The joy of the gospel

The joy of the gospel

 

Luke 8: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.

 

V11-12 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”

 

But it’s a path! Seed won’t germinate on a path! If that is so obvious then the only reason why we risk seed landing there, is because we love the gospel so much. We love the message of Christ’s love.

Just speaking it is a joy in itself.

As a child I was in the Salvation Army and every Sunday we would be out doing an ‘open-air’. I haven’t seen one of these for years but the band and sometimes the songsters (the choir) would go on to the streets in the neighbourhood and we would gather in a circle and have a meeting outside. The band would play, there would be soloists and then the very important testimony and also a short sermon. There wasn’t a lot of results from those open-airs. That wasn’t the point. The reason was the gospel was going out. We were in love with the gospel and we loved the community so much that we needed to be there. As we scattered the seed some fell along the paths, the people hanging out of the windows of the block of flats, they heard the music and the testimony, but then they closed their windows and went back to their lives till next Sunday, no change, just entertainment.

When I moved from the Army into the Elim Church it was quite a culture shock in many ways but they shared the love for the gospel. This involved street evangelism, not quite the open-air of the Army, we had sketch-boards and flannel graphs, we didn’t have brass instruments but we did have guitars and drums and we did have testimonies. We also had the Gospel service on a Sunday evening. Everyone had a Gospel service at that time. It was great. It was all about scattering the seed. Testimonies, songs, dramas, engaging gospel sermons, I remember my father would often take some story from the newspaper, he would even bring it into the pulpit, the bible and the Daily Mail and would thread it together into a gospel message. Perfect! All we had to do was to get people into the church service to experience this. That’s where we began to hit a difficulty. Churches began to struggle and realised that the Gospel services were not working because they were just ‘preaching to the converted’ so they were stopped and everyone had family time on Sunday evenings because that’s what God wants.

Sunday mornings became crucially important for teaching because it was the only service when the Church were together. Street evangelism became rare as licences were needed to be on the street and lives became really busy anyway. The result was that the gospel message, the seed, stopped being seen as much. The Church became uneducated to the gospel and lost their first love for the gospel and a generation went by who had not only led anyone to Christ but had not given a gospel presentation to anyone. The seed had stopped being scattered.

When the seed stops being scattered joy soon leaves. The Churches that are struggling with political infighting the most, the Churches that are declining the most are the ones who are not scattering the seed. Yesterday a leader was sharing with me how his friend who Pastors a church recently told him that only 1% of his 70 size church were true disciples. Seems a bit low to me! What I do know is the key to discipleship is gospel sharing, it is mission, it is the scattering of the seed, the Word of God.

This week I was asked what I thought a Pentecostal was. Tomorrow is Pentecost and what a great day to celebrate! A Pentecostal is a disciple who is saturated by the Spirit of Got to be empowered to share the gospel to the lost people of this world.

We need to fall in love with the gospel of Jesus Christ again. First love preaching. First love testimonies. We need our first love back. We need the joy of the gospel. Fall on us Spirit of God!

Let’s just scatter …

Let’s just scatter …

Luke 8: 4-5 “While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:  “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed …”

The crowd that came with Jesus containing the 12 apostles, the women who had transformation testimonies and many other disciples arrived into town. The numbers were increasing as word got out that a miracle worker, a teacher, a rabbi called Jesus had arrived. People from neighbouring towns were arriving, this is now becoming a large crowd of people. They were wanting to know what Jesus was doing, what he would do, had they missed something, ‘we got here as quick as we could!’

Jesus teaches a parable.

Nothing unusual. Even today, we tell stories, some that are part of our lives, some historical, some crafted just for the occasion.

Perhaps Jesus tells this parable because it shows what he had been doing. Luke had written, “Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.”

“So do you know what I have been doing? Do you want to know what I am doing here right now?”

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed …”

“Oh we see, you’re scattering seed Jesus. Yes we get it!”

Maybe in 2019 we need to get this also.

We have become so used to mechanically sowing, carefully not wanting to waste anything, wondering what would happen if the gospel is rejected. We must go on courses first, we must know what we are going to do and we must become better at sowing. We have so many frightening stories of the random no–thought gospel approach. We need to plan. We need to strategise now. There are questions to ask. We need to be careful not to upset or offend. If we take the gospel into a place where it has already been heard then that’s a waste of time. If we plant a church and there’s a church already there in that town again what a waste! So let’s take time, don’t rush, we need answers to these questions before we go. So we don’t go. We don’t sow. And people are starving because there is no food. I get it if what we are doing is setting up Bible study groups or worship centres. But I am talking about the gospel.

  • I believe in training. I believe in courses. I believe in equipping. I do.

But maybe we should just encourage more scattering. It sounds a whole lot more fun! Just throw it out. Go everywhere. Find lots of ways to share the gospel. Mobilise the church. Get out there. Set up new things for the gospel sharing. Make everything about scattering the seed of the gospel. There will be waste, we won’t get the results that match the effort of the scattering, but maybe that isn’t the point. Maybe the point is to scatter. Maybe the Church needs to be mobilised more. Maybe we need to create movement again. Maybe we need a Pentecost!

You are on Jesus team, so let’s go!

You are on Jesus team, so let’s go!

Luke 8: 1-3

After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Yesterday we were imagining Jesus visiting our town or village. But can you also imagine being a member of the crowd that came with Jesus? Sometimes it is referred to as a large crowd as when Jesus entered the town of Nain (7:11), here Luke writes ‘many others’.

In the crowd were of course the Twelve apostles. The chosen ones, appointed to be sent into all the world. They constantly heard the parables being taught, day after day, often the same messages, so much so that they could repeat them verbatim. They could even teach them the way Jesus taught them they had heard them that often. The lessons of the teaching of the kingdom went deep into their soul. They knew the way Jesus spoke. They saw how he lived. They watched him pray, eat and sleep. They could recognise his laugh, his voice when he sang and his favourite Scriptures. They saw many healings, in fact every disease they could think of they saw healed. They saw that many that they knew nothing was impossible for Jesus.

In the crowd were many others, all at different levels of faith perhaps, disciples who were following, learning as they went. Others perhaps just tagging along, looking for excitement, they would soon disappear when Jesus spoke some tough teaching, but for now they are there.

Jesus made sure he took with him certain people. Woman who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.

Women like Mary who they simply called Magdalene, probably her nickname given by Jesus because she came from Magdala. Can you imagine being given a nickname and that being your home town or county? I was born in Norwich and in that county you are called a Norfolk Dumpling! Or if you’re from Birmingham, Jesus would simply call you Brummie!

Mary came from Magdala, now modern day Migdal but she had been a deeply troubled woman. There is no mention of a husband, so perhaps she is unmarried or a widow. But can you imagine seven different life-controlling, oppressing demons that were owning this woman’s life? Now imagine her testimony of what Jesus had done for her! She was definitely an asset for the gospel trips!

“What Jesus has done for me he can do for you.”

Women like Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household. Here is a woman who was also healed or delivered, we are not told. But a woman from perhaps a completely different privilege. Chuza, her husband, most probably a man of intelligence and ability because of his position as manager of Herod Tetrachs household.

Women like Susanna. Again someone who had been transformed by Jesus. It must have been very shocking at that time to see women being given such prominent positions in the team, to be part of the disciples, to be on mission with Jesus. Luke places this detail immediately after the incident between Jesus and a woman known as a sinful person in Simon the Pharisees house, where he misjudged badly the pure encounter that Jesus had with the woman.

Luke says that these women were the financial backers of Jesus’ mission. We don’t know how much it cost for this evangelistic team to travel around the nation with the gospel. The need for food, clothing, accommodation, there were constant bills needing to be paid. These women continually gave and provided for Jesus. They had access to money and they made sure the mission continued. Perhaps we need to make sure we have on our gospel teams the financial supporters that are necessary to keep going. If you are one of these people, you need to see your role as important as the Twelve. So important that actually you will remain so close to Jesus that you are there at his greatest need, the foot of the cross (John 19:11) and the greatest experience of power, his resurrection (Luke 24:10).

Can you imagine being part of the Jesus team? Can you imagine travelling from city, town and village? Can you imagine learning from Jesus every day and seeing wonderful things he was doing? Can you imagine carrying a testimony of the work of grace in your life? Can you imagine getting the opportunity to tell people about what Jesus has done for you? Can you imagine it? Yes you can! Today is another day of gospel work. Let’s go!

 

Keep on moving, keep on speaking, keep on changing lives.

Keep on moving, keep on speaking, keep on changing lives.

Luke 8: 1 “After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.”

“He continued according to plan, travelled to town after town, village after village, preaching God’s kingdom, spreading the Message.” (The Message)

 

Jesus was on the move. Every day he was up and about. Constantly travelling. He wasn’t spending months in one place and then moving on to another place. No, Luke is describing what seems to be a plan to visit as many places as possible.

Can you imagine being a resident in a town or a villager and you are going about your normal business and then suddenly Jesus with his entourage turn up?

This place where you live has been dull for too long! It is about time something exciting happened. Exciting it was!

Jesus preached. It wasn’t about how bad the Romans were. It wasn’t stirring people up to revolt and to take action against authorities. It was good news. It was positive preaching. The focus? That God’s kingdom is not like the kingdom of this earth, it is so much better than that. More importantly God’s kingdom has come, it is here, amongst them. It was here for those who are poor (Luke 6:20); it is for those who will be determined to follow (9:62); it is influential though looks small (13:18-19); not everyone will enter this kingdom (13:28) and yet it is open for everyone (13:29); it will cost the individual who enters it (14:33); and it begins within a person’s life (17:21) as they receive the kingdom like a child would (18:17); this kingdom is here now but it is also coming soon (21:31).

Accompanying this preaching and in order to demonstrating the kingdom many miracles were done. Cripples were healed, the blind could see, the deaf could hear, the landscape was beginning to change across a whole region of this nation. Jesus had come. He was here now.

Can you imagine this for your city, town or village? Isn’t it time to wake our nation up? Okay perhaps too grandiose! Let’s keep it small. Isn’t it time to impact the home you live in, the street you walk on, the places you go today? Our message:

  1. Jesus rules all things, is above all things, Lord over all things, Sovereign over all things.
  2. Jesus rescues people from the destruction of sin that is outside of them and even within them and disempowers the fear of death.
  3. Jesus is here but he is also coming soon to establish a new heaven and new earth and make all things new.
  4. Jesus’ kingship is seen in his crucifixion and the laying down of his life, this is the surrendered life he calls us all to follow.
  5. Jesus’ kingship is proven by his resurrection of which the same power that raised him is the power that is in us, the Church.

The same message passed down the generations is as powerful today as when it was first given.

Let us not be moved, swayed or distracted from this message. Nothing else matters than the gospel. But let us be moved by its importance. Let us move today and keep moving. Let us cover as much ground as we can. Everyone needs to hear. The plan is to scatter this message liberally, almost wastefully, to everyone. I think there’s a parable about that coming up soon!

Jesus covered as much ground as he could. Not everyone received him with open arms but he kept moving. The Church needs to move across the nations of the world, to find ways to reach, to make an impact, to influence.

Last night I received this from a friend in a Muslim controlled nation which is regularly on the news for its persecution against churches:

“It was Ramadan celebration today across the Muslim world, marking the end of the fast. Praise God we had in our village church over 70 heads of families (households) all Muslims who came to us for the lunch and stayed on for fellowship and chats for nearly 3 hours. We praise God for this bridge building opportunity we have every year and despite the current security concerns. Please pray for us for wisdom and to understand (in being good stewards) of the times as the sons of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32. Please pray indeed for hearts to repent and reconcile to God. Please also celebrate and praise God for we have currently at least 2 or 3 baptised believers from each of these households. Thank you for praying.”

 

They are moving. They are preaching the good news of the kingdom. Let us keep on doing what we all can do today.

 

The sin of not being thankful

The sin of not being thankful

Luke 7: 36-50

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them …

 

Jesus was invited to a Pharisee’s house

There was no greeting kiss – a polite customary acknowledgment.

There was no washing feet – which was mandatory before a meal

There was no olive oil – for a refreshing welcome

This was intentional offence, there was no appreciation, no thanks for coming, it created an immediate tension.

In this public meal where anyone was free to come and watch, there is a woman who has somehow been taken into prostitution. That day she had met Jesus and heard his teaching. She had heard that God loved her. This message so impacted her life that when she heard Jesus would be at this evening dinner she just had to be there no matter what people thought.

She watches how Jesus is treated, no thanks, no appreciation, no gratitude and she runs. She kisses his feet and looks up and sees eyes that do not condemn and she cries her tears and they fall on his feet, she lets down her hair and wipes them. She has an alabaster jar full of perfume, maybe it was what she used for her trade. She pours perfume on his feet.

Simon the Pharisee stands aghast with total unbelief that Jesus cannot see that this is a sinful woman.

Jesus tells a simple story and the message is simple:

The one who is forgiven much loves much.

The one who is forgiven little loves little.

There is a forgotten sin. The sin of not being thankful.

Lips that will not kiss.

Knees that will not bend.

Eyes that will not weep.

Hands that will not serve.

Perfume that will never leave the jar.

Who is Jesus likely to offend the most?

Who is Jesus likely to offend the most?

Luke7: 36-50

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

 

In the 1st century, Judaism was not a state religion. In fact there were many traditional groups and new emerging sects coming through. The main ones were:

The Essenes – most well-known were the Jews of Qumran of the Dead Sea Scrolls, who were concerned for purity, they believed they alone possessed the truth.

The Pharisees – the most meticulous observers of the Torah law.

The Sadducees – No less pious than Pharisees but opponents of them.

The Revolutionaries – most famous of them was the Zealots who turned religious interpretations into a political agenda against the Roman Empire.

The largest of groups was the plain Jew – they observed the Sabbath, the holidays, the festivals, did pilgrimage to the temple, kept the food laws, the rituals, lived holy lives, followed the laws of Torah.

It was into this diverse but very religious society that Jesus was born, educated, worked and did ministry. As he grew up in this society he became aware of groups of people who were increasingly being marginalised, left behind and discarded because no one knew really what to do with them.

They were outcasts. This passage speaks of one of them. Here she comes, a woman, if that wasn’t bad enough, a woman of ill repute.

Surely Jesus will feel uncomfortable? Maybe he will dismiss her, ask her to leave this very special fellowship we are having. Perhaps Jesus will look to Simon for help. Surely he will not talk to her or interact with her. That would be shameful, sinful and wrong. Let’s see what happens. Let’s sit back with Simon and watch what Jesus says about this outcast.

Here comes Jesus and this is what he says and does and it isn’t easy reading:

  • Outcasts are people. V44 “Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon.” He doesn’t look at Simon but at the woman. Jesus is forcing Simon to look at the woman, to see what he sees. But Simon doesn’t see a person, he sees an object, there are no kind words in his mind for this woman.
  • Outcasts can become better lovers of God, v44f “you did not, she did” is repeated 3 times. Jesus was saying, “The brokenness of her life due to sin has brought about greater expression of love to me”
  • To reach the outcast you have to tread on deep-seated protocol. The protocol that says you don’t speak to your enemy. The protocol that says you don’t speak to a woman. One Jewish rabbinical writing says “One should not talk with a woman on the street, not even with his own wife, and certainly not with somebody else’s wife, because of the gossip of men.” The protocol that says you don’t socialise with a sinner never mind one that is obviously a prostitute.

 

In this fast emerging culture, new outcasts are being born, new sinners, we are in a world which our grandparents would surely not recognise. Where there is a rise of sin there is a rise of offence. The desire for purity is as strong as it has ever been. It is so difficult to be pure with so many new sinners rising up. The same historical option is still there to be used. That of withdrawal from the sinner. To make them outcasts. To be set apart from such people. Conversing with them, never mind showing any sort of love or eating with them is likely to have you sentenced on social media. So the option is to stay away. Let the outcasts do what they do and we will do what we do.

The outcasts come together and do their outcast life.

The Church gathers together and does their life together.

The Church asks God that He change the outcasts so that they can join the Church and be in the family.

The outcasts have no intention of changing because if they did they would have to join the Church.

The Church continues to pursue Jesus. They search and cry out, ‘where are you Jesus?!’ They fast and pray, they preach and declare, ‘God is coming!’ But often He is not found. He is not in the songs we sing, the prayers we pray and the empty fasts.

I wonder where He is?

There’s no pleasing some people

There’s no pleasing some people

Luke 7: 31-35

Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ 35 But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

 

There’s no pleasing people is there?

Some people get what they want and then when they have what they wanted they don’t like what they have been given.

Some people criticise last week’s sermon because it was too heavy and today they will go home and criticise it for being too light.

Jesus had the same problem!

John the Baptist, the ascetic, coming out of the wilderness with his message of repentance and turning from sin, but they didn’t like it. He sang a dirge, but they did not cry. They did not respond to this message. This was not what they wanted.

Jesus came and the first miracle he does is turning water into wine at a wedding. He loves a party! He welcomes sinners. He eats with tax-collectors. He played dance music, but they didn’t dance.

The Pharisees are like the children who sit there who cannot be pleased.

They are fault-finders.

They don’t realise that wisdom is in taking the dirge and the dance as a whole. Both are needed. Both should be accepted. Stop being opinionated.

 

They got it wrong. They still do.

They got it wrong. They still do.

Luke 7: 24-29 “After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 25 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. 26 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

 

You got it wrong.

  1. About John:
  • Jesus applauds his cousin and raises him up before the people.
  • He was not someone following the latest fad, speaking the latest teaching, regurgitating what others are saying.
  • He was not some lavish, wealthy, super rabbi!
  • He was more than you thought he was when you met him.
  • He was the Messenger that the prophets Isaiah and Malachi spoke of.
  • He was not part of the new day, this new kingdom and so is not as great as you may think he is. You got it wrong.

 

  1. About Jesus:
  • I am who the Messenger introduced and prepared the way for.
  • I am who was prophesied by the prophets.
  • I have brought the new kingdom of God that you have for generations longed for.
  • This new kingdom is not what you were expecting. It is an upside down kingdom. So the least of it is greater than the one who heralded it. We touch the lepers and the unclean and make them well. We have parties with those who are barred from the synagogues of worship. We eat and work on the Sabbath. You got it wrong.

 

  1. Regarding your own life
  • Jesus was saying, “God had a purpose for your life but your rejection of John and ultimately of me has meant you rejected that purpose.”
  • You rejected your purpose but you held on to your pride. You resisted John’s baptism for repentance because there was no need in your life to do so.
  • Those you counted as sinners, like the tax collectors, are further on than you, because they accepted what you turned down. You got it wrong.

 

They got it wrong about John the Baptist, they got it wrong about Jesus and then got it wrong regarding their own life.

The religious got it wrong.

Those on the outside who look good, got it wrong.

Those who regularly worship the Creator God and the coming Messiah, got it wrong.

Those who are nearest to the kingdom of God, got it wrong.

AND those who you least expect, got it right. They still do.

Deal with the doubts

Deal with the doubts

Luke 7:18-23

John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them,19  he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 20 When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’” 21 At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. 22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 23 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

 

Don’t be disappointed in John the Baptist.

He is stuck in a prison cell, forgotten, his only future is death. One thing plagued him in the darkness and loneliness. Had he got it wrong? There was no mistaking at the time the revelation he had of Jesus at the Jordan river. This was who he had become the messenger for. But now, here, trapped. He doesn’t want to die in vain. Did he point out the right Messiah? After all there had been so many false ones.

John begins to doubt and those doubts play havoc in his mind.

When we are trapped doubts come.

When there is no visitation from heaven to our prison cell, the nights are long and the days become night.

So John sends his disciples for proof. He just needs to know Jesus is the One. Even if he never gets out of the prison, even if he dies, he needs to know it has all been worth it.

Jesus’ response is amazingly compassionate and kind. Truly!

  • He gave John’s disciples first-hand experience of the miracles he was doing and his teaching. They saw and they heard. They were there. When they returned to John that prison cell came alive with testimony. Light shone in the darkness. There are times when we all need to hear of a miracle. We all need to hear a transformational story. That Jesus saves.
  • He quoted Isaiah, especially chapters 29, 35 and 61: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. But how amazing that he stops short and doesn’t say also: to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. John knew Isaiah’s prophecies about what the Messiah would do. The startling omission is an obvious message to John. Will you still believe even if I leave you in prison? If I don’t do what you expect me to do, is that okay with you?
  • He blessed John with the instruction to remain strong. Don’t stumble at this point. Hold on John, your blessing is coming. We too receive this message. Wherever we are, even if we are trapped, let the light of Jesus penetrate the cell you are in. He is the One. There is no other. Don’t let go of the truth. Blessing is coming. It is yours.

 

The miracle in a  town called LOVELY

The miracle in a  town called LOVELY

Luke 7: 11-17

11 Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” 14 Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”17 This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

 

Two large crowds. Going in opposite directions they merge together at the entrance to the town.

Two only sons. The only son of a widow of that town and Jesus, the only Son of God and the son of widow Mary.

Jesus does not let the important get lost in a crowd. He finds the heart of suffering. He comes for the broken-hearted. He specialises in the impossible. He does the unthinkable.

Jesus touched the frame that the coffin was being carried on, it is called the bier. He made the funeral procession stop, the bearers stood still. It was just a moment of hope perhaps, a moment that his disciples could maybe now have the faith for, (they had seen Jesus heal a centurion’s servant who was on his death-bed and Jesus wasn’t even there, they had never seen him do such a miracle but surely he could do this?!) a moment of silence.

There are times we have to stop everything and change the sound. The train of inevitability needs to stand still. The sound of heaven is more important than the sound of earth. Miracles don’t happen without the right sound.

Here are some questions that didn’t get asked: “How old is the young man? What did he die of? How did his father die? Who is going to provide for the mother now?”

We have a tendency to need to know everything before we do anything. It is as if information is necessary for us to be able to pray properly. It isn’t.

All we need to know is what cannot be done. What could the young man not do? That’s what Jesus declared over him with the same authority he had when the centurion’s servant was healed from a distance and the same authority that he has given to us! The authority to make happen what cannot happen.

All this happened because Jesus took interest in those heading in the opposite direction to him. This crowd turned around and went where Jesus was going, back into their town.

Nain came alive because God had come, He had visited them. May our cities, towns and homes come alive also with awe and wonder of a God who still visits. Jesus is here.