THE CASE OF A MAN NAMED LEGION | Mark 5:1-20

images-3This text sits in the middle of several hopeless situations. Just prior to the events we just read, Jesus and His disciples were sailing the Sea of Galilee when a tremendous storm overwhelmed their boat. The disciples were certain that they were going to die, Mark 4:38. Those men were seasoned fishermen, but they were helpless to solve their problem. In their minds, they were in a hopeless situation. While that storm far exceeded their own abilities, it posed no problem for the Master of the Sea. He calmed the storm and He calmed His men.

In this chapter, Jesus moves into a new set of impossible situations. He encounters a man possessed by thousands of demons. This poor, demon possessed man is in a desperate situation, he is unable help himself, and the people around him are powerless to help him as well. After this incident, Jesus will deal with a diseased woman and a dead girl. All four of these situations were hopeless from a human perspective. Yet, in each of these cases, Jesus proved that He was the Master of them all.

If that demon possessed man were alive today, he would be sent to live in a mental institution. That diseased woman would be sent to terminal care ward. The dead girl would be sent to the cemetery. This passage teaches us that whether He is faced with demons, disease, or death, Jesus is able to handle whatever comes His way.

This case really is hopeless. Everyone around him have done everything they possibly could to help him, but no one could reach him. He lived his life in isolation, desperation, and devastation. His only companions were the dead bodies in the cemetery and the demons that dwelt within him. When Jesus Christ walked into this hopeless case, He changed everything.

As we watch the Lord Jesus work in this hopeless case, we need to keep in mind that He can move in our lives with the same power. He can break the chains that bind us and He can set us free! I would like for us to examine The Case of a Man Named Legion. Notice the facts of this hopeless case with me today.

v. 1-5 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVAGE MAN

v. 2 His Problem – This passage opens, with a description of a man who is firmly held in Satan’s grasp. The devil is his master, and this man is in a state of utter hopelessness and absolute helplessness.

We are told that he has “an unclean spirit”! Then, we find out that he is not just the home to one foul spirit, but he is possessed by “a legion” of demons, v. 9. A legion in the Roman army could be anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 men. This man was the host for thousands of evil spirits. In v. 13, we are told that when the demons were forced to leave this man’s body, they entered into a herd of swine that numbered around 2,000! This poor, pitiful individual was totally under the control of the devil!

I would just remind you that this man’s situation is no different from that of every lost soul in the world today, Eph. 2:1-3; John 8:44.

This man was in a pitiful shape, and so are the lost. They are all in a state of defilement.

 

v. 3-4 His Pain – Two words describe this man’s condition. Those words are “tombs” and “chains.” Those words reveal the truth that this man had his dwelling among the dead. The demons that controlled him drove him away from the living and he spent his life in the cemetery.

We are told in verse 4 that the people around him tried their best to restrain him. They would catch him and bind him with “fetters and chains”. “Fetters” would have been attached to his feet. “Chains” would have bound his hands, his arms and his torso. But, these manmade devices could not hold him.

When we look at this poor soul, it isn’t hard to make the leap from his condition to the condition of the lost around us. They are trapped in the same state of pitiful depravity. The sin that possesses the heart of the lost sinner drives him to spend his days and waste his years with the dead. Those who are lost in sin have no desire to be around the living. Death and the works of deadness are all they care about!

The lost hate things that pertain to life. They hate things that pertain to light. They hate everything that has to do with God and His work in the world. They shun the light. They shun the things of God. They shun those who know God, preferring rather to live their lives in the relentless, merciless grip of death and darkness.

Let me add that a professing believer needs to examine his or her heart when they begin to desire the works of darkness. You need to look at your spiritual condition when you find reasons for avoiding the light!

When you can’t sit through a preaching service, you have a spiritual problem!

When you find reasons to avoid the house of God, you have a spiritual problem!

When you find yourself longing for the ways of the world, you have a spiritual problem!

You are beginning to revert back to the ways of death and darkness.

 

v. 5 His Powerlessness – Can you imagine the terror this man caused?

We do not know why this man cut himself. Perhaps it was an effort to find relief from his demons. Perhaps the demons forced him to do it, causing him to walk a path of self-destruction.

We do not know why he shrieked, screamed and cried in those tombs. Perhaps he did these things because he was desperate to be free. Perhaps he did them because he was compelled to do them.

We don’t why he did the things he did, but his actions reveal that he is in a desperate situation and he needs help!

Whether you are lost and bound in sin or whether you are saved and out of God’s will there is only one cure for your condition!

You do not need a pill.
You do not need a psychiatrist.
You do not need a priest.
You do not need a twelve step program.
You need Jesus

v. 6-13 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SAVING MAN

v. 6 His Compassion – Everyone in that region feared this man. Everyone avoided this man. Everyone, that is, but Jesus!

Jesus Christ did not avoid this man; He made a special trip across the sea and braved a storm simply because He wanted to deliver this one man from the grip of Satan, Mark 4:35.

This man wasn’t even a Jew! He was a Gentile and still the Lord reached out to him!

We see people and sometimes we think that some are a lost cause. We may wonder if they can or will be saved. Well, I can’t tell you for sure that they will be, but I can look around this very room and I see case after case of men and women that others had written off as a lost cause. You are here and saved today because the Savior had compassion on you!

He loved you in spite of your sins and He came to where you were to deliver you from the bondage that gripped your heart and life. He loved you enough to die for you on the cross, Rom. 5:6-8, and He loved you enough to come and set you free.

No one is beyond the compassionate touch of the Master!
Not Zaccheaus in his tree.
Not Saul of Tarsus with his agenda of hate and destruction.
Not the Ethiopian eunuch with his religious confusion.
And not even you with all the baggage you carry.
There is a compassionate Savior waiting to set you free!

Jesus sees people with a different set of eyes than we do! We see their sins, He sees what He can make of their lives!

We see a drunk, He sees a deacon!
We see a drug addict, He sees a preacher!
We see a harlot, He sees a choir member!

That is how lives are changed when they come to Jesus! He will take what you give Him and He will give you something much more precious in return!

Give Jesus your Jacob, the schemer; He’ll give you back an Israel, a prince with God.
Give Jesus your Simon, the cursing fisherman; He’ll give you back Simon Peter, a mighty preacher.
Give Jesus your Saul, persecutor of the church, He’ll give you back Paul, militant missionary apostle. Give Jesus your self, and you will be amazed at what He can do with you.
It is amazing what Jesus can do when a life is placed in His hands, 2 Cor. 5:17! That is the power of the new birth, John 3:3, 7.

v. 6-13 His Confrontation – This man, who ran from everyone else, ran to the Lord Jesus and fell at His feet. The demons that drove this man away from all human relationships drove him to the feet of Jesus.

They fell down in acknowledgement of His deity. They were bowing in subjection to the Lord of Lords!

The demons acknowledge the deity and authority of Jesus, v. 7, and they beg Him not to “torment” them. That is, they beg Him not to send them to Hell, Luke 8:31.

Jesus confronts the demons, ordering them to release their captive, v. 8.

The demons then request that they might be allowed to enter into a heard of swine that was feeding nearby, v. 11-12.

Jesus gives them permission and they leave the body of the man and enter the swine, v. 13.

When they do, the swine cannot tolerate the demons and kill themselves by running in to the sea, v. 13.

This is a strange passage, but it teaches us some important truths.

It teaches us that all spirits are subject to the Lord’s authority. They recognize His position and His authority, v. 7. They know they must have His permission to do the things they do, v. 10-13.

It often looks like the devil is walking off with the victory.

v. 13 His Command – Every human effort had failed to deliver this poor soul from his bondage. Everything that had been tried to help him regain a grip on his own sanity had proven useless. But, one word from Jesus and He was free!

One word from Him and death is swallowed up in life!
One word from Him and darkness is driven away by the light!

v. 14-20 LET’S TALK ABOUT A SALVATION MIRACLE

v. 14-16 This Man Was Changed – When the pigs ran down the mountain and killed themselves, the servants who were tending the herd went to town and told their masters what had happened. The townsfolk came to see for themselves. When they arrived, they heard all the details and they could see the evidence of a changed life right before their eyes.

V. 15 Jesus Changed Him – He is no longer running about, crying, and cutting himself. Now, he is calm and seated beside Jesus! What a change!

You cannot meet Jesus and remain the same. He changes all those who come to Him, John 3:3, 5; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10!

V. 15 Jesus Clothed Him – No longer is this man naked, now he has clothes!

Jesus changed him from the inside out! What we need to notice here is that what Jesus does in the heart of a man is ALWAYS worked out on the outside of a man, Matt. 12:35!

V. 15 Jesus Calmed Him – We are told that he is in his right mind! Where there has been turmoil and agitation, there is now perfect peace! He has been changed spiritually, physically and mentally!

THE CASE OF THE DYING THIEF |Luke 23:32-43

thiefoncrossThis text presents three men. It speaks of three men who have been nailed to three crosses, dying three terrible deaths. The differences in their suffering were minimal. The differences in the men were enormous.

First, on one side there is a thief dying in his sins. He has lived a life of crime, broken the laws of Rome, and has been sentenced to die. The sentence is being carried out, and this man is dying a horrible death. This man is rude, arrogant, and proud. He is in a hopeless situation. He is dying in his sins.

Secondly, on the other side, another thief is dying for his crimes. He is just as guilty as the first man. He has committed the same crimes, offended the same government, and has received the same sentence. He is paying the same price, feeling the same pain, and dying the same death. Yet, he is different from the first man. While the first man is dying in his sins, this man is dying for his sins. This man is well aware of what he is facing. His eyes are opened to his condition and he is willing to do what it takes to get God’s help. Yet, he is still in a hopeless condition.

Third, in the middle another man hangs on a cross. He has offended some very powerful people. This man has spent the past three years traveling around the country preaching and teaching. This man has healed the sick, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. He has done nothing wrong except expose the corruption of the religious leaders of the nation of Israel.

The man in the middle is very different from the other two men. He is so different from others because that He has never done anything wrong. He has never sinned. He has never committed a crime. He has never treated anyone badly. Yet, He is feeling the same pain, paying the same price, and dying the same death as the guilty men on either side of Him. This man, the man in the middle, is dying for sin. That is what makes Him different.

From every appearance this text details a hopeless situation:

  • Three men are nailed to three crosses.
  • Three men are dying terrible deaths.
  • Three men dying deaths so horrible that we cannot imagine how bad they were.

By the time the sun goes down, all three of these men will be dead and in eternity. It really is a hopeless case.

I would like for us to spend some time at Calvary today considering this terrible scene. I want to show you once again how the Lord Jesus is able to bring hope to the hopeless. Our Lord is able, by His power, to transform any hopeless situation into a time of hope and blessing.

Let’s examine The Case of the Dying Thief and note the ways this passage teaches us that there is Hope For Hopeless Cases.

VERSE 32-38 HIS HOPELESS SITUATION

The description here clearly declares that this man is in terrible trouble. He is in a hopeless situation. Notice why:

Verse 32-33 The Thief and His Sin – This man is called a “malefactor.” This word means, “evil doer.” Matt. 27:38 says that he was “a thief.” He is guilty of breaking the laws of men.

His problem is far more serious than that because he is also guilty of breaking the law of God. He was a “thief.” That means that, among other things, he is guilty of breaking the 8th Commandment, which says, “Thou shalt not steal,” Ex. 20:15. Beyond that he is guilty of committing blasphemy in that he openly joined the Jews and the other thief in mocking Jesus Christ. Matt. 27:39 says the crowds “reviled” Jesus. Then, Matt. 27:44 says, “The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” Which means that the thieves “reviled” and “mocked” Jesus just like the crowd did. What is tragic is that the word “reviled” means “to blaspheme.” In other words, the crowd and the thieves were guilty of speaking evil, wicked things against the Lord. They committed a serious offense, and they sinned against the Lord.

This is a reminder to us all that we are sinners before God. We may not be guilty of things like theft or murder, but we are sinners. One day, we will face His wrath. The only possibility of escape for us is Jesus Christ.

In Verse 33  we see “The Thief And His Sentence” – Verse 33 tells us that this poor thief suffered the worst possible sentence for his crime. He was “crucified!” Crucifixion was a means of execution perfected by the Romans.

We see also in Verse 33 “The Thief And His Sorrow” – What is truly tragic is that two of the men dying that day are facing something far worse than the cross when they died. These two thieves were sinners, who are not prepared to face death. They are both headed to Hell. Hell is a place far worse than any cruelty devised by man.

This man, who was dying so difficult a death, is not going to a place of peace and rest. Death for him would not be a sweet release from the pains and problems of life. He is not going to a place of rest and safety. He was headed to a place called Hell. He is headed to a place of eternal fire, eternal torment, eternal damnation, and eternal separation from God. This thief is in a hopeless situation. He is nailed to a cross! He will die there! At this moment in time, he is lost and headed to Hell!

And, in this condition, He is a picture of every lost sinner in the world. Keep listening! There is hope for you, and His name is Jesus!

VERSE 39-42 HIS HONEST SUPPLICATION

Sometime, somehow, during those hours on the cross, this man became aware of just how much trouble he was in. When his eyes were opened to his situation, he did the only thing he could do: he reached out to Jesus.

In Verse 39-40 we see His Rebuke – Earlier in the day, both thieves had mocked the Lord Jesus, Matt. 27:44.

  • Unrepentant Thief – Sometime later in the day, one of the thieves began to verbally assault Jesus once again. In effect, he says, “If you really are who you claim to be, save yourself, and save us too! If you really are the Son of God, if you really are the Messiah, prove it!” The thief who said that is in pain. He is angry. He wants off the cross. He sees Jesus nearby and he knows who Jesus claims to be, so he unleashes his fury against the Lord.
  • The Repentant Thief – the one we have been talking about, he hears his companion mocking Jesus, and he comes to the Lord’s defense. In response, he says, “Do you have no fear of God? You are dying the same death He is!” What he means is that death is coming for all three of them. Now is not the time to attack one another. Now is a time to prepare to meet God.

This gives us a glimpse into this man’s heart. He is dealing with his mortality. He is dealing with the fact that he is going to die. I don’t know what was in his heart, but it seems to me that he is looking back over a wasted life. He is keenly aware that he is where he is because of the path he has chosen in life.

He is also very aware that he is facing an eternity for which he is not prepared. So, he rebukes the other thief for his cold-hearted treatment of the dying Christ. His rebuke is evidence that God has opened his heart and has allowed him to see his condition.

Verse 41 we see His Revelation – The thief we are considering rebukes his fellow thief, then in the very next breath, he confesses his own guilt. He says, “We are guilty, and we are getting just what we deserve.” Then, he confesses how he really feels about the Lord Jesus. He says, “This man has done nothing wrong!”

In his words here, we see two essential components of salvation.

  • The confession of sin – Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9
  • An understanding of who Jesus is – Rom. 10:9

In Verse 42 we find His Request – In the midst of his personal agony; in the midst of his own death, this man looks to Jesus and calls on Him in simple faith. This is amazing! After all, Jesus is dying too!

Jesus must have presented a tragic figure that day. He has been beaten so badly that Isaiah said, “But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” 52:14. Jesus is nailed to a cross, and He is going to die. Yet, this man is able to see in Jesus the truth that Jesus is more than a man.

This man looks at the dying Lord and he sees more than nearly anyone else saw that day.

Based on what he understands about Jesus, he makes an incredible request. He asks another dying man to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. That is incredible! When this man looked at Jesus Christ, he did not see a dying victim of the Roman system. Everyone else, for the most part, saw nothing more than just another poor man hanging, battered and bleeding on a cross.

  • This man looked at Jesus and he saw God, verse 40.
  • He looked at Jesus and he saw perfect righteousness, verse 41.
  • He looked at Jesus and he saw One Who was going to somehow conquer death; rise again; rule in power and glory and extend grace to the undeserving, verse 42!
  • He looked at Jesus, wearing that cruel, mocking crown of thorns and he saw Jesus wearing three crowns.
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of the universe by calling Him “Lord.”
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of his own heart by saying “remember me.”
  • He placed Jesus on the throne of David by saying, “When Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”

VERSE 43  WE SEE HIS HEAVENLY SALVATION

“And Jesus said unto Him…” Jesus reached out to a man who did not deserve anything but judgment.

  • This man could not do anything for God.
  • This man could not give anything to God.
  • This thief did not deserve salvation.
  • He did not deserve the attention of the Savior.
  • He did not deserve for Jesus to speak to him, to help him, much less to save him.
  • He did not deserve for Jesus to do anything at all for him, especially to remember him at some future date in the kingdom.
  • When Jesus responds, He says, “To day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise!” Oh what words of love! Oh what words of grace! Oh what words of joy!
  • How those words must have comforted and thrilled this poor dying man.
  • He had nothing to commend himself to God.
  • He would never be able to read God’s Word.
  • He would never have the opportunity to repay his victims.
  • He would never have the chance to live a productive life.
  • He would never go to the synagogue.
  • He would never be baptized.
  • He would never give his tithe.
  • He would never personally tell anyone else about the Lord.

Yet, the Lord spoke to him and promised to give him everything! He promised it all without any strings attached. He promised salvation, hope, grace, joy, and glory and Jesus asked nothing in return! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

THE CASE OF THE RUINED WOMAN

hem-of-the-garment-imagesIntro: The Bible is filled with impossible, hopeless cases. Situations and circumstances appear in the Word of God, and so very many of them appear impossible. There seems to be no solution. Storms, needs, deaths, sicknesses, and many other situations, that to the human mind are impossible, yet they are handled with ease by the power of a sovereign God.

This section of Mark’s Gospel is filled with several of those impossible situations. There is a storm, then a man filled with demons, and then a dead little girl. Jesus steps into every single one of these unimaginable situations and proves that He is more than capable of handling whatever happens.

One truth that demonstrates itself over and over in the pages of the Bible is the truth that God is more than adequate for every situation. There are no impossible situations with Him. There are no hopeless predicaments with the Lord! Your situation is not hopeless! Your storm is not hopeless! Your sin is not hopeless! Your sickness is not hopeless! Your lost loved ones are not hopeless! Nothing is hopeless with the Lord!

Our text describes yet another hopeless situation. Jesus is on His way to heal the daughter of a man by the name of Jairus. On the way there, He is surrounded by a great crowd of people. They throng Him and jostle against Him from every side. In the crowd that day there was a poor, weak, timid, dying woman who reached out and touched Jesus Christ. When she touched the Lord, her life was instantly, completely and permanently transformed.

There are people in this room today who need life transformations. You need someone to radically change the situations you face in your life. Those transformations can happen. One touch from the Lord can change everything! Let’s take a few minutes to consider this poor woman and her situation.

The facts of this story can help us when we face the hopeless situations in our own lives. Let me point out these facts as I preach about The Case of the Ruined Woman.

  1.   v. 24-26   HER SUFFERING
  2. v. 25  Her Affliction – We are told that she suffered from “an issue of blood”. This literally means that she was hemorrhaging, or bleeding, from some place in her body. The word “issue” means “a flowing of blood”. The verb tense indicates that it was a continual flow of blood.
  3.  v. 26  Her Anguish – A constant flow of blood would have caused her unbelievable suffering. Let’s take a moment to examine some of the areas in which she suffered.
  4. Her Physical Anguish – From the constant blood loss, this poor woman would have been weak and anemic. She would have been pale. She would have had no energy at all. The least of efforts would have worn her out. The word “plague” is the same word that is translated “whip” elsewhere. Her disease was like a scourge, constantly beating her down, day by day!
  5.  Her Medical Anguish – We are also told that she had tried all the remedies of all the physicians of her day. We are told that she “suffered” under their care.
  6. Her Social Anguish – She was almost certainly not married, because through simple physical contact, she would have defiled her husband. If she had ever been married, her husband would have been probably divorced her. She could not work around others because of the danger of defilement. This reduced her to a life of begging scraps of food from a distance. Her condition left her on the fringes of society. In the eyes of those around her, she was no better than a leper.
  7.  Her Emotional Anguish – Since the Bible says that she had been this way for 12 years, She has lived her life moving from one rejection to another. She is lonely, isolated and desperate!
  8.  Her Religious Anguish – Under the Law, Lev. 15:19; 25-27, this poor woman was to be considered unclean. Anything or anyone that she touched was also considered unclean. As a result, she could not mingle with other people. Anyone who came in contact with her would be considered ceremonially defiled. She could not worship in the Women’s Court of the Temple, because she was unclean.
  9.  Her Financial Anguish – The Bible tells us that she “spent all she had”. The doctors and their useless remedies had not helped her. All they had done was drain her bank account dry. She has been left penniless and destitute, with no husband or children to look after her.
  10.  v. 26  Her Agony – After years of pain, worthless doctors, useless remedies, and shattered dreams, she has reached the place where she knows she is living under a death sentence. She will not get better. She knows that she will die from this disease. Her life is literally draining out of her body little by little, day by day, Lev. 19:11.

I wonder how many people can identify with this poor woman. Maybe you don’t have the same kind of illness, but like her, you are filled with suffering and sorrow. This nameless, suffering woman pictures two types of people:

  1. This woman pictures every person who does not know Jesus Christ as Savior. The lost are defiled by a blood disease. They inherited this disease from Adam, Rom. 5:12. This condition has plagued the lost person since they were born, Rom. 3:10; 23; Gal. 3:22. It is a condition the sinner can’t make better or change on their own.
  2.  She is also a picture of that believer who is laboring under a heavy burden. Many of God’s children are discouraged and defeated today. You have tried everything in your power to get better. You have tried everything you know to fix your situation. You’ve read all the books, listened to all the preachers, and gotten advice from the best of sources, but you are no better. Your life is as messed up as it ever was. If that describes you, keep on listening, it may just be that the Lord has some help for your heart today.
  3.  v. 27-28  HER SCHEME

Our text tells us about how this woman came to Jesus. This hopeless, broken woman devised a plan to meet the Lord.

  1. v. 27  Her Reasons – Somewhere, this poor woman heard about Jesus.
  2.  v. 28  Her Resolve – She heard about Jesus, and she knew she had to get to Him. She came to realize that Jesus was her only hope! She believed with all her heart that if she could just get to Him, she would be healed.

She displayed her determination to get to Jesus by approaching Him in that crowd. As she elbowed her way through the people, she was causing ceremonial defilement for everyone she touched.

She showed desperation  was taking a great risk, for if she had been recognized, she would have been subjected to public humiliation and ridicule.

She showed drive, because by the very nature of her disease, it would have taken all the energy she had to drag herself out of her bed to struggle through that crowd to get to Jesus. She was desperate!

Have you reached that place in your life yet? Have you come to understand that Jesus is the only hope you have? If you are in this building lost today, you need to get to Jesus!

There are some who are saved, but like this woman are burdened and defeated, need to touch Him as well. The sooner you come to realize that Jesus is the only person Who can help you, the sooner you can get the help you need! Listen what He says to you: Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:15-16; 1 Pet. 5:7. Why should you carry that burden one more step? Why should you fight your battle even for one more minute? Why should you live defeated for another day? You don’t have to! Get to Jesus, He can and will help you!

III. v. 29-34  HER SALVATION

  1. 29 It Was Powerful – When she was near enough to Him, she reached out a trembling hand and touched His garment.
  2. Then, in that very instant, she received what none of the doctors or their costly and painful remedies could give her; she was healed! Instantly, she felt the change in her body. She knew she was a different woman!
  3. 30-33 It Was Personal – As soon as this woman touches Him, Jesus knows what has happened. He knows that “virtue” has gone out of Him. This is a word that means “power”. We get our modern words “dynamite” and “dynamic” from it. Jesus knows what has happened and He asks the question in verse 30, “Who touched My clothes?

Of course, there were dozens of people touching Him and bumping into Him that day, a fact pointed out by the disciples, v. 31, but her touch was different; it was a touch accompanied by faith. Many touched Him, but only one touched Him with the fingers of faith!

Jesus could have let her walk away with physical healing, but He called her out because He wanted to give her more than physical healing. He wanted to move her beyond her superstitious faith. He wanted to save her soul.

When Jesus spoke to this woman, you will notice that she fell before Him in fear. This was the very reason she came silently from behind Him to touch Him. This was why she did not come to Him openly. She was afraid she would be rejected!

She needn’t have feared that! Jesus was not interested in humiliating her. He was not interested in driving her away from His presence. He was not interested in preaching her a sermon on uncleanness from the Law. He was interested in helping her with her problem! He was interested in saving her soul.

Jesus was on His way to heal the young daughter of a man named Jairus, v. 22-24. This little girl is at the point of death! As Jesus makes His way to this man’s house, He is surrounded by the surging crowd. Yet, in spite of the seriousness of His mission, Jesus takes the time to stop for this woman!

At this moment, the crowd might as well not even be there. The business of the universe was put on hold as Jesus turned His full attention on this poor, needy woman. To Him, the woman and her need were more important than anything else. She was the sole focus and center of His world and attention! This woman, cast out, uncared for, and unwanted, had caught the eye of God because she exercised simple, childlike faith!

Isn’t that a blessing? I believe that God, Who controls the path of every atom in every molecule in this universe, has time for you when you call on Him in faith.

Never fear that He doesn’t care about you. Never fear that He won’t receive you.

  1. v. 34  It Was Profound – His words confirmed what she already knew had happened! Notice that He calls her “daughter”. This is the only time Jesus ever calls a female by this name. The word signifies the fact that they are in a different relationship now. It is a word of tenderness; a word of peace; a word of acceptance.

She got more than physical healing that day. All her adult life, she has been an outcast, a nobody, dwelling in isolation and loneliness, living in the shadows of society, but now, she hears that she has been taken in by God! Her faith brought her into a soul saving relationship with Jesus Christ. One minute she was an outcast, the next she was in the family of God!

The word “whole” is the same word translated “saved” throughout the New Testament. It means “to be rescued from all harm and danger. To be kept safe and sound”. She got a whole lot more than she bargained for that day!

All those who come to Jesus get far more than they ever bargained for.

  • We are children of God, 1 John 3:1-2.
  • We have a home in Heaven, John 14:1-3.
  • We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus, Rom. 8:17.
  • We have a new life, 2 Cor. 5:17.
  • We are free from the power of sin to control and dominate them, Rom. 6:14.
  • We are no longer God’s enemies, Rom. 8:7.
  • We have been reconciled to Him, Eph. 2:12-19.
  • We have been fully and forever forgiven, Col. 2:13-14.
  1. v. 34  It Was Permanent – He tells her to “go in peace”. His words let her know that she has done the right thing in coming to Him and touching Him.

She was well and she knew it, but these final words of Jesus, “thy faith hath made thee whole”, drive home the fact that she was finally and fully free from her plague. She was healed and life would never be the same again! Her battle with this dread disease was forever finished! She had received a brand new life from the hand of the Master.

Question: “What were the seven last words of Jesus Christ on the cross and what do they mean?”

Join us tonight at Greater Community First Baptist Church at 7:00 pm as we discover what the seven last sayings on the cross were and there meaning…………

 

Six hours, one Friday.
Six hours, one Friday.

Six hours, one Friday. Mundane to the casual observer. A shepherd with his sheep, a housewife with her thoughts, a doctor with his patients.  But to a handful of awestruck witnesses, the most maddening of miracles is occurring. God is on a cross. The creator of the universe is being executed.

It is no normal six hours. It is no normal Friday. Far worse than the breaking of his body is the shredding of his heart. And now his own father is beginning to turn his back on him, leaving him alone. What do you do with that day in history? What do you do with its claims? They were the most critical hours in history.

Nails didn’t hold God to a cross. Love did. The sinless One took on the face of a sinner so that we sinners could take on the face of a saint!

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).



The First Word:
“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
(Luke 23:34)

The Second Word:
“I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
(Luke 23:43)

The Third Word:
“Dear woman, here is your son.”
(John 19:26)

The Fourth Word:
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
(Mark 15:34)

The Fifth Word:
“I am thirsty.”
(John 19:28)

The Sixth Word:
“It is finished!”
(John 19:30)

The Seventh Word:
“Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!”
(Luke 23:46)

THE CRY OF LONELINESS | Christian Book Review

Christian Book StoresThe fourth word that Jesus uttered was a word of anguish of loneliness addressed to the Father. It is found in Matthew 27:46 – “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’”

Max Lucado gives the following account in his book titled No Wonder They Call Him Savior.

“The summer of 1980 in Miami was nothing to smile about. The Florida heat scorched the city during the day and baked it at night. Riots, lootings, and racial tension threatened to snap the frayed emotions of the people. Everything soared: unemployment, inflation, the crime rate, and especially the thermometer. Somewhere in the midst of it all, a Miami Herald reporter captured a story that left the entire Gold Coast breathless.

It was the story of Judith Bucknell. Attractive, young, successful, and dead.

Judith Bucknell was homicide number 106 that year. She was killed on a steamy June 9th evening. Age: 38. Weight: 109 pounds. Stabbed seven times. Strangled.

She kept a diary. Had she not kept this diary perhaps the memory of her would have been buried with her body. But the diary exists; a painful epitaph to a lonely life. The correspondent made this comment about her writings: ‘In her diaries, Judy created a character and a voice. The character is herself, wistful, struggling, weary; the voice is yearning. Judith Bucknell has failed to connect; age 38, many lovers, much love offered, none returned.’

Her struggles weren’t unusual. She worried about getting old, getting fat, getting married, getting pregnant, and getting by. She lived in stylish Coconut Grove (Coconut Grove is where you live if you are lonely but act happy).

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Judy was the paragon of the confused human being. Half of her life was fantasy, half was nightmare. Successful as a secretary, but a loser at love. Her diary was replete with entries such as the following:

‘Where are the men with the flowers and champagne and music? Where are the men who call and ask for a genuine, actual date? Where are the men who would like to share more than my bed, my booze, my food. . . . I would like to have in my life, once before I pass through my life, the kind of sexual relationship which is part of a loving relationship.’

She never did.

Judy was not a prostitute. She was not on drugs or on welfare. She never went to jail. She was not a social outcast. She was respectable. She jogged. She hosted parties. She wore designer clothes and had an apartment that overlooked the bay. And she was very lonely.

‘I see people together and I’m so jealous I want to throw up.
What about me! What about me!’

Though surrounded by people, she was on an island. Though she had many acquaintances, she had few friends. Though she had many lovers (fifty-nine in fifty-six months), she had little love.

‘Who is going to love Judy Bucknell?’ the diary continues. ‘I feel so old. Unloved. Unwanted. Abandoned. Used up. I want to cry and sleep forever.’

A clear message came from her aching words. Though her body died on June 9th from the wounds of a knife, her heart had died long before. . . from loneliness.

‘I’m alone,’ she wrote, ‘and I want to share something with somebody.’”

The anguish of loneliness.

It is experienced by the abandoned child. The person who is divorced. The person in the nursing home. Maybe you experience it in the empty home. The empty mailbox. The long days. The longer nights. A one-night stand. A forgotten birthday. No personal emails – just junk and business.

Maybe you have been spared this cruel cry. Oh, you have been homesick or upset a time or two. But despair? Far from it. Suicide? Of course not. Be thankful that it hasn’t knocked at your door … yet. Pray that it never will.

But for many, loneliness is a way of life. The sleepless nights. The lonely bed. The distrust. The fear of tomorrow. The unending hurt. When did it begin? In your childhood? At the divorce? At retirement? At the cemetery? When the kids left home?

Maybe you, like Judy Bucknell, have fooled everyone. No one knows that you are lonely. On the outside you are packaged perfectly. Your smile is quick. Your job is stable. Your clothes are sharp. Your calendar is full. Your talk impressive. But when you look in the mirror, you don’t fool yourself.

Or maybe you don’t try to hide it. Maybe you have always been outside the circle looking in, and everyone knows it. Your conversation is a bit awkward. Your companionship is seldom requested. Your clothes are dull. Your looks are common. Ziggy is your hero and Charlie Brown is your mentor.

Am I striking a chord? If I am, if you sighed in understanding, I have an important message for you. The most gut-wrenching cry of loneliness in history came not from a homicide victim or a prisoner or a widow or a patient. It came from a cross on a hill, from Jesus.

“My God, my God!” he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Never have words carried so much hurt. Never has anyone been so lonely.

Leviticus 16 is a passage of the Law of Atonement. It describes God’s Law to the Israelites of how to make an offering and sacrifice for the sins of the people. Remember, this is before Jesus comes to be our final sacrifice. It is complicated and ugly. In vs. 21 and 22, after much blood has been shed of animals in sacrifice, a live goat is taken. The high priest lays his hands upon the live goat and confesses the sins of all the people of Israel and transfers them to the head of the live goat. It is then sent away into the wilderness alone with all the sin upon itself. It is alone. It cannot be among the people. It is forsaken. It is cursed by God. The people would be
relieved. God would be appeased.

The temporary sacrifices described in Leviticus 16 are only a shadow of what was to come in Jesus. Hebrews teaches us that these sacrifices could not remove sins. They were only a lesson of what was to come – a lesson of our great need for forgiveness that Jesus alone provides.

Hebrews 10:1-4 – “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Hebrews 7:26-28 – “He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.”

And because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, we have this result.

Hebrews 10:19-25– “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one
another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Because of the blood of Jesus – we can come boldly into the presence of God … in relationship. We are not alone. And we are commanded to be together as the body and not neglect that – not to live life alone but together.

We will never have to experience the greatest loneliness – eternal separation from God. But Jesus did. On the cross, a moment came when he was overwhelmed by the loneliness, being forsaken by the Father with whom he had experienced eternal closeness. He was separated from him. But for you and I he willingly endured this. He took all of our sin upon himself and God had to forsake him. He was the true, the only, the final sacrifice for our sin. He seemed to be able to take so much. He took the betrayal without complaint. He endured the trials 3without defending himself. He took so much beating and physical torture before he even came to the cross and was silent. He carried his own instrument of cruel death without complaint. He was crucified and still expressed his concern and care for others. But then something happened that he could not be silent about.

I want to go back to how Max Lucado describes this moment. “And now on Skull’s hill, the sinbearer is again 4191512_largealone. Every lie ever told, every object ever coveted, every promise ever broken is on his shoulders. He is sin. God turns away. The despair is darker than the sky. It is more than Jesus can take. He withstood the beatings and remained strong at the mock trials. He watched in silence as those he loved ran away. He did not retaliate when the insults were hurled nor did he scream when the nails pierced his wrists. But when God turned his head, that was more than he could handle.

‘My God!’

The wail rises from parched lips. The holy heart is broken. The sinbearer screams as he wanders in the cosmic wasteland. Out of the silent sky come the words screamed by all who walk in the desert of loneliness.

‘Why? Why have you forsaken me?’

Why did Jesus do it? Oh, I know, I know. I have heard the official answers. ‘To gratify the law.’ ‘To fulfill prophecy.’ And these answers are right. They are. But there is something more here. Something very compassionate. Something yearning. Something personal. What is it?

I may be wrong, but I keep thinking of the diary. ‘I feel abandoned,’ she wrote. ‘Who is going to love Judith Bucknell?’ And I keep thinking of the parents of the dead child. Or the friend at the hospital bedside. Or the elderly in the nursing home. Or the orphans. Or the cancer ward. I keep thinking of all the people who cast despairing eyes toward the dark heavens and cry, ‘Why?’

And I imagine him. I imagine him listening. I imagine him holding out his nail-pierced hands showing that he who also was once alone, understands.”

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Study 2 of The Book of Joshua|She’s Not The Girl She Used To Be

downloadRead Joshua 2:1-24

And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

There once was a rather rough, uncultured man who for some reason fell in love with a beautiful vase in a shop window. Eventually he bought the vase and put it on the mantelpiece in his room. There it became a kind of judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked dingy beside it. The old chair with the stuffing coming out of the seat would not do. The wallpaper and the paint needed redoing. Gradually the whole room was transformed. When you put Christ on the mantel of your heart, your whole life is transformed.

  • It is this kind of transformation we witness here in the second chapter of the book of Joshua.
  • As the Israelites were about to enter Canaan and claim their promised land, the first city they would have to face was the great walled city of Jericho.
  • If they could take this city, they could easily split the country in two and then move from there to conquer the north and the south.
  • Before they go about the business of defeating Jericho, Joshua sends spies to the city to gage the mood of the people and to see whether or not they were ready for war.
  • When these spies entered Jericho, they went to the home of a harlot. Why? Well, the sight of men entering a harlot’s home would not attract too much attention. Now would it?
  • What they found when they entered the home of Rahab must have come as quiet a shock to these two men. They found a woman who had been changed by the power of God. They met Rahab, but found out that she wasn’t the girl she used to be!

For us, Rahab is a picture of the power of the Lord Jesus to transform any life that comes to Him by faith.

What we will see today is how the Lord takes sinners who will place their faith in Him and changes them by His power and grace

RAHAB THE CALL GIRL

Verse 1 describes Her Spiritual Condition – Rahab was a harlot. Her’s was a depraved and wicked life. She is a picture of every person who is lost in sin this morning. You see, you may not be a harlot, but if you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then you are lost in sin and need to be born again! It is sad but true, all are sinners

It also describes Her Spiritual Condemnation – She lived in a city that was slated for destruction! God had already determined that Jericho would fall! I’m sure the people felt pretty confident and reasonably safe behind the walls of their city, but God had already passed sentence upon them and they were doomed to destruction! The people of Jericho may not have felt that they were in great danger, but they were doomed nonetheless!

So it is with the sinner this morning! The lost person may feel secure today and may not believe that he is in any danger. However, the Bible tells us that the lost are condemned already, John 3:18

Then we see God’s Spiritual Compassion – Notice verse 10. Rahab tells the spies that they heard of what happened in Egypt and of the kings thy have defeated along the way. Well, it had been 40 years since they left Egypt. God had spared the city for that amount of time, and still they had several more days before judgment came to them. Rahab had experienced the grace and patience of God in giving her time to come to faith in Him.

Friend, how many years has the Lord given you? How many times has He knocked on your heart’s door? How many times has He called you to faith? You that are saved, how many times did the Lord call before you responded in faith.

RAHAB THE CONVERTED GIRL

Verse 10-11 She Heard The Word – Rahab heard about the God of Israel. It was a message of judgment that she heard, but it introduced her to the true and living God. The message that came was to her a message of life!

The message is the same today. That message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time

Verse 9-11 She Heeded The Word – Not only did Rahab hear the message, but she heeded it as well. This message produced a response of faith in the heart of Rahab. The fact that she believed the message is proven by what she says about God. In verse 9, she calls Him “the LORD”, using His covenant Name Jehovah. In verse 11, she expresses her faith in Him as THE God of Heaven and of earth. I verse 12, she again expresses her faith in Him as she calls God to witness the pact she is about to make with the spies. Even Heb. 11, the great Hall of the Faithful, in verse 31 tells us of the faith of Rahab. She heard the message and she acted on it in belief.

RAHAB THE COMPLETED GIRL

By the way, He has no respect of persons, therefore, what He did for Rahab, He can do for you. He used her in a mighty fashion. He can use you as well!)

Verse 12-22 The Proof Of Her Completion 

In Verse 1-7 She Labored For The Lord – One of the surest proofs that Rahab was genuinely converted is the fact that she involved herself with the work of the Lord. She hid the spies and covered up for them. We cannot condone her lie. Even James uses her as an example of the believer who proves their salvation by the works of their life, James 2:25.

My friends, we can like it or not, but the truth of our profession is proven by the work of our life, James 2:18! You see, we can say anything we like, but what we really are is proven by what we do! The fruit of your life proves the root of your life – Matt. 7:20

She also Loved The Lost – Notice that Rahab is concerned about others in her family who are in danger as well.

The Payoff Of Her Completion – Because she placed her faith in the Lord God of Israel, she obtained some precious possessions. Notice how God took this former harlot and blessed her new life with the richest of His blessings. She Found A New Family – She went from being part of judged nation to being part of a holy nation! She Found A New Family – Rahab was taken from the house of shame and wound up in the hall of fame. This woman became and ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, she was David’s great-great grandmother and she was the mother-in-law of Ruth. Josh. 6:20-25 She Found A New Freedom – Because of her faith she was spared from the destruction that overtook her city. By the way, all those in her house were spared as well! When the walls of Jericho fell down flat, there was apparently one section that remained standing. It was the section that held the house of Rahab. It was a place that was marked by a scarlet rope that hung from her window, v. 18.

What a picture is given here. And, just as Rahab’s home was marked by a scarlet rope, v. 18 so our life is recognized by God because of the blood of Jesus that has been applied to our souls by faith. That rope told Israel that Rahab believed God and was to live. The blood of Jesus tells the Father that we have trusted His Son and that we, too, are to be spared! Folks, it is the blood that makes the difference! I Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5.)

It was the blood of a lamb that spared the firstborn in Egypt when the death angel passed through the land. It is the blood of Jesus that makes the difference between Heaven and Hell for each of us this morning!)

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Moving Forward Not Backward|“Example of Focus”

focus

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:51-62

So much of Jesus’ life and ministry, hinges on what we see in Luke 9:51, which says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up,” That is, returned to heaven. This is after his death, burial, resurrection, ascension that he ultimately would be taken back up to heaven where he had come from as God. “He,” Jesus, “set his face to go toward Jerusalem.”

For Jesus, this is that day. That day is the day when you stake your claim, “This is who I am, this is where I’m going, and this is what I’m doing. I’m resolute in this decision. I cannot be dissuaded. I am committed to see this through to completion.”

And he is going to Jerusalem, and this is for the purpose of his crucifixion. This is Jesus, setting his eyes ultimately toward the cross, where he would go to atone for the sins of the world, dying in our place for our sins as our Savior and God.

Today we’ll see one people group, the Samaritans, and then three individuals, and how they respond and react to Jesus.

So the first thing we learn is there’s a group called the Samaritans, and they have their tribe before Jesus, and it has to be Jesus before tribe.

Luke 9:52  52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him 53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

Now let me explain to you Samaria. These people were kind of Jews. They had intermarried with pagans, and they established their own temple, their own Bible, their own religion, their own theology, and their own pastors. And the Jews didn’t know what to do with these people, so what would happen is, as God’s people journeyed from Galilee to Jerusalem, they would just walk around Samaria.

And so Jesus doesn’t walk around Samaria, he walks through Samaria, and he sends messengers ahead of him, and here’s why. A lot of these towns are very small, dozens, hundreds of people. And Jesus is with quite a large entourage. It’s him, plus the twelve plus the seventy plus, and been able to find him and come along for the ride. So you’re looking at, I don’t know, eighty, a hundred plus people. And if you’re a village of forty or sixty people, you don’t have a Hotel.

So messengers would be sent in advance, “Hey, Jesus is coming. There are a lot of us. Do you guys have any food to eat or place to sleep, or is there a way we could purchase supplies and take care of the ministry team around Jesus, the apostles (kind of like his pastors), the seventy (kind of like his deacons)?” They’d say, “No, we can’t accommodate that many.” “Okay, then we need to roll into the next town, and we need to figure out where we’re going to lodge, and how we’re going to feed people, and make preparations.”

So they roll into Samaria, “Jesus is coming and here’s what’s going on.” And the Samaritans said, “You know what? We really don’t want Jesus, because if he’s determined to go to Jerusalem, that mean he’s not going to validate our tribe.” See, the Samaritan people were a religious group, a political group, a racial group, a cultural group, a social group. They were a tribe. They were like people who, today, have all of their life and identity wrapped up in some tribe or grouping.

They said, “Well, we’re willing to have Jesus, providing he joins our tribe. He needs to validate our theology. He needs to go to our temple. He needs to support our leaders. He needs to reinforce our theology. He can’t go to Jerusalem. That would show the world that Jerusalem, and not Samaria, is where God wants to begin his redemptive work. That would show that their interpretation of the Bible is right and ours is wrong. Rather than repenting, we’ll reject Jesus.” And what they do is they put their tribe above Jesus. They’re willing to have Jesus, providing he will support them, and he won’t.

Let me ask you, what is your tribe? Who’s your group? What’s your identity? 

And the truth is this is how a lot of people work. They want Jesus in their tribe on their terms, and he comes and says, “No, I’m God. You don’t tell me to follow you, I tell you to follow me. I don’t join your team, you join mine.” You say, “I like Jesus, and I’m totally fine with him, providing he does what I tell him, providing he supports what I already believe.”

But what if Jesus doesn’t support your political party, your cause? 

This is why even religions like to try and stick Jesus on their team.

And when this message gets to the Samaritans, they’re like, “He’s going to Jerusalem, and he wants us to follow him? We have a totally different agenda and ideology. Jesus can either submit to us or leave.” They lose the blessing of enjoying friendship, fellowship with Jesus.

Some of you have done that. You say, “I’m fine with Jesus, as long as he doesn’t act like he’s God, Lord, in charge.”

Please don’t do that. The Samaritans did. God came to earth, walked through Samaria, the place where nobody else wanted to go. He extended a hand of friendship, and they rejected it.

So two of his disciples decide, “Let’s call fire down from heaven,”

Now I’ll tell you what I like about this, these guys don’t lack confidence. They just think, “We can just call down fire from heaven,” which that’s sort of a big assumption. They don’t even tell Jesus, “Hey, we think you should call down fire from heaven.”

Jesus says, essentially, this: “It’s not time.” Right, there is a season, a time for condemnation, but this is a season and time for salvation. Jesus is saying, “Look, I’m going to Jerusalem. I’m going to die on a cross. I’m going to suffer. I’m going to atone for sin. You guys can come back to Samaria,

See, as long as you’re alive, there’s a chance, and yeah, the Samaritans blew their opportunity. They didn’t have a right sense of urgency, but Jesus is not to be dissuaded. 

As he’s continuing his journey, we then see three people come up and have very interesting conversations with Jesus, and like the Samaritans, each has this error of putting someone or something ahead of Jesus, and they’re happy to have Jesus provided he’s in second place. As long as he’s not first priority, as long as he’s not first treasure, first love, first commitment, he’s welcome to be somewhere in the list of priorities, but not in front.

And so we see this with a man who has comfort before Jesus. And the truth is, it’s always Jesus before comfort.

Luke 9:57–58, 57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Before you sign up to follow me, let’s make it clear that it’s not going to be easy. I’m a homeless guy whose flat broke, going to get crucified. You ready to sign up to follow me wherever I go?

See, some of you, you live under this myth that if you walk with Jesus, everything’s going to be great. However, it’s not always great in the since that its easy but God gives you the peace, strength and grace you need to walk with Him.

Secondly, another man comes to him, and his issue is that he has security before Jesus, and it’s always Jesus before security.

Luke 9:59–60, 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Now these next two guys, they’re going to use the same language. They’re both going to say, “Jesus, I want follow you, but first, let me do this.” What they’re saying is, “Jesus, I want following you to be my second priority.

So what is going on here? Well, let me give you some cultural background that I think the original hearers would have understood the context in a way that we don’t.

In that day, it was very much expected of children to honor their mother and father, based upon the Ten Commandments’ exhortation to do so. And as your parents got older, you’re supposed to look after and care for them. And as they were dying, you were definitely supposed to be there for them. And when they died, there were very strict and orchestrated procedures by which you were to prepare their funeral and their burial, certain music and meals and gatherings and clothing and wailers; and this is a big event. This encompasses the family. This takes days. The whole neighborhood, the whole village is invited. This is a very big deal.

And what I can infer from that is that when he says, “Jesus, I totally want to follow you, but first, let me go bury my dad,” number one, his dad’s not dead or even dying. If his dad were dying, where would he be? With his dad. If his dad were dead, where would he be? At the funeral, overseeing the affairs of the family. Or asking Jesus to heal him.

And for that man, I believe, it is security over Jesus. He wants the approval of his family, and he wants his inheritance more than Jesus. And it has to be Jesus above security.

How about you? See, some of you are like that, you’re like, “I will totally, wholeheartedly, passionately follow Jesus once I’m out of college. And I would ask you, what security is more important for you than Jesus?

Lastly, another guy comes to him, and he wants to have the past in front of Jesus, and it is always Jesus before our past.

Luke 9:61–62, 61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Now, in this instance, this man says to Jesus, I want to go home, and I want to talk to my family, and I want to let them know.”

Jesus knows this man’s heart. We’ve seen repeatedly that Jesus knew their thoughts or Jesus knew their heart. He knows what’s going on.

He knows if this guy goes back, he’s never; he’s never going to move forward.

See, some of you are like that, you’re like, “Oh, but before I go forward, I want to go back.” You know, “I want to go back to the frat and finish off my year. I want to go back to my buddies and go do stupid things and drink some more. I want to go back to my old lifestyle. I want to go back to sleeping with those people. I want to go back to those proclivities, back to that spiritual—I want to go back for a little bit, hang out in that lifestyle and, yeah, then I’m going to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus.” “No, don’t go back, you’ll never go forward.”

But Jesus is our Example

Jesus has got his hand on the plow. He’s got his face set toward Jerusalem, that’s what we read, and he is just pressing forward to the cross. He’s not looking back. He’s not saying, “Boy, I remember when my life was easier. I remember when I didn’t get criticized. I remember before I started preaching and teaching publicly and casting out demons, boy, the good ole days.” He doesn’t look back at all. It’s forward to the cross.

And Jesus plows his row in a straight line, and he picks up this analogy and he says, “Your life is like a field, and God has apportioned to you a row to plow. And you need to put your hand on the plow, and you need to set your eyes toward the New Jerusalem that will be coming down out of heaven,” the one the ascended Jesus is preparing for us right now. And just like he plowed a straight line right into Jerusalem, we need to plow a straight line right into the New Jerusalem, and not be looking back.

Eyes forward, hands on the plow, feet always moving, working hard, doing our best till we see him face-to-face. And what he says is, “If you don’t do that, you’ll take your hand off the plow. You’ll stop plowing or you’ll look back.” What he says is, “You can’t plow a straight row looking back, you can’t.” It’s a great analogy.

Moving Forward Not Backward |“What do you have in your hand?”

Moses Staff
Moses Staff

10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.

11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?

12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.

27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

In this scripture God’s people were being chased by Pharaoh’s army and only the Lord new what it would take to deliver His chosen people from slavery. Before them was the Red Sea and behind them came Pharaoh and his army and chariots with bad intentions. Between them and the Egyptians God had placed a hedge of protection through the Angel of the Lord

We see that He protects His people. He did it with the Egyptians, He did it with Job and He also does it with us.  Satan himself said to the Lord ;( Job 1:10) “Has thou not made a hedge about Job and his house and all that he has, on every side?”  Thessalonians 3:3 says that; “The Lord will strengthen and protect us from the evil one.”

Ultimately they got the victory in spite of Pharaoh’s great army and chariots. And there is also a victory for us if we face every day with the attitude that we are going forward and we will not back up or give up, no matter the cost.

Moses told them in verse 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” But God turned around and said in verse 15 “And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”

What does it take to move forward?

First it takes knowing and understanding that we are heading to something better. Where we are now is only temporary. This is not our final destination.  Heaven is our goal not the things that this world has to offer. Jesus said; “I go and prepare a place for you so that where I am you may be also.” We have to learn to move out of your place of comfort. They were comfortable in Egypt, they were used to living as slaves, and they were used to settling for the left over. Verse 12 reads  Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

In the second place Moving forward involves a change of attitude. They had developed a slave mentality. Verse 11 reads Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?
12 “Didn’t’ we tell you in Egypt to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians?”  People of God sometimes get accustomed to their worldly surroundings.  We sometimes become accustomed to not receiving the promises of God. We get used to the hand downs even if it’s not the best that the Lord has for us.  God says that; “You are the head and not the tail”, “above and not below”,” Victorious and not the victim”.” Blessed in the city and blessed in the field”, “blessed going in and going out”.

 Finally, Moving forward involves Faith in God and putting to use what He has placed in your hand. Verse 16, God said to Moses; “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the waters so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. Notice that the only thing that Moses had was Faith in what God had promised and a stick. What has He given you to move yourself and lead others to their destiny? Perhaps a talent; singing, playing an instrument, fixing something or trade like carpentry or repairing cars or landscaping. It doesn’t matter what it is but use it for the Glory of the Lord. Perhaps a Spiritual gift such as; teaching or preaching or interceding for others or encouraging others.  Whatever it is, put it to use in the Kingdom of God. It will not only push you forward but others also. Use what you have and add faith to it. We need to put our faith in the word of God not anything else. The Hebrew writer said this:

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

For by it the elders obtained a good report.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Moving Forward Not Backward |“But This One Thing I Do”

imagesBrethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

So often we talk about doing things different. As a matter of fact this month were talking about moving forward and not backwards. But the question remains is what can I do to move forward and not backwards.

Last week Paul reminded us to: Be careful of the company you keep, Put know confidence in the flesh and Realize that you haven’t made it yet.

You see it is one thing to have someone tell you what to do, but it’s another thing for someone tell you what they do from experience not move backwards.

So Paul reiterates that, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:

  • he had not attained to perfect knowledge,
  • was not come to the mark, had not received the prize, or laid hold on eternal life;
  • though he had received so much grace, and such gifts, as had qualified him for an apostle;
  • and he had been so many years in that office, and had so great a knowledge in the mystery of the Gospel,
  • and had labored in it more abundantly than others, and with great success;
  • and even though he had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard unspeakable words, not lawful to be uttered, 2 Corinthians 12:2,
  • yet he had no such opinion of himself, as if he was perfect:

Paul say’s I’m not perfect! Can I tell you something? You’re not either.

But Paul goes on to say “but this one thing I do.” Doesn’t Paul make it simple for us? He say’s I just do one thing. Whatever gifts, graces, or honors I may have received from Jesus Christ, I consider everything as incomplete till I have finished my course, got this crown, and have my body raised and fashioned after his glorious body.

This statement means “EN” in the Greek and is translated one – primary thing. Paul is saying this is the concern, as it is the sole business, of my life. This one thing that I do encompasses three action steps:

Paul stars out by saying the first step is forgetting those things which are behind. Forgetting is a verb – present middle and it means to lose out of mind. We are not talking about precious memories here. We are talking about those past things that would hinder you from moving forward. Paul is saying my conduct is not regulated nor influenced by that of others; I consider my calling, my Master, my work, and my end.

The connotation is a race and you can’t win a race looking behind you. Looking back is sure to end in going back (Lu 9:62): And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Look at Lot’s wife (Genesis 19:26) But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. Because the children of Israel were looking back it took them forty years for a two week trip.

Paul’s second step is reaching forth unto those things which are before. Reaching – verb – present middle and it means to stretch (oneself) forward upon. I stretch with my all untoHebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

I’m reaching to those things – to perfection of knowledge, holiness, and happiness. The metaphor is taken from runners in a race, who did not stop to look behind them, and see what way they have run, and how far they are before others, but look and move forwards, and stretch themselves out to the uttermost, and run with all their might and main to the mark before them; and so the apostle did in a spiritual sense. With hand and foot, like a runner in a race, and the body bent forward. The Christian is always humbled by the contrast between what he is and what he desires to be.

In the last place Paul takes us to step three, he say’s “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says I press, Can’t no body do this for me. To Press is to pursue something. In Paul’s case it was Christ. He said I am pursuing toward something. Toward gives me the aim.

The aim is Christ because in Him is the prize of the high calling of God. The allusion is to the white line, or mark, which the runners in the Olympic Games made up to, and to which he that came first received the prize; “for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” the incorruptible crown; the crown of life, righteousness, and glory, that fadeth not away, That high calling is the heavenly calling.

We are all running a race to something or from something. The Christian race is running to Christ Jesus in which He receives us with open arms into the place that He has prepared just for us.