Jesus said Come, Follow Me!
Chapter 2 Ė What Did Jesus Do?
Much like the world, popular Christendom likes to come up with witty feel-good sayings and fads which can be mass marketed and sold as all sorts of trinkets and paraphernalia. Perhaps you have heard of the phrase, "What would Jesus do (WWJD)?" Supposedly when one finds oneself in an unsure situation, they just evoke this spiritual test to determine the correct course of action. The scriptures reveal that we should be taught and led by the Holy Spirit. The difference being that the latter looks to God and the former to oneís own mental reasoning and human strength. Unfortunately, the WWJD remedy is only as good as the devotion of the practitioner. In actuality, those who wear the necklaces and bracelets would have to evoke the test to such a degree every time the television is turned-on that they would have to stop watching it, and I do not think this has been the case, but I pray it would be. For most, this will become yesterdayís pet rock idea that will be considered a bit too restrictive to oneís self-will. Many get caught up in speculative reasoning which no doubt varies from one to another and is certainly highly influenced by the whims of the flesh depending on how much one wants to do the thing in question. Rather than wonder what Jesus would do, have we not missed the obvious? Why not ask, "What did Jesus do?"
Did you know? Jesus was sent of another but eagerly came. Did not speak His own words; did not perform His own works; submitted to anotherís will putting His will totally aside; forsook the things of the world, having only the clothes on His back; was tempted, yet did not sin; became as a servant; was persecuted by the religious; and traveled the "Way of the Cross" resulting in His laying down His physical life for you. Jesus often used the term, "follow me" and He certainly set the proper godly example. It would be very wise of us to take note of how Jesus walked and apply the same devotion in our lives. Jesus walked in Godís grace and His life demonstrates the proper application of grace (the ability to perform Godís will, Heb 2:9). We will examine in detail just how Jesus did walk during His time on this earth. Jesus said: John 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (also Jn 4:34). There is a message for each of us that choose to truly follow Jesus, John 14:12, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."
It is so important to note Godís love for us. God did not tell us to go do something and then leave us hanging. God came and demonstrated His love by example and what His expectations are for us. John 10:4, "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice." Jesus walked first and the sheep followed after Ė in His footsteps. God walked the walk, just as a man, and then said, "Come follow me." Jesus knows the sheep and the sheep know Him and this is a relationship (Jn 10:3-4, 14). When we follow Christ, He will lift us up and empower us through His Spirit to complete the course. No one will be able to tell God that He just doesnít understand. Jesus Christ will be able to judge absolutely righteously (Jn 8:15-16, Ps 96:13, 98:9). Even the best arguments of those who have rejected Him will never hold. God is supreme and has considered all; none will be able to say He has judged unfairly. He does not require that we do something that He was unwilling or unable to do. Jesus walked the walk! Hebrews 2:9, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." Jesus came and bear witness and exhibited the truth Ė He demonstrated the nature of His kingdom: John 18:37, "Öfor this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." We will either follow the truth or our opinion of the truth (human reasoning) Ė this translates into following the Spirit or the flesh. Jesus will lead us on the path of righteousness.
Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and chose his will over Godís will. This resulted in sin and death for all mankind. Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." This brought about a separation between man and God. Isaiah 59:2, "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." In order to correct the grievous transgression that came about due to Adam and bring reconciliation between man and God, an acceptable sacrifice had to be offered for atonement. No acceptable sacrifice could be found in mankind because man was tainted with sin. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Man could not in and of himself correct his condition (Ps 14:3). Proverb 20:9, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" Notice the "I" in the verse as in something you do. Therefore God in an overwhelming display of love sent His only begotten Son to be the only truly acceptable sacrifice (Jn 3:16). Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus Christ would be the unblemished Lamb of God and His blood would be the atonement (1 Pt 1:19, Rev 1:5). The atonement would be offered as an equivalent to make reparation and amend for manís offense. Galatians 1:4, "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." In order for Christ to accomplish the reconciliation, He had to live the life that Adam failed to live. Jesus had to do the opposite of Adam by choosing Godís will over His will. Adam disobeyed God; Jesus would have to absolutely obey the Father. By totally submitting His will to the Father, Jesus lived a sinless life that was acceptable to the Father (Mk 1:11). Romans 5:19, "For as by one manís disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." Through Christ, we are born again with the nature of God. Jesus, as a man, had to be the image of God (what man was created to be). Jesus was so successful that He could say: If you have seen me, you have seen the Father (Jn 14:9). Man must also be the image of God (that of Christ, Gen 1:27, Col 3:10). This was the way things were to be from the beginning. Man was originally expected to willingly and sincerely submit his will to God in a loving and obedient relationship Ė to cleave to Him (Deut 11:22, Josh 23:8).
The life of Jesus Christ is our example to follow on this earth. 1 Peter 2:21-24, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (reconciled to God)." Following in His steps is getting very specific and exacting and the wise will heed this call. It should also be noted that we are to live unto righteousness and not in a manner that suits our will (Pv 21:21). Many will live to the flesh and use Godís grace as a covering for their ongoing sinful lives (Pv 8:36, 14:2). They will never even see the hypocrisy (Mk 7:6). This is using Godís loving intent to draw man unto Himself as an evil means to further distance man and push him away. Psalm 23:3, "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his nameís sake." Jesus restores us from our fallen state for the intent to follow the narrow path of righteousness for His glory that He is due and fully deserves (Ps 96:8). Our role is to submit and obey! The Holy Spirit gives us this ability. Proverb 8:20, "I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment." The Lord loves righteousness (Ps 11:7, 15:1-2, Pv 15:9). Those not actively following righteousness are in rebellion against God and have not been converted and are given to blindness, which is deception. An "example" is defined as a pattern or model for imitation. "Following" is conforming to, being the same as, moving in the same direction, in harmony with, adhering, being led or guided by, and obeying. Let us now consider with an open, yielded, and teachable heart, the great example Christ gave for us to follow. He that is of God heareth Godís words and every one that is of the truth heareth Christís voice (Jn 8:47, 18:37). 1 John 2:29, "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him." You are encouraged to search the scriptures and see if these things be not so (Acts 17:11).
The atonement was for whosoever will (1 Tm 2:4). This is Christ dying for us while we were yet sinners Ė for the ungodly (Rm 5:6, 8). This is the Fatherís love and his longsuffering that none should perish, but all repent (2 Pt 3:9). The atonement is Godís love and great sacrifice given for everyone and makes it "possible" for one to be saved and reconciled to God. 1 John 4:9, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." However, salvation (eternal life) is conditional and not for everyone, it is only for those who believe (Jn 3:15-21). Believe means an unconditional surrender to the Lordship of Christ as evidenced through your faith and love toward God. Salvation will be limited to those who enter through the strait gate (Christ) and journey down the narrow path (Mt 7:13-14, Lk 13:24). Psalms 118:19-20, "Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter." Jesus is the gate/door (Jn 10:9). Many will profess, say they believe and claim the atonement, yet never enter the gate (door) or travel the path. We bow low in humbleness and repentance to enter the strait gate, and are led of the Holy Spirit through Christís power along the narrow path (2 Cor 13:4). The journey is in the steps of Christ and it conforms us to His image. Those who do not enter into Christís life are said to be in "unbelief." Unbelief is rebellion to Godís authority, usually in favor of your own. What we sow (plant) in this life is what we shall reap (harvest). If one sows sunflower seeds, one will reap sunflower seeds and should not expect to reap watermelons. Similarly, if we sow to the flesh we will reap of the flesh death. If we sow to the Spirit, then we will reap of the Spirit everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Therefore, claiming or professing the atonement, yet living to the flesh will only produce death. Beware and be not deceived. A gospel of the flesh is opposed to Christ and all He stood for; please consider Romans Chapter 8 carefully. Many will plow in wickedness, reap in iniquity, eat the fruit of lies (they believe Satanís lie that you can sin and not die), because they trusted in their way (Hos 10:13). To trust in your own way is what the devil convinced Adam and Eve to do.
We live in a very religious world. There has never been such a confusing multitude of choices. Within the envelope of what is called Christianity one can find a huge range of ideas and lifestyles. Most of these are foreign to what Christ preached and lived. The term "Christian" has almost lost meaning. When Christís true gospel is preached the self seeking religious will quickly distance themselves from it. Many of those who will listen may never apply it to their lives (Mk 4:17). This chapter will detail just how Christ walked and how we are to follow. You may find yourself getting uncomfortable in the light of Christ. Your tolerance will be relational to the darkness in your life and your defense of it. You alone will have to determine if you want to remain in the darkness. Jesus will never force you into the light. Recall that within the scope of this book, the religious are those who try and reach God through manís way rather than Godís way. Of course they assume that their way is Godís way and this is the deception.
Who is Jesus?
John 8:12, "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Who is Jesus that we should follow and obey Him? God has revealed Himself to mankind as triune or three in one (unity), namely the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18). Jesus is one with the Godhead revealed to mankind as the Son and is the brightness of Godís glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power and sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:3). As a man, Jesus was the perfect image of the Father (Jn 12:45, 14:9, Col 1:15, 2:9). Jesus said, I and my Father are one, and if you have seen me then you have seen the Father (Jn 10:30, 12:44-45 & 14:9). 1 John 5:7, "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The full Godhead manifested itself to man at the baptism of Jesus. Luke 3:22, "And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him (Jesus), and a voice (Father) came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Colossians 2:9-10, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." Jesus exactly fulfilled all existing prophecies concerning Himself such that the detailed record of Christ would be accurate and true. God always honors His Word.
Jesus is the very Word of God, John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesusí very name is the Word, Revelation 19:13, "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God." Christís Word is eternal, redeeming, and we will one day be judged by it (Ps 96:13, 1 Pt 1:25, Jn 8:31, 51, & 12:48, Is 40:8). Christ came to the earth in the form of a man. John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Jesus is the beginning and the end, which is, and which was, and which is to come (Rev 1:8, Is 44:6)). Jesus is He that liveth, and was dead, but is alive forever more (Rev 1:18).
Jesus is an eternal king after the lineage of David (Is 9:6-7) and a high priest after the order of Melchisedec (Ps 110:4, Heb 5:10, 6:20, 7:1-4, 17). The Melchisedec priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood (Heb 7:11). Hebrews 7:26-27, "For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the peopleís: for this he did once, when he offered up himself." Jesus is the great "I AM" who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3:14). This revelation was later personally confirmed, John 8:58, "Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Jesus was the spiritual rock from which the children of Israel drank in the wilderness and that followed them (1 Cor 10:4). Jesus is the bread from heaven (Jn 6:32-35). Jesus is the only way by which men may be saved (Jn 14:6, 1 Jn 5:11). Acts 4:12, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Christ is the firstborn among many brethren and we are to conform to His image (Rm 8:29, Col 3:10-Eph 3:9). Jesus is now greatly glorified in heaven. Revelation 19:16, "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Colossians 1:13-20, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." Several things should be noted in this scriptural text. Jesusí earthly presence is the image of God, and as such is our example (Col 3:10). Jesus has preeminence in all things for and He has a kingdom (Jn 18:36). Jesus is the head of the church, which is His body. Jesus is the door for redemption, justification and reconciliation to God (1 Cor 1:30). Ephesians 1:21-23, "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." Hebrews 1:8-9, "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Make no mistake, Christ rules in righteousness and holiness.
Jesus will come again as a righteous judge. Luke 3:17, "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable." There will come a day of separation and justice (Acts 10:42, 17:31, Rm 2:16, 2 Tm 4:1, Heb 10:30, 1 Pt 4:5, Dan 7:9-14).
It should also be noted that when God the Father speaks, the Holy Spirit accomplishes His Word (Ps 104:30, Is 55:11). Genesis 1:1-2, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The Holy Ghost also overshadowed Mary for the conception of Jesus (Mt 1:18, 20). Jesus sent His Spirit to work in the hearts of His disciples (followers Ė past, present, and future) to conform them to His image (which is the image of God) and thereby lead them in paths of righteousness and holiness for His namesake. Proverb 15:9, "The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness."
Jesus was sent by the Father
God the Father sent Jesus the Son to reconcile man to Himself through the Son (Rm 5:1). John 8:42, "Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." Jesus came to seek that which was lost by offering forgiveness and grace to whosoever would receive Him (Lk 19:10). John 3:17, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." Jesus eagerly left the glories of heaven to perform the Fatherís will. Jesus humbled Himself and put His very "glory" aside to fulfill the Fatherís plan for mankind. In doing so, Christ knew that He would be misrepresented, falsely accused, belittled, questioned, blasphemed, spied upon and taken advantage of and would face persecution, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, hunger, temptation, torture, penalty of our sin, and death, but came anyway! As stated earlier, Jesus took on the form of a man and dwelt among us. John 1:11, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." When you consider that God in His infinite righteousness and holiness does not even look upon sin, then you can begin to see what a sacrifice it was for Jesus to become the filth of sin for us (Habakkuk 1:13, Rm 8:3). The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Is 53:6). Jesus never sinned once, yet was penalized as if He had done the most vile things (Heb 4:15). Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Whereas we have all sought SELF and our own authority (rebelled against God), Christ totally died to SELF in submiting the Fatherís authority, yet bore our iniquity (He had no iniquity). 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Because God does not look upon iniquity and is of purer eyes than to behold evil, He turned from Christ when He became as sin on the cross. Matthew 27:46, "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" During the time of darkness, Jesus was separated from God for us (Is 54:7-8). The King of all who lived the only perfect life, died an excruciating death as a condemned and despised criminal. Mark 15:27-28, "And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors." This is manís justice. This is very telling of what his executioners - religious man, can do when left to his own will. Religious man is capable of all manner of evil (Jer 17:9). Consider what those who claimed to represent Christ did in the inquisitions and heresy hunts in Europe during the historical period known as the Dark Ages. Men and women were hunted down, tortured and slaughtered for not joining certain religious institutions that sought absolute power and rule.
Praise God that events did not end at Jesusí death. Jesus rose from the dead three days later in great victory! We are now made righteous before God, forgiven by Christís shed blood through faith as we conform to the image of His Son (1 Jn 1:7, 1 Pt 1:2, Rm 8:29). We conform as we live our faith daily through love in obedience to Christ through the leading of His Holy Spirit. When Jesus completed the Fatherís will in great victory, he returned to the Father. John 16:28, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." Jesus had greatly humbled Himself and as a result, the Father then exalted Him. Philippians 2:9-11, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." To be great in the kingdom of God, you must become a servant (Mt 23:11-12).
Victory in Death?
Some might wonder how Jesus gained victory in death. This is part of the wisdom of Godís plan. Death results from sin (Rm 5:12, 6:23). The sting of death is sin (1 Cor 15:56). Man has a fallen nature and sin reigns unto physical death (Rm 5:21). Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." The devil operates under bounds set by God and uses sin and death to destroy man by eternally separating him from God. The devil has the power of death (Heb 2:14). Satanís devices are to take manís attention off of God and then corrupt him such that he will live selfishly and ultimately worship Satan. The devil lures man (through his own lusts) into corruption and then accuses man before God demanding the penalty for his deeds (Rev 12:10). 1 John 3:8, "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." Christ came to set the captives free (Jn 8:36). Job is a good example of how Satan, the tempter and accuser, maneuvers against man (Job 1:6-12 & 2:2-7). The devil tests man with the purpose of causing him to willfully sin. Jesus was tested and tried, but never sinned, and thus He could not legally be required to die (Heb 4:15, 1 Pt 2:21-22). Jesus was innocent, yet the devil instigated His death. Satan had tried to get Jesus to worship him in the wilderness temptation and throughout His walk. When he could not get a foothold in Christís life, he plotted to destroy Him (Jn 14:30). The devil could not kill Christ, but could entice men of their own free will (envy, greed, jealousy) to do this for him. Luke 22:2-4, "And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them." Jesus had once told the scribes, Pharisees and religious leaders they were of their father the devil and that his will they would do (Mt 26:3-4, Mk 15:11, Lk 22:53, 23:23-24, 24:20, Jn 8:44). Later, they did just that as the chief priests and officers moved the people to demand Jesus be crucified (Mt 27:20, Mk 15:11, Jn 19:6). Jesus actually laid down His life to provide the atonement for man and also legally triumphed over Satan regarding sin and death. The paradox was that by Jesusí death laid the victory. Hebrews 2:14-15, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." The devil and his principalities didnít understand Godís plan. 1 Corinthians 2:8, "Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." As a result, Colossians 2:15, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The prince of this world is judged (Jn 16:11)! Death had no hold on Jesus. Romans 6:9, "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him." Jesus conquered death and could proclaim, Revelation 1:18, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." Jesus brought life to those who were dead, our life is now found in Him (2 Cor 4:10-11). Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Has Christ become your very life, or is He just a part of your (self) life?
Jesus came as a Servant
Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant. Philippians 2:7-8, "But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Humbleness and obedience are the essence of faith and this is how man will be saved in Christ. We are further told: 2 Corinthians 8:9, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." This astounds the mind when you consider, John 1:3, 10 "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not." By humbling Himself in obedience to the Father and service to mankind, Jesus made a way for us to be with Him eternally and partake of His divine riches. Mankind is undeserving and mostly rebels against God even to this day! Jesus came with purpose, Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Jesus became a servant in that He never sought His own, but always looked after the needs of others. He healed, delivered, served, fed, gave, ministered, taught, loved, prayed for, defended, suffered, forgave, and laid down His life willingly. Jesus was totally giving and never selfish. Christ demonstrated love (sacrifice) for God first and to His neighbor second by the life He lived. Jesusí service to God was not about synagogue attendance, but rather lived out every day among everyone He came into contact with (the good, bad and ugly). This is how it must be with us also. Jesus did not set out to perform religious works for merit. Christís focus was on performing the Fatherís will and in so doing great works resulted. The works were out of obedience to Godís will and not justification of self Ė big difference! This is also how we are to be.
Just before His death, Jesus set an example for His followers: John 13:4-5, 12-16, "He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him." Jesus was telling them that those with greater responsibilities are not superior to the others, but should be as a servant to them rather than their master. Man has never understood this concept in his religious systems and has always established Nicolaitan layers of lordship and authority (rule). The most familiar to all is the clergy and laity system of the Protest-ant religion and the Priesthood (Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, and Priest) system of the Romanism (Roman Catholic) religion. Mark 10:42-44, "But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."
Jesus always lived by example, Luke 22:27, "For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth." Now we are to serve each other, but more important, follow Christ and serve Him. John 12:26, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." As servants, we must always be conscious of how we perform. To serve Jesus is to deny self, take up your cross, and follow Him daily (Lk 9:23). A servant always looks to the needs of his master first. We also serve Jesus by abiding (continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand firm, tarry, in the same state, be one with) in Him, continuing in His Word, obeying His commands and producing acceptable fruit (Jn 8:31, 14:15 & 15:4-5). 1 Thessalonians 2:12, "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory (also Col 1:10, 2:6)." We must be Christís witnesses on this earth (Lk 14:34)
We are now servants to Christ first and then each other (charity). Servants seek always to please their Master and not themselves Ė for they are not their own. 1 Corinthians 6:20, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Godís." Jesus sought always to please the Father, and we are to seek always to please Christ. This means that our Lord is always on our mind throughout the day and we are always conscious of our faith and service toward Him. When we have done all, we have only done that which is required (Lk 17:10). As servants, everything we own belongs to our Lord and is to be used for His purposes as directed. 1 Corinthians 4:2, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." Let us be faithful!
Jesus was Tempted as we are
Jesus was tempted as we are and understands our struggles (Heb 2:18). Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Even though Jesus was God, He came to the earth as a man and had no advantage over us. Hebrews 2:16-18, "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels (supernatural); but he took on him the seed of Abraham (natural, as man). Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful (trustworthy) high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour (help, aid, relieve) them that are tempted." Jesus is truly a trustworthy Lord who will judge righteously. Jesus took his mind and attention off the world and self and directed it to doing Godís will. To be self-centered is to oppose Godís rule in your life in favor of your own. When tempted, we must take our attention off the temptation (desire) and our flesh, and place it upon Christ. The more we are fixated upon the temptation the stronger it becomes because we are willingly yielding to it Ė and are soon overcome. We must yield to Jesus.
Christ submitted Himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 4:1-4, "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Jesus had been fasting for the purpose of denying the flesh to seek Godís will through the Spirit. He was about to enter into His earthly ministry. The devil always tempts at a point of weakness. Jesus must have been very hungry after forty days without food; nevertheless He denied self to perform the will of the Father. John 6:57, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." Christís life was found in the Father (to do His will) and our lives must be found in Christ. Why was Jesus led into a wilderness and why did He fast for forty days and forty nights? Forty is symbolic for bearing iniquity (Num 14:34, Ez 4:6, Deut 9:18-19, 25, 10:10, 25:3, Jonah 3:4, Gen 6:7:4, 12). Jesus bore the iniquity of all men (Is 53:11-12 Ė "for he shall bear their iniquities"). Recall that the children of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness bearing their iniquity (Num 14:33-34, Ps 95:10). Deuteronomy 8:2-3, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live." What this is saying is that God expects you to die to your will (self) and live for His will Ė His every Word. To live by every Word of God is to come totally under Godís authority (Lk 4:4) Ė this is what is demonstrated in Christís perfect life. We are not to be guided by our flesh (i.e.hunger in this case), but by Godís purposes. Jesus said to seek first (foremost) the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the needful things of the flesh God will provide (Mt 6:32-33). Your will must be to obey God with all your heart in humbleness (meekness). To live by Godís Word may cause you to have to deny self. Jesus was refusing the evil and choosing the good and bearing the sins of the people (just as Moses had done Ė Deut 9:18-19, Ps 106:23) in the wilderness experience (Is 7:14-15). Christ would later state: John 4:34, "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." Christ esteemed the Fatherís Words more than necessary food (Job 23:12). Jesus was "proved" by the devilís temptations (three times) in the wilderness. He was tempted with carnal needs (flesh over the Spirit), personal glory, and great power. Notice how the devil craftily tries to take Jesusí focus off of God and put it upon Himself (and His needs Ė hunger). This is what Satan did to Eve in the Garden of Eden. If Jesus had commanded the stones to be made bread it would have been totally for selfish reasons no matter how justifiable it may seem (self-preservation). He would have been exalting His will over Godís purposes (feeding the flesh and denying the Spirit). Christís ability to perform signs and wonders (turn rocks to bread) was to accomplish Godís will and not serve His (as a man) selfish desires. Satan was also questioning Jesusí divinity thereby tempting Him to prove Himself. Jesus appropriately responded with the Word of God (as we are to do) establishing His intention to live totally within the Fatherís will rather than His own. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12). This is our spiritual offensive weapon. If we do not live the Word (doers) then our sword is dull and useless. The author stated in the Introduction that he had a wilderness experience. The Lord showed me my own inadequacies and absolute need for Christ. I saw my sin and shame and how I had brought dishonor upon a truly righteous God. During this time, as I yielded and died to my will and submitted totally to God, He gave me a new heart (conversion). My yielding was not mere words, but actions. I came out of this experience with a great hunger (Ps 107:9-10) for Godís Word, which still burns within me today. The Lord will try our hearts to know what is in them and see if we will obey (Ps 7:9, Pv 17:3, 1 Thess 2:4). Let us all seek God for a wilderness experience.
The devil again attempts to draw Christís attention off of God and onto self. Matthew 4:5-7, "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Putting God to the test in this situation would have been totally self-centered for purposes of ego (self-worth, self-esteem) and personal glory (Deut 6:16). God does not wait at our beckoned call to serve us and we are not to put God in the position as our servant (exalting self above God). This is putting God under "our authority" Ė Woe! Perhaps Jesus could have justified such a feat by saying this would launch His earthly ministry in a spectacular fashion such that all would believe (jumping from the temple Ė Mt 4:5). Men usually seek such justification and notoriety. Again the devil appealed to any doubt that Jesus might have had as to who He was and to His pride. Notice that the devil can quote scripture (Ps 91:11-12) even though he misapplies it. Satanís workers do the same (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) and we are to beware. Again, Jesus is humble and meek (does not exalt self) and responds appropriately realizing the true intent (application) of Godís Word. Notice the true intent of Godís Word in both of these cases requires a denial of the flesh in favor of the Spirit. The devil will also use Godís Word to try and persuade us to tempt or prove God. The motivation for proving God is always due to a selfish want or desire and is unacceptable (Ex 17:1-7).
Lastly, the devil tries one more appeal to Jesus to consider selfish desires. Matthew 4:8-10, "Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Lastly, Jesus is tempted with great power, but puts all self interest aside and proclaims that He will serve only the Father Ė Praise God! Jesus came in humbleness, not self exaltation. We must always put Godís interest above our own. To "only worship and serve God" is being totally under His authority Ė as opposed to your own authority (Lk 4:8). The devil tempts Christ to seek His glory through the flesh and have immediate satisfaction. Godís way requires obedience through the Spirit and a denial of the flesh (Lk 24:26, 46). Godís way requires humbleness. Many who claim Christ want the kingdom (heaven) now Ė immediately; and do not wish to follow Jesus in the path of the cross. The path of ease (no sacrifice) that the devil offers is the broad way. The devil has never given up on his aim to rise above Godís throne and is deluded that somehow he will ultimately accomplish this. He is determined to keep as many men as possible from inheriting the glory that he was once participant in and is now denied. Satan has the audacity to suggest that Jesus fall down and worship him (I will rise above the most high, Is 14:13-15). Jesus never intended to set up an earthly kingdom. Once He had to seek solitude because the people were going to make Him a king by force (Jn 6:15).
At the conclusion of this particular time of temptation: Luke 4:14-15, "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all." Notice that Jesus did not return under the power of the flesh nor was He led by the flesh. Many allow the flesh to rule their lives Ė its wants, needs and desires. We must put down the flesh and be led by the Spirit. Jesus came to seek the lost sheep (those who would receive Him) starting in the synagogues (religious gatherings) in a religious system gone awry (far from Godís purposes). This will be evident in this chapter.
Temptations will come and go and we must always be dying to self and seeking Godís purposes to overcome them. Luke 4:13, "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season." The wilderness temptation had ended, however Jesus would be tempted many other times during His earthly walk (Lk 22:28). For instance when Christ was apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane, He could have ended it in a second: Matthew 26:53-54, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" Notice that Jesus thoughts were not on His predicament, but on fulfilling Godís purposes. Just minutes earlier Jesus had prayed that Godís will be done concerning his forthcoming death (Mt 26:42). On the cross many were saying: Mark 15:30-32, "Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him." Jesus could have come down and showed them all who He was, but that would have been exalting self rather than humbling Himself unto death to fulfill Godís plan.
In all these cases, the temptations themselves were not sins. Incorrectly responding to a temptation produces a sin. For those who seek to live Godís will, God provides a way to overcome. One only falls prey as one seeks his own will rather than Godís. In these cases, Jesus took His mind off the temptations and placed it upon Godís will (His Word). We are blessed when we endure temptations. James 1:12, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Correctly responding to temptations as Christ did reveals our love and devotion to God and rejection of self. Seeking Godís purposes through daily living faith is His desire for us. Jesus is our life, and not just a religious devotion.
We must consider if we are seeking our own selfish will in this life. Do you seek Godís will and purposes in your life while following Christís example? Perhaps you are greatly tempted by selfish things such as career, possessions, authority, entertainment, praise, carnal delights, etc? When we put our will aside and truly seek Godís, then we are on the narrow path. John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Itís really not about "I."
Jesus didnít Exalt Self
Jesus was/is the Messiah (Christ). He walked humbly and went about doing the Fatherís will never publicly announcing who He was (Jn 8:50). Christ did reveal Himself to select individuals who would receive His truth (Mt 11:27, Lk 10:22, Jn 4:25-26). These individuals were most certainly considered to be unworthy by the religious. Luke 10:22, "All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." For instance, Jesus revealed Himself to a Samaritan woman (Jn 4:25-26) of questionable character (Jn 4:18), yet He did not reveal Himself to the religious leaders. Christ told those He touched not to make Him known (Mt 12:16). Jesus never sought personal selfish glory (Jn 5:41). John 7:18, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." Notice that seeking your own glory is unrighteousness. Many thought Jesus was a great prophet and some thought He was the Christ, but no one was sure (Lk 7:16-17, 9:19-21). When Jesus delivered many of devils, He didnít want the devils to reveal who He was (Lk 4:33-35). Luke 4:41, "And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ (Also Mk 1:34)." AND Mark 3:11-12, "And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known." The religious did inquire: John 10:24, "Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus said the Fatherís works that I do bear witness of me (v. 25). What Christ was saying is that if one is truly seeking Godís will he shall know. Those who walked closest to Jesus didnít know for sure who He was until: Matthew 16:13-17, "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Jesus had not prior revealed His true earthly capacity to the apostles. Jesusí identity was spiritually discerned by those who received His Words and sought Godís will. We seek God through the Spirit and not the flesh. The flesh is spiritually blind (Jn 12:40, Acts 28:27). After revealing Himself to His disciples, Jesus said: Luke 9:21, "And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing."
We are about to learn that Jesus came absolutely performing the Fatherís will. He spoke the Fatherís Words and did the Fatherís work. Jesus spoke the Word powerfully such that all were amazed. The Word was confirmed by great miracles and wonders such as healings and deliverances. Jesus lived His message by example and with no sin (and the Father was well pleased). Jesus was not to be accepted by a title (Messiah), but by Godís message and power. Jesus said: John 14:11, "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very worksí sake." John 7:40-43, "Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him." The Word of God cannot be totally understood apart from the Spirit (Mt 13:15). This people had the Word, but not the Spirit. The flesh cannot discern the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Discernment belongs to the spiritually mature (Heb 5:14). They debated over fine points of which they did not even have complete understanding. This is how many miss God today Ė they are religious, but do not have His Spirit. John 8:25-27, "Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father." They were looking through the flesh and could not understand the Spirit.
Christ came into Jerusalem meekly sitting upon a colt the foal of an ass (Mt 21:5). Zechariah 9:9, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." Jesus is the King of Kings, but didnít exalt Himself or make such announcements. Christ was the most just man who ever lived, but was decisively (thoroughly) rejected by the religious ones who claimed to follow God. Jesus didnít seek justice, but was coming to offer up Himself to make provision for mercy (Acts 13:39).
Just before Jesus was killed, the High Priest asked Him a question that He was obligated to answer. Matthew 26:63-64, "But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Now there was no doubt that the religious were about to kill Godís only Son and their Messiah. In the book of Mark we are told the high priest asked Jesus if He was the Christ: Mark 14:62, "And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." This is significant because Jesus is "I AM." On an earlier occasion the Pharisees had questioned a man that Jesus had healed and said: John 9:28-29, "we are Mosesí disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." When God had spoken to Moses, He identified Himself as "I AM" (Ex 3:13-14). Jesus also had once said to the Jews: John 5:45-47, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses (Heb3:3). Do you know that these very religious men killed Jesus, who is "I AM?" Ė and they rejoiced in it (Jn 16:20).
Jesus did the Fatherís Will
Jesus came to restore that which had been lost back to the Father. To succeed Jesus had to live within the Fatherís will at all times. Failure to do so would result in the same failure as that of Adam. John 6:38, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." If Christ were to live for self and/or try and serve God by His own means, then He would be following His will and not the Fatherís. Hebrews 10:7, "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God" (also v. 9). Jesus was focused on doing the Fatherís will whatever it may demand. This is a surrendering of self totally to God. John 8:28-29, "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." Christ was faithful to God (Heb 3:2)! Jesus never sinned, yet could do nothing of Himself. This demonstrates a total faith and reliance upon God. Similarly, we can do nothing of ourselves, John 15:5, "I (Jesus) am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." Branches in the vine that want to be self sufficient and do not abide soon wither and are cast into the fire (Jn 15:6). Note that to be a non-abiding or withered branch, you had to have once been in the vine. Let us take heed lest we fall and come short (1 Cor 10:12, Heb 3:6, 14, 4:1, 2 Pt 3:17). Man often does try and reach God through his own means and this is what much of manís religious endeavors represents. We are to have a living relationship with Christ through faith. We must forsake our efforts and look solely to His. Our life is found in Christ and must become indistinguishable as we die to ourselves (Lk 6:40, Gal 2:20, Col 3:3). Relationship saves, religion deceives. Consider the relationship: John 14:20, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."
Jesus never sought earthly things, not lands, houses, career, money, possessions, entertainments, prestige, or power. In other words, Jesus did not seek after the things of the world (1 Jn 2:15). Jesus never instructed His disciples to seek worldly things either, not even to build big church buildings or cathedrals. Jesus didnít come to establish a physical kingdom but a spiritual one. Luke 17:21, "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." We carry the kingdom of God with us wherever we go. Christ didnít go down to the synagogue to find God, but lived in relationship with Him everyday in all things. Jesusí kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36). Romans 15:3, "For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." Jesus bore the transgressions of man against the Father (Ps 109:25). This culminated upon the cross: Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..."
Christ demonstrated being poor in spirit through total dependence upon God the Father. John 5:19-20, "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel." God will reveal His purposes to those who truly seek Him (Jn 7:17). John 5:30, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." Jesus has stated three separate times that He can do nothing of Himself, but looks to the Father as His example and follows Him. Christís life produced perfect results and we certainly must pay close attention to this if we are seeking Him. We are to do nothing of ourselves, but are to do those things Christ did, as led by His Spirit Ė to follow Him! Notice that I didnít say we are to do nothing, just not our works (things of self). We must do those things Christ has commanded us. There is an order (hierarchy) here, Man submits to Christ, Christ submits to the Father (1 Cor 11:13). 1 Corinthians 3:23, "And ye are Christís; and Christ is Godís." Jesus proclamation reveals a life where SELF has been completely put to death. Christís delight was found in pleasing the Father by performing the Fatherís will. This was so complete that Jesus could make the following statement when facing death and taking on the sin of the world: Luke 22:42, "Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." Jesusí faith rested in God even to His own demise. John 8:54-55, "Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying." Jesus had a lovingly relationship and obeyed God. We must take note of this. Our delight must be found in abiding in Christ and following Him by living our faith daily Ė being joyful in the Lord (Ps 5:11). We must have a relationship with Christ.
Jesus sought the Fatherís will in all things. Followers of Jesus are not to seek their own will for they are no longer to be self serving. For you are dead to self and the life you live is unto Christ who lives in you (Gal 2:20, 2 Cor 5:15). Colossians 3:1-4, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Whatever is done in word or deed is to be done for Christ with all thanksgiving (Col 3:17). Matthew 10:39, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Jesus is our life! This paradox is understood as follows: If we live for self, we will die. If we die to self, we will live (in serving Christ). His will must become our will. The devil attempts to persuade us to do the opposite. To live for self and do what is right in our own eyes. Proverb 16:2, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits (motives)." Do what makes you feel good. This is what Satan did and his rebellion continues. Those that join in this rebellion will suffer the consequences of separation from God and damnation. Consider the very depth of manís rebellion: Acts 4:26, "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ." God sent His Son in love (great sacrifice) to reconcile the world to Himself (Jn 3:16). Man has by and large rejected Godís gift! Woe!
Jesus did the Fatherís Works
Jesusí love (sacrifice), peace, compassion, obedience, doctrine, mercy, forgiveness, signs and wonders, and self control bore witness of Him. Jesus also wrought many miracles such as healings, deliverances, authority over nature, raising the dead, and miraculous provision (Mt 15:31, Lk 7:22). John 5:36, "But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me." Even at the age of twelve, Jesus was in the temple about Godís will: Luke 2:49, "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Jesus always gave and never took. Christ did not perform any of His own works, for that would fall short. He looked to the Father and obeyed His every direction. John 14: 31, "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I doÖ" The victory is in obeying the Fatherís will through Christ Jesus.
Christ placed the Fatherís work above all things. John 9:4, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work." Christ was focused, John 5:17, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." When the religious leaders and people saw the miracles of healings and deliverances they marveled, and said, for we never saw it on this fashion, and have seen strange things to day (Mk 1:27 & 2:12, Lk 5:26). Even the winds and the sea obeyed him (Mk 4:41). Mark 6:51, "And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered." A blind man that Jesus had healed spoke some words of wisdom to the religious leaders, John 9:31-33, "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing." Followers of Christ are told that greater works than these shall ye do (Jn 14:12). This means that we do not do our own works, but those of the Father Ė just like Jesus! To do anything, our focus must be on Christ and not self.
Jesus completed all the work the Father gave Him to do: John 17:4-5, "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." We are also to bring glory to Christ in our abiding faith. John 15:8, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." We must complete Christís work, John 20:21, "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." Do you see the significance of this statement? Jesus sends us to do as He was sent of the Father. Matthew 28:19-20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." To "observe" is to conform to the things Christ would have us do, namely to follow His example. The Father was "well pleased" with Jesusí example. Unfortunately many will try to enter another way - theirs (Jn 10:1). The religious man tells us what we must do through his institution; Jesus says, follow My example and find your life in me.
Disciples of Christ are to abide in Him. When we do, the Father prunes us (takes away unwanted parts) to conform us to Christís example (Jn Chap 15). Jesus said: John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." This is what the Father expects of us. John 6:29, "Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." To believe means to have full faith and confidence in Jesus - to commit and entrust your whole life to Him Ė to see Him as worthy. This belief will be demonstrated in your daily life through your thoughts and actions. Faith is much more than a mental acknowledgment or verbal profession, but seeks to live Godís will with a whole heart (Deut 4:29). By faith ye stand (2 Cor 1:24).
Jesus Spoke the Fatherís Words
Jesus did not speak His own Words that would be relying on His own earthly logic and intellect Ė the flesh. John 12:49-50, "For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak (also Jn 8:38)." Jesus came with purpose. He did not desire His own knowledge of good and evil as Adam had done. Jesus trusted in the Father for knowledge, as Adam should have done. Godís knowledge brings life, Adamís brought death. John 3:34, "For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." Jesus was full of Godís Spirit as He sought to please God. He boldly proclaimed the Word of God with power and authority such that all marveled (Mk 5:20). Mark 1:22, "And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes." It was also testified of Jesus that never a man spake like this man (Jn 7:46). The people were astonished at his doctrine (Mk 11:18). The religious authorities questioned among themselves, John 7:15, "And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Jesus knew all things because He was listening to the Father and was faithful to do what was required of Him. The religious studied their whole lives and knew nothing of God because they sought Him through the flesh (their will). Jesus did not seek glory, but always gave glory to the Father. John 7:16-17, "Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." Even at the age of twelve, Jesus astonished the learned religious men. Luke 2:46-47, "And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers." Jesus fulfilled all prophecy concerning Himself: Deuteronomy 18:18, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." Jesus did speak all the Words the Father commanded Him. Christ said we would do the same: Matthew 10:20, "For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you."
Christís Words came with demonstration: Luke 4:32, "And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power." Jesus healed sickness, gave sight to the blind (physical and spiritual), restored hearing and speech, gave mobility to the lame. Jesus raised the dead and delivered people from demon possession (Lk 7:12-15, 8:49-55, Jn Chap 11). All of these things Christ gave His followers the power to also do (Lk 9:1, Mk 6:7-13). When we live for God and are filled with His Spirit, then His Word is confirmed with power. Had Jesus come to these men in word only, He would have been very quickly rejected and dealt with in an unseemly manner. The miracles and power of God, the signs and wonders that He operated in were undeniable. These religious men were forced to tolerate Jesus for a time due to the power He operated in. These men did constantly seek His demise and they plotted and sought opportunity against Him (Mt 12:14, 26:4, Mk 12:12-13, 14:1, Lk 4:28-29, 19:47). Eventually they killed Him Ė only because it was in the Fatherís will and Jesus laid down His life (Jn 10:15, 17-18, 1 Jn 3:16). They hated Him because He undermined their authority. Do you seek Godís authority or your own?
Jesusí life and the things that He did confirmed the words he spoke. He lived by example! Oneís confession (or profession of belief) is empty and without merit if there is no demonstration and application of it in oneís life. John 14:10-11, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very worksí sake." When we die to ourselves as Jesus had done, then Christ can live and produce works through us. 1 Peter 4:2, "That he (follower) no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God." We are to live to the will of God; how many still live in the flesh and lusts of men? Do the religious even address this? Jesus said, John 8:26, "I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him." The message that Christ brought transformed the hearts of men and has brought great hope to many. This message draws you to God and was lived out by Christís example. Let us follow!
We have Christís Words (Bible) and are to live within His truth. Jesus said if we continue in His Word, we would be His disciples and His Word would set us free (Jn 8:31-32). To be set free you must realize your bondage and desire freedom. We must live Jesusí whole Word and not just those portions we deem appropriate or are willing to follow (Deut 4:2). Many may choose Godís justification (remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment through the atonement of Christ) and redemption (deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God's violated law by the atonement of Christ), but refuse His sanctification (the act of making holy, the act of God's grace by which the affections of men are purified or alienated from sin and the world, and exalted to a supreme love to God). However, justification and redemption are given for the purpose of sanctification. In other words, most want Godís forgiveness and deliverance from hell, but have no real desire to conform to Christís example in whole hearted love for Him. This is doing what is right in your own eyes Ė tailoring Godís Word to suit your selfish purposes (Deut 12:8). This judges Christ as unworthy. This is to remain in a state of rebellion against God, choosing your will over His. Jesus said to the religious: John 8:38, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father (devil)." When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He will guide us and teach us Christís whole doctrine. We are to speak and live this Word in love and faithful obedience. Those that seek forgiveness and redemption, but reject sanctification will be lacking. The gospel purifies, the flesh corrupts.
Jesus sought God fervently in prayer. We have learned how Christ only spoke and performed those things the Father directed. Jesus stayed in constant communication with the Father. Communication is a vital part of any relationship. Luke 6:12, "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." After this particular prayer, Christ knew who to choose as His apostles (v. 13). Communication and understanding are so foundational for relationship. Elements of Jesusí prayers were: giving glory to God, seeking Godís will (knowledge, words, works, direction), thanking God, submission to God, praise of God, Godís will for others including enemies, in faith without doubting, and for needful provision. We must pray to God without ceasing, to know Him and His will in our lives (1 Thess 5:17). Jesus said of prayer: Matthew 6:6, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." This is intimacy between you and God. Christ often sought quiet places away from all distractions in which to pray and so must we (Mt 14:23). Mark 1:35, "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." We must put away all worldly distractions and prioritize time to be before the Lord.
Jesus sought strength in prayer: Luke 22:41-44, "And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Jesus struggled with His impending death, nevertheless He prayed that Godís will be done Ė and it was! Jesus carried an incredible burden to that cross because of His love for you. Let us always be mindful and never forget this. We must also struggle with fleshly desires and go before God to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12). Perhaps the contents of this book will lead you to go before God with fear and trembling to work out inconsistencies in your life? We are moving toward God or away?
Religious prayers are often said in public to be seen of men (Mat 6:5) Ė perhaps at Sunday go to meeting. Relationship prayers are as follows: You must turn off the television (or radio) and put down the newspaper (or magazines) or any other of these common distractions and spend quality (needed) time; very often; seeking God through prayer in quiet solitude. When you seek first the kingdom of God, while putting worldliness aside, you are dying to SELF and allowing Christ to increase in your life. Your life will begin to change! Hopefully the Lord will reveal to you how the television, radio, newspapers and magazines are greatly impeding your spiritual walk. Whatever the Lord reveals to us we must be faithful and obedient to do what is required. This is how we become conformed to Christís image. Your obedience will almost always require a sacrifice on your part. Your willingness to sacrifice will reveal your motives. Your motives will either be to live in the Spirit or the flesh, Godís will or yours. The flesh does not die easily. Prayers should not be self-centered. Your prayers should seek to know and live Godís will. You should pray for others; praise and worship God; and offer Him thanksgiving.
Jesus Forsook the Things of the World
Matthew 8:20, "And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (no house)." Jesus did not seek carnal things, He had eternal purpose Ė so must we. Matthew 6:25,32-33, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (food, clothing, needful things, Mt 6:25-32)." This is how Jesus lived and this was demonstrated in his walk. He sought only the will of God and was content and thankful for whatever the Fatherís provision might be. Sometimes Jesus slept in a boat (Mt 8:24, Mk 4:38, Lk 8:23), in the mountains and fields (Mt 15:33, Mk 8:2-3) or not at all (Lk 6:12). Other times Jesus slept at a followerís home. Sometimes He ate well and other times not at all (Mt 4:2, Lk 4:2, Jn 4:31-34). Jesus wore His only earthly possessions (raiment). Jesus didnít carry around money. Observe how He paid the tax collectors: Matthew 17:27, "Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee." When we truly seek God and put Him first, He will provide for our needful things. Man does not dictate nor direct Godís provision in any way and this is unsettling to the flesh. What we are to do is thankfully receive Godís provision in whatever way it is manifested. Man desires security, consistency and fulfillment. God requires faith and will often provide in manners that confound the flesh - not in a way we expect. The flesh is bypassed in order to develop the spirit. This was demonstrated throughout Israelís wanderings in the wilderness (manna and water from rocks). Those living for the flesh will murmer and complain from a rebellious nature. Those that seek God will humble themselves, trust in Him and be thankful. Jesus was acknowledged as a king, but his kingdom did not consist of castles, lands, possessions and wealth (Jn 6:15). Christ rules and reigns in hearts through love. Let the religious institutions (denominations) of man take note.
The Jewish people wanted to make Jesus a king by force, but He was not seeking personal glory. John 6:15, "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." On another occasion his brethren wanted Him to go up to Jerusalem at the feast of tabernacles and do some miracles and wonders and show everyone his glory (Jn 7:3-4). Jesus had to go to this feast (could not violate Lv 23), but not in this way. Therefore, He sent the brethren ahead of Himself (v. 8). Jesus came later, John 7:10, "But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret." Jesus was humble and never sought such personal glory. When men were seeking after Him, He would go to the next town or to the desert places (Mk 1:37-38, 45).
Seeking the things of this world is an exaltation of self. This is feeding oneís flesh rather than seeking Godís purposes, and is enmity toward God (1 Jn 2:15-17, Js 4:4, Rm 8:7). To live for the temporal things of this world is to deny the Lord and those things eternal (2 Cor 4:18). We are not to even get caught up in the needful things (cares) of this life (Mk 4:19). Mary who was a friend of Jesus, was cumbered (weighed down) about the cares of life and found out that there is only one truly needful thing, which is to hear the Word of God and take it to heart (Lk 10:38-42). The world seeks its own will and not that of God, do not be entangled in the pollutions thereof (2 Pt 2:20). Jesus said: John 6:27, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." Let us seek after eternal things.
Jesus was Filled with the Holy Ghost
Jesus needed no repentance, but set the example for us in baptism. Matthew 3:13-15, "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him." John was the greatest prophet ever to live, but immediately saw his filthiness (sin) compared to Christís righteousness (Mt 11:11). Jesus had no sin, but was baptized for our example to fulfill all righteousness. Mark 1:10, "And straightway coming up out of the water, He (Jesus) saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon himÖ" The Spirit descended on Jesus and filled Him. Luke 4:1-2, "And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered." Jesus began His ministry with the filling of the Holy Spirit and was led by the same Spirit in all things during His time on the earth. The prophets of old had ministered by the Holy Spirit and this is vital to accomplishing Godís purposes (2 Pt 1:21, Mic 3:8, Mk 12:36, Lk 1:15, 67, 2:25). Jesus denied the flesh by fasting while seeking God as directed by the Spirit. The devil tempted Jesus during a physically weak point; however, Christ was at a spiritual high point. The temptations were repelled by the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17, Lk 4:3-13). We know that Godís Word is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword when used for Godís purposes (Heb 4:12). Followers of Christ must also deny the flesh, be led of the Spirit and submit to God Ė with our eyes upon Christ (Rm 8:1). In doing so we can also resist the devil and he will flee from us (Js 4:7). Jesus came to the earth as a man. He completely yielded His will to the Father and was led of the Spirit in all things.
In Godís timing, Christ began His ministry: Luke 4:14-15, "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. Notice that Jesus has power through the Spirit. God put His Spirit upon Jesus (Mt 12:18). He had been fasting forty days and forty nights. This Holy Ghost power is the enabler for carrying out Godís purposes. Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and stood to read. Luke 4:17-21, "And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias (Isaiah 61:1-2). And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." The Spirit of the Lord was truly on Jesus whom He depended upon to accomplish His work on earth: Acts 10:38, "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." The Spirit empowers and gives supernatural abilities. Jesus had totally died to self on this earth and served God, thus the Spirit was given to Him without measure (Jn 3:34). Recovering sight to the blind had a physical and spiritual purpose to it. We are blind to the truth of the gospel until Christ opens our eyes to see (cannot perceive, Jn 3:3). Those looking for God through the flesh rather than the Spirit end up serving the flesh (will of) rather than God.
Jesus was Persecuted by the Religious
Christ was rejected by those who claimed to represent God (Mk 8:31). John 1:10-11, "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not." Can you imagine? The Jews had built a tremendous religious system that claimed to worship God. God sent His only Son to them and they didnít even recognize Him. Some had to have known Jesus was the Christ, but were so protective of their religious system, and so full of jealousy and envy that they refused to let themselves believe (Mt 27:18, Mk 15:10). Others knew He was the Christ but feared man (Jn 12:42). In both cases, man ultimately chose his will by rejecting the Messiah. Recall that Jesus only spoke the Fatherís words. They not only didnít acknowledge Him or receive His Words, but wanted to kill Him. Jesus said: John 8:37, "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you." Jesus violated some of their sacred doctrines and traditions and they hated Him and persecuted Him. John 5:16, "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day." They trusted in these doctrines of man (their interpretations) more than God and had no heart or compassion for those suffering (no love). Things are no different in the religious systems today. They sought to kill Christ everywhere He went (Lk 19:47, Mk 12:12, Jn 5:18, 7:1, 10:31, 11:8). They sent spies to be among Jesus and His followers (moles/infiltrators) to find fault in His Words (Lk 20:20). Jesus spoke the truth to them to bring them to repentance (this is love), but how did they react: Luke 4:28-29, "And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong." Jesus even went to the cross for such as these and proclaimed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34). Jesus was meek, humble and full of love and dead (void) of self. They hated Christ without a cause (Jn 15:25).
Jesus sacrificed in love, and He received rejection and ridicule from the religious. Isaiah 53:3-5, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (restored to God)." The religious reviled Jesus every way they could. They derided Him (Mt 13:55-57, 21:15, Mk 5:40, 15:29, 31, Lk 16:14, 20:2, 23:35, 39); they falsely accused Him and called Him names (including the devil himself, Mt 9:34, 12:24, 26:60, Mk 3:22, 14:56, Jn 7:20, 8:48-49, 9:16, 24, 10:20, 18:30), they plotted against Him and tried to trick Him with questions and situations (Mt 12:10, 38, 17:24, 19:3, 21:23, 22:15, Mk 3:2, 6, 10:2, 11:18, 12:13, Lk 11:53-54, 14:1, 20:20, Jn 8:6); they tried to seize Him (Mk 12:12, 14:46, Lk 20:19, Jn 5:16, 7:32, 10:39, 11:57); and they tried to kill Him (Mt 12:14, 21:46, 26:4, 16, 27:20-22, Lk 22:2, Jn 7:25, 8:59, 11:50, 53-54). Through all of this, Jesus did not become bitter or have unforgiveness toward them (1 Pt 3:18). The devil used the lusts of men (envy, jealousy) to attempt to cause Jesus to lash out or develop a heart of resentment (animosity) or dislike toward others Ė to quench His love. Christ endured such contradiction of sinners against himself (Heb 12:3). Had Jesus given in to these temptations, He would have submitted to the devil (sinned). Can you see how difficult this was? Jesus did not hide out, but was always about the Fatherís will even to His own personal detriment. He suffered reproach for the sake of the Father. Christ is truly worthy and judgment will be harsh for those who reject Him.
One would expect to find solace and support with those who claimed to represent God. Jesusí message offered hope and life. His message was authoritative and confirmed by great signs and wonders. Christís works were compassionate, loving and caring. Psalm 35:12, "They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul." How could Godís people reject so great a visitation? They were focused on themselves (food, miracles, kingdoms, doctines, traditions, positions of power, love of praise) and not God. God actually became their enemy and they fought against His purposes. They had form, but no substance. They had ceremony, but no meaning. They spoke with their lips, but their hearts were misaligned. This is a message for the religious man of today! Salvation and life are found in God through Christ, apart from the religious institution. God is looking at your life, not your religious devotion (Ps 50:23). 1 Corinthians 15:34, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame." The knowledge of God is to stop sinning and seek righteousness. Repent!
Christís Actions were Constantly Judged
In scripture, we have two distinct relationships. The first and foremost is to God, and the second is to each other (Lk 10:27, Mt 22:37-40). We are told not to judge. Most of us think of this in terms of each other. However, the most significant judgments are against God Himself. Jesus came perfectly doing the Fatherís will, speaking the Fatherís Words and doing the Fatherís works, yet He was constantly being unfairly judged by religious men. Everything Jesus did was questioned and judged by the religious, His authority, motives, doctrine, healings deliverances, observance of the law, friends, family and associations, education, sanity, etc. These learned religious even came to the astounding conclusion that Godís own Son was serving Beelzebub (devil) and was mad/crazy (Mt 12:24, Jn 10:20). John 8:49, "Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me." Jesus once healed a blind man on the Sabbath day and the religious judged Christ to be a sinner and excommunicated the man He healed out of the synagogue (Jn 9:24, 34). The religious often get so caught up in their doctrine and presumed authority that they loose sight of love and compassion (Mt 23:23, Lk 11:42).
Although qualified, Jesus judged no man. Christ always shined the light on sinfulness and hypocrisy (as we are to do), but never personally condemned individuals. Jesus told the religious, John 8:15-16, "Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me." The religious judged unfairly with selfish intent. Christ also said, John 7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Many a religious man judges God today. They believe His actions are cruel or unfair, so they recreate God in their own image. For instance, many will say that a truly loving God would never send someone to hell for eternity, so they just interpret Godís Word and re-write their doctrine to disallow it (Jude 1:7). Others will be unable to disassociate the sin of homosexuality from the individual and say that God loves and accepts us all and will open their arms to include the unrepentant individual, but also justify the offence and thereby re-write Godís Word to their liking. Some will dislike Godís chain of authority with man as head of woman and will interpret Godís Word to place woman over man. Godís will on these matters is clear in scripture, but scripture will be ignored and craftily twisted. Remember the devil twists the meaning of scripture and so do his workers. Man judges God for his own selfish intent. John 12:47-50, "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." When we misrepresent Godís Word, we reject it. When we reject Godís Words we judge God. God will turn the tables one day and we will be judged by the correct interpretation of the Words that were rejected or twisted. Woe unto you O man, you best seek understanding of Godís Word now by desiring to do Godís will (see understanding Godís Word Ė Chapter 6). We must not reject Christís truth because it is what sanctifies us (Jn 17:17). Jesus lived an example of sanctification through the truth for us to follow (Jn 17:19). Jesus said that everyone that is of the truth (desires to know and live within) hears His voice (Jn 18:37) Ė as opposed to their own version that they consider truth. If we do not obey the truth, there will be indignation and wrath and we will be destroyed (Rm 2:8, Acts 3:22-23).
Job was one that God said was a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil (Job 1:8). The devil falsely accused him and said Job only loved God because God blessed him. Satan said if God removed those blessings that Job would curse God. The Lord allowed the devil to do just that. Job responded in his misery: Job 1:21-22, "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (also Eccl 5:15). Job 1:22, "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." Notice that a perfect man seeks to do Godís will (fears God) and turns away or withdraws from evil (escheweth). It is very important to note that Job did not judge Godís actions or falsely accuse Him. Many will lash out at God when things do not go their way (fleshly). Do we praise Him in the good and the bad?
We are not to pass judgment upon others. We see their sin; we condemn the sin, but not the sinner. When we condemn the person, we are passing judgment. Only Christ has the authority to judge motives (Jn 5:27). Matthew 7:1-2, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." We shine the light of truth on the darkness of sin, but none is qualified to throw stones. We are capable of the same sins and only Jesus sustains us. If a brother in Christ continues to knowingly sin, then we disassociate ourselves until repentance is made. We also disassociate ourselves from those who desire to continue in error and cause problems: Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." Our desire is to be like Christís desire, to see men delivered out of sin and not to condemn men in sin Ė to deliver and save. Also in following our Lordís example, we will not justify sin.
Followers of Christ will be known by love (1 Jn 3:11, 4:16). 1 John 4:8, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Love is not just loving those who love you back (Mt 5:46-47). Love is sacrificial. 1 Peter 2:23, "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:" Jesus did not revile those who reviled Him. This would have been defending self and would not display Godís love. God is loving and longsuffering toward us (1 Jn 4:9). We are to be the same toward others. Romans 5:5, "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Jesus had said, Matthew 5:44, 48, "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." We love our enemies so that we may be the image of God who created us. Jesus was the perfect example of Godís love and we are also to be perfect and display Godís love. We are His witnesses on this earth and must not dishonor Him. Matthew 5:38-41, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." Jesus was about to be sentenced to death but did not even defend Himself. Matthew 27:13-14, "Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly." Sometimes we must bite our tongue, even when we are falsely accused. Our justification is in God, not before men. If you are right before God, then what does it matter what man will think?
Jesus didnít come to Condemn
Jesus came in love as a true light in this dark world. John 1:4-5, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Jesus came that we all might be saved. John 3:17, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." Jesus came as our example. His light exposed sin, and He reproved those who were wrong, but He did not condemn anyone. Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Men will choose their own commendation or condemnation by the way they respond to Godís love. John 3:18-19, "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." To believe on Him is to live a life of faith that demonstrates it. When we choose the darkness, we cut off the light Ė Jesus is the light. Darkness is that which is not found in Christ (1 Jn 1:5).
Jesus claimed to keep the whole law (Mt 5:18) and He also said He condemned no man (Jn 3:17). The religious set a trap for Him. John 8:3-6, "And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not." Their plan was diabolical Ė If Jesus agreed to stone her, they could accuse him of condemning others against His own Word. If Jesus said to let her go, they could accuse Him of not keeping the law. This seemed like a no-win situation. Initially Jesus writes with His finger in the ground. This is significant because Jesus (as God Ė great I AM) gave the law: Exodus 31:18, "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." How did Jesus respond to this no-win situation? John 8:7-8, "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground." Jesus shined the light into their own hearts and they realized that they were equally guilty and equally condemned under the law. Then just as significant He stooped down again and wrote on the ground representing what He came to do Ė that is amend the law to allow for mercy (not license)! God originally wrote the law with His finger (Ex 31:18, 32:16). Jesus came to seek that which was lost (mercy for sinners, Lk 5:32, 19:10,). Consider how Jesus amended the law: Hebrews 9:15-17, "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." Christ payed with His own life (His blood)! Jesus then told the women He did not condemn her and to sin no more. Christ came to give mercy and to set us free from sin! Mercy can be granted for those who acknowledge their wrong and turn from it. Those who continue in their sin need no mercy, for they can see no wrong.
We are to be like our Lord and be His lights in this dark world. Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." We are also to expose sin for the purpose of persuading those in error to repent and turn to God. Acts 26:18, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Christ)." We must reprove sin: Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." We have no authority to condemn anyone. Our hope should be to see the vilest sinner turn his heart to God rather than be condemned to an eternity in hell. Judgment is in the hands of God and we must not forget this. Jesus said: Luke 15:4-7, "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." This must also be our attitude.
Jesus was Betrayed and Forsaken by Friends and Followers
Jesus went about delivering, healing, feeding, teaching and ministering to the people demonstrating Godís love (sacrifice) for man. He knew that many followed Him for selfish reasons. John 6:2, "And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased." Christ was the hope of some and entertainment or a free meal to others. John 6:26, "Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." Some were seeking gifts rather than the giver. Some were seeking benefits (blessings) rather than Him (Christ) from whom all blessings flow. John 12:37, "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him." How sad! Jesus tested their resolve (heart) with some hard sayings. The people wanted a sign such as bread from heaven (Jn 6:30-31). Christ told them the Father had sent the true bread from heaven that giveth life to the world (v. 32-34). The people said give us a continuing supply of this bread (v. 34). Jesus revealed His deeper purpose to man, by revealing that He was the bread sent from the Father and that man should eat of Him for life (v. 35-59). The meaning was that His broken body and His shed blood would provide atonement and reconciliation to God (Lk 22:15-20, Rev 1:5). This was not well received, because man was only concerned about self and meeting his carnal needs. Man could not grasp the spiritual significance. John 6:60-61, "Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?" The harder teachings did produce a separation and the results must have been disappointing. John 6:66-68, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." The people had followed and listened to Jesus. Luke 19:48, "Öfor all the people were very attentive to hear him." The problem was that they were hearers that never became doers. They wanted blessings, but not sacrifice. They never took His Words to heart. How many religious today do the same? Peter chose the spiritual because he understood that eternal life cannot be found in the flesh through selfish want. Jesus gave full devotion, but many fell back when their flesh was offended or not satisfied (Mt 13:20-21). For those weak in faith, tribulation and persecution will take an immediate toll. Let the reader beware! We must ask ourselves why we follow Christ. Do we follow seeking to gain something (blessings, eternal bliss, rewards, and escape from hell) or do we follow because we love Him with all our hearts and want to see Him glorified and His will performed in our lives even to the expense of our comfort or personal detriment (sacrifices)? This is a question of eternal significance!
Jesusí own family members did not believe in Him. John 7:5, "For neither did his brethren (sibling brothers) believe in him." These were his natural brothers by the same earthly mother (Mk 6:3). They had grown up with Jesus and had to have known how perfect He was. They had seen the great miracles that He performed. Even his brothers did not fully understand His purposes. They thought He was going to be an earthly king and they would have great honor or office in His kingdom. Christ was so humble that He had not even revealed Godís full purposes to His earthly family. They must be spiritually discerned. Jesus had once replied to a comment about His earthly family: Matthew 12:48-50, "But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." Those who do (obey, perform, keep, live, apply) Godís will shall be in Godís eternal family. Doing Godís will must be a living application and demonstration and not a shallow profession.
Can you imagine how difficult and isolating it must have been to be constantly rejected by those who should understand you? Matthew 13:54-58, "And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenterís son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." They could only see Jesus as the carpenterís son Ė how dare He. They lived by the flesh and were insulted (annoyed) by Christ and thought Him unworthy for their regard so they outright rejected Him. They presumed that God would send the Messiah in a different way under other circumstances. John 7:27, "Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is." The problem with the religious is that they are not in tune with God because often they are seeking their own purposes and through the flesh. God turns their wisdom into foolishness (1 Cor 2:14). Perhaps that familiar one down the street has the Word of God and a ministry that can save your soul?
Jesus was rejected by His people, religious peers, disciples, friends, local community and family members. Psalm 69:4, "They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away." Notice the last part of the verse: Jesus restored that which He didnít take away. Adam broke fellowship with God through his disobedience and thereby separated man from God. Jesus reconciled man back to God through His perfect obedience Ė He restored! How precious! Another prophesy concerning Jesus stated: Psalm 69:20, "Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none." Jesus endured this for you and me, but we didnít deserve such love (which is sacrifice). When we truly lift Christ up, deny ourselves and follow Him, we will have a taste of such rejection. You will find the world, even the religious world, will go just so far with you, but no further. Familiar family or friends will not take you serious. To truly follow Jesus is to become a bright light in a dark world. The Lord will provide for our loss both now (with persecutions) and eternally (Mk 10:28-30, Lk 18:28-30). The important thing is not how others view you, but having your heart right before God.
Christ had twelve disciples that he designated as apostles and these closely followed Him. Jesus had love for them all. One was not as he seemed. Psalm 41:9, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Judas Iscariot followed Jesus but showed little regard for others and was mostly concerned for himself. Judas was in charge of the money bag and was a thief (Jn 12:6). Mark 14:10-11, "And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him." Judas waited for an opportunity when Jesus was alone and came with a multitude. Judas came forth and acknowledged Christ with a token kiss (Mk 14:44). Luke 22:48, "But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?" Betrayal is often preceded by flattery. So, Jesus was betrayed by a close friend, one of whom He had revealed His heart and purpose to.
The followers of Christ had once expressed their love and devotion to Him. Jesus said: John 16:32, "Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me." Having been apprehended by the religious authorities, Jesusí remaining friends left: Mark 14:50, "And they all forsook him, and fled." Everyone feared for their own life (Jn 16:32). Jesus was now left all alone to face those who sought His life. Christ was humiliated, beaten, mocked, and falsely accused (Ps 35:11), but there was one more disappointment to endure before His torturous death. One of Jesusí closest friends, Peter had blended in with Christís accusers to see what would happen. He had been confronted twice about having been a follower of Christ and on both occasions denied it. Peter had to be a bit more forceful and convincing for his last confrontation with the religious authorities. Matthew 26:74, "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew." Jesus must of heard: Luke 22:61-62, "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly."
During His walk upon the earth, those religious ones who claimed to love God had persecuted Christ often. All that would have been necessary to end these persecutions was a little bit of compromise. Praise God that Jesus never compromised the things of God to find personal comfort or please man. Do you ever compromise a little to get along or do something you desire? Ė maybe to fit in? Near the time of His death, Jesus had been totally forsaken by man. Things often become darkest before the victory (always remember this).. Upon the cross, Jesus was for a time, forsaken by God (Mt 27:46, Is 54:7-8). Mark 15:33-34, "And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" While He was hanging there in agony, the crowd and passers by railed upon Him, wagged their heads and continued to mock (Ps 109:25, Mt 27:39, 41, 44). I donít think we can comprehend such isolation. Jesus endured it all for you and for me as the blood poured from His many wounds. This blood was His very life (Lv 17:11). This is the path that Jesus walked. This is the narrow path Ė a path of reproach. Through all this, Jesus went to the cross and died for you anyway! How can we neglect so great a salvation (Heb 2:3)? Being a follower of Christ who stands for the truth by faith in an uncompromising way can be a lonely walk at times. Sometimes you feel all alone as others mock on. Many will not understand you and be offended; some may betray you and others will forsake you (Php 1:29). Men will separate from your company and you will be much maligned (Lk 6:22). Galatians 4:29, "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now." However, Christ promises that He will never leave nor forsake you and that there will be blessings as a result of standing for His namesake (Heb 13:5-6, Mt 5:10-12). All it would take is some compromise on the believerís part to fit in and find comfort or unity (not just with the world but also with the religious). Those who profess Christ, yet fit in well with the world should examine themselves carefully (2 Cor 13:5). For the true follower, compromise can never be an option; they are being obedient to the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 1:5, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." Our lives must be as our Lord: 1 Peter 4:13, "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." There is a message here for the religious institutions who wish to be popular in the world with the things of the world to attract the world. Justification of evil numbs the conviction to sooth the conscious and leads to compromise which is always served lukewarm (Rev 3:15-16). Compromise is a short cut to the broad path that leads from Godís purposes to those of self.
When Jesus came He was not like everybody else. No one else even understood Christ or His purposes. Jesus totally sought God and denied self in perfect obedience. This simply cannot be said of the religious people of that time or even of Jesusí closest followers (while He was alive) Ė Mk 16:14. Jesus was totally alone (without equal) with regards to His obedience, self denial and dedication to God. No one else even understood. No one else lived such perfection. Romans 3:11, "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Can you imagine having no one else on this earth to truly relate to? Of course Jesus put his faith and trust in God and not man. We are now to follow Christ and the example He lived/set. When we do, one finds that, as you die to self and all the things of this world, you also become more isolated from it (not physically, but relationally). People just will not understand you. Why you do not do the things they do, celebrate the things they celebrate, or speak the same language (foul)? You may go in a room full of people and feel totally alone (Jer 15:17). Everyone will be talking about the things of the world such as politics, sports, news events, television programming, lewd language/jesting and movies. All you want to talk about is Jesus Christ and Him crucified Ė but does anyone want to hear (1 Cor 2:2)? You will probably feel isolated even when you are around religious people. The religious want to discuss these same worldly things or big name preacher personalities, building programs or facilities, religious entertainments or events Ė you know, religious things. They have lots of buzz words and a certain lingo. A follower wants to talk about his true love, Jesus Christ. A believer wants to talk about what the Lord has been saying to his heart or doing in his life. He wants to talk about a very real and on-going personal relationship. Do the religious talk all around this because they do not have such a relationship? We must all examine our hearts and motives. The author recently heard several people having a religious conversation that lasted about an hour and not once was Jesus Christ mentioned (only institutions, preachers, entertainments and popular crowd pleasing places). One can be very religious and yet have no relationship with Christ. What/who is the joy of your heart?
Speaking in Parables
Jesus often spoke in parables (Ps 78:2-3, Mt 13:13). Matthew 13:35, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world." The gospel is a mystery, hidden wisdom, (Mt 13:11, Mk 4:11, Rm 16:25-26, 1 Cor 2:7, Col 2:2-3) and those living in the flesh will not understand it (Mt 13:11-17, Mk 4:12, Jn 3:3, Acts 28:25-27, 1 Cor 2:14). Only the Spirit reveals this hidden wisdom (1 Cor 2:10). Those who follow after the lusts of the flesh have their minds blinded by Satan that they perceive not (Jn 12:40, 2 Cor 4:4, Lk 8:12, Mk 4:15) Ė it has not been given to them to know (Mt 13:10-11). Those who think of themselves as wise in the world and prudent will not know or understand (Lk 10:21). Their heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed (Mt 13:15). Isaiah 44:18, "They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand." They have eyes and think they see, but perceive not the truth; they have ears and think they hear, but do not understand (they reject truth and believe error, Is 6:9, Mt 13:14, Pv 20:12). They will see and hear religious things (through fleshly eyes), just not the truth of the gospel. The truth is circumvented (evaded, thwarted, eluded) by the flesh. God does not give those things that are precious and holy to those who will not appreciate them and will trample them under foot (Mt 7:6). The things of God are spiritually discerned and are given to those who truly seek Godís will and come under His authority (Mt 4:11-12). We must take heed how we hear (Lk 8:18). Those who have, will be given more; those who have not, will lose all to those who have (Mt 13:12). Jesus said: John 16:25, "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father." Jesus only spoke to the multitudes in parables (Mt 13:34). Therefore those around Christ could not truly understand Him Ė even His disciples had trouble (Mt 13:36, 15:17, 16:9, 11, Mk 4:10, 13, 7:17-18, 8:17, Lk 8:9, 24:45, Acts 1:6). Christ once told them: Mark 8:18, "Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?" He said this because of their lack of perception about a discernable matter (Mk 8:14-21). Jesus had also told His disciples that He would be killed, but rise again the third day (Mt 26:2, Mk 8:31, 9:9-10, 31-32, 10:34, Lk 18:33, 24:7). Luke 9:44-45, "Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying (also Lk 18:31-34)." After Christ had risen they still did not understand that He would rise from the dead (Lk 24:11, Jn 20:9). Christ then appeared to the disciples and upbraided (chastised, reprimanded) them with their unbelief and hardness of heart concerning His resurrection (Mk 16:11-14). Jesus then opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures (Lk 24:45-46, Jn 2:19-22). The same misunderstandings of Christís Words are true today. Jesusí disciples were given the benefit of additional explanation from Christ concerning the parables (Lk 8:10, Mt 13:16-17, Mk 4:11-12, 34, Jn 10:6). Jesus spoke the Word as they were able to hear it (Mk 4:33). The mystery of the gospel was revealed to Paul through revelation of the Spirit and not through any of his extensive religious training (Eph 3:3-5). We must take heed what we hear Ė for our misunderstandings may be echoed back to us (Mk 4:24, also see Chapter 6, Knowing the Truth of Godís Word). When we truly have ears to receive (the truth, and live within it), more will be given (Mk 4:24). If not, we lose that which we think we have (Mk 4:25). By nature man follows the will of the flesh through fleshly eyes and understanding. The flesh simply cannot understand those things spiritual (1 Cor 2:14). This is why Jesus sent His Holy Spirit (covered in Chapter Six). We can read or hear Godís Words, but the Spirit makes alive through truth and understanding - unfolds (guides/testifies Ė 1 Cor 2:9-13). The apostles had Jesus to guide them initially and give understanding and were later filled with the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts Chapter 2). We now have access to the Spirit by faith since God has poured out His Spirit upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). When we are led by the Spirit (having subjected ourselves in obedience Ė faith), then we are no longer led by the flesh Ė and are thus, sons of God (Rm 8:14). We must understand that all that comes before (higher priority) Christ in our life is a thief and a robber and will blind to the gospel truth (Jn 10:8). All the things of man that we fill our hearts with will rob us of Christís truth and this will become apparent in this book (example Ė Chapter Three, A Tremendous Idol). The gospel is still a mystery to many as they seek God through the flesh (see Chapter Seven, Church Growth). Do we not see this manifested throughout religious history? Men can read Godís Word in the flesh, but only through the Spirit will men understand it. Reading the Word through the flesh results in all manner of error as is easily seen in what might be termed Christian church history (that recorded by fleshly man) resultant in the hundreds of denominations and factions of today. This is not the unified "one body" of Christ spoken of in scripture. The religious super-structure that exists today is a great reproach and dishonor to the gospel Christ spoke. Jesus spoke of love, yet religious man has a history of killing.
What is Love?
What is love? Jesus is the very embodiment of love. Most think of love as purely emotional and maybe sensual. The real meaning of "love" is to sacrifice "self" for the person you care for. 1 John 4:9-10, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." God sacrificed His only begotten Son for us! Jesus left the glories of heaven to take the form of a mere man. Jesus denied Himself totally for the benefit of others. All the time Jesus was giving His all; those He loved were rejecting Him. Christ never gave up and this is love! Jesus never condemned though it was in His authority. Jesus demonstrated His love: John 14:31, "But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do..." Jesus was about to demonstrate His love of the Father (and you) to the world by His sacrifice and obedience (faith) in laying down His life. Notice how we are to love: Ephesians 5:2, "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." Jesus sacrificed much for you. John 14:23, "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." Can you see how this is faith? We are to love (sacrifice) and obey Jesus. We sacrifice our will and cherish and obey Godís will. God reciprocates with a precious relationship. Jesus demonstrated this: John 15:10, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." We must be following our Lordís example. John 13:24, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Jesus loved through His sacrifices and demonstrated His love with His own shed blood (Jn 15:13). We are to also deny self and sacrifice for one another Ė this is love (1 Jn 4:7-8). Love is sacrificial, longsuffering, humble, and giving. So: 1 John 4:11-12, 21, "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
Those who consider Godís love as unconditional and all things just working out in the end, best think again. Love does not rejoice in iniquity (sin), but rather in truth (1 Cor 13:6). Jesus said: Luke 5:32, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Jesus did not come to excuse sinners to remain in darkness, but rather to forsake it. Love does not justify wickedness. All men will not ultimately be reconciled to God. Love is longsuffering, but there are limits for patience and acceptance. God has stated throughout His Word that He will separate the rebellious ones into eternal damnation. God will not violate His very Word; that would make Him a transgressor. God has stated that 1) He does not lie (Ti 1:2, Heb 6:18); 2) He hates lying, it is an abomination (Pv 12:22); and 3) All liars will go to hell (Rev 21:8). God is making an open show of the wrongs of the devil (father of all lies) and rebellious man before all of creation - do not suppose that God will become like them by justifying the wicked in the end. God upholds all of His Word, unlike man who picks and chooses. God does not deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13, "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." God is not going to concede His authority to you or Satan. The rebellious will be separated for eternity!
Away with this Man
Jesus came to His own and they received Him not (Jn 1:11). They had built a great religious structure full of their doctrines and traditions which they held in higher regard than the commandments of God (Mt 15:3, Mk 7:9). Jesus Words found no place in them for they had not the love of God (Jn 5:42, 8:37). Jesus violated some of their sacred doctrines and traditions and they hated him and sought to kill him (Jn 5:16). They eventually apprehended Jesus and brought him before the authorities (Pilate). Pilate knew the chief priests delivered Jesus up for envy (Mk 15:10) and offered to the people to release Jesus or a notorious criminal (Mt 27:17). Luke 23:18-19, 25, "And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.). And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will." Jesus was Godís own Son who did nothing but the will of God (Jn 6:38). Barabbas represented manís will and the works of the flesh. Psalm 35:12, ĎThey rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul." The people clearly rejected God in favor of their own will. Acts 13:28, "And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain." Many read this and say, "How awful, I would never have rejected Christ," yet everyday their life says, "Away with this man" as they choose their own will over Godís. Most are not even conscious that they are doing this. This is why we must be led of the Holy Spirit and not our own desires or instincts. So the choice is: manís will or Godís will Ė Itís been this way since Eden.
The Ultimate in Self-Denial
Christ walked not after the flesh but after the Spirit (Rm 8:1). Romans 5:6-8, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Would you give your very life for those who hate you, judge you, reject you, belittle you, despitefully use you and have forsaken you? For those who were just plain undeserving? Christ gave everything He had, His very life for you! Is this not precious to you? John 10:17-18, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." Evil men plotted to kill Jesus (under Satanic influence), but thatís not why He died. The only reason Christ died was because He laid His life down to give you the opportunity to be reconciled to God for eternity. John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." You have reached the ultimate in self denial when you can lay your life down for another, especially one who does not deserve it. John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Christ endured the shame and torturous death on a Roman cross (Heb12:2). He that is hanged on a tree is accursed of God (Deut 21:22-23). Galatians 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (also Gal 4:4-5)." Christís death for us is a precious thing and how we respond will be "the consideration" on judgment day. Those who have chosen wisely have their names written in the Lambís book of life. Revelation 21:27, "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lambís book of life." Is your name in the Lambís book? Are you enduring daily (Mt 10:22, 24:13, Heb 3:6, 14)?
Consider that as Christ was upon the cross suffering, bleeding and slowly dying, He could have stopped it all. We know in the garden of Gethsemane that He struggled with the instinct that we are all born with, to live and not die. Psalms 22:16-18, "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture." Jesus was in great pain and anguish, forsaken, as the gawkers mocked on. Psalms 71:11, "Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for there is none to deliver him." Psalms 22:7-8, "All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him." Jesus endured the slow death due to His love first for God and then for you. You were on His mind as He proclaimed, Father forgive them for they know not what they do (Lk 23:34). Christ died that we might now serve the living God (Heb 9:14-18). For those who will follow, Christ sealed His testament and has purchased them with His own blood (Acts 20:28, Heb 9:24). God said that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Gen 9:4, Lv 17:14, Deut 12:23). As Christ hung on the cross, His life (blood) slowly spilled out for you. Jesusí perfect acceptable life (blood), is the atonement for your sins (covers) if you will "follow." Leviticus 17:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it (Christís) to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood (of Christ) that maketh an atonement for the soul (His acceptable sinless obedient well pleasing life)." This is why Jesus said: John 6:53, "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Christ lived a life in the flesh totally subservient to the Father in doing (obeying) His perfect will. We must partake of the life (atoning blood) that He gives to us. Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Your life is found in Christís blood. If you have not the blood then you have no life.
Just before Christ died, He did two noteable things. Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they doÖ" Christ forgave those who mocked and killed Him. He died for the undeserving and did not hold their transgression against them and died with no bitterness of heart. Secondly: Luke 23:46, "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost." Christ had totally committed Himself to the Father during His earthly walk. Jesus now trust His Spirit into the care of the Father (Ps 31:5) knowing the Father would redeem Him from the grave (Ps 49:15). Jesus resigned Himself totally to Godís will. There was no reason to protest His unjust treatment at the hands of these religious men. Isaiah 53:7-8, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. Your sins (iniquity, transgressions) are what sent Jesus to the cross and He did not even protest going there for you. He was the most righteous man that ever lived. Is this not precious to you? Ė does this not find place in your heart?
Jesus was FAITHFUL in all that God (the Father) gave Him to do (Heb 3:2). We are also asked to be faithful to Christ and endure until the end. Will you be found to be a good and faithful servant (Mt 25:21, 23)?
Conforming to Christís Image
In the garden, Adam thought the devil more trustworthy than God. Man, who was created in the image of God (Gen 1:27, 5:1), disobeyed God and took on Satanís nature (fallen). Man obtained knowledge of good and evil which was contrary to Godís will. We were innocent before God. Man became evil and self seeking, rebellious Ė opposite and contrary to God. Through Christ, we can be reconciled back to God: Colossians 3:10, "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (also Col 1:20)." Jesus, the good Shepherd, restores us back to the image of God: Psalms 23:3, "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake (also Rm 5:10, 2 Cor 5:18, 20)." Jesus made peace between man and God through Him by faith (Rm 5:1, 10). He does this for His glory Ė we are undeserving! We naturally are "born" with a fallen nature, but we can be "born again" with the nature of Him that created us. Wow! We can be restored back again. This new man is renewed after the image of the creator (Col 3:10). God will restore all things through Christ (Acts 3:21, Col 1:21)! When we follow the Holy Spirit in obedience: 2 Corinthians 4:16, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." In our heart we become more like Christ day by day! This is done as we "follow" Him day by day Ė we walk in His ways (Ps 119:3, 128:1, Col 2:6). We are transformed. 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image (Christís) from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." The life of Jesus is manifest in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:11). The Spirit leads us down the narrow path (out of darkness into light, Ps 25:10). As we obey the Spirit and put aside the flesh, we are changed into Christís image. This is the will of God Ė Christ was well pleasing to God (Mt 3:17, 17:5, Mk 1:11, Lk 3:22). God works in us to do His will and make us well pleasing in His sight (Heb 13:21). The characteristics of the new man are righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24). Psalms 85:13, "Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps." When we follow Christ it is a path of righteousness. Jesus guides our feet (Lk 1:79). To be reconciled to God, we must lose that which we gained in the Garden Ė our will to decide our own life. We lay down all weapons of rebellion and yield to God through Christ. We live for Christ and come back under Godís authority by submitting to Him Ė freely (2 Cor 5:15, 18-19). We are to be holy as He is holy (1 Pt 1:15-16). We must come unto the measure of the stature (figure/distinction) of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). We grow up (mature) to be as Jesus (likeness, Eph 4:15) after having received Him as a child (Mk 10:15, Lk 18:17).
Jesus is the express image of God (Jn 14:9, 15:19, Heb 1:3, 2 Cor 4:4, Col 2:9): Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." We are to be as Christ: Romans 8:28-29, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Godís predetermined purpose for mankind was that each individual would freely choose to conform to the image of His Son Ė to follow. Brethren are those who resemble one another. 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesusí sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." As we die to ourselves (our will and desires), we conform to Christís image such that His life is manifested in us. Galatians 3:27, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." We literally put on Christ in conforming to Him (Jn 3:30). The life of Christ is seen in us when we walk as He walked (2 Cor 4:11, Col 2:6, Hos 14:9). 1 John 2:6, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." AND Psalm 119:3, "They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways." AND Hosea 14:9, "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein." We have determined in this chapter that this may seem an overwhelming task. What is impossible for man is possible through God (Lk 18:27). Jesus has sent His Spirit to comfort, guide, convict, teach and empower us just as the Spirit had done for Christ. You cannot follow Christ in your own strength. Your eyes must be constantly upon Jesus - abiding. Peter was walking on water as long as his eyes were on Jesus. The moment he took his eyes off of Christ and looked upon circumstances around him, he began to sink (Mt 14:28-31). We must abide in Christ always (John Chapter 15). Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (also 2 Sam 22:33)." Our paths are directed, we just obey (example Num 9:16-23). We do not know the way of the path by ourselves." Many within the religious world want to conform Christ to their image. This will always be the result when man leads rather than the Spirit. This "other Jesus" or "other gospel" presented by man will be the justification for satisfying their will (and flesh) rather than submitting to Godís (Gal 1:6-11, 2 Cor 11:3-4). God requires that we seek Him with faith (Rm 5:1-2, Heb 11:6). This faith is lived out daily (Rm 1:17-18). Some will "profess" but the genuine will "follow." Some identify (believe) with Christís image, but the real will conform to His image. These will bear fruit, some thirty, some sixty and some one hundred fold (Mk 4:8). Let us all desire to bear a one hundred fold increase. Luke 6:40, "The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master." Psalm 128:1, "Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways."
When you have the nature of God you will desire and seek His purposes. Otherwise you have a different nature about you. Ephesians 4:24, "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Therefore it is only natural that you would want to conform to Christís image. In other words, your expression of the nature God has given you will manifest itself in similar fashion to that of Christ when He walked as a man, because Jesus did everything that was well pleasing to the Father (in His will) and He and the Father were one (Jn 10:30). Jesus had the nature of the Father (Jn 8:54-55). We yield and obey God through our faith and become the image of God that we were intended to be (Gen 1:26-27). Philippians 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." God works on us to meet that end (Heb 13:20-21). When you truly die to self and serve God in seeking and performing His will, then you must be careful not to fall back into the ways of the old man. Galatians 2:18, "For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor." Luke 9:62, "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Hebrews 10:38, "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."
Many people ask God to transform them into what He would have them be, but they are not willing to do their part. Relationships are giving and require self sacrifice, self denial and effort on our part. God does not make us do anything. God has given us a free will to choose to serve Him. Godís desire is that we will repent and seek Him with a whole heart. We must freely choose to serve God every day in our actions and thoughts. If we choose to love the darkness or dwell therein, God will not make you serve him by leaving your heartís desire (Jn 3:19-21). Your approval or condemnation will be revealed by your heart as evidenced through your actions. God does not desire forced servitude from those who love darkness (sin, self, and rebellion). Those who choose such things will be separated from God rather than forced to serve Him. God gives the truly repentant His nature and desire to perform His will and the grace (ability) to do it. Conforming to Christís image will be the evidence of eternal life. God has also sent His Holy Spirit to give us the ability to do His will. 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." If we are being led of the Holy Spirit then we will be conforming to Christís image daily as we die to our self. Many just want to be translated from the start of the narrow path to the end. The journey is following in the steps of Christ and this is what conforms us to Christís image. The peaks and the valleys teach us dependance upon God and show us our need. This is when God tries and tests our faith. We are put through the flame to burn away the impurities. We learn through application in our daily lives. Think of it as training to be with God eternally Ė that is learning to die to self and to absolutely obey God. Learning to glorify God in the good and the bad.
When we are following Christís steps and conforming to His likeness we will love God foremost in our lives and actions, and then love our neighbors. Our love will be sacrificial in denying self for God and others. We will lay down all resistance and rebellion toward God and seek His purposes (will) with a whole heart. His desire will be our desire. We will seek God to be filled with His Holy Spirit and be led and taught of the Spirit with the Word. We must seek relationship with Christ through our prayer, study of His Word and daily walk. We will abide in Christ and speak His words and perform His works. We will live in humbleness and be forgiving and longsuffering. How do you know if following Christ and conforming to His image has been wrought personally in your life? You will know if Christ has turned you from your iniquities (Acts 3:26, Job 11:14). We must put aside all iniquity and stop seeking the things of the world (Acts 3:26, 2 Tim 2:19). We will live our life of love and obedience (faith) to God as we walk daily and shall endure until the end. Remember that Christ suffered for us and we must be ready to suffer for Him Ė to be partakers (1 Pt 4:1, 13, Rm 8:17, 2 Tm 2:12). Jesus said: John 17:18, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world (also v. 20)." We have covered in this chapter how Christ lived in the world. The world hated Jesus and so it also hates His followers. When we suffer for Christ namesake then He is glorified (1 Pt 4:14). Hebrews 10:36, "For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." We commit ourselves to God who preserves us and judges righteously (1 Pt 2:23, 4:19). We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (1 Pt 1:5).
So, John 6:57, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." Christ was totally submitted to the Father. We are to be totally submitted to Christ (refer to Chapter One Ė Godís Order). Christ was the very image of the Father. We are to be the image of Christ. John 4:34, "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." Our meat (very life, Jn 6:33, 35, 51, 53) is to do the will of Christ and finish His work. When we eat of Christ, we will live forever (Jn 6:58). John 6:56, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." We partake of Christís brokeness (flesh) and His life (blood). How do we do this? John 6:57, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me." We have studied in this chapter how Christ lived by the Fatherís will. We must live according to Christ Ė to conform/follow. Jesus said, John 17:18, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world (also Jn 20:21)." This message applies to ALL who will "follow" Him (Jn 17:20). To "follow" is to be in harmony Ė to keep Jesusí commandments (Jn 14:15, 23). We have read how Jesus conducted Himself in this world - as He was sent. We are to conduct ourselves likewise Ė common purpose. Jesus was led of the Spirit to accomplish this. We have also been given the Spirit and sent in like manner. Our obedience will conform us to the image of Christ and our walk will be in His footsteps. This will not be accomplished in our strength or abilities, but by our obedience to God working in us. No man will boast in his own merit, our boasting (glorying) will be in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:9, 1 Cor 1:31, Ps 34:2, 44:8).
Romans 5:18, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Through Adamís offense, all men (Adamís descendants) became like him. Men are self seeking, disobedient, fleshly and rebellious toward God, which leads to death (through the offense of one, Rm 5:18). Through Jesus Christís obedience, all men can be reconciled back to God and be well pleasing. This happens through Godís grace which transforms us to Christís image (as opposed to Adamís). We become humble and obedient with a heart of love toward God. This grace is sustained through righteousness (Rm 5:21). God works in us through our faith (obedience) and transforms us. Itís a question of natures Ė Adamís or Christís. Only through Jesus will we be made righteous (Rm 5:19) Ė just men made perfect (Heb 12:23).
He is Risen
Had Christ sought His will and not the Fatherís, then He would have remained in the grave under sin, and mankind would have suffered defeat with no possible reconciliation with God. Praise God, Jesus did get the victory. Matthew 28:5-8, "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word." Mourning and sadness were turned into joy! Jesus, as a man, accomplished that which mankind (Adam and all subsequent) had failed to do. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Jesus obtained the victory! Now all men can be reconciled to the Father through Christ Jesus Ė Great Joy! All of creation will acknowledge that Jesus is truly worthy (Revelation Chapter 5). Christ is unblemished, without sin or transgression, He has a name that is above every name and an everlasting dominion over heaven and earth (Ps 145:13, Dan 4:3, 7:14, Eph 1:21, Php 2:10, Rev 5:13).
We must be risen with Jesus. Colossians 3:1-11, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which thingsí sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." That old sinful man must first die before we can be risen with Christ. Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." We now live by faith (love and obedience) to Christ Jesus (Rm 1:17). The old man who loved the things of the world and fleshly delights is now dead, crucified and gone. Our life is now exclusively in Christ Jesus. Jesus is our hope, dream, aspiration, joy, etc. God converts us and we become a new man who no longer lives in manís knowledge from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We now live in the knowledge of God with His nature. Can you see how God has reconciled His relationship with man (through Jesus) as is it was prior to manís fall? All men can partake, but this reconciliation will only apply to those who freely and lovingly choose to obey Him in this life of faith through Jesus Christ submitted to God.
Jesus is our all in all. Ephesians 1:19-23 "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." Jesus is the head of the church. The body answers to Christ, not to man or through his religious institutions. Itís all about Jesus! Stop being religious and start "being" in Christ! Ė Jesus is your life, everyday, all day, all the time (2 Cor 4:16). If our minds are on Christ, then they are not on self or the world. Our outlook must become eternal rather than temporal. 2 Corinthians 4:18, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." The temporal wicked things will soon be gone: 2 Peter 3:13, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Jesus Glorified the Father
Christ came so that God could be glorified in the purpose of His creation. Jesus provided reconciliation between God and man. All things may now be brought back together in perfect harmony, unity and purpose for which they were created. God was glorified in Jesusí faithfulness and perfect obedience: John 12:28, "Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." God was ultimately glorified by giving Christ the reward for His humble obedience. Philippians 2:9-11, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." John 13:31-32, "Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him." When we live a life of loving faith toward God, then He is glorified by our actions. When we choose the light and forsake the darkness, God is glorified. When we walk in the steps of Christ in love, we honor the Father through our obedience. The Father is glorified when we totally yield to Him Ė we surrender our will. This is submitting to Godís will and purposes and is glorious. This is what itís all about. If you think you are earning heaven then your motives are totally wrong and youíre on the wrong path. You must understand that manís sole purpose is to serve God for His glory (John 17:6-10). Itís about God and not about you. Those living in the flesh really have trouble comprehending this. If you are just seeking Godís blessings, then you are just seeking self. Our lives are not to be focused on this world, but on Jesus and eternity to come. This is the hope of one who is following Christ. While many religious may agree, the emphasis may change when it comes to the specifics of the "cares of the world" and applying them.
We have covered in this chapter how Christ was totally humble and died to self while living solely for God. Jesus has now been greatly exalted. We are also to do the same. Luke 14:11, "For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Those who live for self are exalted in their own will shall one day be abased (Pv 16:18). Those who humble themselves and live for Godís purposes (denying their own) shall one day be exalted. Humility goes before honor (Pv 15:33, 18:12, 22:4). James 4:10, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." This exaltation is not in terms of fleshly desires, but rather being eternally in the presence of our Lord and returning under His authority and order. 1 Corinthians 15:53, "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." We cannot imagine what God has prepared for us that love Him (1 Cor 2:9, Is 64:4). Our God is magnificent and so is that which He creates.
Many suppose that Jesus came and did it all, such that nothing is expected of them. This is a half-truth and as such is a great deception. The Jewish people loved Jesus when He healed them (Jn 6:2). The Jewish people loved Jesus when He fed them (Jn 6:26). The Jewish people were not as excited about putting their will and sin aside and submitting to Him. Similarly today, the people love the Jesus who forgives and gives mercy and grace. The religious are not so excited about a Jesus who tells them to die to self, forsake their iniquity (sin) and follow Ė that is exercise the grace given. This requires sacrifice and self denial. 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesusí sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh." It is true that Jesus made atonement for our sin and now provides forgiveness and reconciliation to God (Col 1:21-22). However, Jesus will not be a cloak for continuance in sin (Jn 15:22). Christís forgiveness and grace could never be accomplished or merited due to our efforts. It is also true that no man will come to the Father apart from Jesus (Jn 14:6). God came down to the earth as a man and set an example for us to follow (1 Pt 2:21-22). Most religious teach a partial and one-sided gospel. Jesus lived the life of obedience and faith that Adam was intended to live. God demonstrated His love for us and requires no more of us than He was willing to do. God also gives us His Spirit and the strength (power/ability) that we lack (His grace, Ti 2:11-13) as we live in faith. Therefore: 1 John 2:6, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." AND Colossians 2:6-7, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." We must have a living relationship with Jesus through communication (prayer), obedience, and understanding (knowing His Word) which is made alive through His Spirit (correct attitudes and heart). Scriptures say that we are to know Christ and that He is true (1 Jn 5:20). How do we know Him? You know Jesus by walking as He walked Ė you take up your cross and follow. You deny self, sacrifice, and suffer shame for His namesake Ė then you start to understand and truly know Him. Walk as He walked and you will know Him! You will never know Christ as long as you walk as self wants to walk and then attempt to abstractly identify with Him. We must be faithful in keeping our eyes and heart only on Him and not having them wander upon others (self and the world). Godís desire for man is this: Deuteronomy 6:5, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." This was reiterated by Christ as the greatest of all commandments, Mark 12:29-30, "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." When we truly grasp the totality of this commandment, then we will walk in Godís purposes. Our heart will serve God with joy in total faith and obedience. Our outward actions will match our inward nature. Many try (will of man) and force the outside clean, through their strength (will of the flesh) or power (Jn 1:13). Only God can change the inside which will manifest on the outside. Then we will do that which is right in the sight of God with a perfect heart. This is where God desires to take us. This is where the Holy Spirit is leading. This is conforming to the image of Christ. What God told the children of Israel holds so true today: Deuteronomy 10:12-13, "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" Weíve got to cleave! The partial gospel says hear, receive and accept Jesus. The full gospel says apply, sacrifice and conform to Jesus. The partial gospel allows one to stay in the dark (Jn 3:19-20). The full gospel requires one to come into the glorious light (Jn 3:21). The partial gospel seeks a savior. The full gospel submits to a Lord. The partial gospel says believe (merely acknowledge the facts) and attend religious services. The full gospel says follow (living faith) twenty four hours a day. The partial gospel adds a religious observance to your established life. The full gospel will reveal your depravity and leave you humble and broken before the Lord Ė and then becomes your only life. Only when you truly see your need, can Christ be of value to you. New life in Christ is just that Ė the old is dead and gone; behold, all things become new!.
David was told by Gad (prophet) to go up to the threshing floor of Araunah and rear an altar and make a sacrifice to God (2 Sam 24:18). Araunah offered to give David the threshing floor, oxen and wood for the sacrifice, but David said he would not offer burnt offerings unto the Lord that cost him nothing and that he would pay full price (2 Sam 24:21-25, 1 Chr 21:24). 1 Chronicles 21:26, "And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering." Solomon would later build the temple for God on this threshing floor site (2 Chr 3:1). Many will seek to serve the Lord in a way that cost them nothing. Others will give less than their best. In the time of Malachi, Israel was offering sacrifices to God of blind, lame, torn and sick animals and polluted bread (Mal 1:7-8, 13). These offerings had become a clearinghouse for the unwanted rather than sacrifices of the best. Those who offered them did not even see the problem Ė they were doing things their way. How many today are oblivious to the sin in their lives rather than grieved by it? We must be like Able who brought the firstlings of his flock Ė the best (Gen 4:4)! So, will we serve God as long as it cost us nothing? Will we serve God with our less than best as we see fit? Will our sacrifices be blind (deception, without understanding), lame (form - without power or effort), torn (defeated), polluted (worldly), and sick (unacceptable)? God desires us to serve Him with a whole heart of love and total commitment His way and not our way (Ps 119:2).
Are you still self-seeking in your service to God? Are you looking for blessings, or do you have an intense love for God such that you want to see Him glorified starting with your own life with all necessary personal sacrifice? When we truly die to our will and seek only His, then we will know that we are on the correct path. God has always and consistently looked for hearts that seek Him and His purposes and this is emphasized throughout scripture. Jesus said, come follow me, and we now know how He walked and where He went. The path of the cross was never meant for the fleshly. It is rugged, uncomfortable and requires sacrifice. Man sought the things of the flesh in his rebellion against God. Man often seeks God through the flesh in his religions efforts. To be reconciled with God (only through Jesus), man must lose his desire for the fleshly rebellion and conform to Godís purposes. Can you see this in Christís earthly walk? Jesus performed the Fatherís will by speaking the Fatherís Words, working the Fatherís works. In doing all this, Jesus turned the religious world upside down Ė the same is true today. Jesus denied SELF by not pleasing himself, overcoming fleshly temptations, not seeking personal glory, not speaking His own words or relying on His knowledge. Jesus lived humbleness, not seeking worldly things, and by not defending himself (falsely accused, reviled, unfairly judged). Jesus loved God with a whole heart and was devoted to Him. He loved others and placed them above himself Ė even His enemies. Christ had a relationship with the Father (prayer, fasting, demonstrated walk). In order to accomplish all of this, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. Verily, Verily, I say, he that hath an ear let him hear Ė Jesus Christ is our example to follow. Psalm 143:10, "Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness." Christ came and told of the Father (Mt 11:27, Lk 10:22, Jn 1:18, 3:35, 5:19-20, 23-24, 30, 37, 7:28-29, 8:19, 27-29, 10:15, 32, 37-38, 12:49-50, 14:9-13, 31, 16:25-28, 17:21, 25). Jesus and the Father are one (Jn 10:30). Jesusí message (gospel) was observed by His example (His walk/life). How many received what He had to say (Jn 5:43)? John 3:32, "And what he hath seen and heard (of the Father), that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony." For whom the Father hath sent ye believed not (Jn 5:37-38). How many do today (religious or otherwise, Jn 5:39-40, 44)? John 5:25, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." These dead are those who have died to self (Mt 16:25, Mk 8:35, Lk 17:33), have been born again (Jn 3:3) and now see and hear (Mt 11:15, 13:9, 43, Mk 4:9, 12, 18, 20, 23, 33, 7:16, 37, 9:7, Lk 7:22, 8:8, 9:35, 10:24, 11:28, 14:35). Jesus said of His followers: Matthew 13:16, "But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear."
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