Jesus Preached the Gospel, and Then Some

jesus_teachingIn Mark 1 (also Matthew 4) Jesus began his public ministry. Before healing the sick or calling disciples, Jesus preached his first sermon:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, ESV)

Jesus preached the gospel. Gospel is one of those words we borrowed from Greek when translating the scriptures. It means good news. You can easily recognize Christians that share the gospel by one simple test: is what they are sharing good news? At the first opportunity, Jesus preached the Gospel. He did not preach a four part message series on having a happy marriage or managing a successful business. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, business, raising children and so forth. But those things are not of the most importance. Where Jesus spent the balance of his time and energy was on spreading the gospel. Continue reading

Worship Numbers

Jesus had many followers.  He often spoke to multitudes of people, and we have identified some members of those crowds previously.  Many came out to hear Jesus because they were curious.  His fame spread quickly in the early days of his ministry.  Some followed Jesus from town to town eager to hear and learn more.  Some of those “following” Jesus were not interesting in learning from him, but were seeking incriminating evidence with which to accuse him.  Among the throng of those listening were people that loved Jesus, hated Jesus, and various levels in between.

Jesus had many disciples (students) but from a large group he choose 12.  After the crowds went away – or Jesus escaped from them – he would offer explanation or answer questions in a more intimate setting.  Think of it as the difference between the church sanctuary and a small group.   Continue reading

Jesus Suffered: Hebrews Chp 2

I am preaching through the book of Hebrews, and expect to post on Hebrews many times in the weeks ahead.  While Hebrews looks a little like a letter (epistle) in many ways it is more like a sermon.  That makes it really easy to preach.

I recommend reading Hebrews 2.  When I preach this sermon, I read most of it as the text; it isn’t long.  The writer of Hebrews contends that Jesus tasted death for everyone, and that his suffering has made him the perfect founder of our salvation.  Because of it he is not ashamed to call us brothers. Continue reading

The Discovery of the Short Post

timeI was warned when I started blogging about writing posts that were too long.  Shorter posts stand a better chance of being read.  Well, I’ve recently been trying to get our youth involved in some online discussion on their Facebook page.  I tossed out what I hope will be conversation starters, and realize that I don’t have to say everything I know in order for a post to be good.  Here’s an example, titled Jesus Read the Bible and Prayed:

 

There are sometimes tough choices to make when deciding how a Christian should act or what one should do in certain circumstances. What’s easy to understand is that we should be imitating the things that Christ did.

We know from the New Testament that Jesus was frequently found in the temple and synagogue reading the Hebrew scrolls. He is the Word of God, and he also read the Word of God. Jesus also spent serious time in prayer. Not just reciting the Lord’s Prayer, but we might say Jesus was hardcore in his prayer time. He often got up well before sunrise to pray, and on occasion prayed all night ’till sunrise. In Gethsemane, he prayed until Luke says his sweat was like great drops of blood.

Sometimes we get the mistaken notion that the closer we get to God, the less we need to pray. The opposite seems to be true; you can’t get closer than Jesus.

Jesus’ Example: Love Your Enemies

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 

Those are the words of Jesus in Matt 5:44.  The entire sermon on the mount can be read in Matt 5-7, but let’s deal right now with just this one command.  Like everything Jesus taught, he not only gave the instruction but provided us with his example to follow.  Jesus loved his enemies.  Continue reading

Parable of the Sower (Fling the Gospel)

sowing_seedsIn Mark chp 4, one of the parables Jesus shares is the Parable of the Sower.  If you didn’t just click the link to Mark 4, it may be that you know this parable well.  I hope you either know this story already, or at least take the time to read it now.  After telling this particular parable, Jesus goes on to explain its meaning.  The seed is the gospel, and what happens illustrates many things that could happen to those who hear the gospel shared.  What I want to foucs on for a moment is exactly what Jesus meant by “went out to sow.” Continue reading

Jesus’ Example: Ministry

Jesus-healing-blindI have written many posts under the heading of Jesus’ Example.  So much of what Jesus did during his earthly ministry was to give us the examples to follow.  After washing the disciples feet, he actually told them it was an example and they were to do the same.  It was a dramatic demonstration of humility and service to one another.  We are commanded to imitate Christ by doing the things he did.  It should go without saying that must study his words and actions so that we can model our actions after his. Continue reading

Jesus’ Example: Knowing When to Shut Up

no talkingJesus certainly developed the reputation of knowing how to say exactly the right thing at the right time.  On many occasions the Pharisees tried to trap him with rhetoric, only to have Jesus make them look foolish instead.  His words could condemn with their harshness or heal with their gentleness, depending on what the situation called for.  We have all wished at one time or another that we could do that.  Yet Jesus also knew when it was appropriate to say nothing at all. Continue reading

Thoughts on Holy Week: Jesus’ Prayer from the Cross

jesus_crossIn his first sermon (Mark 1) Jesus offers a simple message: “Repent and believe the gospel.”  As he hangs on the cross some 3 years later, what is Jesus doing?  We have only a handful of words spoken by Jesus during the crucifixion, but there are some powerful lessons to be shared in them.

As he hangs on the cross, he was in between two thieves.  One of them mocked Jesus, but the other asked to be remembered by him.  Jesus replied that he would be with him in paradise.  Even while dying on the cross, Jesus won a convert!

But even more amazing: Jesus said the prayer of intercession for the very people crucifying him that day. Not just of the Roman soldiers, but for those really responsible, including the Jewish people, the priests and the Sanhedrin.  “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He prayed for the very people taking his life.  Taking the form of a servant is one thing.  Washing feet is another.  Praying for those that despitefully use you is another entirely.  But none of those compare to asking forgiveness for the very people that are nailing you to a cross, where you will slowly bleed and die.

Jesus, Sheep or Shepherd?

jesus_shepherdThe LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

The 23rd Psalm; a very familiar passage and perhaps the most quoted poetry from the Old Testament.  In John 10, Jesus explains that he is the good shepherd.  He is not a hireling, but loves the sheep, and would lay down his life for them.  He has been entrusted by the Father to care for the sheep.  And of course, we’re the sheep.

We’ve all seen pictures of Jesus holding a lamb.   But it’s more than a cute analogy.  Sheep must be cared for.  They have few natural defenses, and are very near sighted.  They need the shepherd.  We too are no match for the devil, often nearsighted (or blind), and desperately need the Good Shepherd.  Continue reading