Week 41 Devotion
This week we work our way deeper into the New Testament gospel and one of the biggest questions that the gospel writers are trying to answer for us is this, “Who is Jesus?” Having read through all of Scripture up to this point it is clear to see that this man stands out from all those who have come before him. In just a few chapters, Jesus has far surpassed Elijah and Elisha in terms of the sheer number of miracles that he has performed and the scope of his power has far outpaced all the prophets.
Jesus is also a man who speaks with a type of authority that has never been seen. The people marvel at the fact that he speaks with great wisdom but also the fact that he doesn’t quote sources like the other religious leaders do. Jesus speaks off the cuff if you will, and what he says is incredible.
But there is something else about him, he knows what is in the heart of men. He knows what men are thinking and he calls them out in front of everyone. He talks about forgiving sin like he is God and he has no problem whatsoever in calling out the religious leaders of the day to point out their hypocrisy and their flawed theology.
This man is unique and compelling but the question is, “Who is He?”
Something to meditate on from John 5…
So far in John’s gospel, we have read about Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and the woman at the well who was a Samaritan. Here in John 5, we see Jesus interacting with a crippled man in Jerusalem. The man is sitting by a particular pool that is known to have healing power. Jesus walks in and sees a man lying by the pool so he asks him, “Do you want to be healed?”
The obvious answer is yes but the problem is the man needs help to get into the water. Jesus says to him, “get up, take up your bed and walk. And at once the man was healed…” Jesus doesn’t need a prop to help him. He doesn’t need a magic formula to aid him in his healing work. His power to heal comes from within, from his very nature.
As the story continues, we see a group of Jewish men who know the once crippled man and when they ask him what happened he points them to Jesus. But there is a problem, Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath and even told the man to take up his bed and walk home, which would have been a violation of their strict Sabbath rules. So the Jews ask, “Who is this man who said to you take up your bed and walk.”
As you read through each of the four gospels, especially toward the beginning of them, pay attention to how many times you see that question being asked, “Who is this man?” It is a key theme and it is one of the most important questions that any man can ever ask. Who is Jesus?
He has a mysterious heritage but there is clear Biblical evidence letting us know that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He had a rather normal upbringing, it appears, but even as a 12-year-old boy in the Luke 2, He possessed amazing knowledge of God and had a unique relationship with God the Father. He possessed power, the kind of power that no one had ever seen nor heard of from the prophets of old. He spoke with authority as if His very words were directly from God.
Who is this man, whom they call Jesus Christ? Next week we will see this theme and this question come up again but this time it will be Jesus asking the question to His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” But until next week let’s be thinking about who Jesus is based on what where He has come from, what He is doing, and how He is doing it.
Something to discuss from Matthew…
We are going to spend a lot of time in Matthew this week reading 6 chapters. The majority of what we’ll read comes from the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7. This sermon is incredibly important because it is the first major public address of Jesus and because it is a detailed announcement concerning the Kingdom of God.
In it, Jesus tells us what the Kingdom is like and what it’s citizens are like. He tells us the characteristics of His kingdom and we come to realize that they are completely backward in comparison to the kingdom of this world. He makes it clear in this sermon that He has no intentions of setting aside the law of God but rather He will fulfill it, whatever that means.
We are going through this sermon in detail on Sunday mornings and you can follow along on our other church podcast (Cornerstone Wylie Sermons) or you can go the resource page on our website at cornerstonewylie.org.
Moving on from the Sermon on the Mount we get a slew of stories related to Jesus healing various people. In chapters 8-10 He has 9 different encounters where He brings healing, calms the sea, raises a dead girl, cast demons out of two men; and all of these are intended to show us that Jesus hasn’t simply come to announce the Kingdom but He has come to bring the Kingdom into people’s lives.
When we talk about the Kingdom of God we tend to talk about it as being already present but not yet fully consummated. Much of that comes from our understanding of what Jesus is doing in the gospels. He brought the Kingdom to earth and He imparted its power into the lives of people. Even today we who believe are part of the kingdom of God and we can work to make the Kingdom known in the world. But we know that there is still more to come.
There is a day in the future when the Kingdom will come in its fullness when it will be fully and eternally established. But for now, we live with the tension of the kingdom as having “already” come but “not yet” complete. So this week as you are reading make sure to think about how Jesus’ words and works display the power of His Kingdom and discuss with others what life will be like when He brings the Kingdom to its fullness.
Something to pray about…
When we look at the life of Jesus it becomes clear what he valued the most because that is what he spent his time doing. Jesus valued the Truth. His life was spent in preaching, teaching, arguing, illustrating and bearing witness to the Truth of how God created the universe to be. Jesus died to vindicate the Truth of God’s Word and to fulfill God’s promise of redemption. Jesus shows us with his life the value of God’s Truth.
Jesus valued people. If Jesus wasn’t teaching people or sharing the Truth with them, he was healing them, feeding them, casting off their afflictions and caring for them. He was full of compassion and even the instances where we see him confronting others it has to do with the fact that their teaching is corrupted and burdensome to the average man.
Jesus valued both the spiritual condition of man and his physical condition as well. But there are times when it seems that Jesus values something even more than people. We often see him pull away from preaching and teaching, we see him pull away from healing and caring for people so that he can get alone and pray.
Jesus valued prayer. One of the major themes in the gospels is the consistent prayer life of Jesus. Prayer is mentioned dozens of times in the gospels you can put these occurrences into three categories: Jesus Teaching on prayer, Jesus Commanding His disciples to pray, or Jesus is modeling prayer as an Example for us to follow.
No matter where He was and no matter what He was doing, He seems constantly to be longing for communion with the Father. When he is in the wilderness preparing for His showdown with Satan Jesus is fasting and praying. When his time for ministry came and news about Him was spreading he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. On the eve of his sermon on the mount, he spent all night praying. Before the transfiguration, he was praying. On the night when he was betrayed he was praying. Even on the cross, Jesus is praying when he lifts up his eyes and says, “Father forgive them…”
What we see throughout the life of Jesus is that He was a man who has no problem dropping everything to pray. He has no problem losing sleep so that he can stay awake and pray. In fact, he often just wanders off into the wilderness so that he can spend time with the Father in prayer. Prayer is one of the unshakable rhythms of Jesus life and for us, his followers/disciples, we are to follow him living like he lived, valuing what he valued and doing life like he did.
Take time this week to read about Jesus teaching in Luke 11 on prayer and then go and follow His instruction by praying? Praise Him for who He is and what He has done. Confess your sin and your need of His grace. Thank Him for his mercy and His blessings. Make know to Him your needs, your fears, your longings, and trust that He sees hears, knows, and desires to care for His children.
Start today and begin to develop prayer as a consistent rhythm in your life.