…And the Holy Spirit

God manifests himself in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  It’s easy to recognize the Father and Son in many of our Christmas stories and traditions, but the Holy Spirit is sort of the missing character.  That’s just in our remembrance of the story; in the Biblical account, he is all over that story.

If we’re aware of the Holy Spirit in the Christmas narrative at all, it’s probably when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will conceive, Luke 1:35.  That’s just the first time Luke will mention the Spirit. Continue reading

Peter Confesses that Jesus is the Christ.

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”    -Mark 8:27-29

I want to unpack Peter’s statement here that Jesus is the Christ.  There are two questions we need to answer; 1) What does Peter mean by saying that Jesus is Christ, and 2) What does it mean to us that Jesus is the Christ. Continue reading

Who Does God Call?

In the first chapter of Mark (I happen to be leading a study of Mark) Jesus begins to call his first disciples.  Jesus had many followers, but from those he called out 12 to be his “inner circle” if you will.  In verses 16-20 he calls first Simon (Peter) and Andrew, then James and John.  All 4 of these men were fishermen.  This was not the most respected vocation in first century Israel.  Fishermen worked long hours, spent a lot of time away from home and family, and they, well to be honest, stank.  Fish stink, guys that spend a lot of time with them also stink.  It was hard work, and while you could make a living at it, a fisherman would never really “be somebody.” 

In Mark chp. 2 Jesus calls Levi (Matthew).  He was a tax collector.  He may have had more education than a fisherman, and would have definitely had more money.  Most were crooked however, so he still would not have had a lot of friends.  If he did, they were also crooks and/or tax collectors.  We don’t know as much about some of the other disciples.  Luke was not one of the 12, but he was obviously hanging around.  Remember that Jesus had other followers and students besides the 12.  If Luke was not following Jesus from place to place during his ministry, we know for sure that he was very much involved in the formation of the early church.  Luke was physician.  This was a guy that was not only educated, he would have been respected in the community.  So what am I getting at?

God calls all types of people into his service.  There is not a Christian type, but he invites all types to become Christian, then uses whatever they bring with them to the table to further his kingdom and spread the gospel.  In Luke 8, we find out that many women were not only following Jesus, but supporting his ministry financially.  Luke does not neglect to list some names for us.  And just to top off the list, one of the first miracles performed by Jesus was healing Simon’s mother-in-law (Mark 1).  There’s only one way to get a mother-in-law; it’s a small detail, but we learn that Simon was married.  God calls into his service the educated and the illiterate; the single and the married; men and women; those respected by the community and those disrespected.  God is not interested in our ability, but in our availability. 

One more thing: Go back to Exodus chp 3  and see what happens when God calls someone who is not interested.  After God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, Moses’ first response is “Who am I to go before Pharaoh?”  God answers he will be with him.  In chp 4 Moses questions if the people will believe God spoke to him.  Moses complains he is not a good speaker.  He finally comes right out and asks God to please send someone else.  By this time God is angry with Moses.  We are the body of Christ; he has already done the hard stuff.  We need to be willing to respond when he calls us.  And there is no one that he cannot use, no matter how many excuses we can come up with.  Let’s be the salt and the light people.