently submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father in baptism, both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit expressed their approval of what had just happened – in a very dramatic way. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove and settled on Jesus and God spoke from heaven saying “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

This was very clear affirmation for all those who witnessed this – that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and that He was doing exactly what his Heavenly Father wanted Him to do. This was almost like a commissioning of Jesus as be began to carry out His life’s mission.

However, there was one further step of preparation before Jesus could begin his public ministry. In the very next verse, right after God said “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” – we read this:

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1

This may seem like an odd thing for God to do – right after He declares his approval and the joy He has in His Son, why would the Holy Spirit then lead Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil?

What’s that all about? Is this like a test – some kind of final exam for Jesus before He begins his ministry? Is this another necessary part of God’s plan to redeem mankind? Is there something else going on here? How does this all fit together?

Well, that’s exactly what we want to look at this morning.

Today we’re going to be looking at Matthew chapter 4 – verses 1 through 11. We already read verse 1, but let me read that again together with verse 2 now because these two verses kinda set the stage for the rest of the passage.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.

Matthew 4:1-2

First of all, you’ll notice that Jesus was led “by the Spirit” into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. God intentionally brought Jesus into a place where he would be tested & tried by Satan Himself.

Now to be clear, God was not doing the tempting, but He did intentionally bring Jesus to a places where he would be subjected to temptation. The question is why? Well, the short answer is that we’re not specifically told. The Bible doesn’t explain God’s motives and reasonings in this instance.

However, I think we can deduce a few possibilities.

One reason could be that this was a necessary part of Jesus’ growth and development in his relationship with his Heavenly Father. You’ll remember that as a human, Jesus had to grow and learn – which is hard for us to wrap our heads around, I know. But Hebrews 5:8 reminds us:

8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8

Now of course, that’s not to say that Jesus had been disobedient previously, but it seems that the depth of His trust and dependance on God grew as Jesus went through difficult things – which is just how our faith grows too! 

I think that most of us would recognize that the most difficult times in life are usually the times that cause us to draw close to God and to trust in Him. When things are going good, we tend just to rely on our own strength. But when life gets hard, we realize how much we need to trust in God. And so these difficult times in our live are really a blessing because they teach us to stop relying on ourselves and instead to put our trust in God.

And so for Jesus, these forty days and forty nights fasting in the wilderness – spending time alone with God in prayer – would no doubt serve as a unique classroom for Jesus to learn even greater dependance on God. And I think we’ll see some of the results of that as keep going through this passage.

Another purpose for the Holy Spirit to lead Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil could be that this was yet another way in which Jesus would identify in every way with mankind. Two weeks ago we read Hebrews 4:15 which says….

15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15

In his humanity, Jesus experienced all the same testings as we do. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan did his best to draw Jesus into sin, just like he does with us. And so Jesus knows what it’s like for us to face the schemes and lies of the devil – because he faced them himself! And what’s more, He had victory over them. This verse in Hebrews tells us – and our passage today affirms – that Jesus did not sin.

And I think that one of the key applications of this passage for our lives is to see how Jesus did that. Jesus models for us how we can stand against and have victory over the temptations that Satan sends our way.

And so with that in mind, let’s take a look at the first of these temptations and see how Jesus deals with it.

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The Baptism of Jesus

Last week we began our journey of walking through the life of Christ from birth to resurrection – from Christmas to Easter. Of course, having worked through the Christmas story already back in December, we continued down the timeline last Sunday with the only Biblical story of Jesus’ childhood – an event that happened when Jesus was just 12 years old.

And just in case you missed it last week, let me quickly give you a recap. According to Luke chapter 2, Jesus and his family had travelled to Jerusalem for the passover feast – as they did every year. But this year was a little bit different. This time, when the passover celebration was over, Joseph and Mary started home, but without realizing that Jesus had stayed behind in Jerusalem. They travelled for an entire day before they finally realized that Jesus wasn’t with them, so they turned around returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days of frantic searching, they finally found him in Temple – sitting with the religious teachers – listening and asking questions.

Of course, when they found him, Mary & Joseph understandably had mixed emotions. They were both relieved to have found Jesus but rather upset with him about the emotional toll this had taken on them for the last three days! Jesus had always been a responsible young man – as the Son of God, he had never sinned! So Mary & Joseph’s frustration with Jesus was probably a new experience. I think Luke says it well in Luke 2:48…

48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.” Luke 2:48

But to this Jesus gave a most amazing reply…

49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke 2:49

What a response! Even at this young age, Jesus already knew who his true Father was and He had already made it his priority to begin accomplishing his Father’s will.

And that, actually, is a key point in our passage today. Today we are jumping ahead along the timeline to when Jesus is about 30 years old and he is about to begin his public ministry. And even though about 18 years have passed since this incident at the Temple, Jesus continues to make it his priority to carry out his Father will – something that He will do single-mindedly for the rest of his time on earth!

The passage that I want us to look at today is Matthew chapter 3. The event that I want to focus on is the baptism of Jesus (which is really just the last 4 verses of this chapter) —but to understand those four verses, we kinda need to look at the rest of the chapter. So let’s begin at Matthew chapter 3, starting at verse 1.

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