9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. (Acts 9:9–11, NKJV)
An important question arises from the aftermath of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8). Saul asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” and was told to “go into the city, and you will be told what you must do,” to which he complied (Acts 9:6-8). Here is the question: If Saul was saved when Jesus appeared to him on the road, why did Ananias ask him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord?” (Acts 22:16) The answer is obvious. After three days of blindness, fasting, and praying, Saul was still in need of his sins being cleansed. Although fasting, Saul’s repentance was not all he needed to be forgiven. Although praying, Saul’s prayers did not constitute “calling on the name of the Lord” to be saved. However, when his faith compelled Saul to arise and be baptized, his sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus (Rom. 6:3). This is how sinners are saved today. Not by miracles. Not by faith alone, repentance alone, prayer alone, or baptism alone. Do you have the faith to do all Jesus commands so your sins will be washed away?
25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:25–27, NKJV)
These people had seen Jesus miraculously feed five thousand souls the day before, from only five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14). The next day they had traveled around the Sea of Galilee to find Him. They had not followed Jesus out of faith in Him as the Messiah. They were driven by their bellies to seek another meal. Why are you following Jesus? Is it out of faith or convenience? Jesus can give you spiritual food that produces everlasting life, but you must have faith in Him to follow Him according to His will. The Father endorsed Jesus by the miracles He worked. Be sure you are following Jesus for the right reason – for everlasting life – and not to fill a self-serving interest.
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17, NKJV)
We are not told why this man ran to Jesus. We assume he urgently desired to talk with Jesus before he lost his opportunity. (We should not delay to urgently run to Christ for salvation and the spiritual blessings only He gives.) He knelt before Jesus in an obvious expression of deference and honor. (We ought to approach Jesus with reverential honor.) The man recognized Jesus as “Good Teacher.” (Jesus emphasized His goodness was linked to His divine nature, since “No one is good but One, that is, God,” Mark 10:18). The man was interested in eternal life, and wanted to know what to do to inherit it. Note, Jesus did not tell him there was nothing he could or should do. Jesus told him to keep the commandments of God (which the man had kept from his youth, Mark 10:19-20). Jesus loved the man, but he lacked one thing. His heart was not fully given to Christ. He loved his possessions more than following Jesus (Mark 10:21-22). He had to change his heart – his allegiance – to follow Jesus and inherit eternal life. When you run to Jesus, where is your heart? Be sure your heart will do whatever it takes to “take up the cross and follow” Jesus (Mark 10:21).
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:13–14, NKJV)
The sacrificial quality of love is unsurpassed. It is this love that prompted the death of Jesus and provided the world our only means of redemption (Romans 5:8-10; 1 John 4:8-10). The question for us to ponder is whether we have the love it takes to be a friend of Jesus. We hear much about needing Jesus as our friend. True, and He has shown the measure of His loving friendship by His death. Now, do we show the measure of our friendship to Him? We are not His friends when we disobey Him. It is quite ironic that many who speak loud and long about being friends with Jesus refuse His clear commands. For example, many reject His command to believe and be baptized to be saved in Mark 16:16, and yet claim friendship with Him. How can that be? Indeed, they say any necessary obedience nullifies God’s grace. If true, then we cannot be a friend to Jesus without denying His word and His grace! Our plea is to return to the simple harmony of gospel of salvation by grace, through faith. Salvation is an unearned, yet conditional gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). God receives sinners when we fear God and work righteousness; the gift is thus received (Acts 10:34-35). Are you a friend to Jesus? That is answered “yes” when you obey Him in faith.
“After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.” (Luke 5:27–28, NKJV)
Just like He saw Levi (Matthew), Jesus observes us going about our daily business. He sees and knows where we are putting our attention, our energy, and our goals each day. Like us, Levi was doing his job (which happened to be collecting taxes). Jesus fixed His gaze on this tax collector and said, “be following me” (Lenski, 307). Whatever job you are doing, Jesus calls you to be following Him. He must be your priority above all else. Levi undoubtedly experienced financial loss when he followed Jesus – which he did without hesitation. Do you have that resolve? Are you prepared to follow Jesus, whatever it costs you? Faith compels us to do what Jesus says. We cannot legitimately claim to have sufficient faith in Jesus without readily doing what He says. Jesus acknowledged this when He asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? Resolve to be like Levi. Jesus is calling you. Be following Him.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Matthew 11:2–6, NKJV)
The works and words of Jesus were sufficient proof to assure John that Jesus was “the Coming One.” From Moses, to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Malachi, God’s prophets foretold of One coming to rule in righteousness and in judgment (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:1-4; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Malachi 3:1-3; 4:5-6). The same evidence that assured John still exists on the pages of divinely inspired Scripture, ready for eyes that will see and ears that will hear. Just like John, we too are expected to use this evidence to draw the only possible conclusion (the necessary inference), that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This body of evidence is how the Father revealed this truth to Peter and the whole world (Matthew 16:15-17; John 20:30-31). We dare not stumble (be offended) over who Jesus is. The evidence is sound and abundant. Jesus is the Messiah who was promised. Yes, He is the Coming One who came to save the world.
44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. (John 12:44–45, NKJV)
You may think Jesus always spoke in a soft, unassuming voice. If so, you would be mistaken. Many times, He loudly proclaimed His message. He explained that He did not originate His teachings, they came from Him who sent Jesus to the world (John 8:26-30). Jesus spoke what the Father commanded Him to speak (John 12:49). In this sense, He is the Apostle of our confession (Hebrews 3:1). So, to believe in Jesus is to believe in the Father. One cannot believe in God the Father and simultaneously reject Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus has seen the Father and declared Him to the world (John 1:18). Indeed, Jesus shares the same divine nature as the Father. He and the Father are one in nature and purpose, perfectly united in their deity and all that entails (John 10:30). The Son is the image of the invisible God, the exact image of God’s real nature (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). No doubt this explain Christ’s amazement when Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” (John 14:8-9). You must look at Jesus and believe in Him to see and believe in God. After all, Jesus is Immanuel (“God with us”).