Manna for Today

 

Following After Christ (Luke 9:23-27)

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:23-27)
Learn it:

            Jesus just told his disciples that he is going to be killed and now he is telling them that they have to pick up their own cross.  This would have been hard for the disciples to process.  Back then, if someone was carrying a cross it means they have been convicted of a criminal act and they are on their way to die a gruesome death.  This is the mental image that Christ his disciples to do to their own desires if they truly want to follow him.

            Jesus is wanting them to understand the importance of eternity.  His ways are better than the ways of the world.  If we want to “save” our souls for eternity, we must follow the ways Jesus has taught us.  He also gives the implications of what will happen when we stand before God.  If we are ashamed of Him and His teachings, He will be ashamed of us.  It’s a hard thing to hear.  It is a matter of life and death for us to be pursuing the things God has command and things that bring glory to his name. 

Live it:

            The big question we have to answer from this passage is, what does it look like to lose our life for Christ?  Jesus commands us to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses.  These are some vague ideas!  Let’s start with the first one to deny ourselves.  We have to deny oneself we have to put the interests of others above our own.  For a neighbor, it means how can we serve them and show an interest in their life.  For a spouse, it means not just asking what can be done for you, but considering how one can be of help to his or her partner.  For God, it is not just about getting stuff from him, but spending time with him so he can guide you in his life. 

 

            Then to pick up our crosses mean we must be about the business of the Kingdom of God.  The world needs to know we are on a mission and we have been found guilty of being a follower of Jesus Christ.  It is not an easy calling, but we have a Savior that modeled it perfectly and we are called to follow in his ways.  Do your friends and co-workers know about your faith?  Are you picking up your cross daily?  


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Who Do You Say Jesus Is?  (Luke 9:18-22)

 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

19 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.”

20 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”  (Luke 9:18-22)

Learn it:

            This passage is a turning point for the disciples.  Jesus is wanting to see how they are understanding his teachings.  Luke gave us a glimpse in Luke 9:7-9 as to what people were saying about who he is.  Jesus begins his questions by asking them who the crowds say he is.  They repeat what was said early, that he is John the Baptist or the reincarnation of an old prophet.  They were basically saying that Jesus was some other prophet. 

            Then Jesus turns the question on them and asks them, “Who do you say I am?”  This is an important message and wonder if there was a pause after the question.   Where the disciples looked at one another thinking, “who’s going to answer this question?”  Peter speaks first and correctly answers says, “The Christ of God.”  Remember “the Christ” also means “the Messiah”.  Peter understood the Jesus was the promised one of God that came to save Israel. 

            Jesus then tells them to keep it silent because they do not understand what his plans are.  They still believe that he is going to destroy their earthly enemies and he is going to be the King of Israel.  He explains to them that he is going to suffer and be killed.  This is some news that they are going to have to hear multiple times because they do not comprehend what is about to happen.  This is why Jesus wants them not to tell others who he is because he does not want false information to be spread. 

Live it:

            To be a true follower of Jesus we all have to answer the question, “who do you say Jesus is?”  Is he a prophet, teacher, or the Son of God?  This is a question many people in our culture today are arguing about.  Many people just want to say he is a good teacher that had good morals.  Yet, we can see in Scripture that is not who he, or his disciples, understood him to be.  This is one of those places that we can clearly see he is the Son of God, the Messiah, the promised one. 

 

            Because of who he is, he had to live a life that had suffering in it.  It is something that he told his disciples that they would have to experience as well.  We must understand that in our life, even if we are following Christ and we feel like we are doing well, we are going to face some hard times.  Jesus does not promise us a life of constant blessings if we are obedient to him.  Jesus led a perfect life and it cost him his life.  Why do we think we deserve something better?  Yes, Jesus wants to bless us but sometimes those blessings are more heartache.  It should point us to fall more on the strength and love of Jesus Christ.  


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Jesus Provides the Supplies for Ministry (Luke 9:10-17)

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

12 Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

13 He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” 14 (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. 16 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. 17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  (Luke 9:10-17)

Learn it:

            Jesus is in the process of mentoring the disciples in doing the work of building the kingdom of God.  He sent them out and now they have come back.  They were looking for a time of solitude, but crowds of people were able to find them.  Jesus took seized the moment and used it to teach about the kingdom and heal people.  Those two are always seen together, teaching and compassion!  As the day was going on the disciples were thinking people need to leave so they can get food.  This is good, logical thinking to take care of the people.  Jesus had other plans. 

            Jesus asked how much food they had, and it was not even close to meet the needs of the 5,000 plus crowds.  It would barely meet the needs of Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus showed the disciples that through his power they can do miraculous things.  He would provide what they needed.  We should not always think of the most logical thing but trust Jesus to move in amazing ways.

Live it:

            When we do ministry, we often want to do it using the resources Jesus has given us.  While there is a lot to commend about doing that like being good stewards it also can limit the power of Jesus.  If the disciples did that, then they would have told the crowds to leave and they would have missed out on a miracle and an opportunity for relationships to develop.  I’m not saying we should be reckless but sometimes we need to dream big and listen to what the Holy Spirit might be telling us to do. 

 

            Sometimes in our lives, we think we do not have enough time to go visit someone in the hospital, or we are too exhausted to lend an ear to a hurting friend.  If we feel the Holy Spirit leading us to go do something, you will be amazed at how much time or energy you really have.  If we focus on the mission Jesus gave us, he will provide for us what we need, and he will do it abundantly.  We have to be willing to rely on him.  How can you take a step of faith and do something that might seem a little crazy for Jesus?  Step out of your comfort zone and see how Jesus will be right by your side.  


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Evangelize in Word and Action (Luke 9:1-9)

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5 If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.” 6 So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, 8 others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. 9 But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.  (Luke 9:1-9)

Learn it:

            Jesus’ ministry is beginning to expand.  He has been modeling for his disciples the most effective way of spreading the news of the kingdom of God.  There are two aspects that compliment each other.  The first way is to inform people of the coming of the kingdom of God through the teachings of Jesus Christ.  The second thing to do is to show compassion on people by driving out demons and healing people.  These are the two main things the disciples are told to do in ministry. 

            Jesus also gave them some guidelines on how they should sustain themselves and live.  They are to take the basic necessities and trust that God would provide for their needs through the generosity of others.  They are also told not to go begging people for money and food.  This is how other religious leaders would make their living.  They would go door to door asking people for money.  Jesus’ disciples are to act differently. 

            This passage ends with the news of Jesus reaching King Herod.  He is interested in who Jesus is and he wants to see what Jesus is all about.  If someone is out in his kingdom healing people and wants to see it.  Again, he is confused about who Jesus is.  Is he John the Baptist whom he beheaded?  Is he a prophet?  Is he Elijah back from the dead?  There is confusion but we see that news of Jesus is beginning to spread to all areas of culture. 

Live it:

            What does this mean for the Church today?  It helps shape how we should be ministering to the world around us.  We need to be sharing the gospel and showing compassion.  While the gospel is powerful and can change lives on its own.  Its effectiveness can be greatly enhanced if the person sharing it, also lives a life of mercy and love.  If people only talk about the life changing power of the gospel but they never show it, then is that life change really real? 

            If people know a church is out in the community helping people and serving, they are going to be more receptive to the gospel and willing to listen.  Unbelievers will see that the gospel is real, and it affects the world right now.  They do not have to wait for eternity to experience God’s love.  God is going to move in their life now and have an immediate impact.  We are called to build the kingdom of God here and now.  How are you living out the gospel in word and deed?  Can you share the gospel with someone not only with your words but through your actions?  Maybe you’re great at serving, can you walk someone through committing their lives to Jesus Christ? 


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Pastor’s Corner