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Sunday, July 16, 2017

posted Jul 16, 2017, 10:48 PM by Site Administrator

FATHER, HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

 

Luke 11:1-13

Key Verse 11:2

 

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.”

 

            First, “Father, hallowed be your name” (1-2). Look at verse 1. “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” So far, the disciples had not prayed, for they neither knew why nor how. Now, almost at the end of Jesus’ messianic ministry, the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. They saw Jesus’ example of prayer life, and now they too wanted to be spiritual like him. How happy Jesus must have been when they asked him to teach them about prayer! How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 2 through 4. Let’s read these verses together:

 

2He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.

 

            The disciples asked him about how to pray – the technical aspect of prayer, but Jesus taught them what to pray for. The prayer topics Jesus asks his disciples to pray for are known as, the Lord’s prayer. It is because these were the prayer topics Jesus prayed for all the time, and these are the prayer topics Jesus wants his disciples to pray for. What we pray for means what we look for, or what we desire, or wish; simply, what we pray for shows us what we pursue in our life. There are so many things people pray for. Some people pray for a good job; some people pray for their business success; some people even pray for a happy family. Some people look for a way to improve their image, how they look, even in God. Simply, people don’t know what they ought to pray, I mean, what they ought to pursue with their life. Now, Jesus, by teaching us to pray for these things, shows us what we ought to pursue with our life. What should we pray, and what should we pursue with our life? Let’s check out the Lord’s prayer in detail.

 

            The object of our prayer is God in heaven, but Jesus tells us to call him in prayer, “Father.” He wants us to come to God in prayer like sons and daughters coming to their father for some request. How do you come to your earthly father, when you need some help? Do you call him so authentically, “O most gracious and gentle father in the world” or “O, powerful CEO of Exon Mobil company”? No, you simply, call him, “Daddy, I need a new computer for school work. Do you think you can help me?” There is deep trust in your heart when you come to your father for help, no matter what outcome there may be. In the same way, Jesus asks us to come to God with complete trust and confidence – Our Father in heaven knows what we need, and he knows what is best for us. The title, “father” is the symbol of protection and provision. Sometimes, in our pilgrimage, we are so lonely and tired. At that time, we simply, come to God in prayer, and just speak to him, saying, “Father,” then, we are so comforted. When we call God, the Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, “Father,” we are relieved from all agony and sorrow. Do you have untold sorrow? Do you feel so harassed? Then, come to God, and say to him in prayer, “Father!” Then your soul will find deep peace, tranquility.

 

            The first prayer topic is, “Hallowed be your name.” The word, “hallowed” means, “sanctified,” or “consecrated.” God’s name be hallowed, means God’s name be honored, revered, and treated holy. This means that God may be treated differently that whenever the name God is related, anything of God is related such as God’s word, God’s kingdom, or God’s servants, people may show different attitude, with respect and honor, showing absolute reverence and obedience.

 

            In the world, God’s name is not honored – people do not show any reverence toward things of God; rather, they despise God and attack God; they establish terrible laws, cultures and lifestyles that are against God; the whole world is against God. Not only so, in the lives of believers, God’s name is not hallowed either. People talk about loving God with their mouths, but it is hard to find those who truly love God by obeying his command. Simply, believers do not live according to God’s command, but they too pursue what the world suggests. As a result, people in the world despise them, and God’s name is dishonored because of them.

 

            In this situation, Jesus wants us to pray that God’s name may be hallowed in and through us. God’s name may be hallowed in my life, in your life, in our church and family. When this is our prayer topic, we don’t say or do however way we feel like. Instead, we are very careful of what we do or say and how we conduct ourselves so that our words and actions, our decisions may result in honoring God’s name at work, at school, at home, and in the church. When God’s name is hallowed among us, no one will insist his or her own ideas or desires, but we all live to love God and obey His command; thus, we will be one for God alone.

 

            This is the first prayer topic Jesus wants us to have and pray for. The first prayer topic is what is most important to you, and thereby, what you desperately and wholeheartedly pursue, something you really talk about and desire in your day to day life. Simply, the first prayer topic shows what you live for – the purpose of your life. This first prayer topic defines what kind of life you live and who you are. Some people pursue success in their business, so they pour out everything they have for this purpose – they live for it; their first prayer topic is to establish their business successfully – such people are called, “businessmen.” Some people’s first prayer topic is to be superstars in music, or in movies, or in sports – they are called, “singers or musicians” “actors” “athletes.” What kind of people are those who live for God’s name to be hallowed? They are “disciples of Jesus,” because Jesus also lived and died for this. “Hallowed be your name.” With this prayer topic, Jesus shows us what we should live for, and what we should really pursue in our life – Hallowed be your name.

 

            The second prayer topic is, “Your kingdom come.” The real essence of the kingdom of God is God’s rule; wherever God’s rule is, there is the kingdom of God. Under the rule of God, people are safe and they have the sense of security, so no worry, or anxiety or fear; their souls find rest and peace; they are satisfied. How happy we are when God’s rule is there in our hearts and life. At that time, we become confident, saying, “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil... Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Ps 23) There are many things that try to rule our hearts – ill-emotions and feelings such as the sense of betrayal, hatred, anger, bitterness, or jealousy, the sense of meaninglessness. When people are ruled by such ill-emotions and feelings, they are very unhappy; they live in the kingdom of Satan, not in the kingdom of God. Sometimes, our fleshly desires try to rule us; sometimes, our small citizen’s dream try to control us; sometimes, our worldly desire for success tries to rule us. In this situation, we pray, “Your kingdom come.” As we pursue God’s kingdom, God’s rule in us, we reject all other things that try to rule our hearts and life. This is our conscious struggle.

 

             Your kingdom come. This is our second prayer topic. This is what we pursue and struggle to fulfill; we struggle to build God’s kingdom in the hearts and lives of our neighbors, other college students, and in our society. Jesus’ disciples are those who live to build God’s kingdom in the lives of many people in the world; they are the ones who live as “kingdom builders.” When God’s kingdom rests in our family, our family life will be a heavenly life – every family member enjoying God’s peace, and loving and taking care of each other. When God’s kingdom rests in our community, we will no longer worry about crimes or abuse; then, parents can send their children to school by themselves without any fear. No more broken family, no more teen age single mother, and no more gang problem. When God’s kingdom comes to the world, there will be no more wars or fights. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be fuel for the fire. (Isa 9:5) God says in Isaiah 65:25, “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain.” “Your kingdom come!” This is the true hope of all believers. And this is what we Christians pursue with all our heart and strength.

 

            For this prayer topic to be fulfilled, today, we go out, find students and teach them the word of God. We work hard to demolish Satan’s kingdom and build God’s kingdom in their hearts and lives. People come to school to build their career, and their future, but we come to school to build and expand God’s kingdom. Our prayer is: “Your kingdom come at El Camino College; your kingdom come at CSULB; your kingdom come at CSUDH; your kingdom come at LAHC; your kingdom come to all colleges and universities in California! This is what Jesus wants us to do – build God’s kingdom in the hearts and lives of many people. Live as kingdom builders, even experts, professional kingdom builders! This is what Jesus wants us to pursue – Your Kingdom Come!

 

            Second, “Give us each day our daily bread” (3-4). Look at verses 3 and 4. Let’s read these verses together:

 

3Give us each day our daily bread. 4Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

 

            The Lord’s prayer can be divided into two parts – first, prayers for God’s name and God’s kingdom, showing us what we must pursue and live for, and second, prayers for our practical needs. Jesus shows us three things we should pray for in regard to our practical needs – “Give us each day our daily bread,” “forgive us our sins,” and “lead us not into temptation.” Here, “bread” is about security such as jobs or houses. As we pursue God’s name and God’s kingdom, we too need food to eat, place to sleep, and clothes to wear. Jesus asks us to pray for such things. But in doing so, notice two things: 1) Give “us” each day “our” daily bread. Modern day, people are self-seeking; they say, “You eat your bread; I eat mine.” “Don’t bother; I’m eating.” But Jesus teaches us to pray for “our daily bread.” His point is clear: He wants us to be concerned about not only my own security or career matter, but also other disciples’ career matter; in this way, Jesus wants us to build a sense of community among us. God has gathered us together for his purpose – that’s what the church is about. Now as we pursue God’s mission in one mind and heart, we pray for the job matter of all the disciples in the church, being concerned about their wellbeing. 2) Jesus wants us to pray for “daily bread.” “Give us each day our daily bread.” Often, people want to secure their life for the next 10 or 20 or even 30 years with one job – then, this job matter or building their career matter becomes so heavy and burdensome; often, many people value their job matter even above God’s calling for their life. Jesus never wants us to try to solve our future security matter with a job; instead, he wants us to have God as our security and rely on his provision daily. When we just look for each day our daily bread, then, this matter becomes so small, not burdensome at all; whether you eat T-bone New steak or just one potato, you are not so bothered; even if you eat 99 cents chicken sandwich at Burger King, you don’t cry because others eat Prime rib; any way, it is just one meal, not the matter of life and death. When we pray each day for our daily bread, when we are just happy with each day’s food or security, then, we can do God’s work freely without any hindrance. Then, at the right time, God will give us a good, even best career job that can amply support our life of mission.

 

            Jesus also tells us to pray for the forgiveness of our own sins. Jesus does not say that, since we are saved, or since we live as his disciples, we have no problem with sin. No. Instead, he asks us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins whenever we pray, maybe, daily, or three times a day. Praying for the forgiveness of our sins daily shows us how seriously we consider our sins before God; praying for this daily shows that we are fully aware of its evilness and that we disapprove it and we fight against it. We do not condone sin, saying, “I cannot help it.” We do not dwell in sin. Instead, as forgiven sinners, we hate sin, and fight against it continually by relying on God’s grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Maybe, we are defeated by sin over and over, but as we fight sin continually by holding on to God’s grace in Jesus Christ, eventually, the day of victory will come when we really overcome it. This prayer topic shows us the importance of how we deal with our sins in Jesus Christ. Some people live in defeatism, because, despite their struggle, they still suffer from their chronic sins, and now they give up and dwell in sin. They may fail, yet, still by faith, they must rely on God’s grace of forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ. Some other people consider God’s grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ as a license to sin. They abuse and misuse God’s grace, only to bring destruction on themselves. Jesus encourages us to fight sin by relying on God’s forgiveness through prayer continually. Such people eventually come to experience God’s victory in Jesus Christ.

 

            In doing so, still, there is one condition for us to be forgiven of our sins – we must forgive others who have done something wrong against us. We cannot come to God and pray for the forgiveness of our sins while we hold grudge against others. When we forgive those who have sinned against us, we have confidence to come to God for the forgiveness of our sins. God wants to forgive your sins. But do you forgive those who sinned against you?

 

            Jesus also asks us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Many people proudly think that they are strong in Christ and that they can handle any kind of temptation very well. Such people really do not know the spiritual reality. The perfect man Adam, who was in such intimacy with God, who was dedicated to God’s work completely with such wisdom, when he was tempted, failed bringing total disaster to mankind. Jesus, even though, he was full of the Holy Spirit, even though he was the Son of God, when he was to face the enemy’s temptation, prepared himself thoroughly through fasting for forty days and nights. Judas Iscariot was dedicated to Jesus and to God’s work completely; he had worked with Jesus for God’s kingdom for three years, having such divine Bible study with Jesus. Yet, when he was tempted, he failed and became most miserable. Once you are tempted, everything looks different, and your mind works very strangely. Even you come to think that eating an apple will give you wisdom, making you just like God. It’s crazy! So, we must not proudly say that we are okay with temptation. Instead, we must make all possible efforts to avoid any tempting situation. Some people keep exposing themselves to a tempting situation, even though they know that it is dangerous and that they can fall because of it; they are like children playing with fire. What can happen to them? They consciously and unconsciously entertain such temptation, and eventually, they give into that with some theological excuses, saying, “Salvation by faith in God alone,” or “No matter what I do, God will protect me.” Jesus specifically asks us to pray for this so that we may not be exposed to a tempting situation. Praying for this prayer topic means that you are fully alert in spirit and are aware of what’s going on or what’s going to happen; it means that you are very careful of where you go and whom you talk with. If you sense that things can go sticky, you stop there, turn away and flee. If temptation comes through your right eye, even though your right eye is so precious and valuable to you, gouge it out and throw it away; if your right hand causes you to sin, even if your right hand is so useful, cut it off and throw it away.

 

            Third, “Ask, seek, and knock” (5-13). Through the Lord’s prayer, we learned about what we ought to pursue and pray for. Now, in verses 5 through 13, Jesus shows us with what kind of attitude we must pray to God. Look at verses 5 through 8. Here, we see three friends – a poor friend comes to a rich friend to borrow some bread for his friend who came by his house at night, on his journey. This friend wants to treat and take care of his friend, because he was tired, thirsty and hungry from the journey. But he is so poor that he has nothing in his refrigerator – no milk, no orange juice or even Honey Bunches of Oat Cereal. It seems that there is nothing he can do for his needy friend. But he really wants to take care of him. He becomes desperate for his friend’s sake. So, even though it is already midnight, still he visits his rich friend, and knocks at the door. Then, what is the rich friend’s response? At first, his response is clearly, “No,” saying, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are already with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” But because the poor friend cannot simply give up, he keeps knocking at the door. So what is the result? Look at verse 8. Let’s read this verse together:

 

8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

 

            The rich friend gives him as much as he needs, not because he is his friend, but because he keeps bothering him. Jesus’ point is clear: When you pray to God, you keep bothering Him until he answers your prayer. We have sheep to take care of – they are thirsty, hungry and tired; but the problem is that we are poor too; we don’t have bread or milk to feed them on our own. But there is one who is rich, our God in heaven. Maybe, in heaven, he is already in bed, very cozy; maybe, your prayer request is not in his to-do list or it is at its bottom. But when you pray boldly, persistently, when you keep bothering him crying and knocking at the door, because of your persistence, he will change his mind and take care of your case first, even if it means that he has to change his whole plan. When you pray so boldly like this with desperate attitude, you will receive whatever and as much as you want, and your shepherd’s life will be so abundant and prosperous. Pray boldly for whatever you need, and God will give you whatever and as much as you want, not because you are a good servant to him, but because he is so bothered by your prayers.  

 

Look at verses 9 and 10. Let’s read these verses together:

 

9“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

 

            As a conclusion of his teaching on prayer, Jesus says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Here, Jesus shows us three aspects of prayer – ask, seek, and knock. Let’s say, you ask God for a job. That is a prayer; but that’s not all. After asking, you check out LA Times classified, Craig List, and LinkedIn, and submit the application with your resume to all possible companies that’s seeking, another form of prayer. After that, after waiting for one week, you contact them by sending emails or calling them, or even visiting them and talking with them in person, showing that you are really serious in the job matter and appealing to them that you will be faithful once you are hired. That’s knocking, another form of prayer. Prayer does not just mean to ask God what you want; instead, praying for a certain thing means that you want it or you need it, and thereby, you pursue it. When you pursue what you pray for this way, you will certainly get it.

 

            Verses 11 through 13 is Jesus’ slight rebuke to those who do not pray because of their unbelief. Even evil fathers are willing to give what is good to their children when they ask, then, how much more will our good Father in heaven give us the Holy Spirit when we ask? So, with this confidence, we must ask, seek, and knock, living for God’s name and living as kingdom builders.

 

One Word:       Your Kingdom Come!

 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

posted Jul 10, 2017, 7:10 AM by Site Administrator


 

DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE

 

Luke 10:25-42

Key Verse 10:28

 

"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

 

First, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (25-28).Look at verse 25. "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"He was an expert in the law, a specialist in the Bible. The word, 'test' shows us this man’s intention in asking Jesus the question. Nonetheless, his question is very important. "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This is the very question all mankind have. Death is coming moment by moment; we die for sure; that’s the reality. But we don't want to die. So, people struggle to find the way to escape from death, and not die, but live forever. But the problem is: No one knows how. So many people, agonized, shout, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This is not only the voice of unbelieving people, but the voice of many people who go to church. Like the expert in the Law in the passage, who had been attending worship service life long very faithfully, but still, did not have the confidence eternal life, cry out, saying, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" People say"If you believe in Jesus, you will be saved and have eternal life." People do so, go to church, but still do not have any confidence about salvation and eternal life. They try to assume or even try to hypnotize themselves, saying, "believe I am saved! I believe I am saved!" But still, they have no confidence. All these people, both believers and unbelievers, cry out together in unison, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

 

Many people would simply say at this question, "Believe in Jesus, and you will be saved." But Jesus’ answer was different. He did not say, "I am the Christ. Believe in me, and you will be saved." What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 26. Jesus said to him, "What is written in the Law? How do you read it?" Jesus' answer, "What is written in the Law?" indicates that in the Law is the way to have eternal life. Here, the Law refers to the five books of Moses, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. In the Law, there is the way to have eternal life! This is really amazing.  

 

Jesus added, "How do you read it?" Jesus was asking him about his attitude in reading the Bible, in coming to the word of God. Do you read the Bible just to accumulate your Bible knowledge or to find the truth and live by it? "How do you read it?" This is the key for us to find the way to have eternal life in the Law. Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It sounds so plain. But I have seen many people who met God personally through this simple sentence. They testified with tears, saying, "God created me. I came from God. Now I know who I am." Genesis 1:31 says, "And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." To many people, this simple statement was the life-giving words of God that transformed lowly sinners into beautiful princes and princesses of the kingdom of God. They shouted, "No matter what people say of me, I am wonderful, because God says that I am very good." "How do you read it?" If this man had read the Law with the right attitude, surely, he would have found the way to have eternal life. With what kind of attitude do you come to the Law

 

What is written in the Law? Look at verse 27. Let’s read this verse together:

 

He answered, "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

 

At this, Jesus said to him in verse 28, "You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live." What an amazing person this man was. Surely, it is not easy to even read through these five books of Moses – too boring, many dos and dons that seem redundant, not lessons or stories. Many people also say, "I don’t like the God of the Old Testament, but I like the God of the New Testament." People say, "We are free from the Law in the New Testament." With this, they throw away the Old Testament, and never read it. What is written in the law? To them, only burdens, many dos and dons, and restrictions. But this man grasped what God was really talking about through these five books of Moses. He grasped that the Law was about love. To him, the penetrating theme in all 613 in the Old Testament was, "Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor." His answer was correct, and Jesus told him that if he did so, then, he would have eternal life. 

 

What God says in the Bible is that we must love GodThis is really amazing. While driving on the Freeway, I was thinking about this: God wants us to love Him. That's what God desires. He is not like any other gods we have read about in the Greek and Roman mythology. Then, what kind of God is he? He is really romantic. He is love. We must love God. Then, how? "With all our heart, soul, mind and strength." Loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind means to "love Him exclusively" or "love Him only" or "love Him wholeheartedlywith complete devotion to Him!" He does not want us to look at other things at all, but Him alone! Loving God with all our strength means to love God really passionately, doing things for God wholeheartedly, pouring out time, energy and talent, instead of just doing minimum or basic duties. When you love God this way, how will your life be? So powerful, action-packed and dynamic! When you live this kind of a powerful, dynamic and action-packed life for God, you will be truly satisfied and happy. That's what eternal life is about - zoe, the very kind of life God wants you to have in Jesus Christ. For this purpose, God sacrificed his one and only Son on the cross. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

 

The Law also says, "Love your neighbor as yourself." When we love God and thereby, want to obey his command, we know what we must do - love our neighbors as ourselves. As much as you love yourself, you love your neighbor. How much do you love yourself? When you catch cold, you are so worried and concerned about your health, even your life; you are very concerned about your diet (healthy food, high cholesterol,..). In the same way, you should be concerned about your neighbors' wellbeing and life. You are very concerned about your future - career and marriage,... in the same way, you should be concerned about your neighbors' future. You are willing to spend your money for yourself - food, clothes, shoes, cars,... - in the same way, you are willing to spend your time, money and effort for your neighbors. That's what God desires for us to do. That's how God wants us to live with others in the society - at home, at school, at work, and in the church. When we think about this, we can see that in God, there is no room for selfish, self-centered orself-seeking life for God's people. When you live this kind of life, you will indeed enjoy a truly fulfilling and meaningful life. When all the members of the society love their neighbors as themselves, what kind of community will it be? An idealistic society where everyone can live happily with each other in peace - no deceit, no debauchery, no violence, no injustice, but love and care in the whole community, supporting, strengthening and taking care of each other. It will be paradise! Utopia! That's what the Law talks about. That's what God designed from the beginning - by obeying God's command, we would have Utopia.

 

Jesus says, "You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live." This is the way of eternal life - do this, and you will live. The man grasped what the Bible was talking about, what God wanted him to do in the Bible. He was a great Bible scholar. Now what he needed as God's people, as God's servant, so that he could have eternal life was to do it really - love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and love your neighbors as yourself. Knowing what he must do to inherit eternal life, grasping what the Bible talked about did not mean anything, when he did not do it. Knowing what he must do to inherit eternal life did not do anything for him unless he really did it. Jesus gave him a clear direction, "Do this, and you will live." 

 

Now we know what we must do as humans, as Jesus' disciples, as God's children - we know what God wants us to do. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves. When we do it, we will live - we will have eternal life. This is God's will for us. At this, many Christians say, "But we are saved by grace, by faith alone, not by works." With this, they conveniently reject Jesus' teaching. In their terms, by faith, they reject Jesus' teaching; by faith, they don't struggle to love God. Christians are really bad. Do you believe in Jesus? Yes? Then, this is the direction Jesus gives you: Do this and you will live. Thus, those who believe in Jesus come to have a clear direction, and thereby, Christians' struggle follows, and Christian lifestyle is set - their struggle to love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, and love their neighbors as themselves. Those who struggle to do this come to enjoy eternal life - a truly wonderful, meaningful and fulfilling life. Let us shout together: Do this and you will live.


Second, "Go and do likewise" (29-37). What was the man’s response? Look at verse 29. He had to repent of his lack of love for God and his neighbors. But instead of admitting his mistakes and faults and repenting, he wanted to justify himselfSo he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" His excuse was that, because he had not known who his neighbor was, he could not love his neighbor. At this, Jesus gave him the parable of the good Samaritan in verses 30 through 35 

 

In this parable, a man, actually, a Jewish man, was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. But on the way, robbers met him, stripped him of his clothes, took all his possessions, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. This man lost all his money, and was dying moment by moment bleeding on the road. Then, a priest happened to be going down the same road, andwhen he saw him, he passed by on the other side; then, a Levite also happened to come to the place, and saw him, but he too passed by on the other side. Jesus, specifically mentioned these two people, a priest and a Levite – both of them were known as people that served God. They missed the point of what God really wanted them to do. What God wanted was not that they would live a religious life, but that they would live the life of loving God and their neighbors practically. But they assumed that they were serving God because of their title as a priest and a Levite, and their religious life and even their Bible knowledge. Probably, that’s how the expert in the Law had been trying to serve God. 

 

Then, in his parable, a Samaritan man who was despised and ignored by the Jews, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, 'Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' For the sake of the man, this Samarian sacrificed his own schedule, spent time and money. Now, among the three - the priest, the Levite, and the Samaritan man, who was the neighbor for the man half dead? The expert in the Law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Then, Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

 

Jesus showed him very clearly who his neighbor was - all those who were in need around him - and he must be their neighbor by loving them, by taking care of them, spending his time, money and effort for them. That's how he could be the neighbor for the people around him. That's how he could obey God's command. That's what he must do, and when he did it, he would have eternal life. Otherwise, he would not be the neighbor for the people around him; he would not be able to keep God's command, and thereby, he would not have eternal life, even if he studied the Bible a lot and grasped what the Bible was talking about; he would not be a neighbor for the people around him even if he had a great title such as Priest, Levite, or Pastor. 

This parable illustrates the mankind's condition very well. The mankind were just naively going on the road, maybe, after worshiping God in the Garden of Eden. Then, the robber, the enemy, Satan came, robbed of all our wealth, health, positions and titles, fame, and even life, and left us half dead. People have become miserable, lying on the ground, half dead. In this situation, who is the neighbor for these half dead people? Not everyone who lives around them; not everyone who attends the worship service; not everyone who has a position or title as priest, or Levite, or expert in the law; not everyone who has the title as pastor, or deacon or theologian; not everyone who knows what the Bible talks about. But those who really take care of them, pouring out and sacrificing their time, energy and money for them. Such people are the real neighbors of those perishing half dead people. We must love our neighbors. We must be their neighbors by taking care of them, pouring out our time, money and effort. This is how we can have eternal life today, here on earth, in Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus wants us to do - Feed my lambs; take care of my sheep; feed my sheep. The life of shepherding is the very way we can be the neighbors for those who are sufferingJesus says, "Go and do likewise." Then, you will live. This is what God wants us to do. 

 

Third, "Martha, Martha" (38-42). Now Jesus and his companion came to Martha's house in Bethany. Bethany was about 2 miles away from Jerusalem. So, when Jesus came to Judea for God's work, usually he stayed at Martha's house. During the final week of his life on earth, after serving God's work in Jerusalem, he went back to Bethany and stayed at Martha's house. This family of Martha, Mary and Lazarus offered Jesus a place to rest and their love and service must have brought to Jesus great comfort. Now as usual, Jesus was holding Bible study with people there, and Mary sat at Jesus' feet, giving him her undivided attention. Then, Martha came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Martha was busy to prepare a banquet for Jesus in honor of him. But it seemed that there were so many things for her to prepare - arranging the tables, spreading the table cloths, preparing food,... She was running here and there, and simply, it seemed too much for her to do all these. Then, when she found that her sister was just sitting at Jesus' feet enjoying Bible study with him, she was irritated and upset. It seemed that Mary was selfish; moreover, it seemed that Jesus was indifferent to her struggle. So, she complained to Jesus about this matter.

 

Before Jesus came, Martha was full of joy and thanks and happiness because of Jesus; she honored Jesus greatly; she wanted to treat him with great hospitality. But then, when Jesus came, she was full of bitterness and complaints; she lost all her joy and thank while she struggled to prepare food for Jesus. She was not happy at all even when Jesus was at her home and even when she was working for him. This is a strange phenomena. But this is what we all experience in our life of serving God's kingdom work. We struggle hard to do God's work, fishing experiencing rejection after rejection under the hot scorching sun, serving 12 and even 20 Bible studies a week. We do it because we are happy with Jesus; we serve Jesus. But when we see others who do not serve as hard as we do, but take a little easy, relaxing by serving just 1 or 2 students, we feel like we are the only ones that suffer. Then, we lose joy and thanks, and complain about others, and demand them to work hard as we do. Or, as we struggle hard to do God's work, it seems that missionary John only loves some people, but not me; it seems that he does not care for me, but for those people - terrible injustice. And we become bitter and complain. 

 

Martha was struggling to serve Jesus. She should have been happy and thankful. Yet, how come she was full of bitterness, complaints, and the sense of injustice in her service to Jesus? Her problem was, as she struggled to prepare food for Jesus, her focus shifted from Jesus to many things and to Mary who was not working as hard as she was. We must not underestimate the importance of Martha's role - through her hard work, the food was prepared for Jesus and his disciples. Without her hard work, nothing would have been prepared. But at the same time, our focus must be Jesus all the time. We are serving Jesus. So, we are happy to do all these things for him. We must fix our eyes on Jesus in doing all these important works of God. Hebrews 12:2 reads: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." 

 

How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 41 and 42. Let's read these verses together:

 

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things,  42   but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

 

"Martha, Martha!" Jesus wanted to draw her attention to himself, so he called her name twice. While Martha was venting out, full of bitterness and the sense of injustice, Jesus tried to draw her attention to himself, saying, "Just calm down, my child." Sometimes, in serving God's kingdom work, we too develop some bitterness and resentment, and complain a lot out of the sense of injustice. We have so many things to talk about. At that time, Jesus says, "Martha, Martha!" Just calm down! Let's put our own names here, and say, "John, John!" Turn your eyes from all terrible looking things, all things you think unjust, to Jesus and see what he has to say to you. 

 

Jesus said to her, "You are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is needed." "You are worried and upset about many things." Maybe, her complaints were valid or groundless; maybe, her sense of injustice was valid or groundless. Regardless, Jesus described what's going on with her in this way, "You are worried and upset with many things." You want Jesus to talk to you, but you never want Jesus say to you this way. What an embarrassing moment it will be if Jesus speaks to us this way. "You are worried and upset about many things." Don't give your attention to too many things or too many peopleYou don't have to worry about too many things; you don't have to judge others at all. Instead of worrying about and being upset about many things, you only need one thing. What is important is not that we prepare all kinds of dishes for Jesus, but only one thing is needed - coming to him and studying the Bible with him. Then, what about food? Only one thing is needed - one dish is enough. 

 

Jesus says, "Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken from her." Mary's choice was better. Having fellowship with Jesus and listening to him in prayer and in the word of God is better than worrying and being upset about many things. Jesus honored Mary’s desire for the fellowship with Him and for His word.

 

One Word:Go And Do Likewise!  

 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

posted Jul 3, 2017, 9:16 AM by Site Administrator

JESUS SENDS OUT THE SEVENTY-TWO

 

Luke 10:1-24

Key Verse 10:2

 

He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

 

            First, "The harvest is plentiful" (1-3). Look at verse 1. It reads: "After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go." In the past, Jesus sent out the Twelve on their mission journey; and now, Jesus mobilized 72 disciples and sent them out. This shows us how Jesus served God's work. His main focus was to preach the kingdom of God, and then, when people responded, he recruited them as his disciples, trained them, and sent them out to preach the gospel. In modern terms, three words describe his way of serving God's work - Evangelism, disciple-making, and then, sending them out as God's servants. This is how we must serve God's kingdom work as well - Evangelism through fishing and Bible studies, training them, and sending them out to do God's work.

 

Look at verse 2. Let’s read this verse together:

 

He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

 

            The harvest is plentiful. This was Jesus' view of people and the world. What did he mean when he said, "The harvest is plentiful"? It means that there are plenty of people who are ready to be saved. It means that there are plenty of people who look for God’s help and salvation earnestly. They are ripe for harvest. That was Jesus' view of the Jewish people - God-believing people. Then, how much more of unbelieving Gentiles? The fact that psychologists and psychiatrists make a lot of money proves that people have already hit the rock bottom in this world. The statistics shows that in America, every 18 minutes, one person commits suicide. People are sick and tired of their life in this world. "The harvest is plentiful." When the crops are ripe for harvest, we must harvest them asap, because, otherwise, they rot. While the harvest is plentiful, we must strive to harvest them above all other matters. Proverbs 24:11 reads: "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter."

 

 "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." This is the reality. "The workers are few." Here, the workers are those who can go out and save souls. They are the ones who have a heart's desire for saving souls and, at the same time, who are willing to dedicate themselves to it by pouring out their time and energy. In Jesus' eyes, even if there were so many God-believing people, such workers were so rare. Today, it seems that there are so many Christians, but the workers are very rare; it is really hard to find those who have a heart's desire for God's kingdom business and thereby, who are willing to dedicate themselves to it. "The workers are few." When we think about this statement of Jesus, we realize what we must do - we must establish gospel workers from among young college students. At the same time, we can see that those workers are no ordinary people in Jesus' eyes - they are very precious and special. As we have dedicated ourselves to God's work through fishing and Bible studies, we are growing up as well experienced, well trained and skilled gospel workers. In Jesus' eyes, we are like his secret weapons to harvest souls. 

 

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." This is the real condition. So, what should we do? Jesus gives us a clear prayer topic, saying, "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." We must establish harvest workers. Jesus describes God the Father as "the Lord of the harvest." This title is indeed right for God. Saving souls is what God has been doing for the past several thousand years - He is really dedicated to it; it is God's will and God's business, and we are serving Him. He is the Big Boss. So, simply we report our Boss that we have short staff, and ask Him to hire more workers. We can confidently pray to establish more disciples on each of our campuses. This prayer topic is according to God's will - we are sure that He will answer this prayer.

 

            Look at verse 3. Jesus says, "Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves." In Jesus' eyes, it was very dangerous for these young disciples to go into the world and struggle to save souls - they would wrestle with all kinds of people, especially, many vicious people; also, there would be many temptations. Certainly, the world was not a desirable place for these young and naive disciples; it would be much safer for Jesus to take them away from the world as soon as they accepted him as the Christ. But Jesus didn't do that. Instead, he sends them into the world to harvest souls. This shows the importance of this mission - it is an absolute mission, which must be done at any cost and at any danger. This is what Christians must do at any cost, and at any danger. This is what we must do. Jesus knows the danger; there may be some casualties. Yet, still Jesus sends us into the world so that we can harvest souls. Jesus prays in John 17, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." The very reason why we Christians are still here in this very dangerous world is for this - harvest souls. You don't have to say, "I don't know what God wants me to do." Harvest souls! This is God's will for you.

 

Second, "Do not take a purse or bag or sandals" (4-7). In verses 4 through 16, Jesus gives them a detailed instruction of how they should conduct themselves in this mission journey. Look at verse 4. Jesus says, "Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road." Jesus' point is not that the gospel workers should live as beggars, but that they must not rely on such things, but on God's help and provision in doing God's work. Jesus does not want the gospel workers to be bothered by such matters; instead, they would just focus on serving this very important mission by entrusting all such matters in God's hands.

 

Jesus also says, "Do not greet anyone on the road." "Greet" means to say, "Hello, how are you doing?" When we meet someone, we greet that person, saying, "Hi." But Jesus says that when we are on the road to God’s mission, we should not greet anyone. It means, even if you meet your parents, don’t say, "Hi mom." How would your mom respond when, at her greeting, you just do not pay attention to her or even do not greet her back? Probably, you would be in big trouble. Actually, this instruction does not mean that we should not say "Hello" to our parents or friends. Rather, his point is that we should take this mission of saving souls very seriously; no chit chat in shooting the breeze on the way to God’s mission; don’t take God’s mission casually, but very sincerely and seriously, completely focusing on serving and fulfilling God’s mission. In the book of Genesis, we studied about the servant of Abraham, who so intensely served and fulfilled the mission impossible. After about twenty days’ desert journey, he, instead of checking in a hotel, started his mission right away, at the sunset, praying for God’s help. When he was invited to Rebekah’s house, and food was offered, he refused to eat, saying, "I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say." (Gen 24:33) Then, the very next morning, he just took Rebekah and left for his master’s house. He was so mission-oriented, intense, and wholehearted. Thus, the mission impossible was completed successfully. How should we serve God’s mission? Jesus gives us a clear direction, saying, "Do not greet anyone on the road."

 

Modern day, Christians' problem is that they have lost this spirit of mission; as a result, their fellowship is merely human fellowship – talking and talking endlessly about this or that, stock market, real estate prices, computers, big screen TVs, cars, TV shows, even about their cats and dogs. Many people are frustrated greatly when they come to church, because in the church, they see only human fellowship again, which they have been sick and tired of in the world. While people talk about all these human things, while people just enjoy gossips, all kinds of bad things spread, and cripple God’s church. The apostle Paul talks about these people. 1 Tim 5:13 and 14 reads: "Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 2 Tim 2:16-18 also reads: 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have wandered away from the truth." Our fellowship in Christ Jesus should be spiritual, and our focus should be on serving God’s mission. Jesus called the temple, "a house of prayer for all nations." We must come to church to serve all nations through prayers and Bible studies. Let's pray that our church may be a house of prayer for all nations.

 

Look at verses 5 through 7. Let’s read these verses together:

 

5"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

 

            This is Jesus’ instruction about how they should respond when they are welcomed. If anyone accepts their message, God’s peace will be upon him. Then, this person would gladly welcome the disciples into his house, and the disciples should stay in his house, eating and drinking whatever the family offers them. This is how God provides food and lodging for his servants on their mission journey. Jesus says, "For the worker deserves his wages." But at that time, the disciples must be careful in two things. 1) Eat and drink whatever they give you; and 2) do not move around from house to house. Maybe, the food they offer is not what you like; or the house is not that big. Even though they offer somewhat strange food to you, don’t judge them according to your own cultural standard. As they accepted you as God's messenger, you show your acceptance by eating what they offer you. Modern day, many believers move around continually, from one mission field to another, looking for a more comfortable mission for them; hopping and hopping continually, from one church to another, looking for a more glamorous church. Jesus says, "Do not move around from house to house." Don’t look for a more convenient or luxurious place, but follow God’s guidance and stay where God designed you to stay. Don’t be like a grasshopper, but be like a tree that is planted by the streams of water, that yields its fruit in season.

 

            Third, "The kingdom of God is near you" (8-16). In verses 8 through 16, Jesus showed them how they should respond when they were welcomed and when they were not welcomed. Look at verses 8 and 9. "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’" In those days, due to lack of medical knowledge, of medicine and of personal hygiene, people had a various kind of diseases; there was even no dentist either; everyone suffered from diseases. Thereby, helping them with such diseases was a very serious and urgent matter. Jesus gave a direction to his disciples to heal the sick when they were welcomed.

 

            And Jesus also gave them the message to preach - "The kingdom of God is near you." Only one Bible study note! I am sure that all the disciples memorized this message completely. The point of this message is "The kingdom of God is Near you" - the "practicality" or "tangibility" or "accessibility" of the kingdom of God. The audience of this message were, of course, the Jews - God-believing people. They talked about the kingdom of God; they said that when they died, they would go to the kingdom of God, and enjoy a wonderful life with God. They said that in the resurrection, they would come back to life and live in the kingdom of God without sorrow, without tears and without pains. That was their dream. Yet, to them, even if they believed in God, even if they attended worship service every week, the kingdom of God was conceptual and theological; the idea of entering the kingdom of God after death just gave them some psychological comfort; it was not real to them. To them, the kingdom of God was far away, which they could not reach, which they would think about really in their death bed. As a result, their life of faith, their life of worship was not real; it was not life-giving; instead, at best, it was formal and religious, not really knowing God's love, not really enjoying a wonderful life in God. To these God-believing people, the disciples would preach the message, "The kingdom of God is near you." They would tell them how practical, how relevant and how real the kingdom of God was in their day to day life.

 

            The kingdom of God is near you. This is the message we must preach to all our students - both God-believing people and unbelieving people. The kingdom of God is the place where God rules as king. We all want to go to the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God where God rules, and thereby, it is a wonderful place to live - no more sorrows, no more pains; instead, you enjoy a wonderful life, so happy and fulfilling. Once you go there, you don't want to come back to this world. It is all peoples' dream and desire to go to the kingdom of God and live there. Now the reality Jesus shows is: The kingdom of God where you can enjoy such a wonderful life is near you; the kingdom of God you have dreamed about entering and enjoying it is near you, within your reach, and thereby, you can enjoy its beauty and quality right now. That's what Jesus shows us. That's the main point Jesus preached from the beginning of his ministry. The kingdom of God, where you can enjoy a wonderful life is within your reach; if you want, you can enter it and enjoy its quality.

 

            Then, how can we enter it? Jesus says, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Mat 4:17) The reason why people fail to enter the kingdom of God is because, instead of valuing God and seeking God in their life, they give their hearts to other things in the world and pursue them; as a result, they cannot receive God's rule; they are actually, rejecting God's rule. Now one thing they must do to enter the kingdom of God is to repent of their pursuit of happiness and success in other things than God; they need to turn from the pursuit of things of this world to the life of seeking God. Only when people repent, letting go of their dreams and desires in this world and turn to God, they can enter the kingdom of God and enjoy a wonderful life. The kingdom of God is so near; how near? One repentance away! Christian life, the life of worshiping God is not the matter of doing all kind of Christian things, but the matter of having the entering the kingdom of God through repentance in Jesus Christ. This is what we must teach all our students. The kingdom of God is near you.

 

            Then, how should they respond when they were not welcomed? In verses 10 through 12, Jesus told them to wipe off the dust that sticks to their feet as a warning against them. This performance meant that, whatever would happen to them as the consequences of rejecting them, it would be their own responsibility and that the disciples were not responsible, because they did their portion, saying, "The kingdom of God is near you." Jesus says in verse 12, "I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town."

 

Look at verses 13 through 15. Let's read these verses together:       

 

13"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.

 

            These cities were the main focus of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. There, he taught them the word of God, and performed many miracles, proving who he was - the Promised Messiah. But they rejected him. By the way, why did these God-believing people reject Jesus? Jesus says in verse 15: "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths." Because of their pride as God's chosen people, their self-righteousness due to their Bible knowledge and faithful worship service attendance, they thought that they didn't need to have any new teaching. Even if Jesus proved his identity as God's servant through his teaching, his life of mission, and his powerful miracles, still they were not willing to bend their pride. The real essence of the life of faith is to have the kingdom of God, not that kind of religious life. People must not rely on their own self-righteousness - their many years' faithful church attendance, their Bible knowledge, or their zeal for God; instead, they must check out whether they have the kingdom of God or not.

 

            By the way, what is Jesus talking about? Why suddenly, while he was instructing the seventy two disciples, talks about these cities? Jesus was showing his disciples how he dealt with rejection. He warned these cities that terrible judgment was waiting for them as the consequences of rejecting him; people in these cities were worse than the people in Tyre and Sidon, and thereby, they would be judged more severely. That's how Jesus dealt with rejection, and now Jesus taught them to deal with those who rejected them in the same way.

 

            When people reject our teaching, often, we condemn ourselves thinking that it is because we have not treated them properly, or because we have not taught them right. But Jesus never implies that it is our fault, but he makes very clear that those who reject us are responsible. His point is very clear. We simply preach, "The kingdom of God is near you." "You can have a real Christian life only if you repent and turn to God in Christ." If anyone accepts it, very good; that person will love us greatly, because we are God's personal messengers to them; that person will be happy to assist us and support us. That person is already in the kingdom of God. But if anyone rejects our message, we simply dust off of our feet, and move on, and God will deal with that person. This instruction of Jesus about how we should deal with those who reject our message shows us who we are as Jesus' disciples. We are simply God's messengers, God's servants doing his work. About this, as a conclusion, Jesus says, 16"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."

 

            Forth, "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (17-24). Look at verse 17. Their mission journey was a great success. The seventy-two returned with joy and said to Jesus, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." They were so excited. Living as a disciple of Jesus was really cool. Then, Jesus told them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you." We praise Jesus who has given us such an awesome life – nothing will harm you. Nothing can bother you. When the disciples go out and do powerful work of God with authority, then, Satan feels so threatened that he quickly comes down to see what’s going on. The disciples become literally dangerous weapons for God like well trained Navy Seals. But Jesus added, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." "Your names are written in heaven" so that now everyone in heaven recognizes you. The angel Gabriel knows your name. The archangel Michael knows your name. Our father Abraham knows you. We become famous in heaven. By saying this, Jesus taught his disciples to pursue the recognition from God, instead of pursuing that kind of spectacular looking stuffs.  

 

            Look at verse 21. Because of their great evangelical work, Jesus was so happy. Full of joy through the Holy Spirit, Jesus thanked God in a loud voice, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." The people of Korazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were wise on their own, thinking that they too were worshiping God very well and that they didn’t need to listen to anyone, so God hid such glorious life of Jesus’ disciples from them. But the disciples were like little children. When they saw how God was working through Jesus, they were fascinated, completely believing that Jesus was from God; when they heard Jesus' message, they were so fascinated at the profound meaning of it, saying, "Wow!" They believed and followed and obeyed everything Jesus told them like little children so fascinated. As a result, they came to experience glorious things of God, having authority and driving out demons, and even their names written in heaven. God reveals these glorious things to people who respond to his message like little children, who are not so sophisticated, not so calculating, not so proud. Jesus said to them, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see." Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together.

 

"For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

 

            The word of God we hear and study about is what these prophets wanted to know. The prophets always meditated on the Laws, saying, "How sweet is your laws to my heart; I meditate on them day and night." But, how happy they must be when they study Luke's gospel! Wow! Surely, they would have memorized the whole New Testament completely and everyday, recited one time. But, alas! The time had not yet come; they had to wait, and only rejoiced at the thought of it. But now this is what we are enjoying. What we do on our campus is what all the prophets and kings wanted to see in the Old Testament; they too wanted to work hard to find sheep and teach them the word of God to save their souls, but alas; the time had not yet come that they could not do - probably, the prophet Isaiah bit his tongue, saying, "If I were there, I would be the light for the Gentiles." The life of the disciples was really blessed and privileged. The disciples hear, see and experience the glorious things of God in their life.

 

One Word:       Blessed Are The Eyes That See What You See! 

Sunday, June 25, 207

posted Jun 25, 2017, 7:01 PM by Site Administrator

THE SON OF MAN HAS NO PLACE TO LAY HIS HEAD

 

Luke 9:51-62

Key Verse 9:58

 

Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have the nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

 

            First, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (51-56) In this passage, we see Jesus setting out for Jerusalem. Verse 51 reads: “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” For the past three years, Jesus had served God’s mission. He healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, drove out demons, and preached the kingdom of God. Now, his mission was near an end. Jesus, from the beginning, knew where he was going and what he was going to do. He followed God’s plan and schedule for him step by step. One time, he expressed his anguished heart to see his mission fulfilled to his disciples, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” (Luke 12:49-50) Jesus had been waiting for his time to come. Now, finally, the time for him to complete his mission was approaching fast; it was the baptism of pain and suffering. Fully determined, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

 

            One time Jesus said, 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30) Jesus wants to give us rest. Then, how? By letting us sit on the couch and eat junk food all day long? No! That’s a cursed way of life. Or then, by having us travel throughout the world and enjoy fun all the time? No way! It is a sinful way of life. Then, how? Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We become weary when we do not take the yoke, the cross Jesus gives, because by rejecting the cross Jesus gives, we take up our own cross, the cross of ego and sin, which is so heavy. Jesus invites all people who are weary and burdened to the life of taking up his yoke, because he is gentle and his yoke is light. When we take up his yoke, there we find rest and peace; as we follow Jesus taking up his yoke, we develop spiritual muscles, and we become strong in Christ Jesus. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We must learn from Jesus how to enjoy rest in taking up his yoke. How did Jesus take up his cross? Verse 51 reads: “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” That’s how Jesus took up his cross. The word “resolutely” means “decisively,” or “with single-hearted devotion,” or “wholeheartedly.” That’s how we must take up Jesus’ yoke, the mission of serving God’s kingdom purpose. Many people feel burdened and weary in participating in God’s kingdom purpose. It is not because Jesus’ yoke is heavy, but because they take it not resolutely, but reluctantly. They try to take up Jesus’ yoke reluctantly, just doing the minimum, only to secure their ticket to heaven, as a result, they cannot find any rest. When we follow Jesus by taking up the cross of mission, we must do it resolutely, giving our heart and strength fully to it. Then, there, we find refreshment, peace, rest and strength. Then, we too can say, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (Jn 4:34) Jesus set out for Jerusalem, how? Resolutely!

 

 Now, between Galilee and Jerusalem was Samaria. So he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. But the people there did not welcome him because he was heading for Jerusalem. Because of their racial barrier, they rejected their Savior. At this refusal, James and John were mad, and asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” They wanted to teach them a lesson by dropping bombs from heaven. They had absolute confidence in Jesus that, if they asked God for fire in him, fire would really come down from heaven. What great faith they had. But their confidence was directed to a wrong thing – destroying people. They were really immature, without knowing God. At this, Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. Teaching rebellious and proud people a lesson with physical power or punishment is not Jesus’ way. Jesus simply went to another village because they rejected him. He was humble.

 

Second, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (57-58) Look at verse 57. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Wow! This man was really bold, “I will follow you wherever you go.” He was determined to follow Jesus. He sounded like a very good disciple candidate like Peter and John who, at Jesus’ command, left everything and followed him. But, Jesus did not welcome him. Why? Look at verse 58. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

 

“The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” What was Jesus talking about? Jesus was telling him about the reality of his life as a man of mission. It is everyone’s desire to build a beautiful and comfortable nest where they can rest and sleep. Even foxes and birds at least enjoy that kind of comfort. But, while all people struggle to secure their nests and holes, God’s servants do not have any place to lay their heads. Why? It is because, simply, God’s servant’s life is not about building a beautiful nest or digging a comfortable hole; instead, their life is the life that is fully dedicated to serving God’s mission. As a result, there is no guarantee for even a hole or a nest for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus was asking the man if he was willing to live like that, without having even a nest for himself.

 

This man’s problem was that he only saw the fantastic aspect of following Jesus. This man wanted to follow Jesus, because in his eyes, Jesus’ life as a man of mission looked really fantastic. Jesus was so popular, and he looked so gorgeous when he delivered powerful messages. Everyone honored and respected him greatly. When the man saw this, he was completely fascinated. He too wanted to be like Jesus, being at the center of people’s attention, being honored and respected, doing fantastic works of God such as driving out demons, healing the sick, and proclaiming powerful messages. He too wanted such a fantastic life. If he could have that kind of life, he was willing to do anything, ready to make any sacrifice necessary. So he said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

 

            In 1997, I attended an International Summer Bible conference held in Michigan State University together with several students. There, a man of God was delivering a powerful message. So I asked one of my students, “What picture do you have about yourself 20 years later?” Then, pointing out the servant of God, he said, “I will be standing there.” His vision was great, but he didn’t want to suffer together with Jesus. His real desire was to secure his nest. So, instead of accepting God’s calling, he decided to live as a cashier at a supermarket, called Pavillion, with a vision to earn $25 an hour as a meat department manager 20 years later. Who doesn’t want that kind of glorious life? But only those who are willing to suffer together with Jesus can live such a glorious life. Jesus’ words, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head,” make us think about what kind of life we are pursuing. Sometimes, life’s worries visit us and we are troubled about our future – what career to build or whom to marry. It seems that our classmates have careers and build beautiful families, while we still struggle with a few rebellious sheep; we are troubled. But we must remember whom we are following. We are following Jesus who had no place to lay his head, without any security or a comfortable place to rest. So, when your life seems not secured, it is normal for you; simply, you are following your Master Jesus who had no place to lay his head. For his own name’s sake, he will lead us through the path of righteousness, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

Third, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (59-60) Look at verse 59. Jesus said to another man, “Follow me.” In the previous case, it was the man who initiated to follow Jesus. But in this case, it was Jesus who called this man to follow him. In Jesus’ eyes, this man was a good material for shepherd or leader. He had a certain quality to become a disciple of Jesus – maybe, he had good character, or he was very faithful, or compassionate. Somehow, in Jesus’ eyes, he was a good disciple candidate like Peter and John. So he called him, saying, “Follow me.” It was great privilege and grace upon this man that Jesus, now at the last moment of his earthly ministry, called him to join in his discipleship ministry. This calling had a great potential to change his life once forever. But how did he respond to this calling? He said to Jesus, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” His answer was, “Yes.” But he had a very important matter that he should take care of. His father just died, and in one or two days, there would be a funeral service for him. As a son, he had to attend this funeral service. So he told Jesus that after finishing his father’s funeral service, he would follow him. What was Jesus’ response? Look at verse 60. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

 

            What was Jesus’ answer? Jesus told him not to go to his father’s funeral service! Jesus didn’t allow him to attend his father’s funeral service. Instead, Jesus told him to go and preach the kingdom of God. Wow! We are only confused. Attending one’s father’s funeral service is one of the most important human duties. Also, honoring your father and your mother is the fifth commandment. What will happen when you do not attend your father’s funeral service because you follow Jesus? Surely, all your family members will be mad at you, and persecute you terribly. Why did Jesus tell the man not to go to his father’s funeral service? Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Jesus didn’t say that they should not have any funeral service for his late father, but he told him who should have that funeral service, saying, “Let the dead bury their own dead,…” Here, “the dead” refer to those who do not have faith in God, or those who do not have that much interest in serving God’s kingdom purpose. There are many people in the family, among the relatives who do not have any desire for God’s kingdom, but are so concerned about that kind of human duties, customs and traditions. Even many of them try to keep such things wholeheartedly as if it is their mission in life. Jesus’ idea is: Let them do all these human duties, while those who have faith in God, those who have been prepared for God, do the work of God. God’s servants who have been trained or prepared are so rare to find in the world, and such precious disciples and servants of God should not be bothered by that kind of endless human chorus things, human duties, customs, and traditions. They are too precious to be wasted only because of human affairs, which are in the true sense, worthless and meaningless. Even if we who have been called by God do not take care of human obligations, there are always many who will take care of them very well. Many dead people there in your family, among your relatives, in your society, but only few prepared people for God’s work in the world like you. So Jesus says, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” You go and teach the word of God while the dead bury their dead people.

 

            This man’s idea was that first he would take care of his human duties, and then, he would follow Jesus. But he did not realize that such human duties are endless. And with that kind of idea, wrong priority, no one can serve God’s will. While sheep are starving, they say, “Tonight, I have to go to my family gathering.” “This Sunday is my brother’s wedding.” While the Holy Spirit is working hard, they say, “Tonight, my father wants to see me.” Baby shower, family member’ birthday, even friends’ birthday, family gatherings, weddings, anniversary, funerals, father’s day, mother’s day, barbeque parties,… The list is simply endless. These human obligations and affairs ever entangle us unless we set up the priority utmost clear. The apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:4, “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer.” At the beginning of the ministry, Moses was growing up as a dedicated disciple. Then, there was his family reunion on Sunday in the state, Vermont. It was an important meeting for his scattered family members, especially, his mom. Because his mother insisted, he went there. Then, on Sunday, even before all his family members came together, he said to them that he had to leave and go back to California to attend the Sunday worship service; they were shocked and tried hard to persuade him, but he would not change his mind at all; finally, he left them and came to worship service. Through this, his family members learned a lesson; since then, they don’t schedule any family thing such as birthday party or wedding or family reunion on Sunday.

 

            When Jesus did not allow him to go to his father’s funeral service, how did the man respond? Maybe, so shocked and confused, saying, “What?!” Maybe, he could not understand why he should not go to his father’s funeral service, or even he would think about Jesus and his ministry suspiciously – no other ministries or leaders such as Pharisees or teachers of the law taught such things. But to Jesus, it was absolutely necessary, because, without having such an absolute attitude to God’s kingdom work, no one could be truly committed to God. In following Jesus, we must be absolute; we must be free from all other human things; we must love God and serve Him only.

 

            Fourth, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (61.62) Look at verse 61. “Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” This man heard what Jesus said to the other; he should have thought about Jesus’ words seriously. But probably, he thought that he had no problem about letting the dead bury their own dead. So, he thought that he was ready to follow Jesus. He said to Jesus very boldly, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” He just wanted to say good-bye to his family, and then, he would come and follow Jesus. He was confident that it would be okay. But what was Jesus’ response? Look at verse 62. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

 

            Jesus saw through this man’s problem, and told him that he was not fit for service in the kingdom of God. Jesus rejected this man to be his disciple because he was like a farmer who put his hand to the plow, but still looked back – in farming, such behavior is unthinkable and unacceptable. A plow is a farm implement consisting of a heavy blade at the end of a beam and used for breaking up soils and cutting furrows in preparation for sowing. The cows pulled the plow while a farmer held it tightly behind them. In order to furrow the field for sowing properly, the farmer must look straight ahead, and control the cows to go straight. If the farmer, instead, looked back while plowing the field, then, the furrow would not be straight, but crooked. Such a farmer was not fit for service, and thereby, fired.

 

            This man’s request to go back to his family and say good-bye to them sounded innocent and reasonable. It seemed a small matter. But to Jesus, it meant a lot; it showed him a lot about this man. This man’s problem was that he was looking back. He already decided to follow Jesus to do God’s work, then, he must give his heart toward Jesus and God’s kingdom work, entrusting all other matters in God’s hands. But still, his heart was not toward God’s kingdom purpose completely. Instead, his heart was toward his family members. He wanted to make sure that his family understood his decision of following Jesus and that everything would go well with his family – in the matter of health and finance, and in everything. As his heart was on his family like this, he could not follow Jesus wholeheartedly. Simply, in Jesus’ eyes, such a person was not fit for service in the kingdom of God.

 

            When we think about this passage, we can see what kind of people Jesus desires for service in his kingdom – those who follow him wholeheartedly, entrusting all the matters in God’s hands. It is our human nature that we are concerned about the wellbeing of our family members – they need help; they need our support emotionally, physically and financially. But Jesus wants us to trust in God and, once we receive his calling, once we live as Jesus’ disciples, he does not want us to look back whatsoever; instead, he wants us to be committed to God’s kingdom work completely – our desire, concern, hope and everything – in Jesus’ eyes, such people are fit for service in the kingdom of God, and they are the ones God uses for his work preciously. How can we be fit for service in the kingdom of God? We should not look back; we must look forward straight, giving our heart to God’s kingdom work completely. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,…”

 

            As we follow Jesus as his disciples, what should we do with our beloved family members or friends? We must trust in God that if we entrust our beloved people in God’s hands by faith, he will really take care of them very well, even better than we can do. Don’t you remember what happened when Abraham, the father of faith, sent off Ishmael, his beloved firstborn son into the desert, with a gallon of water and a lunch sack? God really took care of him very well and blessed him to form 12 tribes. Also don’t you remember what happened to Lot’s wife when she looked back as she was fleeing from Sodom? She became a pillar of salt! Don’t look back! Instead, trust in God, and give your heart to Him fully! Jesus is looking for people that are fit for service in the kingdom of God. Simon Peter was fit for service in the kingdom of God, because, when he was called, he left everything and followed Jesus, even without discussing the matter with his wife. John and James were fit for service in the kingdom of God because, when they were called, they too left everything, even their father and family business. Today, Jesus looks for people that are fit for service in the kingdom of God.

 

            When we think about these three cases, we realize that following Jesus is not something people can do very casually; it requires real struggle of giving him first priority, and showing him absoluteness and real commitment; it requires our absolute trust – we need to entrust all our concerns for our beloved family members in God’s hands and don’t look back at all, but focus on serving God’s work only. This kind of absoluteness and exclusive commitment is not popular in this very humanistic generation; if we tell people to follow Jesus with this kind of commitment, maybe, they will be upset, saying, “Man, can’t I go to my mother’s birthday?” “Can’t I attend my family gathering?” It is really difficult to teach this kind of things, because these things are very delicate and even sticky. But this is the way of following Jesus. This is what the Bible talks about both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament – love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength; offer yourself as a burnt offering to God, as a living sacrifice; you are really set apart for God alone.  

 

One Word:       But You Go And Proclaim The Kingdom Of God

 

Sunday, June 19, 2017

posted Jun 19, 2017, 8:19 AM by Site Administrator   [ updated Jun 22, 2017, 7:20 PM ]

WHOEVER WELCOMES THIS LITTLE CHILD IN MY NAME...

 

Luke 9:37-50

Key Verse 9:48

 

 Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."

 

First, "O unbelieving and perverse generation!" (37-42) In the previous passage, we studied about Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration. The three disciples saw Jesus in glory, and heard God the Father saying to them, "Listen to him." Even though there were many voices in the world, they must listen to what Jesus had to say – the Christ must suffer, die and rise again. Even if there were many voices in themselves, a voice from their own human ambition, a voice from their humanistic way of thinking, and a voice from their emotions and feelings, they must listen to the voice of Jesus that says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." They must accept the way of the cross, because it is the way of life, the way to glory God has prepared for them. After experiencing this glorious moment, they began to consider the way of the cross seriously. Now when they came down from the mountain, as a usual, problems were waiting for them.

 

       Look at verses 37 through 40. The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not." This boy was possessed by an evil spirit. This kind of symptom the father describes is called, "seizure," and is defined as "temporary abnormal electrophysiological phenomena of the brain, resulting in abnormal synchronization of electrical neuronal activity." Like this boy’s case, if it is recurrent, it is diagnosed as a disease, called, "epilepsy." Modern day, about 50 million people are suffering from this disease. Epilepsy is controlled, but not cured, with medication. By the way, what causes that temporary abnormal electrophysiological phenomena of the brain? Modern science or medical knowledge does not give any answer. So, there is no cure for this disease. But today’s passage talks about an evil spirit as one of the direct causes of this symptom and disease. Probably, when people come back to the Bible, they will find the real solution for many mental and physical problems they suffer from.

 

What was Jesus’ response? Look at verse 41. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."

 

       "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" Jesus rebuked the entire generation. Probably, this boy was demon possessed because he played violent video games too much. Or he was demon-possessed because he was sexually promiscuous. Or probably, he opened his heart toward the evil spirit because of great sense of betrayal or anger. It seemed that Jesus had to rebuke the boy for living such a terrible life, or opening his heart to the evil spirit. It seemed that Jesus had to rebuke the father for not disciplining his son properly while he was young. But Jesus, instead, rebuked and blamed the entire generation, saying, "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" In Jesus’ eyes, the boy’s problem was caused by the unbelief and perversion of the people of that generation. Jesus was angry at the people of that entire generation, because, due to their unbelief and perversion, this boy was suffering from the demon-possession. The unbelieving and perverse generation was causing such a serious problem, and now the boy became simply a victim to it. It is an amazing view that one boy’s demon-possession was the direct result of the unbelief and perversion of that entire generation. And it is really true.

 

       Because this generation through TVs, movies, magazines, and sports promotes pleasure-seeking lifestyles, so many little girls fall victim to the corruption of the society, becoming teenage single mothers. People talk about a serious gang problem. But what is the cause of this gang problem? Its cause is a broken family; its cause is materialism; its cause is all violent video games, movies and TV dramas. Its cause is the laws and regulations that allow these materials and programs circulate freely. Its cause is parents who watch TV too much. The whole society that has produced that kind of culture, lifestyles, and value system is responsible for it. Modern day, many people say, "You eat your bread; I eat mine." There is a commercial, I think, "Carl’s Junior," that says, "Don’t bother; I am eating." This is called "rugged individualism." But this is not something new. It is exactly what a rebellious sinful man, named Cain said. When God asked him, "Where is your brother, Abel?" he said, "I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?" Each and every day, people are dying and going to hell. Each and every 18 minutes, one person in America commits suicide. Each and every day, we encounter mental patients, suffering from terrible nightmares, schizophrenia, and horrible visions. Who are responsible for the suffering of these people? Jesus says, "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" All people in this generation are responsible.

        

       People do not think of unbelieving that seriously. They think that it’s okay as long as they do not do what is wrong positively. So they utter unbelieving words freely. But unbelief is sin. It is the true cause of misery, pains, and sorrows. Romans 14:23 says, "everything that does not come from faith is sin." Unbelief gives bad influence to the society; it is a direct cause of perversion. We must not be unbelieving. We must see things with believing minds and utter believing words. When you are asked, instead of saying, "It’s impossible," say, "I think we can do it." Instead of saying, "Why is the world so horrible?" say, "The world is full of God’s glory and everything is going on according to God’s will." Instead of saying, "I don’t know what God wants me to do," say, "From now on I will give my life to God; I will save souls."

 

       According to the American Heritage dictionary, the word, "perverse" means, "directed away from what is right, proper or good," or "obstinately persisting in an error or fault." During Noah’s time, every inclination of peoples’ heart was only evil all the time – that is perversion. So what did God say? He said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal." It means, "I can’t stay and put up with man any longer." So God left man alone to do whatever they wanted. God did not bother them any longer. Pleasure-seeking life is perversion. Today, still perversion is trend in the world. Instead of keeping what is right, proper or good, instead of loving God and obeying God’s command, people devise so many corrupt ways of life only to their own destruction. God has been witnessing this perversion throughout history, and he shouts, "How long shall I stay with you and put up with you?" Now is the time that we must stop our disobedience, our rebellion and turn to God and serve Him. Today, don’t pervert your way, but keep what is right, proper or good – Love God and obey His command, and God will give you the Garden of Delight and you will enjoy a delightful life.

 

       Look at verse 42. At Jesus’ command, the boy was coming to Jesus. But the evil spirit threw him to the ground in a convulsion. The boy fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. It seemed the situation got worse. Maybe, the father was afraid thinking that only because he came to Jesus, his son’s condition got worse. That’s the demon’s deception so as to keep people from coming to Jesus. The evil spirit was deceptive and rebellious. But Jesus rebuked it, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

 

       Second, "Listen carefully what I am about to say" (43-45). Look at verses 43 and 44. Let’s read these verses together:

 

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men."

 

       People were amazed at what Jesus had done; everyone was looking at him with awe. Then, grabbing a chance, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." The key point of the second semester is the way of the cross. Whenever Jesus got a chance, he taught them the way of the cross whether they accepted it or not, because it was the matter of life and death for them; if they accepted it and lived by it, they would save their life; otherwise, they would lose it. What good was it that they gained the whole world, yet forfeited their very self? So, Jesus taught them about the way of the cross over and over again, whether they understood it or not. When you accept Jesus as the Christ of God, then, the next thing is to know the way of the cross, accept it and live by it. Jesus our Christ shows us the way of life, and because we believe in him, we can and we must accept it and live by it so that we may save our life. If not, then, what is the meaning of us saying that we believe in Jesus, while rejecting one single message he really wants us to accept? The way of the cross is the focal point of Christian life.

 

          What was their response to the message of the cross this time? Verse 45 reads: "But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it and they were afraid to ask him about it." The way of the cross was something they could not even imagine - no priest, no Pharisee, no teacher of the law, no synagogue ruler preached that kind of message at all; no other God worshiping Jew lived that kind of life - totally unpopular, totally controversial. So, even if they honored Jesus highly, and even if God Himself spoke to them directly, they did not understand what Jesus was talking about. In this situation, Jesus struggled hard to plant this message into their hearts, because it was the matter of life and death to them - the absolute truth, which they had to accept and live by.

 

       About the Christian way of life - the way of the cross -, no pastor or no theologian, no evangelist emphasizes. Instead, they just talk about "salvation by faith in Jesus Christ," or living a moralistic life or doing some good things such as taking care of homeless people. So, most Christians don't know it, let alone living by it; even if they read this passage, they don't understand anything. As a result, God believing people do not know what to do and how they must live their life. Even after finally accepting Jesus as the Christ, even after repenting of their sins and turning to God, they wonder, saying, "So now, what?" When they do not know the way of the cross, Christians way of life is hidden from them. The way of the cross is the real Christian way of life. When you accept it and live by it, you are really dedicated to God's kingdom work, and you pursue Jesus wholeheartedly, willing to let go of all things in this world for his sake. You live a real Christian life, and you will be truly satisfied in Jesus.

 

       The last part of verse 45 reads, "and they were afraid to ask him about it." They knew what Jesus would tell them about, if they asked him for further explanation of his teaching - the way of the cross, which was burdensome to them. So, they did not ask. Even if they did not understand or accept the way of the cross yet, they were thinking about it. Thanks to Jesus' struggle, their attitude toward this message was improving.

 

Third, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me" (46-50). Look at verse 46. "An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest." While Jesus was so concerned about his coming pains, sufferings and death, they were talking about who should be the prime minister in his kingdom. What a frustrating moment it must have been for Jesus! They were not spiritual at all, but so ignorant and blind. How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 47 and 48. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."

 

       Amazingly, Jesus was not frustrated; he didn’t rebuke them either. Instead, accepting their desire for greatness, he showed them how they could become truly great. Our Lord Jesus is truly great that he embraced all these blind and childish disciples in his heart. He was a mother-like shepherd.

 

Everyone wants to be great: this desire for greatness is expressed as being recognized by others, or being popular or being respected and honored. No one wants to be ignored; no one wants to be despised or mistreated. We all, men and women, young and old, want to become great, at school, at home, at work, in the church, even in the kingdom of God. At home, if wife does not respect her husband, he feels so bad, and visa versa. This is the expression of our desire to become great. God created us in his image, so all humans have a great potential to become great. It means we can become great, I mean, really great. That’s why God said to Israel people in the Old Testament, "Be holy as I am holy!" That’s why Jesus says to his disciples in the New Testament, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect!" The first modern time missionary, William Carey, said, "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!" Jesus welcomes our desire for greatness.

 

Now, the question is, "How can we become great?" The disciples thought that greatness was the matter of gaining great titles or occupying high positions. As a result, they ended up brining more burden to Jesus. Now Jesus showed them how they could become truly great. Jesus took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then, he said, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest." Shockingly, greatness is expressed in the matter of welcoming Jesus. According to Jesus’ explanation, those who welcome Jesus are great. We are shocked. It seems that everyone welcomes Jesus, because everyone says, "I love Jesus." Are all people who say, "I believe in Jesus," are great?" It seems not! Even on the bump stickers, it says, "O God, please, save the Christians."

 

          What does it mean to welcome Jesus? "How can we welcome Jesus while he is in heaven and invisible?" Jesus here shows us how we can welcome him, saying, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me." The word, "welcome" means great hospitality with bright smiles, open arms, spending a lot of time, money and effort. Let's say, Mother Barry visits us. We really welcome her. How? By cleaning the whole church, doing new decoration, preparing special program with many different dances, special songs, rap songs, with great food as well, most likely, rib eye steaks not only for her, but for the whole church; in this way, in order to welcome her, we are willing to pour out great amount of time, money and effort. In those days, children were ignored and despised. But you welcome a little child in Jesus' name, willing to pour out such great amount of time, money and effort, because of Jesus' will and desire. That's how you can welcome Jesus. We look for sheep on our schools. We spend 100 hours to find one sheep, willing to go through rejection after rejection, under hot scorching Sun, being despised and ridiculed; yet, still we are willing to spend that much time and effort all on our own, because we highly value one sheep in Jesus Christ. And then, for their salvation, we are willing to spend maybe, 1,000 hours, a lot of gas money, through Bible studies and wrestling with them,...

 

       When we do that, how does Jesus see it? He perceives all our efforts and struggles for one sheep as "welcoming him." He sees how much we honor him, value him and love him. That way, we welcome Jesus. Many people say, "I love Jesus." Or they say, "When he comes again, I will welcome him." But Jesus, here, shows us how we can really welcome him - by welcoming a little child in his name, willing to spend a lot of time and money for that little child. His understanding of welcoming him is very practical and real, not just words of mouth or vague feelings. Do you want to welcome Jesus? Then, look for sheep on your school, as if you are looking for the most precious and important person in the whole world, spending tons of time and willing to spend a lot of gas money, parking fees and lunch money. When you do that, Jesus will be really pleased with you, because you welcome him, and thereby, he too will treat you in the same way, and reveal himself to you. When you welcome Jesus this way, how does God the Father perceive it? He sees that you are welcoming Him. By welcoming one little sheep, by looking for one little sheep on your campus, by pouring out your time, money and strength for one sheep, you please Jesus your Master, and God the Father. Indeed, your struggle to serve sheep on your campuses is not in vain at all; instead, Jesus is happy with you, because you really welcome him; and God is happy with you because you welcome Him with great hospitality.

 

       As a conclusion, Jesus says, "For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest." Here, Jesus shows how come this person can welcome a little child in his name, willing to spend a lot of time, money and effort. The reason or secret is that he does not consider himself so highly, and thereby, he does not consider his time so valuably compared to the preciousness of that little child. He considers himself - his time and his money and his effort - least important. His 100 hours for the sake of finding one lost sheep - he does not consider it as loss. So, he has no reason to look for a better method; instead, he pours out his time and energy for one little sheep endlessly - in his eyes, simply sheep is worth it. Such a person welcome Jesus really, by welcoming a little child, by pouring out his time, money and effort, by even willing to sacrifice his life for the sheep. Such a humble person is great in Jesus' eyes. Such a dedicated person to serving God's mission, such a dedicated person to serving sheep is truly great in Jesus' eyes. Such people are the ones who welcome Jesus really. This is how you can welcome Jesus; this is how you can be truly great in Jesus' Christ. This is the true greatness Jesus wants us to pursue today and tomorrow. Your own person becoming truly great, this is what Jesus wants you to pursue.

 

The disciples thought that being great was the matter of occupying a high position. So they were competing with each other. But now Jesus showed them that the greatest among them was the one who considered himself as the least among them all, and welcome all others as very great and valuable people, deserving his time and service. This person does not think that he is greater than others at all; instead, he thinks that others are great, deserving his honor and respect, even his obedience and loyalty. So, he listens to other servants very well, and obeys them. Such a person is truly great. The disciples pursued to go up and up, but now Jesus showed them that they must struggle to go down and down, considering others better than themselves.

 

When the apostle John heard this, he was convicted, being reminded of a certain thing he had done. So he brought it up, saying, "Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." Jesus said to him, "Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you." The disciples needed to welcome even a nameless servant in Jesus' name.

 

One Word:      Welcome A Little Child In Jesus’ Name 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

posted Jun 12, 2017, 6:58 AM by Site Administrator

LISTEN TO HIM!

 

Luke 9:28-36

Key Verse 9:35

 

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

 

First, “Transfiguration of Jesus” (28-31). “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James and went up onto a mountain to pray.” These words, “about eight days after Jesus said this” refer back to the last passage where Jesus, for the first time, told his disciples about his suffering, death and resurrection, and also about how the disciples must follow him. As the Christ who would save all mankind from their sins, Jesus had to die on the cross to pay the price of sins mankind owed. Sin is not free; it is a very expensive commodity. After committing sin, people pay its high price: their own family broken, there life being devastated; their honor and dignity as human beings gone; they become sorrowful and miserable; as they have paid the high price of their sins in this way, they become really poor in their life – no happiness, no joy, but sorrows, pains, no dignity, no honor as humans – really miserable. But still, sin demands them for more price; sin is not fully satisfied with whatever price they paid; it is not satisfied until people pay it with their own life, death – that’s the ultimate price of their sins. Jesus paid this price of sin through his death on the cross – the death of the One and Only Son of God for the sin of all mankind. The price of sin is paid in full through Jesus’ death on the cross. In Jesus, sin has no right to demand its’ price any longer. In Jesus, we are set free from the curse of sin. Jesus is our Savior who saves us from our sins.

 

       Luke’s gospel does not talk about what happened when Jesus told his disciples about his suffering, death, and resurrection. But Matthew’s gospel gives us a detailed description of that incident. Simon Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him, saying, “Never, Lord! This will never happen to you.” He was full of emotion. He would never let such terrible things happen to Jesus. At this, Jesus turned around and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mt. 16:16-23) Then, Jesus gave them a clear direction of how they could follow him, saying, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” What a shocking moment it was that Jesus called his disciple, Simon Peter, “Satan!” Usually, Jesus was gentle and kind with his disciples, explaining to them things of God patiently over and over. But this time, he rebuked Simon very harshly. In our terms, he said, “You are so humanistic, bringing evil influence to the whole ministry, being used as Satan’s instrument.” At this, the disciples were shocked – they had never expected Jesus to say to one of them like that. Maybe, Simon was hurt, and others were alarmed. After this event, the whole atmosphere among them changed completely. During Bible study, they were too scared to look at Jesus; they just looked at their computer and focused on typing.

 

       Jesus also set a clear direction of how his believers, his disciples must live their life – deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. This instruction must have been very challenging for the disciples as well. It was a very burdensome teaching. After this incident, there was a certain tension among them; the atmosphere was different. Something must be done. So, Jesus planned a special event for them. Eight days later, Jesus took three of them – Peter, John and James – and went up on the mountain to pray. He said, “Let’s have a mountain top prayer.” The disciples did not know anything, but said, “Sure!” So, they climbed up the mountain, spending several hours. It was not easy. But with Jesus, they had no problem. Then, when they came up to a certain point, they separated themselves and prayed individually. As Jesus was praying, something amazing happened. Verse 29 reads: “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”

 

One moment Jesus was humbly praying, his appearance had nothing that would call for attention to him. Then in the twinkling of an eye, his face changed. Matthew 17:2 tells us that his face shone like the sun. Additionally, his clothes were as bright as a flash of lighting. Mark’s gospel 9:3 says, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” This transfiguration of Jesus was the preview of his glory. The apostle John later saw Jesus in glory. He describes this Jesus in glory in Revelation 1:14-16, 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters... His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” When the apostle John saw Jesus in glory, his glory was so intense and great that John fell at his feet as though he was dead. (Rev 1:17) In the Old Testament, Daniel saw the glory of Jesus. He says in Daniel 10:5,6, “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Like the apostle John, when Daniel saw the glory of this figure, he had no strength left; his face turned deadly pale and he fell into a deep sleep, his face to the ground. (Dan 10:5-9) Jesus is the Creator God in nature; he is the one we must worship with all our precious treasures.

 

       When Jesus was transfigured, it became clear that he was no ordinary person; instead, he was a glorious one; he was God in flesh. On this mountain, Jesus showed them his glory as God. Why, at this particular moment, did Jesus reveal his glory to the disciples? The reason why his disciples did not accept the way of the Christ his suffering and death was because they considered it as failures. But now, as Jesus revealed himself as a glorious one, it became obvious that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem not because he was weak, but because there was a certain purpose the disciples did not know yet. That’s what Jesus wanted to show them. Jesus suffered and died in Jerusalem, not as a victim to the religious leaders’ evil scheme, but as the Lamb of God to pay the price of the sin of the world. He suffered and died because he was the Christ, the Savior of the world.

 

Look at verses 30 and 31. Let us read these verses together:

 

Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

 

       There showed two specially invited guests Moses and Elijah. According to the bible history timeline, Moses served God about 1,400 years before this meeting with Jesus. Elijah served God 900 years earlier. Both men served God faithfully throughout their life. A common thing for them was that, as they served God’s work wholeheartedly, they reached their limit and offered a prayer to God, asking Him to kill them. Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; he refused all privileges, luxuries and conveniences as the prince of Egypt, and chose to suffer together with God’s people indeed, he denied himself for God’s kingdom; he lost his life for God. Then, he served more than 2 million Israel people who were loaded with all kinds of slave mentality. How was it to take care of so many slaves? Surely, not easy. One day, he reached the limit, and could not go any longer. So he prayed to God, “I cannot carry all these people by myself; put me to death right now – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Num 11:14-15) Elijah fought the nationwide idol worship all by himself and even won a great victory. But when he heard that the evil queen Jezebel was looking for his life, he was afraid, and ran into the desert. Then, and when he reached a broom tree, he sat under it, and prayed that he might die. He said to God in prayer, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1Kings 19:1-4) After offering this prayer, he fell asleep. These servants of God served God’s work even until all their life was drained out, even to the point of death. They suffered a lot. So, what was the result of their suffering for God? Was it sheer failure? No! Their life did not end in misery. Instead, now, 1,400 years later, 900 years later, both of them appeared in glorious splendor. Once their mission was over, they entered glory, and now were enjoying such glory in God’s kingdom, together with all other saints, and holy angels.

 

       We see Moses did not make a mistake when he gave up the palace of Pharaoh with all its pleasures and chose to suffer with God’s people. What is left of Pharaoh? Maybe a smelly, ugly, inglorious mummy. In contrast, look at Moses standing in glorious splendor with Jesus Christ the Son of God. Look also at Elijah. Elijah never compromised with the nationwide idol worship supported by the government. Now both of them were talking with Jesus about his departure he would bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. They were two living examples for the disciples to learn of the way of the cross.

 

       Moses and Elijah were the two representatives of the Old Testament the Law and the Prophets. Their example of appearing in glorious splendor testifies to the way of the cross; serving God with all your heart and strength even to the point of reaching your limit is the way to enter glory in God’s kingdom. This is what the Old Testament talks about through Moses and Elijah. And in the New Testament, Jesus teaches us the same truth you lose your life for Jesus by denying your dreams and desires in this world, taking up your cross daily and following Jesus. That’s how you can save your life; that’s how you can enter glory in the kingdom of God. Dedicate yourself to God’s kingdom work even to the point of letting go of your own desires, dreams and plans in this life, pursue Jesus only, and you will enter glory in the kingdom of God. This is what the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, talks about. Do you want to enter glory in God’s kingdom? Do you want to take charge of 10 cities, or 5 cities? Then, walk on the way of the cross; live a real Christian life as Jesus shows.

 

Second, “Listen to him” (32-36). Look at verse 32: “Peter and his companions were very sleepy but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” Don’t doze off, lest you will miss very important things in your life. Once the disciples were fully awake, the meeting between transfigured Jesus and Moses and Elijah had come to an end. Look at verse 33. As they were leaving, so fascinated and shocked, Peter exclaimed, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” About this, the author Luke adds his comment, saying, “He did not know what he was saying.” This comment meant that, without realizing, Peter ended up exposing what was in his subconscious level, which he really wanted.

 

       “Master, it is good for us to be here.” Peter’s desire was to have that kind of glorious fellowship with great servants of God like Moses, Elijah and Jesus; for that, he was willing to stay in the mountain, forgetting about the world, willing to make shelters for them, spending a lot of time, money and effort. What about his family in the world? What about his dream to be the prime minister in Jesus’ kingdom? He was willing to give up all these things; that much he was satisfied; that much, he valued such glorious fellowship with great servants of God. In this sense, we can say that he had a spiritual desire.

 

       But at the same time, he exposed his mentality very well – he wanted glory, but the question was: How? By just staying in the mountain, building shelters for glorious beings in the kingdom of God. What did Jesus tell him to do? Deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Jesus – Jesus wanted him to dedicate himself to God’s work that much, and serve God’s kingdom very wholeheartedly and practically that’s how he would enter glory in God’s kingdom. But instead of doing this real struggle of living for God, Peter just wanted to stay in the mountain, build shelters for God’s servants, showing his honor to them, and commemorating the place where he saw them. Even if he said that he would give up his life for this, it was not what God wanted him to do; he sounded spiritual, but he was not spiritual at all in God’s eyes. That’s not what God wanted him to do.

 

       Peter’s case reveals many Christians’ mentality very well people’s desire for glory, but without really living the life of the disciples, without denying themselves, without taking up their cross, without really following Jesus. What God wants them to do is to practically live for him, by denying themselves, taking up their cross daily, serving God’s mission wholeheartedly, and following Jesus. In that way, they would be really dedicated to God. But instead of doing this, they just want to have some glory by attending well known pastors’ meetings, such as Billy Graham’s Crusade, or having a chance to meet him and shake hands with him; some people attend famous Pentecostal preachers’ meetings, seeking some kind of mysterious experiences there, such as being slain by the Holy Spirit. For this, they are willing to spend time and money purchasing flight tickets, and staying in a hotel for many days. And once they meet a great servant of God, or if they get his autograph, they consider it as great honor and talk about it over and over; or if they have that kind of mysterious experience, they consider it as an expression of their great spirituality that they brag about it over and over. In one sense, they show a certain spiritual desire. But that’s not the way God wants them to do. Like Peter, they want to just stay in the mountain and build shelters for God’s servants, while God wants them to go down and do God’s work practically. Don’t be deceived by such people – such fake spirituality.

 

Look at verses 34 and 35. Let’s read these verses together:

 

34   While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.   35   A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”  

 

       Thus far, everything went wonderfully as Jesus had designed. Yet, even at this special presentation in the mountain, even with Jesus transfigured and Moses and Elijah appearing, still the disciples didn’t catch the real message. So, God the Father intervened. Verse 34 starts with the phrase, “While he was speaking,” showing that God didn’t want to hear Peter say such things; even if Peter sounded spiritual, even if Peter was willing to give up his life in the world for the sake of staying in the mountain, God didn’t like that at all. So, even before Peter finished his words, God intervened. A cloud appeared and enveloped them. They were shocked. They were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then, God spoke to them directly from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

 

       God the Father first established Jesus’ credential, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen.” It was was the expression of God’s approval on Jesus and on whatever he said. Whatever Jesus said was what God wanted. Then, God the Father gave them a clear direction, “Listen to him!” The way of the Christ, the way of the disciples Jesus taught them was what they must accept and obey. That was God’s will for them. What Jesus taught was not popular at all. Among all the religious leaders, there was no one who taught that the Christ must suffer, die and rise again. Among all the Jews they knew, there was no one who was living that kind of life denying themselves, taking up the cross daily and following God wholeheartedly. Yet, God the Father still wanted them to listen to Jesus; God wanted them live in that way deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

 

       This is God’s will for us that we accept the way of the disciples as the absolute way of life, and as the absolute will of God. No matter what others say of Christian life, no matter how other Christians live their life, we must live in that way – deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

 

       While you are measuring two opinions – the life of pursuing your own dreams and desire and the life of denying such things for God and taking up your cross -, God gives you a clear direction: Listen to Jesus; listen to God’s servants who teach you the way of the disciples. “Listen to Him!” This is God’s will for us.

 

       Look at verse 36. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen. It was really a glorious experience. So, it seemed that, when the three disciples met the rest of the Twelve, they would tell them everything they had seen and heard. Yet, instead, they did not tell anyone about it, showing that they did not just consider the event as something exciting, but they were actually thinking about the whole message, especially, what God told them “Listen to him.” In this way, through this event, the disciples began to consider the message of the cross seriously.

 

       In today’s passage, we saw the preview of Jesus’ glory and the glory of those who served God’s mission, denying themselves and taking up their cross daily. Jesus shows us that the way of the cross is the way of glory. He commands us to follow him by denying ourselves taking up our cross daily so that we too can enter the glory God has prepared for us. God the Father says, “This is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

 

 One Word:     The Way Of The Cross Is The Way of Glory

Sunday, June 4, 2017

posted Jun 4, 2017, 8:20 PM by Site Administrator

1

 

THE CHRIST OF GOD

 

Luke 9:18-27

Key Verse 9:20

 

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God."

 

First, "Who do you say I am?" (18-22). Look at verse 18. “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” According to the record of Matthew’s gospel, the location was Caesarea Philippi, 110 miles north of Jerusalem, in the northernmost part of Palestine. From here, Jesus would make his last journey to Jerusalem to die as the Lamb of God. It was the end part of his public ministry. There, as the conclusion of his public ministry, Jesus asked the disciples about people's general opinion about him. At this, they replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." People's general opinion about Jesus was pretty good. They understood him as a great man of God, not just a man of God, but a great man of God like John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the great prophets in the Old Testament. We can see that none of them could agree 100% as to who he was. Some say this, some say that and still others say another thing. We see that their understanding of Jesus eventually came from their guess work. They heard about Jesus; they saw him performing miracles; even they attended his Bible study classes. Then, they gathered all information about him, analyzed it, and drew a conclusion. So, their opinion about Jesus differed from each other, and none of their answers was right, because, in the true sense, none of them knew who Jesus was personally.  

 

Today, people basically consider Jesus very highly as one of the four saints in history. Some people consider him as a great humanitarian who stood on the side of lowly people; some people consider him as a great revolutionary. About two decades ago, I think it was Time magazine, they listed 100 most influential people in history, and they listed Jesus in the fourth, and his disciple, the apostle Paul in the first, saying that what Jesus did was in Israel, but Paul served Asia and Europe. In 2012, they did the same thing, and this time, they changed their method of measuring greatness by following the algorithm of Google search engine, and listed Jesus in the first. Over time people’s idea about Jesus changes based on what they read in magazines and books and what they hear from others, and even movies. People don't know who Jesus is.

 

If people had such a high opinion about us, we would be glad. But Jesus was not happy with it, because they failed to know him really. So, he asked the disciples another question, saying, "But what about you? Who do you say I am?" Jesus wanted to know their personal opinion about him. No matter what others said of Jesus, what would the disciples say of him? For the past three years, the disciples had had life together with him; they had studied the Bible with him; they had heard his messages; they had watched him performing many miracles. Unlike the crowds, they had the best chance to know him really. What would they say of him? At this, Peter answered, "The Christ of God." Jesus was glad because that was the right answer.

 

At the end part of his public ministry, Jesus asked his disciples two questions, and both questions were all about who Jesus was. This shows the real focus of Jesus' ministry, that was, revealing himself to people. Through his messages, through his miracles, through his tender shepherding, Jesus had revealed himself to people, both the crowd and his disciples so that, eventually, they might come to know who he really was. That was the whole focus of Jesus' ministry; that was Jesus' intention for the crowd and the disciples. Today, this is what Jesus intends. We live as Jesus' disciples, doing many things - fishing, teaching the Bible to college students, writing testimonies and sharing them, selling leis and making ribbons, and even doing yard sale. But we must never forget that the real thing through all these activities and struggles, is to know who Jesus really is. Who is Jesus to you? When you know him as a worthy person of your life as your God, your Master, your Owner, your Savior, you live for him devoting your life to him completely. But if you don't know him that way, then, you do not live for him; instead, you live for something else or someone else you think of worthy of your life. Who is Jesus to you? Who do you say Jesus is?

 

Peter's answer was: The Christ of God. The Christ in Greek is the "Messiah" in Hebrew, which both mean, "the Anointed One." The Christ of God means the One who is anointed by God. This anointing of God shows God's personal selection and assignment. In Genesis 3:15, God talked about a woman's offspring who would crush the head of Satan, and thereby set all mankind free from his tyranny. Now about 4,000 years later, God chose Jesus, his Son to be that person, the woman's offspring, and sent him to the world to fulfill his prophecy. Jesus is the Christ of God. When you confess that Jesus is the Christ of God, you show your understanding, your belief of all fallen men's stuck condition due to Adam's sin and their own sins, and the need of the Savior. At the same time, you show that only in Jesus, there is salvation from your stuck condition because only Jesus is God's Anointed One - God's Messiah. This is your confession of faith that only Jesus is the one who can bring you back to the paradise, which Adam lost. Jesus is your Savior, and Jesus is the One who brings you to Paradise; Jesus is the fulfillment of your life. Because of this faith and understanding, you happily welcome Him as your Savior; you welcome Him as the most essential part of your life. So, you cannot be without him; you pursue Him and remain in him. When you confess Jesus as the Christ, indeed, it is your confession of faith of all these.

 

Second, "If anyone would come after me..." (22-27).Look at verse 22. Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Since they knew him as the Christ of God, Jesus showed them what he would do as the Christ - suffering, death and resurrection of the Christ - that's what the Bible talked about, and that's what he would do as the Christ. That's the way of the Christ. The disciples might have some idea about what Jesus would do as the Christ such as destroying the Roman Empire and restoring the kingdom to IsraelBut it was nothing but some fantasy in their mind, or their wishful thinking based on their own condition. But now they needed to understand him and his life based on the word of God. This must have been very shocking to them.

 

Look at verse 23. Let's read this verse together:

 

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  

 

He now showed them how they must follow him as his disciples. They were following Jesus as his disciples, but most likely, with some fantasy in their mind, expecting that, once Jesus established the Messianic Kingdom, they would occupy all high positions. Now Jesus showed them the way they shouldfollow him - deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow him. Actually, that's the very way of life he lived as the Christ - dedicating himself to God's will and purpose by denying his own plans and desires, then, taking up the cross of mission to the point of death in obedience and submission to God's will. Jesus lived that way, and now his disciples should live in the same way - that's how they could follow him. Eventually, the way of the Christ and the way of the disciples are the same way of life, and it can be described as "the way of the cross." 

 

People believe in Jesus, but with just some fantasy in mind, saying, "I will go to heaven when I die," or "I will reign with him forever," or "I will be the world class spiritual leader." Or, they have no idea about how they should follow him, just thinking that, because they believe in Jesus, everything will go very well in their favor - very blind and ignorant; so, they just live a religious life, going to church once a week and doing some Christian things. They do not know the way of Christians, the way of Jesus' disciples.

 

Now to all these people who believe in him and who want to follow him, Jesus shows how they can follow him and how they must follow him - deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow him. 1) Deny yourself: It means to deny your own dreams, desire, plans, and even emotions so that you can pursueGod's will and purpose. This is the first condition for all those who believe in Jesus. 2) Take up your cross daily: Your cross is something you must do. As students, what is your cross? Studying and doing homework is your cross. When you graduate, what is your cross? It is to get a job and support yourself. Once you marry, you must support, uphold and protect your family - that's your cross. And as God's servants, what is your cross? It is to serve God's mission faithfully. How should we live our Christian life? By taking up all these crosses daily and faithfully. 3) Follow me: As Christians who believe in Jesus as your Savior, follow him, not something else or someone else. Your life goal, your purpose in life is Jesus Christ alone.

 

The Christian life Jesus describes here is neither theological nor religious; it is not about learning some Bible expressions and doing some Christian things; it is not about attending worship service once a week, constantly checking out your watch, thinking about playing golf after worship service. Instead, it is very real and practical. When you live your Christian life in this way, then, you are fully committed to God, pursuing God alone, dedicating yourself to God's work completely, giving very good influence to the people around you - at work, at school, at home and at the church. Nothing - neither poverty nor persecution, neither persecutions nor temptations - can stop you from loving God and serving His mission wholeheartedly. And your Christian life is not boring at all, but very dynamic, powerful and action-packed. People can smell the good fragrance of Jesus Christ from you.

 

Look at verse 24. Let's read this verse together:

 

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

 

This verse starts with "For," which means, "Because." Here, Jesus explains why they must come after him by denying themselves, taking up their cross daily and following him. Christians must come after Jesus in that way, because that's the only way they can save their life. Here, Jesus describes the disciples way of life - denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following him - as losing your life for him and thereby, eventually saving it. If you lose your life for Jesus by denying yourself and taking your cross and following him, you will save your life; otherwise, you will lose it. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus will save it. If the apostle Peter wants to save his life, he will lose it. But if he loses it for Jesus, he will save it. If the apostle John wants to save his life, he will lose it, but if he loses it, he will save it.

 

Many people have a heart's desire for Jesus, but a lot of them fail to follow him in the way he shows, and thereby, eventually, they do not follow Jesus, but follow something else or someone else, even if they may still say, "I believe in Jesus," or even if they may still go to church. Why? In Jesus' eyes, the reason is because they want to save their life. They have something they desire such as a career dream, marriage dream or great success, or a small citizen's dream; they value it highly and they want to pursue it and fulfill it. In that way, they want to save their life. Now, the first condition for them to follow Jesus is to deny themselves in regard to such things so that they can really pursue Jesus, not those things. But many people refuse to deny themselves in regard to such things so that they can save their life. Such people don't follow Jesus, even if they still say, "I believe in Jesus," or they still go to church. They are following their own dreams and desires.

 

Jesus says, "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it."These people even deny God's will and calling for their life so that they can pursue what they really desire. That much they are wholehearted to pursue and fulfill their dreams and desires. Such wholehearted pursuit of things other than God is the very concept of idolatry. The problem is: even if they save their life, even if they fulfill their dreams and desires in regard to job, marriage or family, they lose their life. What does it mean to "lose one's life"? It means to lose the very one life God has given you. You have one life to live, but at the end of your life, you look back, and you realize that you have lost it, because you wasted it for worthless things, without doing anything meaningful and lasting. At that time, your life carries no value, no purpose and no meaning at all. God has given you this one life, but you have wasted it for nothing. "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it." Even if they secure what they have valued and pursued, sooner or later they find that it does not carry any meaning, any value and any purpose - dream marriage partner, the prince charming turns out to be an idiot, the beautiful princess turns out to be a spoiled brattheir dream career jobturns out to be a headache, and money does not mean anythingany longerThey tried to save it even to the point of turning down God's will and calling for them, even denying God's grace upon their life through their shepherds. But all those things have no value, no meaning to them at all; they have wasted their life. We must not live this way. 

 

Instead, we must save our life - this one life God has given us, we must not waste it; instead, we must use it very wisely and effectively so that it may carry real value, real meaning and purpose; at that time, our life will be truly successful, and when we live that kind of life, we will be truly satisfied and happy with our life - no regret at all. Then, in order to save our life, in order to live our life really successfully, how should we live? This is a good question. Jesus shows us the way of life, saying, "Whoever loses his life for me will save it." We must live the life of losing it for Jesus, that's the way to save it.

 

What does it mean to "lose one's life for Jesus"? It means to deny ourselves, letting go of our own dreams, desires and plans in regard to career matter, marriage matter, and family matter,... so that we can follow Jesus continually. Such struggle, such practices are painful. We do it with many tears and pains. Jesus describes such struggles as "losing our life for him," showing his full appreciation of our love for him. With such struggles, we continue to follow Jesus, seeking him and his will. We lose our worldly treasures in this life for Jesus and the gospel. When we do so continually, our life is really dedicated to God and his purpose all the way, and at that time, our life comes to carry real value, meaning and purpose. Our life is not wasted in worthless things, but used for God's purpose. Such life carries real value and meaning. Such people have saved their life. When we think about this passage carefully, we see that only Jesus' disciples have a chance to save their life, because only they can lose it for Jesus. Without believing in Jesus as the Savior, without knowing him and loving him, how can anyone lose his or her precious dreams and desires and plans for Jesus continually? It is impossible. So, all those people in the world who do not believe in Jesus live the life of wanting to save it, by pursuing their dreams and desires and plans, and all of them testify the same thing - meaningless! Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless! Utterly meaningless! We Christians are really blessed because now we have a chance to save our life. We must not blow this chance only because of some worldly dreams or fleshly desires; instead, we must save our life by losing it for Jesus.

 

Look at verse 25. Let's read this verse together:

 

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

 

Here, Jesus comes up with a hypothetical scenario - the most successful scenario ever possible in regard to struggling to save one's life. Let's say, this person pursued his dream wholeheartedly, even denying God's will and calling in his life, and as a result, he got what he had desired, becoming very successful - he gained the whole world. In money area, he is the richest person in the world; in his own area, he becomes the most successful and famous and influential person (Steven Spielberg in movie production, Tiger Woods in Golf, Picasso in arts, Michael Jackson in music,...) It is not easy to be this much successful, even if you wholeheartedly pursue your dreams; if you are successful like this, you are really lucky. But even if you gain the whole world, what good is it for you because you lose or forfeit your very self?

 

Seeking one's own dreams or desires or plans wholeheartedly like this is the way they lose or forfeit their own self. Instead of living their own life, they live life valuing and pursuing what the world suggests - as they pursue such things wholeheartedly, they lose their own self. They do not live their life for themselves, but live for the things the world suggests - this is how they lose or forfeit their very self. So, even the best scenario possible, which usually does not occur, is not good. So, why should you go in that way? Don't go in that way! It is the surest way to lose your very self. Instead, save it by losing it for Jesus, for God's kingdom work. Deny yourself for Jesus Christ and pursue him, and you will have real life and you will live life for yourself really. 

 

Look at verse 27. Let's read this verse together:

 

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  

 

Who is the one who is ashamed of Jesus and his words? He is the one who chose to save his life even rejecting God's will and God's calling. When they compared their life of living for Jesus by denying themselves and taking up the cross to the life of pursuing and securing their dreams, they did not like the life of living for Jesus. The life of pursuing and securing their dreams and desires and plans in the world looked so glamorous and wonderful. Compared to it, the life of living for Jesus by denying their dreams and desires looked so boring, poor, not so desirable at all; they didn't want to live that kind of life. So, they turned their faces away from the life of Jesus' disciples so that they could greet to their dreams and success with smiles. Jesus described them as those who were ashamed of him and his words. Then, when Jesus comes again with his glory with all the angels, he will be ashamed of them, turning his face away from them, and they will be utterly ashamed before all heavenly hosts.As Jesus' disciples, we must make our heart's firm determination of what kind of life we are going to live. Which one do you choose? The life together with Jesus by denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following him, or the life with your dream job, or marriage or success? In the way you treat Jesus, he will treat you when he comes again.

 

Look at verse 27. Let's read this verse together:

 

I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.

 

This is Jesus' encouraging comment for his disciples to choose the way of the disciples, the life of losing it for him. If you live the life of denying yourself, taking up the cross and following Jesus, you come to have amazing experiences of meeting God personally, or you will come to have many miraculous and mysterious experiences people cannot understand. Once you experience God this way, your eyes are opened to Him and to the kingdom of God, and you begin to see everything differently; then, suddenly all the glamorous things of this world suddenly lose their value in your eyes. When the apostle Paul experienced the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ, he considered all the good looking things of this world such as his lawyer's license, his promising future, his secured comfortable life, high paying job and everything simply rubbish; he even considered them as loss, because, due to such things, he lost some chances to experience and know Jesus. Pursue the life of following Jesus, and God will bless you greatly.

 

One Word:Whoever Loses His Life For Jesus Will Save It

Sunday, May 28, 2017

posted May 28, 2017, 9:31 PM by Site Administrator

 

YOU GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO EAT

 

Luke 9:1-17

Key Verse 9:13

 

He replied, "You give them something to eat." They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-- unless we go and buy food for all this crowd."

 

First, "He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God" (1-9). Look at verses 1 and 2. It reads: "1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick." This passage talks about Jesus sending out the Twelve in their mission journey. For the past three years, they had learned from Jesus how to do God's work; during this period of time, Jesus was the main figure in serving God's work, and they were the students and assistants. Now, after three years' training, at the end part of his public ministry, he sent them out in their mission journey so that they might do God's work on their own, without hisphysical presence. Indeed, it was the field work training. 

 

When we check out verses 1 and 2 carefully, we see Jesusgiving them power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases so that he could send them out to preach the kingdom of God. Giving them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases was his preparation for them. And sending them out to preach the kingdom of God was his purpose for them. Basically, in their mission journey, they would do three things - drive out demons, heal the sick, and preach the kingdom of God. But driving out demons was not the real purpose; healing the sick was not the real purpose. Jesus sent them out to preach the kingdom of God - that was their real mission, and that was what they must aim to do all the time. But Jesus foresaw that, as they did God's work by preaching the kingdom of God, they would face the obstacle of demons and diseases, so he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases so that they would do God's work freely. 

 

There are many people who have demon problems. And disease is a part of human life. So, as we struggle to do God's work, we naturally come to have the challenges from demons and diseases. And understanding the nature of our mission, Jesus has already given us power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. So, as we struggle to do God's work, we come to have many battle stories of driving out demons and healing the sick - such things are a part of our mission life. But we must remember that Jesus' purpose in sending us into the world is not that we become exorcists, or miracle healers, but he has sent us to preach the kingdom of God. You may drive out a demon from one person, but what benefit is there when thedemon comes back to that person later, even with seven more wicked demons? Healing the sick sounds good; you may look cool as you heal someone. But eventually people get old, sick and die. The real blessing comes to people when we preach the kingdom of God to them. Real solution comes to people when we preach to them the kingdom of God. This mission of preaching the kingdom of God is so important that he even has given us power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases so that our ministry of preaching the kingdom of God may not be hindered or limited by anything. Preach the kingdom of God! Preach the word in season and out of season! 

 

Look at verses 3 through 5. As they would go out and do God's work, there might be many things they had to take care of - lodging, food,... So, Jesus gave them instructions about such things. Let's read verse 3 together:

 

3He told them: "Take nothing for the journey-- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.

 

"Take nothing for the journey -- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." Who can travel without money, without extra clothes and without credit cards? Was Jesus encouraging them to be travel beggars? Definitely not! His point was that the disciples in their mission journey should not worry about such things, but rely on God's provision. Don't rely on money or any other things in doing God's work; don't think that when you have enough money, you will serve God's work better. So it is really good to do God's work when we are busy students, when we have nothing to rely on - we don't have that much time for fellowship with sheep, we don't have much money to buy lunch for sheep; we don't have that good communication skill either. Because we have nothing to rely on in doing God's work, we rely on God alone, by humbly praying for God's work to be done and by dedicating ourselves to studying the word of God and sharpening it all the more. God will take care of you with all necessary things as you struggle to do God's work. So, don't worry about it - what to eat, what to wear, and where to sleep. Often, people who have a heart's desire for God's mission struggle hard to prepare themselves thoroughly in advance, spending extensive time and effort for staffs, for bags (one bag for learning a foreign language, another bag for getting seminary certificate, another bag for understanding different culture,...), bread (some license and degree for career in a foreign land), money, extra tunic... Their preparation is endless, taking many years, postponing God's mission, and they get old. Jesus' point is that, simply, we must not postpone God's mission for such preparation. Instead, trusting in God's provision and guidance, entrusting our life in God's hands completely, we must just go and do God's work right away. Then, we come to experience God's provision and help, which is magnified in our weaknesses. 

 

Later, right before his arrest at the last supper, Jesus gave them a different direction. He asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?""Nothing," they answered. Then, he said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." Once they learned to rely on God in serving God’s purpose, all things they had became useful tools to serve God; if they had money, they could use it very preciously – with money you can do so many things for God’s purpose; if they had good communication skill, it was very useful; if they could play guitar, marvelous – drums, fantastic! So Jesus encouraged them to take whatever they had.

 

Then, since the disciples did not have any money in their mission journey, how could they solve their eating and lodging problem? Look at verse 4. Jesus said to them, "Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town." As they served God’s mission wholeheartedly, God would prepare food and lodging for them through some worthy people who accepted their messages and were more than willing to have them at their homes. Then, they should stay there until they leave the town. Maybe, the food they offer is not what they like, but they must eat what is set before them; maybe, the house they are led to is not a kind of house they like; maybe, it has only one room, and there are seven children, and the disciples have to sleep on the hard floor. Or like the widow in Zarephath, the meal the family set before them is their last meal, and once the disciples eat it, the whole family will starve, but no matter what, stay in that house until God's mission in that town is over. Don't move from house to house looking for a little more convenient or comfortable or luxurious environment; the reason you are there is not for luxury or convenience, but for God's kingdom work. When God has led you to a house, God must have a reason; even if the food they set before you is not healthy food you like, don't worry; just eat it; even poison will not harm you at all. 

 

Look at verse 5. Let's read this verse together: 

 

If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.

 

Jesus gave them this instruction showing them how they should respond when they are not welcomed. Shaking the dust off their feet is the sign that no matter what happens to them as the result of rejecting them, the disciples have no responsibility - they would not share anything with them, even the dust - so, they are not related to them at all whatever happens to them. Even if people go to hell as the result of rejecting the disciples’ message, they are solely responsible for the consequences of their own choice. Jesus did not want his disciples to get discouraged or even blame themselves when their mission was not successful. When people do not accept us, we simply shake the dust off our feet, and we focus on those who welcome and accept us. 

 

How did the disciples do on their mission journey? Look at verses 6 through 9. So the disciples set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere. As a result, the whole area was stirred up, and people came to recognize Jesus as a great servant of God like John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of great prophets. When their mission life was a great success, Jesus' name was revealed to the world and people came to recognize him. When we do God's work wholeheartedly and thereby, a great work of God occurs on our campus, people come to recognize Jesus. We must aim to bear much fruit so that Jesus may be revealed and honored and respected among people. Jesus says, "This is to my Father's glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (Jn 15:8) "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last." (Jn 15:16)

 

Second, "You give them something to eat" (10-17). Look at verses 10 and 11. Their mission journey was a great success. When the twelve apostles returned, they held a mission report together with Jesus. They reported to him all they had done and taught - how they had driven out demons; how they had healed so many sick people; how powerfully they preached the gospel message. What an exciting moment it was to them. It was the best time in their lives. Their spirit was good. But Jesus noticed that they were very tired also from their long journey. Jesus was their good shepherd who was concerned about their well being. So, he took them with him and went away by themselves in a boat to the other side of the lake, Bethsaida. But their retreat plan did not go as they had expected. Many who saw them leaving recognized Jesus; then, they figured out where Jesus' company was heading to. They ran on foot from all the towns. Suddenly, there was a marathon race around the Sea of Galilee, and about 5,000 people participated, running hard and getting there ahead of Jesus company. When the disciples arrived at the other side of the lake, the crowd greeted them so joyfully, saying, "Welcome Jesus!" It was a frustrating moment to the disciples. Their retreat was ruined.

 

But at that time, what did Jesus do? Marks gospel chapter 6, verse 34 reads: "But when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd." Even if his retreat plan was ruined because of the crowd, he was not upset with them. Instead, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Without the guidance and protection of a shepherd, what can sheep do? They all struggle hard to survive and secure their life, running here and there, but predators such as ferocious wolves come, scatter them and kill them one by one, two by two, and eventually, all of them are destroyed - that's the destiny of sheep without a shepherd; maybe, they are most pathetic. This is all fallen men's condition. Like sheep without a shepherd, all people struggle hard to secure their life and survive in the world by studying and working hard, by struggling to build their career; they try to secure happiness by building a beautiful family. Then, diseases visit them destroying their happiness; sin smears into their life; demons visit them and torture them; depression comes, and finally divorce devours their life completely. People struggle hard to secure their life and protect their happiness from these things, but like sheep without a shepherd, they are being destroyed by these ferocious wolves one by one and two by two, and their life is bankrupt. People need a shepherd who can show them which way to go, and how to live their lives; people need a shepherd who can lead them to green pastures where they can rest and be healthy and sound.

 

Look at verse 11"He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God." When Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, he became their shepherd by speaking to them about the kingdom of God. There were about 5,000 people, actually, about 10,000 people including women and children. They had various problems, especially, they had a serious bread problem as we see in John 6. But when these people sought him enthusiastically, Jesus didn't give them what they wanted; instead, he spoke to them about the kingdom of God, because, in his eyes, what they really needed was the kingdom of God; in his eyes, the real solution for all their problems was the kingdom of God. They were like sheep without a shepherd. So, Jesus became their shepherd by speaking to them about the kingdom of God, helping them develop the real hope of the kingdom of God, and thereby, showing them a clear direction of what to pursue and how to live their life. 

 

Right now, we may have many problems, and we may desire for many things - graduates hope to find a good career job; some people want to marry; indeed, each person has a different need. But what if Jesus visits us today here? What will he do for us? I am sure that he will speak to us about the kingdom of God - its secrets, its beauty, its glory, how it spreads on earth,... When we know the kingdom of God, we will have the real hope in it. Then, we experience that all problems disappear, and we can live as holy pilgrims in this world. This is what Jesus the shepherd of our souls, desires for us. And this is how we can become shepherds for many wandering students on our campuses.

 

Look at verse 12. Once Jesus started his message out of compassionate heart for the crowd, Gods message kept welling up in his heart and he taught them continually until it became almost evening time. Now the crowd was happy to hear from Jesus the word of God, and Jesus was happy to take care of the crowd through the word of God. But because it was getting late, the disciples came up with a practical suggestion, saying to him, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." There were so many people who needed food to eat and place to sleep, about 5,000 men in number, and it was a remote place where there was no inn or fast food restaurant, and the time was running out and the evening was coming. So the only solution to solve the present situation was to finish the meeting as soon as possible and send them away so that at least people might have a chance to take care of themselves; otherwise, they would be in big trouble, stuck with 5,000 people in the wilderness, and people would have to spend the night outside, without having any blanket or eating anything.

 

Their analysis of the situation was accurate and correct, and it seemed that their suggestion was really reasonable. But what did Jesus say to them? Look at verse 13. Lets read this verse together:

 

He replied, "You give them something to eat." They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-- unless we go and buy food for all this crowd."

 

Jesus idea was different. He said to them, "You give them something to eat." At this, the disciples were shocked and they exclaimed altogether in unison, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish-- unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." In their eyes, it was impossible. Why did Jesus give such an impossible looking direction? Was it because he did not know the situation very well? Was it because he thought his disciples had some secret food for an emergency situation? No. He did so because they should be the shepherds for these wandering people. Jesus knew that they did not have that much money or even if they had money, there was no way to buy that much bread. Jesus knew that his disciples were tired, but still he wanted them to live as shepherds for the wandering people. The crowd was like sheep without a shepherd; there was no one who had taken care of them; they were harassed and oppressed. Jesus disciples should not say, "Let them take care of themselves," only because they were limited greatly, because they were their shepherds. They should not say, "I cannot help you any longer because I have no money," because they were their shepherds. The shepherds should not say, "Could you take care of yourself because I too have so many things to do?"Despite all adverse circumstances, Jesus wanted his disciples to operate themselves as shepherds for his flock with the sense of responsibility.

 

Jesus’ direction for his disciples, "You give them something to eat," shows Jesus hearts desire to establish his disciples as the responsible shepherds for Gods flock very well. In this world, there is no one who truly cares for others. Politicians sometimes have the form of caring for others, but they only take care of their own ambition for power; some people take the form of serving others, but without Jesus, their struggle is based on sense of meaninglessness in their lives. There is no shepherd for the suffering people. Because of this, people are lonely and sorrowful. In this world, Jesus wants to establish us as the shepherds for His flock. Maybe, we have such a heavy school load, but Jesus says to us, "You give them something to eat,"because he regards us as shepherds for his flock. Maybe, we do not have that much Bible knowledge, but still he commands us, "You give them something to eat," because he has appointed us to be shepherds for his flock. We too have our own problemssuch as our chronic sin problems or financial problem or relationship problem, and we feel we lack enough strength to take care of even our own needs. But still, Jesus commands us, "You give them something to eat," because we are the shepherds for Gods flock. We too have to take care of our own needs; we need to get a job to pay the bills, but no matter what, we must live as shepherds who take care of so many suffering people - this is Jesus' will for you and for me. Those who have such a sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of others are realleaders.

 

When Jesus said to his disciples, "You give them something to eat," he already had in mind what he was going to do. He asked his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, Jesus gave thanks to God and broke the loaves. He gave them to his disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

 

This miracle of feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish is one of the most impressive miracles that shows Jesus hearts desire to take care of all needy people. Jesus is the shepherd for all men in the world because he has deep compassion on them. No one cares for anyone, but Jesus pays attention to each person closely and knows our sufferings. Jesus wants to establish us as shepherds for his flock. So he commands us, "You give them something to eat." May God bless us to live under Jesus care as his sheep, and to live as shepherds for his flock.

 

One Word:You Give Them Something To Eat

 

 

 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

posted May 21, 2017, 3:52 PM by Site Administrator

 

DON’T BE AFRAID; JUST BELIEVE

 

Luke 8:40-56

Key Verse 8:50

 

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

 

First, "Your faith has healed you" (40-48). Now after saving one demon-possessed man, Jesus returned to the other side of the lake. Then, as a usual, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. There was one synagogue ruler, named Jairus, whose daughter was laid sick. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him to come to his house. At this, Jesus went with him. But while Jesus was going to Jairus house, an unexpected event happened. A large crowd followed him and pressed around him. Among them was a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She came up behind Jesus, touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately, her bleeding stopped. The description in verse 44 is very plain, but what she did and what happened to her was really amazing. 12 years are long time to suffer from a chronic disease. When people have this kind of problem, and after trying this and that to solve it, but failing all the way, they despair and give up. But she did not give up; she hoped for healing, and once she found the possibility of healing in Jesus, she rose, and sought him wholeheartedly. Those who have faith in God can rise from despair in any circumstances. The prophet Micah shouts, "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I shall rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light." (Mic 7:8)

 

The woman's struggle to come to Jesus was really great. Even though she was weak and feeble, even though there was a thick barrier of muscular people, she wouldn't be afraid; even though she would touch so many people and make them ceremonially unclean, she would not care; like the Incredible hulk, or like an aggressive NLF football player, she jumped onto these people, threw them up one by one, or knocked them down with body check, and made her way all the way to Jesus.

 

People have various chronic sin problems - lust, smoking, drinking,... repeated failures. Many people give up after trying this and that, and failing repeatedly. Such people live in defeat, shame and misery. But those who find the hope of healing in God, the hope of victory in God because they believe in God, keep struggling, looking for a way, asking God for help. They seek God wholeheartedly like this woman. Such people eventually rise in victory by God's help. They come to have a testimony to tell the whole world about what God has done for them. 

 

Then, after such a heroic struggle, once she came behind Jesus, she just touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately, her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. All the people there even including the woman considered Jesus as a great man of God. In that sense, there was no difference between the crowd and the woman. There were many people who were pressing on him; some people were holding him tightly, but nothing happened to them; they were enthusiastic to touch him; they welcomed him greatly; yet, nothing happened to them. 

 

Then, how come such a great miracle happened to her through just one touch, while nothing happened to the crowd? The difference is that she had something she really hoped for, something she really wanted - healing from her bleeding, and thereby, having a normal, sound and healthy life. In Jesus, her faith had become concrete because she had something she really hoped; her faith had substance - a real and tangible goal. And she had absolute faith that Jesus was a great man of God  and that God's power was working in and through him and that, only if she touched him, she would be healed. Because of this confidence, she could seek Jesus wholeheartedly, making such a heroic struggle to come to Jesus despite so many obstacles. Later, Jesus said to her, "Your faith has healed you." That was Jesus' explanation of how she was healed.

 

Faith is being sure of what we hope for. The real problem for Christians is that they become like the crowd in the passage, so enthusiastic to shake hands with Jesus, but not having anything they really want in him, and thereby, their faith is dead; they have no reason to use their faith in their practical life; instead, they are just content that they are identified as Christians or they have some comfort that they will go to heaven when they die; such faith is dead, and it has no real value. At that time, even if they honor Jesus highly as the Christ, even if they happily shake hands with him, and get his autography, still nothing happens. That's why their Christian life is very boring. We must really approach him with real faith in him: He can save you from your chronic sin problem; he can send you many sheep; he can bless you to establish many disciples; he can give you a good career job; he can heal you of your sickness... But we must really mean it. When we have something we really hope for, then, our faith comes to have real substance; when we have something we really hope for, our faith is not theological or conceptual any longer, but we really mean it; at that time, our Christian life is no longer just being religious or adding more knowledge of the Bible; instead, our faith has a clear goal, and thereby, we can seek God really wholeheartedly just like the woman in the passage, because we know that only He can help us in those things. There was one man born blind; he shouted at Jesus, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." He made so much noise that the disciples rebuked him to be quiet; but he didn't stop; instead, he shouted all the louder. Finally, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The man answered, "I want to see." Jesus said to him, "Go, your faith has healed you." (Mk 10:47-52) When we have something we really hope for, our faith becomes real. Then, in our pursuit of God for such matters, we come to have a chance to do an act of faith. Then, that act of faith even if it is as small as a touch on the edge of Jesus' cloak, it becomes the channel through which God can launch his power on our case and God's glory can be revealed in our life. When we experience God's power, when we have real victory in our lives through God's power, our eyes are truly opened to God and our life will never be the same. 

 

Look at verse 45. When she was healed, she was ready to disappear pretending nothing had happened. But things did not go as she had planned. At once Jesus recognized that power had gone out from him. He must have been surprised! While he was going to Jairus house, someone used his power by absolute faith even without his permission. The power was his power, and it was in his body, but someone secretly acquired the PIN, and was using it right behind him. It was somewhat amazing and at the same time, somewhat embarrassing. Jesus wanted to see the person. So he turned around and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" His disciples did not know whats going on or what Jesus was talking about. They thought that Jesus said this because so many people were crowding against him. But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then, the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told the whole truth. Originally, her strategy was "hit-and-run," but now she was caught. She was trembling for stealing Jesus power. But Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.

 

It seems that so many people worldwide, are enthusiastic to welcome Jesus and meet him every Sunday; it seems that so many people try to do God's work. But God's kingdom advances through the work of faith - our fishing, our one to one Bible study should be the expression of our faith; in a very limited condition, we come out with our heart's resolution that we will do God's work by any means; in a very hectic schedule, we decide to serve God's kingdom work first. Through the acts of faith, people tap into God's power; through the acts of faith, God's power is launched in this world, and God's kingdom advances powerfully. And Jesus is sensitive to the work of faith. Even though he is in heaven, once someone does an act of faith on earth, Jesus senses that something great has been done, and he wants to see who did it. If you do an act of faith, Jesus wants to see who you are and what happened. When you do anything by real faith in God, Jesus is amazed; he wants to see who did it, so he asks, "Who touched me?" To Jesus, such people are real VIPs.

 

Second, "Don't be afraid; just believe" (49-56). Look at verse 49. While he was still speaking, someone came from thehouse of Jairus"Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don’t bother the teacher any more." What terrible news it was! At this, Jairuswas about to collapse and cry out bitterly or just simply pass out so that he might be excluded from the present pain momentarily. Once Jairus had faith in Jesus, but now when he heard that his daughter died, his faith was being destroyed and he was terrified and shaky. It seemed that the person who delivered this news was concerned about Jairus and even Jesus. But when he just said things based on the facts alone, when he relied on his logic and understanding without faithhe became an instrument of Satan in destroying Jairus faith and hindering God's work Jesus was going to doCertainly, it was not his intention, but that's what happened when he said things based on the facts alone without faith. We must be very careful; with our words, we can build up many people in faith; at the same time, by saying words carelessly without faith, we can be instruments of Satan in destroying many people's faith. That's why we must strive to say words of faith, saying, "Yes, we can." "Yes, you can. God will help you."

 

Jairus almost lost his faith. But Jesus sensed what's going on and quickly intervened into the situation. He said to him, "Dont be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed." When the situation got worse, and it seemed that the hope was already gone. When it seemed that the situation was already over, Jesus still encouraged him not to lose his heart, but believe in him no matter what. What did Jesus mean by saying, "Don’t be afraid; just believe"? He meant him to go on despite the visible reality. Jesus encouraged Jairus to hold onto his faith in him continually beyond death. Jairus faced the most difficult challenge from the enemy, the devil, but by Jesus’ help, he did not lose his heart; he did not faint, but continued on his journey to his house togetherwith Jesus. 

 

When we try to do God's work, or when we try to see God's glory, or when we try to overcome our miserable life in Jesus Christ, often, our faith is really challenged by difficulties and obstacles. People want to experience God's glory, but because of such challenges and obstacles, many people give up, thus, failing to see God's glory in their life. When people stop believing because of challenging reality, there they stop, so they never come to experience God's power. Only those who keep their faith continually despite hardships come to experience God's power in their life, and thereby, their life changes completely. This is the nature of the battle we are engaged in - the battle of faith: if we believe despite challenging circumstances, we keep on going, but if our faith is destroyed due to challenging circumstances, we stop there - that is the end of the story. The present reality is always challenging. And God encourages us to believe despite the challenging reality, saying, "Don't be afraid; just believe." If anything is worth getting, it is difficult and there are challenges and obstacles. But our tendency is that, whenever some challenges come, we think of the worst scenario possible - in the career matter, in the marriage matter, and in the fruit matter,..., and we become so fearful. But Jesus says, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed." Things will not go in the way you anticipate. The worst scenario possible will not occur. Instead, things will get better and better, and you will enjoy a wonderful life, because God is with you, and God will help you. The reality is challenging, but we don't live by the reality; we don't live by sight; instead, we live by faith in God as the Bible says, "The righteous will live by faith from first to last." Despite challenging circumstances, we still believe that God will make us fathers and mothers of many nations. By faith, we entrust all the matters in God's hands and do what He wants us to do. "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

  

Look at verse 51. When Jesus arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. The twelve apostles were with Jesus, but until this time, they were kind of onlookers, wondering what would happen; they were spectators, wanting to see how Jesus would solve this critical challenge. But when Jesus chose only three of them, things changed; these three were now no longer spectators in this matter, but they were to fight together with Jesus; they became partners and coworkers of Jesus for this matter. We do God's work, but often, people take spectator's attitude; instead of taking God's vision as their own vision and tackling it down to fulfill it, they just fold their arms and sit back, and say, "Let's see it will come true or not." When people take that kind of attitude, they cannot be blessed by God. God wants us to be his partners and coworkers; Jesus wants us to be his friends who know his business very well and take it as our own. When Jesus took only three of them, how did the other nine apostles feel? Of course, they felt so bad; it seemed that Jesus favored only the three, and that they were the second class disciples; they could entertain all kinds of humanistic thinking about Jesus and God's work. It was dangerous. But Jesus still did not take them in, because it was absolutely necessary. What he needed was not a whole bunch of spectators, but real partners who would take a real sense of responsibility for God's work. 

 

 Look at verse 52. Jairus' house was full of a funeral mood. Professional mourners were already there and were promoting the sorrowful environment very well, crying out and wailing so professionally. Jesus said to those who were wailing and mourning for her, "Stop wailing. She is not dead but asleep." Jesus wanted his people who believed in him including his disciples and Jairus, not to be overwhelmed by the unbelieving environment, but have the vision that the child was not dead, but asleep. It was not a dead end, but she was just sleeping only to wake up refreshed. Jesus did not want his believing people to think about a child lying dead, so sorrowful and dark, but a child sleeping so peacefully. The work of faith starts from having this kind of very positive visions and imageries in our hearts. One time, father Abraham suffered from the sense of loss about his life of faith, because he didn't have any son yet, despite his dedication to God. Then, God took him out of his dark tent and said to him, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can. So shall your offspring be." God planted in him such a positive and daring vision. When this vision was planted in him, Abraham was happy and excited and continued on his life of faith. "Stop wailing; she is not dead but asleep." Jesus wants us to think of amazing and glorious things that can be done by the power of God. Our campuses will be filled with disciples and sheep studying the Bible together; 50 churches will be established in California and all Californian students will have a chance to study the Bible with us. Through our one to one Bible studies, America will be established as a missionary sending country to the whole world once again. 

 

Look at verses 54 and 55. Jesus took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" As if a mother wakes up her children in the morning, Jesus said, "My child, get up!" At this, her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Look at verse 56. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. It seemed that the parents should tell people about what Jesus had done so that many more people would come to him. But Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. How come? Jesus did not want people to come to him because he had raised the child from the dead; instead, he wanted people to come to him because of the word of God he preached. This was the very direction he had had at the beginning of his ministry. In the next chapter, we see Peter's confession of faith as the conclusion of Jesus' public ministry; so, it was almost at the end of his public ministry. Yet, still he had the same direction for his ministry - he did not want people to come to him because of some miracles he had done; instead, he wanted them to come to him because of the word of God he preached. This was how Jesus served God's work. And this is how we must serve God's work. Instead of trying to attract people to the church with many exciting programs, we would teach them the Bible and they would come to our church because of the word of God we teach them. For this, our whole struggle is to dig out the word of God and sharpen our Bible study notes so that once they study the Bible with us, they may be greatly amazed, inspired and encouraged. Through the word of God we teach them, they would find the meaning and purpose of their life, joy and happiness of learning God's love and plan for them. Then, they would say, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

 

One Word:Don't Be Afraid; Just Believe!

 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

posted May 15, 2017, 8:58 AM by Site Administrator

WHAT IS YOUR NAME?

 

Luke 8:22-39

Key Verse 8:30

 

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion" he replied, because many demons had gone into him.

 

First, "Where is your faith?" (22-25) One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." It meant to the disciples that they would have a picnic without the crowd. "Yahoo! Hurray!" They shouted for joy. They got into the boat and began their voyage. For a while, it was pleasant. But suddenly, a furious squall came down on the lake. The word "squall" means "to scream or cry loudly and harshly." This shows how dangerous the storm was. The waves broke over the boat and very soon, it was nearly swamped. Their skill as experienced fishermen did not help them at all. At that time, what was Jesus doing? Verse 23 shows that he fell asleep. Jesus is really cool! The furious and harsh sound of the wind was attacking the boat and the waters broke over the boat! But still he was sleeping! All his twelve disciples were shouting frantically trying to keep the control of the boat! But neither noise nor water splashing on him could wake him up. In the middle of all this terrible situation, Jesus was sleeping! This shows us how wholeheartedly Jesus had served God's work - to his complete exhaustion. After serving God that way, now he was enjoying sweet sleep even in the storm; as a result, the storm was not a storm to him at all. When we serve God wholeheartedly in the same way, we are so concerned about God's work alone that, even if storms attack us, we do not recognize them; they simply pass by, and we enjoy sweet sleep. Let's follow Jesus' example and serve God's work wholeheartedly.

 

Finally, when the disciples realized that it was beyond their control, they came to Jesus and woke him up saying, "Master, Master, we are going to drown!" Their words show that they were a little sorry to Jesus because while they were in great danger, Jesus was just sleeping. Mark’s gospel describes their sentiment very well. Mark 4:38 reads: "The disciples woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" Jesus was resting very well for the new work he was going to serve, and because of God’s peace in him, he was enjoying good time in the boat. But in the eyes of the disciples who thought they were about to die, Jesus looked indifferent to their sufferings. They felt a little sorry that even though they were about to drown, Jesus didn’t care but was sleeping all the way.

 

How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 24 and 25. Jesus simply got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was clam. Then, he turned to his disciples and rebuked them, saying, "Where is your faith?" It seemed that Jesus had to apologize for sleeping too deeply while his weak disciples were suffering so much for the storm. It seemed that the disciples suffered terribly only because Jesus did not care about them quickly. But Jesus did not apologize nor show sympathy on them. Instead, he rebuked them, saying, "Where is your faith?" It meant, "I thought that you believed in God." Jesus expected that his disciples should have come up with a different response when the storm came, thanks to their faith in God. Then, what kind of response? Perhaps, sleeping together with him in the boat while the storm attacked them, thanks to their absolute trust in God's goodness, protection and guidance, entrusting their life in God's hands completely, then, soon, after having enjoyed sweet sleep in the storm, they would find themselves on the other side of the lake safe and secure. Or like Jesus, when they felt bothered by the storm too much, they would simply get up, rebuke the wind and the raising waters, and all would be completely calm. But instead, even though they were his disciples, at the attack of the storm, they panicked, screaming to each other, trembling with the fear of death. Simply, not good! So, he rebuked them, saying, "Where is your faith?"

 

When we think about this passage, we see that this kind of dangerous storms, maybe, financially, or in health mater, or family matter, can come to us even when we are fully dedicated to God's work, and even when we are with Jesus, enjoying good relationship with him. At that time, if we panic, if we freak out, Jesus challenges us, saying, "Where is your faith?" In the time of storm, Jesus challenges us, "Where is your faith?" How should we respond when storms come to us? We must strive to show the response that are caused by our absolute faith in God. That way, we impress him. Don't freak out.

 

          When the disciples saw how Jesus calmed everything, they were shocked. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him." Through this experience, they came to see Jesus differently; their eyes were being opened to who Jesus really was. Through this kind of practical challenges and struggles, we come to meet and experience God personally and, thereby, we grow up in Him. So, don't just panic when such challenges come. You will not die because of storms. There is God's good purpose and plan in all those storms you have in your life.

 

Second, "What is your name?" (26-39). After the voyage, they came to the other side of the lake, the region of the Gerasenes. Gerasa was one of the ten cities of the Decapolis; it was a Gentile area. There, another venture was waiting for them. Look at verse 27. "When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs." What a spooky scene it must have been! The disciples were tired from their struggle against the furious storm. Then, as soon as they came out of the boat, soaked to the bones, a man came out to greet them from the tombs, saying, "Hello! How’re you doing?" At this, their hair stood up. He didn’t wear any clothes, and his eyes looked very scary. What kind of a person was he? He was a demon-possessed man.

 

Some people may laugh at this topic, "Demon-possession," thinking that it is a nonsense, or it is found only in fantasy novels. But demon possession is real; 2,000 years ago, many people were possessed by demons and Jesus helped them by setting them free from demons; he sent his disciples to the world with a direction to drive out demons from people. Today, Jesus still sends his disciples to go to the world and set many people free from demons. The concept of demon-possession is that several persons live in one body - the owner of the body and demons, so they show a split mentality. In today's passage, when Jesus commanded the demons to come out of the man, the man ran to Jesus as if he was happy with him, and once he came to him, he fell at his feet as if he respected Jesus highly. But then, he shouted at the top of his voice, saying, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" He was rebellious. His actions and words simply didn't match - this split mentality is the expression of demon possession. Maybe, the owner of the body really wanted to come to Jesus and receive help from him, but the demons in him did not want to do anything with Jesus; fundamentally, demons, even though they know who Jesus is, don't want to do anything with him; they are enemies of God.  

 

When several persons live together in one body, soon all these persons fuse together that later, there is no distinction between the owner's person and the demon's person, so that the owner of the body does not know whether it is he feeling and doing all these things or the demons are doing them. The demon-possessed man in the passage had not worn clothes or lived in a house. Wearing clothes or living in a house is what everyone does and desires; that's the most general code of conduct for all humans. But this man refused to do that most general code of conduct for humans, forgetting what he was, and what he was supposed to do - he was lost. That's one symptom of demon-possession - forgetting what they are, and refusing to do what they are supposed to do as humans. In the passage, the demon-possessed man was living in the tombs. Tombs are the symbol of death, and we all feel burdened about them. No one wants to live in the tombs. But when this person was possessed by demons, he felt very comfortable with the tombs, so he was living in the tombs. This is another symptom of demon-possession. When people are possessed by demons, they feel comfortable with the things of death such as bones, sculls, blood, knife, the Grim Reapers,... So, they collect those items or wear clothes with those things printed, or cover their bodies with tattoos of such things. When I visited one of my students at his house, he showed me his drawings - demonic figures in fine arts - the Grim Reapers, hellfire, bones and skulls all in fine arts - he had spent tons of time for each of them, drawing each line so carefully. No wonder he was suffering from Paranoia. That day, we burned them all.

 

       When people have a demon problem, often, isolation follows, because, now as their persons are fused with demons, their words and actions are bizarre; these people refuse to go by any rules and regulations and do many bizarre things; eventually, they are driven to solitary places of their own such as their apartment room with a thick curtain; they develop their own tombs, feeling very angry at the society, blaming others for all the problems they have. In the passage, the man didn't wear any clothes, refusing to live by the general consensus of the society; he also broke off the chains, refusing any rules or regulations for his life; instead, he wanted to do whatever he wanted without any restrictions - he was rebellious, but he didn't think that way; instead, he thought that people were restricting him or bothering him. Now as he moved to the tombs and did whatever he wanted to do, running through all the tombs, jumping from one tomb to the next, was he happy? No. Mark’s gospel 5:5 reads that night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. It seemed that he was not happy at all; he was crying out day and night, shouting and screaming, bursting with anger, still thinking that it was all because of others' problems - he blamed his family, his classmates who were smarter than he was, his coworkers at work who had worked harder than he did, and he was angry with them all the more. Also, the fact that he cut himself with stones showed that he didn't like himself at all; he hated who he had become and how he was living; demon-possession leads people to self-destruction. Demons are the direct cause of high suicide rate in the society. People had given up on him long time ago. Now, it seemed that he would finish his life this way, so miserably, as a demon-possessed man. But how lucky and blessed he was that Jesus was living in his time. Jesus even visited him at his place - the tombs in a Gentile area.

 

As soon as Jesus saw this man, he commanded the demons to come out of him. But they rebelliously talked back, saying, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" Once they occupied the man's body, they did not want to come out of it easily, even at the command of Jesus, the Son of God; they were really rebellious. At this, Jesus asked the man, "What is your name?" Right then the man was going crazy - being naked, shouting at the top of his voice, being rebellious. In that way, the demons were controlling him. In this situation, Jesus asked the man this question, which he could think of and answer - in this way, with this question, Jesus gave him a chance to be of his own person.

 

At this, the man answered, "My name is Legion." The man's own person did not answer, but the demons answered, showing that his condition was really bad; he even did not have power or control to answer that kind of most basic and personal question. He was really lost. By the way, where was his own person? Certainly, in his body, but together with 6,000 evil spirits. Legion was the Roman army consisted of 6,000 soldiers. The number of demons that crept into him was equivalent to the number of soldiers in a Roman legion—6,000! Maybe, among 6,000 demons that were so aggressive and intimidating, his own person was pushed back all the way in the shadow that he had no chance to claim or control himself. That was his condition - really lost. Only when several events that were very personal and important to him happened consecutively, as if they were perfectly arranged, maybe then, he would have a chance to come to his senses, saying, "Why am I here?" But in reality, things would never happen that way. Maybe, normally, he would never come back to his own senses, but die this way, eternally lost.

 

What if he had only 4 demons instead of 6,000 demons? Most likely, he would have a better chance to be himself; maybe, for about 5 hours a day, he was his own person, while the rest of the day, demons were in control. But now as 6,000 demons were in him, he had no chance to be his own - in this way, his own person was lost among so many demons; he was lost. This is what demon-possession is about - one's own person is lost, because of demons.  

 

 So many people are lost because of demons. They don't live their own life, but the life of demons, desiring and doing what demons want them to do. Some people live as angry people, doing crazy things because of demons; some people live in excessive sorrows because of demons; some people are captured by a suicidal desire because of demons; some people do terrible things in the society because of demons. While they do everything demons desire, their own self is lost, and they do not live their own life, but the life of demons. That's really sad.

 

Many young people think of demons or spiritual world a joke, saying, "Cool!" So, they do many terrible things that can invite demons to their life. A sinful life is one direct cause to invite demons; doing occult practices such as wiz board or witchcraft is just another; when people do such practices, they are open to the evil spiritual world and demons come to them. Once they are exposed to the evil spiritual world, when they realize that demons are real, they are dead scared. They never want to have anything to do with demons. But once demons come to them, they don't want to leave them until these people are really destroyed. Eventually, these people do not live their own life, but the life of demons, while they themselves are lost. Demons are evil spirits. Don't live in a way that can invite evil spirits into your life. Instead, live your life in a way that can invite the Holy Spirit by living a holy life that is really set apart for God.

 

 Look at verses 31 through 33. At Jesus' command, these demons were not submissive; instead, they pleaded with him not to send them to the Abyss, but to the pigs nearby. Jesus gave them permission. They came out and went into the pigs. The herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. It was a lot of money, but Jesus was willing to sacrifice all these pigs for the sake of saving this one poor soul. When the townspeople saw that the man was out of control, and that he refused to listen to them, they gave him up and left him alone so that he might die sometime soon. He was useless and worthless to them. Maybe, if they knew that they had to pay 2,000 pigs as a ransom for him, surely they would not be willing to have that deal.

 

But Jesus had deep concern about him. It seemed that the reason Jesus had left Capernaum and came to the other side of the lake, the region of the Gerasenes, a Gentile area, was only because of this man. This man, with a little strength that still remained in him, cried inwardly, "What’s going on in my life? Where am I going? Help me." Jesus heard this man’s feeble cry on the other side of the lake. So he quickly canceled all his schedules, and decided to come to the region of the Gerasenes, the Gentile area. Leaving a whole bunch of crowd that were there in Capernaum who wanted to hear his message, Jesus came to the other side of the lake even through the storm only to meet this helplessly demon-possessed man and to save him from the demons. When the demons were not willing to give him up, but asked for a high ransom, 2,000 pigs, the ruin of the pig industry of the region, Jesus willingly accepted that deal and saved him. To him, this man was far more valuable than a whole bunch of money. Jesus was the good shepherd for this demon-possessed man – he was the only person who did not give him up, but cared for him to the end even paying such high price. No one valued him highly, but Jesus valued him so highly, more than a whole bunch of crowd, more than his precious time, and more than a lot of money.

 

Who is this Jesus? He is the one who pays attention to the slightest sigh of the least important person in the world. When we cry out for help from the ends of the earth, he hears us and comes to save us. The demons came to him to steal, kill and destroy his talents, character and life, but Jesus came to him to restore him to the original status as God had created him to be. Jesus came to him so that he might have life, and have it to the full. He is the shepherd for all peoples on earth. Nowadays, even close family members abandon those who have demon-problems, because their way of thinking is weird, their lifestyle is bizarre, and their words and actions are rough - simply it is not easy to bear with them. So, they dump their sons or daughters, or their fathers or mothers to the psychiatric hospitals or convalescent hospitals where they are chained hand and foot. But Jesus is the shepherd for even these people who have been tortured by demons and abandoned by others. Jesus has given his disciples the authority to drive out demons and sent them to the world. Jesus wants us to be shepherds and shepherdesses even for the demon-possessed people – while they are at school, they laugh freely, but when they go home, they are so scared of demons that torture them day and night. Let’s pray that through our prayers and one to one Bible studies, we may drive out demons from them and let them have a new life in Christ Jesus.

 

Look at verses 34 through 39. The people of the town felt a great sense of loss because Jesus exchanged 2,000 pigs for the man’s life. They were afraid that all the pigs in the town would die if Jesus remained in their territory just a few more days. So they asked Jesus to leave their region. Because of their love of money, they rejected their good shepherd, their Messiah. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. But Jesus gave him a different direction, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." The man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all people were amazed.

 

One Word:      What Is Your Name?

 

 

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