Jesus

Behold Jesus

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As we start December, what a fitting way to begin contemplating who Jesus is and why He came to earth.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

God became flesh. Creator God entered His creation. God moved into the neighbourhood of people like you and I. God who is not constrained by time and space constrained Himself to time and space. God, who does not change, became like us so as to communicate with us, be understood by us, and ultimately so that He could die for us in our place for our sin! God the immortal One, took on mortal flesh so as to give us immortality.

Behold Jesus! Mystery, wonder, awe, worship…

And why? Why did God do this? Why did Jesus enter our humanity?

So that He could become the sacrificial atoning Lamb of God who could take away the sins of the world (vs29). He had to become like us, so that he could die for us in our place for our sin.

So that God could adopt as His own beloved children all those who believe in Jesus (vs12).

Jesus we stand amazed. Jesus there is no one like you, no one who can compare, no one who has gone to such great lengths to love us – we worship You and adore You.

Read and re-read and re-read John 1:1-34. Be in awe and wonder, worship and delight in Jesus, in God.

Gospel Glimpses (Mark 15)

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Justification (vs3-5)

Jesus didn’t justify Himself, didn’t defend himself against His accusers, would’t speak in his own defence to Pilate’s amazement.  Why?  Jesus would not justify or defend Himself, in order that He could justify and defend from the accuser, those who trust in Him.

Substitution (vs6-15)

Jesus the sinless One was mocked, whipped, beaten and ultimately crucified in our place for our sin, while the sinner (Barabbas) walked free!  The One deserving of only praise substituted Himself and took the punishment that was only ours to bear.

Jesus saved us by not saving Himself (vs29-32)

Jesus was taunted; “save yourself!”  People thought Jesus’ death was a sign of Jesus’ lack of power, thought it was a moment of Jesus’ defeat and yet it was Jesus’ power and strength, His power of the will that kept Him there not a lack of power.  Jesus could have at any moment called upon a host of angels to save Himself from the cross and the mocking.  But Jesus endured the cross scorning its shame for the joy of what lay ahead if He did (Hebrews 12:2) – the joy of redeeming us and restoring us to a right relationship with Him.  Jesus didn’t save Himself so that He could save you and me.

Forsaken so we could be adopted (vs33-34)

In what I believe must be the most chilling, shocked words in all of Scripture, Jesus cries out to the Father; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Jesus was forsaken, abandoned in that moment by the Father & the Spirit as the sin of the whole world rested on Him, so that those who put their trust in Him would never be forsaken by the Father ever.  Jesus was forsaken so that we who trust in Him could be adopted and would belong to the Father forever.

Access granted (vs37-39)

Jesus endured all of this, so that the way to God could be opened up forever.  Nothing remains between God and those Jesus has forgiven.  We are sons and daughters of the most High God, we belong in His presence, we have access, we have His heart and His attention.  We have no need of a sacrifice system or a priesthood, we have benefitted from the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus and we have one mediator between ourselves and God – Jesus Christ.

Praise Jesus!  There is no one like you Jesus.  None can compare.  Thank you for salvation, thank you for bearing everything that should have been ours and for giving us what we did not deserve.

Perspectives (Mark 14)

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In Mark 14 the central figure is Jesus. The Mark’s Gospel slows down in these final hours of Jesus’ life, earlier chapters sometimes covered multiple days but now it’s slowed right down, these final moments matter, these events show us who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do for you and I.

The writer like a modern day director of a video, keeps switching perspectives, revealing how a whole variety of people saw Jesus, what they understood about who He was and what He had come to these final moments to do.

The Murderers (vs1-2)
Ever since Mark 3:6 thoughts about how to capture and kill Jesus were real. When the chief priests and scribes saw Jesus all they wanted to do was kill him, Jesus filled them with rage and fury – that was their perspective. It is possible to feel right about the wrong thing! They were convinced they were doing a right thing in planning to kill Jesus, felt justified in their actions, felt they were even doing a good thing. Is there anything you’ve convinced yourself of that you feel right about, but maybe is in fact wrong to do?

The Worshiper (vs3-9)
In sharp contrast we have the woman who boldly approaches Jesus lavishly pours out her love and thanks and devotion to Jesus in an act of worship fit for a king. He is worth it, her love for Him is worth expressing in this way, it is not wasteful as some felt, it is an entirely justified act of lavish beautiful worship according to Jesus (14:6). Does ‘lavish’ describe your devotion to Jesus Christ?

The Betrayer (vs10-11 & 44-46)
Was Judas one of those who protested at this woman’s wasteful worship? A whole years wages wasted on Jesus. Maybe he was happy for Jesus to be a good teacher, a miracle worker, but for people to worship Him in this way – inappropriate, too much, wasteful and wrong…? He is not with Jesus, his heart has shifted, and so he decides to betray Jesus for a some of money. How could someone be so close, in the tight circle with Jesus and yet be unmoved by Jesus at a heart level? Proximity to Jesus does not guarantee faith in Jesus and love for Jesus.

The Friends (vs12-21)
It’s festival time, it’s that time for meals with close family. The close friends and followers of Jesus want to prepare a meal for the Passover. Jesus knows it is His last meal with these ones He has shared His life with, these ones He has invested the most in, and these ones He is about to leave to continue the Father’s will on the planet. They share a meal but there is an awkward moment in the meal as Jesus reveals to them that one of them has it in his heart to betray Him.

The Inner Circle (vs32-42)
The three closest to Jesus are called by Jesus to follow Him into the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus calls them to watch and pray. Jesus is not Himself, they see Jesus distressed, troubled, saying disconcerting things… ‘What’s going on?’ they must have wondered but exhausted they fall asleep more than once leaving Jesus alone in His hour of need as He cries out to the Father if there is any other way. How alone Jesus must have felt, even His closest disciples aren’t there when He needed them. Graciously still, Jesus knows, their hearts are with Him but their bodies are weak (vs38).

The Father (vs36/39)
Was the Father crying with Jesus? What was it like for the Father to hear His Son crying out, Father “remove this cup from me” and to remain silent because there wasn’t another way. Oh how deeply our salvation cost the Father and the Son! Did the Father look away because He could no longer look on His Son, writhing in prayer? Oh what pride and love must have swelled in the heart of the Father to see and hear the Son say; “Yet, not what I will, but what You will.” (vs36)

The Deserters (vs43-52)
Everyone left Jesus, abandoned Him. Not one remained. Alone.

The Accusers (vs53-65)
Jesus – arrested for nothing, falsely accused with trumped up charges that weren’t even consistent. He remained silent before them, didn’t try to defend Himself like He could have and only answered when the High Priest said; ‘Are you the Christ?’ “I AM” Jesus said. I am God, I am the Messiah and you will see it in time to come Jesus went on to say. For which they began to beat Jesus and spit on Him and mock Him.

The Denier (vs66-72)
Although he had deserted along with the rest of them, Peter loved Jesus and so followed at a distance, looked on at His trial. But when challenged regarding his relationship with Jesus he too deserted Jesus denying Him with his words, over and over again. He believed he wouldn’t, believed he would risk all to follow Jesus, but he didn’t and it impacted him deeply.

Who is Jesus to you? What’s your perspective?
Do you truly see what He has DONE for you?
Will you live your whole life as a lavish worship response?

The Rich Young Ruler & Jesus (Mark 10:17-31)

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Consider for a moment the interaction between the young ruler and Jesus and what God is saying to you from it.

Who is Jesus?

The young man addressed Jesus as “Good Teacher” as he asked his question.  Jesus, however, resisted.  Wouldn’t let the man limit to his own ‘little box’ he’d made for Jesus.    Jesus is the majestic Lord of all, almighty God, ruler & creator of the universe, Lion of the Tribe of Judah…  You can’t just choose yourself who He is in your life.

You see, Either Jesus really is God or He is not.  If He is God then it follows that we MUST SURELY obey Him explicitly in ALL of life.  However, if He isn’t God then really don’t bother with anything about him ever again.

Good news not good advice

The young man’s question exposed that he didn’t understand the gospel, he was  legalistic and religious.  He wanted to know what more he could DO to inherit eternal life.  He was focussed on his moral performance thinking that was what God required from Him.  He was looking for GOOD ADVICE from Jesus, ‘what more can I DO to please God enough to earn eternal life?’.

Jesus’ response was designed to expose the futility in that thinking.  Go and keep all the commandments, and then give away everything you have to the poor!  With man this is impossible, Jesus said later on.  It is impossible to obey all the commandments fully and to have the right heart that God requires – no one can do it (Romans 3:10-12), no one.  That’s why Jesus came to earth, to do what we can’t do!

That’s why the gospel is GOOD NEWS not GOOD ADVICE.  It is not information about something we should DO, or something more we should DO (which is what the young man was asking).  The gospel is the GOOD NEWS of what Jesus has already DONE for us in our place because with us this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Thank you Jesus for the good news of the gospel!

Letting go to lay hold

Lastly from this passage we see that the young man sadly could not loosen his grasp on his possessions and money, couldn’t let go of what his security and pleasure was founded on and so went away – ‘disheartened’ (Mark 10:22).

You, can’t hold onto Jesus truly unless you let go of what you’re holding onto first!  We can’t simply add Jesus to the rest of our lives, following Jesus means laying down of everything in our lives at a heart level – giving it all up to lay hold of Jesus, trusting that Jesus is worthy of that level of devotion and trusting that Jesus is good and will reward those who do lay it all down for Him.

Upside down right side up (Mark 9:30-50)

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Jesus’ kingdom is an upside down kingdom. The King of kings came to serve rather than be served, the last will be first and the first will be last, the weak who lean on God become strong, the seemingly strong will in the end be shown to be weak, the repentant sinner is forgiven and the self-righteous pious one will be condemned…

In Mark 9:33-37 there is an almost embarrassingly honest conversation between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus has just been teaching them about His death and resurrection (Mark 9:31), they are afraid and don’t ask Jesus questions about this but end up discussing amongst themselves who’s going to take the lead when Jesus is gone, a discussion about which one of them is the greatest and therefore by implication should lead next.

Cringe moment! Jesus asks them; “What were you discussing on the way?” (vs33) Silence, you can hear a pin drop. Shame, awkwardness… Nothing else needed to be said in one sense, they knew He knew, they knew they were offside.

Jesus calls the 12 around Himself in the house and says;

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Jesus turns the whole conversation about leadership upside down! Being a leader means being the ‘servant of all’, not being served by all. Being a leader in God’s kingdom means being like Jesus who came; “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

Being like Jesus means to value every person, from the littlest to the oldest, from the poorest to the richest, those you get along with easily to those who push every button you have. Receive them, serve them, love them – as you do you’re loving Jesus, loving the Father!

What a challenging passage for any leader! And what if you’re not a leader? Well you too are called to be like Christ, to not be self-centred but Christ-centred who will lead to you to be other-centred, will lead you to serve and value and love.

Help me Lord, help us to be like You more and more. For when we are, when we live out this upside down kingdom value, everything begins to feel and look right side up.

My Jesus? (Mark 8:22-9:29)

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Jesus is characterised by the unexpected. The Jesus of Scripture doesn’t fit into the box of neatly arranged human expectations. Some people walk around with “WWJD” rubber bracelets with the intention of suggesting we should live like Jesus, but what would Jesus really do in many situations?

For example: if you come across a deaf guy with a speech impediment like Jesus did in Mark 7:31-37. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well Jesus stuck His fingers in the mans ears, spat and then touched the mans tongue and he was healed!

Or again, if you come across a blind man like Jesus did in Mark 8:22-26. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO & WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? Well again, Jesus spat, this time on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him and he was healed after praying initially and then praying again.

I would hazard a guess that these are not suggested methods in many; ‘How to heal manuals’. You can’t put Jesus in a box you’ve made for Him.

Seeing all that Jesus was doing, people began to have growing opinions regarding who Jesus was and what He had come to do. Was Jesus, John the Baptist raised from the dead or Elijah or one of the other prophets raised from the dead? Why was Jesus here, what had he come to do?

In that moment, Peter has a revelation and exclaims; “You are the Christ (Messiah)” (Mark 8:29). In that moment, God the Father reveals to Peter WHO Jesus really is (Matthew 15:17), the long-anticipated Messiah.

But still Jesus will not be boxed by our limited expectations regarding what Jesus had come to do. The Jewish people had been anticipating the Messiah for hundreds of years, they had hoped that the Messiah would deliver them from human oppression and the national disgrace they’d endured under foreign ruling powers. Peter and others expect that the Messiah will deliver them from Roman rule and oppression…

And so when Jesus starts to teach about how he is going to suffer and be rejected and be killed…Peter can’t handle it! You can imagine him crying out; “No, Jesus”, ”This is not how it is supposed to be”. He wants Jesus to fit into his box, but Jesus won’t.

Jesus rebukes Peter, calls him out as doing Satan’s work in resisting what Jesus is saying is his ultimate mission. “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33)

We do this at times don’t we? We want Jesus to fit into the box we have made for Him? I sometimes encounter people who will use the phrase, “Well my Jesus wouldn’t do that/say that/expect that…”

But if He is YOUR JESUS then He is not the Jesus revealed in Scripture. Reading the Gospels it is apparent to me that the disciples were on a journey of discovery, learning more and more (often in unexpected ways) about WHO Jesus was and WHAT Jesus had come to do on planet earth.

May I, may we remain humble, open to the real Jesus revealed in Scripture.
May we always be in awe & wonder at WHO Jesus is & WHAT Jesus did for us.
And then may we worship Jesus with our whole lives.

When signs aren’t needed… (Mark 7:24-8:21)

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A road sign that says “Cape Town – 200km” is necessary because the traveller hasn’t yet arrived, and the traveller might need to know how to answer the incessant questioning of their child from the back seat; “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?”.

The sign in one sense is a comfort that you are on the right route but it is also a confirmation that you’re not there yet.  Because signs aren’t needed when you’ve crested the majestic Sir Lowry’s Pass after 18hrs of driving and you’re enraptured with the beauty of the setting sun sinking into the ocean alongside Table Mountain.  You’re there and so signs that mattered in the endless roads of the Great Karoo where everything looks the same, matter no more – you can see the mountain now.

As we read Mark 7:24-Mark 8:1-10 its hard to not be amazed again at the miraculous power and love of Jesus on display.  Jesus delivering the Syrophoenician woman’s child just like she asked Him to, Jesus healing the deaf man with the speech impediment, Jesus feeding 4000 people with just loaves & a few fish…

And yet after all this, the Pharisees approach Jesus and demand that He give them a sign to prove or explain who He was and where His authority came from (Mark 8:11).  In a rare sign of frustration Jesus sighed deeply!  What more could they have asked for, what more would convince them?

What irony! No sign from heaven would be given because Jesus Himself had come from heaven, and when you have the real thing, you don’t need a sign. God incarnate in Christ there right with them, performing miraculous wonders, and yet they couldn’t see the Him, rather they wanted a sign that would point to Him.

Jesus is God’s final word as Hebrews 1:1-4 says;

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” 

Friend, Jesus is the supreme sign of God’s love for you and for me.  There is and will never be anything or anyone greater than Jesus and His life, death, resurrection & second coming.  There is no other sign from God because Jesus is God and Jesus has come and He will come again.

Jesus is the sign and the destination we long for!

Faith (Mark 5:21-6:6)

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pistĕuō (Greek): to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), to entrust, to believe, commit (to trust), put in trust with.

Faith is believing God.  Faith is to put one’s trust in God regarding something when one has yet to still see the outcome.  Faith is believing and acting according to that belief.  Faith is always rooted in SOMEONE or something.

Jarius the Synagogue ruler had a need, his daughter was desperately ill.  Jarius has seen or heard of myriads of people being healed by Jesus and on that basis Jarius believes that Jesus is worth approaching and reveals his faith when He says to Jesus (Mark 5:21-23); “Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live”.

Coming to Jesus revealed his belief that Jesus was worth coming to, imploring Jesus to lay His hands on his daughter puts his belief about what was possible with Jesus on display.

Similarly, the woman who has seemingly unsolvable long-term medical issues believes, has faith.  Scripture clearly explains that the reason for her action was;

She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” (Mark 5:27-28)

Her thinking was, Jesus is the answer to my unsolvable problem – that’s faith!  And faith is what God loves.  Jesus commends the woman for her faith (vs34) and Jesus urges Jarius to keep believing (vs36) when he hears the news that his daughter has passed away.

Why does God love faith?  

Is it because of the relational component that there is to faith?  

I remember teaching my children to swim in the pool and in the ocean.  I remember so clearly just wanting those little freaked out kids to trust their dad, to believe that he would not let them get hurt or worse, to believe that he knew what they could handle.  I know what it feels like now teaching my 18yr old how to drive, when she is panicking that she can’t do something I know she can do, or drive somewhere where I know she can drive, I know what it feels like to just want her to trust me, to trust that I’ll help, I’ll direct and counsel and together we will achieve things she will be proud of and delighted with in the end…  Faith has a relational component to it.

God loves it when we trust Him, when we choose to believe He is good, He is loving and all powerful and that He knows what’s best for our lives.  Will you trust Him, will you have faith like this woman, faith like Jarius?  They saw their unsolvable problems solved because they believed!

In closing, Mark 6:1-6 is set in stark contrast to this.  Jesus goes to his hometown and He encounters the exact opposite of faith, people don’t believe they disbelieve He is anything special and so it says;

And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.  And he marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:5-6)

Jesus still did some miracles, but it was not much, He was astounded at their unbelief and as a result of their unbelief, His hometown lost out on what might have been if only they had believed like the woman, like Jarius.

Will you believe?

Do you trust Jesus in everything?

Are you living today, filled with the faith that God loves?

Perspectives (Mark 5:1-20)

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Let’s consider this account of Jesus and the demonised man from a number of perspectives.

Townspeople: Imagine the combination of feelings from the towns people…  This man was wild, uncontrollable, strong, scary.  They used to be able to keep him locked up with ropes,  then when he kept breaking those they tried chains (vs4), but eventually even those failed to restrain him.  So he roamed the outskirts of the town amongst the tombs, crying out, terrifying people.

The demonised man: What did he feel?  Tormented from inside, not in total control of his outbursts, under the influence of not one but many demons (vs9).  Although nothing physical could hold him, he was nonetheless gripped with fear and anger and shame, ostracised and unloved.  Where were his parents?  His family?

Jesus: Jesus has been busy.  Healing, delivering crowds from their sickness and all forms of oppression, teaching parables about the kingdom challenging mindsets and preparing the ground for the gospel.  So tired he fell asleep in the midst of the storm while on the lake (Mark 4:35-41).  Arriving on the shore, Jesus is met by this man (who must have looked unkept at best, wild or even unclothed even maybe) who comes running and throws himself down before Jesus.  Jesus is discerning, he knows what’s in play here this man is not free, this man is being traumatised, humiliated by demonic influence.

The Disciples: They’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions from the highs of seeing multitudes set free from oppression and healed, hearing perplexing yet mysteriously uplifting parables, afraid for their lives because of a storm & then in reverential awe at Jesus the one who just spoke and waves and wind obeyed Him!  Maybe this guy’s reputation had preceded him, maybe they fear again as this man comes running to them…

‘Legion’: Terrified!  Trembling, this is going to be a bad day!  The King of kings has landed on their shore and they know who He is, they are in no doubt of His ultimate authority.  “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (vs7)

The demonised man: Did he feel hope?  Did he often fight his own body and what the demons made him do?  This time, did he feel hope as he found himself running to Jesus?  Had he heard about Jesus, was he crying out inside yet his voice silent to those watching him?  Scripture doesn’t say, but when Jesus began to engage the demons controlling and robbing his life – I believe suddenly he must have felt hope for the first time in a long time!  Can Jesus help me, is this going to be the best day of my life?

The Disciples: What’s going on here?  Who’s talking to Jesus, begging him?  Who is Legion?  How do they know Jesus is God, we’re just starting to get that!

‘Legion’: In the presence of the Almighty one, this group of demons who had seemingly had so much control and power, had none at all.  They are pleading with Jesus the King of kings; ‘send us to the pigs…’ (vs12)

The herdsmen/farmer & townspeople: That day, one man’s freedom was more important to Jesus than 2000 pigs owned by someone else.  What a statement about the value to Jesus of the man who had been seen as having no value by the town he came from.  Was this action of Jesus’ a judgment on the town for the way that they had treated the man?  Strangely, they beg Jesus to leave them (vs17).  Did he rebuke them?

The redeemed man: What an incredible instant transformation!  From raving mad-man, scary and uncontrollable to ‘sitting there, clothed and in his right mind’ (vs15).  He tries to join Jesus, stay longer with Him, Jesus days ‘no’ but rather commissions him to share the good news of his transformation through his encounter with the Messiah.  And so he does, and he comes probably one of the greatest evangelists in the New Testament spreading the good news with the 10 cities in that region to the amazement of everyone (vs20).  #grateful

The disciples: “Note to self…” at this point in Mark’s Gospel

  • Jesus really has authority over sin & forgiveness (Mark 2)
  • Jesus really has authority over sickness
  • Jesus really has authority over the waves and wind
  • Jesus really has authority over all demonic influence whether it’s mild (Mark 2) to massive (Mark 5)
  • Jesus is really God!?

What’s happening in your life right now?

Have you considered not just yours but some of the other perspectives especially God’s?  How could that change things?

How does knowing Jesus’ authority over all things impact your perspective?

Misunderstood? (Mark 3:1-35)

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Crowds followed Jesus wherever he went as he healed people and set people free people from any demonic influence in their lives. But that’s not all that followed Jesus.

Opposition, misunderstanding and threat followed Jesus from as early as Mark 2:7, when Jesus forgave the paralysed man of his sin and then also healed him.

In Mark 3, Jesus meets a guy in the Synagogue with a withered hand. Jesus has compassion on him and heals his hand but He does this on a Sabbath day. Now, healing someone, restoring their hand to full function, sounds like a good thing, right? Not so for some. And so in that moment a plot to destroy Jesus is initiated (Mark 3:6)!

Great crowds (Mark 3:8-9) follow Jesus to the lakeside, and multitudes are being healed and delivered – these are good things, things to rejoice in! Jesus eventually pulls back from the crowds for a while and calls just some (12) to be with Him, these ones become His disciples, His sent ones (apostles) (Mark 3:13-20).

They come down the mountain, and the crowds return, eventually surrounding his house ‘so that they could not even eat’ (Mark 3:20). Many are being touched, lives transformed, these are good things.

And yet Jesus’ family, an extended group who must have known the stories about His unique birth, must have witnessed His godliness as He grew up and must have heard from Jesus’ mom & dad what had been spoken over him to them by angels…

Even this group of people misunderstand, don’t support Jesus, but rather go out to grab Him, to stop Him, because some of them thought that Jesus had somehow lost His mind and gone crazy (Mark 3:21)!

How did these things make Jesus feel?
How does it feel for us we when are falsely accused, misunderstood, judged & not supported even by those who should love and support us most?
In what ways can you identify with Jesus today?

Here’s the good news. Jesus left heaven, took on a human body, endured experiences like these SO THAT He could enter our humanity fully, SO THAT He could not merely save us from our sin, but also SO THAT He could empathise with us in our experiences.

Whatever you’re facing, accusations, people not understanding you, not supporting you…. Jesus knows, and you can call on Him who endured all that for you, He understands the frustration, devastation & disappointment and He can and wants to lift your eyes to see His today.

So pour your heart out to Him now, He is listening.

Paradoxical (Mark 2:1-28)

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I want to be more and more like Jesus.  Don’t you?

One of the things about Jesus that has always amazed me is that as the Holy, spotless, sinless One in whom there was not even a fibre of sinful compromise, was a total sinner magnet!

Sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, outcasts were drawn to Jesus, they wanted proximity with Him.  You’d have thought that they would have felt estranged by him, uncomfortable around Jesus because of His spotlessness.  But they weren’t…

Now we know that Jesus didn’t lower His standards or dabble a little with compromise to fit in with them.  He was sinless and spotless and yet somehow, paradoxically, messed up people who’s lives didn’t match up to God’s holy standard – were drawn to Him.

John’s gospel records vividly that Jesus came ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14).  I love that description of Jesus.  Jesus didn’t come either with grace or truth.  Jesus didn’t come sometimes with grace and sometimes with truth to varying degrees oscillating between them.  No,  Jesus came full of both grace and truth.

And yet I think, there is an order there that matters.  I believe if we encounter people with truth first, then sometimes we will never get the grace as they will have run away already as they weren’t ready for what we showed them or told them.  If people encounter gracious acceptance, humility and gentleness then they are way more likely to listen to the truth.

Is this how ‘sinners’ were drawn to Jesus?  He was so gracious with everyone and yet never compromised on the truth about what needed to change in their lives?

May we as Christ Followers and as His church be like Jesus!  May sinners find our churches safe places, places where they are included because of their infinite value as image bearers of the most High God, may they feel drawn into close proximity quickly,  and yet may that be loved enough to have truth shared lovingly with them too.

May we as Christ Followers and as His church grasp this paradox that to be holy is not to be removed from sinful people, but to be more and more like Jesus, to have His heartbeat in us.  May we grasp that God’s will for us is that we be in close proximity with lost people so that we can be used by God to share the good news about Jesus with them.  May we grow more and more in our love for those whom Jesus came to call (vs17) to repentance, knowing always that they are like us and we are like them, but for the grace of God.

Prayer:  Who are you praying for, who does not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour?  Pray for them now to come to know and love Jesus and do anything the Holy Spirit leads you to do to reach out to them.

Real Authority (Mark 1:16-45)

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Jesus announced; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)  But what is the ‘kingdom’, what did Jesus mean when He said that?

Mark 1:16-45 and the rest of the Gospel will show what Jesus meant.  The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God (Jesus) over all things.  Just like a king on this earth has authority over the domain of his kingdom, Jesus as King and kings has rule and dominion over all things everywhere.

Here in these verses we see Jesus’ authority four distinct ways;

  1. Jesus’ authority over people’s lives & their destinies (1:16-20)

The still relatively unknown Jesus meets Simon & Andrew, James & John by the lakeside and simply calls them to follow Him and they do!  They leave their livelihood, leave their father and join Jesus on a journey into the unknown trusting Him.  Jesus ‘knows the plans he has for us…’, when we respond to His call on our lives, we choose to trust Him, His goodness and His authority.

  1. Jesus’ authority over the demonic realm (1:21-28 &34&39)

Jesus starts to teach in the synagogue and all of a sudden the demonic influence in a man starts making a scene at the prospect of King Jesus being in the room.  After a very short rebuke to be silent, Jesus commands the demons to leave the man alone and they have to, he is freed!  No power struggle at all, just a simple authoritative command from the King.

  1. Jesus’ authority over sickness (1:29-34)

Jesus arrives in the home of Simon & Andrew, their mother-in-law is ill, Jesus doesn’t even pray for her, no drama, just authority as He took her by the hand and the fever left her.  Word gets out and “all who were sick and oppressed by demons” (vs32) get brought so that it felt like the whole city was at the door of the house and Jesus heals & delivers ‘many’ from all sorts of various diseases.  Whatever it was, Jesus’ authority over it was demonstrated in that moment.

  1. Jesus’ authority through his teaching (1:22&27&39)

Jesus was different, when He taught, they marvelled at His authority, when He commanded demons to be silent or to leave a person alone – they had to do so.  Just as an earthly king has authority within the realm of his kingdom, so too Jesus has authority over His entire realm, which is the entire universe, so His words are all powerful & have all authority.

Lastly, an outcast, a Leper comes to Jesus imploring Him; “If you will, you can make me clean” (vs40) to which Jesus moved with pity for the man replies; “I will, be clean.” (vs41)  Although Jesus is the ultimate authority in the universe, He is not aloof in the least, but left heaven to enter our humanity, stops for the outcast and is moved in His heart for this man.  What a King Jesus is!  What authority, what love!

Contemplate:  How is Jesus’ authority & His love connected to our prayers?Pray:  Is there anything, I mean anything you need to ask King Jesus for…ask Him.