36 And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. 37 When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” 39 And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons. (Mark 1:36–39, NKJV)
Many people still look for Jesus. He said, “seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). If you are not looking for Jesus, you should be (cf. Jno. 1:45). Scripture says God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). If you are searching for Him, then the relevant question is, “Where are you looking for Jesus?” Some think they find Jesus through religious tradition (cf. Matt. 15:7-14). Others, through an unexpected, even extraordinary personal experience (cf. 2 Thess. 2:9-12). Some preachers tell people belief, and the sinner’s prayer is the way to find Jesus (cf. Acts 9:9, 11; 22:16). I wonder, how many people say they found Jesus through gospel preaching (1 Cor. 1:21-24)? Yet, Jesus said that is why He came to earth (Mk. 1:38, 14-15). People “found” Jesus (they believed and followed Him) when He preached the gospel of the kingdom. If you want to find Jesus, you can (Matt. 10:28-30). Open the gospel He preached and read it, believe it, and obey it (Rom. 10:17; Lk. 6:46; Acts 10:34-35; 2:36-41). Seek, and you will find.
17 Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region. 18 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. 19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” 20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.” (Mark 5:17–20, NKJV)
Jesus had just healed a man possessed by Legion (many demons, Mk. 5:1-13). Instead of rejoicing, in fear, the people pleaded with Jesus to leave (Mk. 5:14-16, 17). So, Jesus went away (v. 18, 20). Jesus will not stay where He is not welcomed and wanted. Like that day on the seashore, Jesus does not abide with us when we choose unbelief and sinful disregard of Him and His will (Jno. 14:21, 23-24). Conversely, the healed man begged Jesus to allow him to travel with Him (v. 18). But Jesus urged him to stay and tell his friends about the compassion he had received from the Lord. Without resistance, he announced to the region’s ten cities all Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled. Like him, we have received God’s compassionate mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:4-10). May we, in turn, proclaim the good news of salvation to others, that they too may be saved (Acts 8:4).
33 And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. (Mark 4:33–34, NKJV)
Jesus was the Master Teacher. He used parables to teach the gospel of the kingdom to the multitudes that gathered to Him in Galilee (Mk. 4:1-2). Then, away from the crowds, He explained the parables to His disciples (Mk. 4:10-12). Jesus knew His audience. He spoke the word “as they were able to hear it” to the crowd (v. 33). He did not impress them with scholarship or eloquence (a healthy reminder to preachers and teachers today, 1 Cor. 2:1). He was not condescending toward His audience. His goal was to teach them by planting the seed of God’s word into their hearts (Matt. 13:34-35). A godly woman once told young preachers, “Put the hay down where the calves can reach it, and the cows will have no trouble getting their fill.” Good advice. The parables challenged the crowd to ponder and prioritize God’s will. How people responded to Christ’s teachings exposed their hearts, and it still does (Mk. 4:11-12, 13-20). Away from the crowd, Jesus also took the time to explain the parables to His disciples (v. 34). He unraveled the parables’ meanings to them as He prepared them to take the gospel to the world (Mk. 16:15-16). We benefit from Jesus’ teaching style as we listen to His words and the explanations of truth His apostles, in turn, gave to the world (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:8-13).
10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10–11, NKJV)
The Bible records prophecies, preparations, proclamations, and praises of the birth of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” But the Bible nowhere pronounces and propagates a religious holiday that celebrates that great event. Interesting, isn’t it? The Bible does not tell us the day of His birth. Unlike many historical events in Israel’s history (cf. the Passover, etc.), Scripture does not assign an annual day of celebration for Christ’s birth. The Bible is silent on observing a yearly religious holiday called Christmas (“Cristes Maesse” or “Mass of Christ,” from A.D. 1038, Catholic Encyclopedia). “There is no historical evidence that our Lord’s birthday was celebrated during the apostolic or early post-apostolic times” (Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, III:47). The earliest record recognizing December 25 as a church festival is from the mid-fourth century, a full 300 years after Christ’s birth (Ibid). Indeed, “There can be little doubt that the Church was anxious to distract the attention of Christians from the old heathen feast days by celebrating Christian festivals on the same days (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, III:607). Undeniably, men invented the religious festival of Christmas; it cannot be found in the word of God. Galatians 1:6-9 pronounces God’s curse on every human change of the gospel. Yes, we rejoice in the birth of the Savior with angels, shepherds, and Magi (Lk. 2:8-20; Matt. 2:9-11). But we dare not devise and demand worship from our own hearts that God has not revealed (remember Jeroboam, 1 Kgs. 12:28-33).
15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.’” (Acts 26:15–16, NKJV)
Saul was traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus with authority to seize Christians in the synagogues when Jesus appeared to him (Acts 9:1-6, 13-14). Saul will go from being faithless to being faithful, from a persecutor to a preacher, from an antagonist to an apostle. His conversion is a touchstone of God’s mercy, grace, and longsuffering. It serves as “a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him (Christ, JRP) for everlasting life” (1 Tim. 1:12-16). Therefore, it is essential to expose and reject the assumption that Jesus saved Saul on the road to Damascus. That was not the purpose for which Christ appeared to Saul. Jesus plainly stated why He appeared to Saul: to make him “a minister and a witness” of Christ (Acts 26:16; 22:14-15; 9:15). Jesus appeared to Saul to appoint him as an apostle (1 Cor. 15:8-11). Saul was a believer after this miraculous event. And he was repentant toward God, as demonstrated by his praying and fasting (Acts 9:9, 11). But in Damascus, three days later, his sins still needed to be washed away. Ananias said to Saul, “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). If Jesus saved Saul on the road, what sins needed washing away? Since Saul still needed cleansing from his sins, it is apparent he was not saved on the road. To follow the pattern of Saul’s conversion includes being baptized to wash away sins (by Christ’s blood, Rom. 6:3). Why are you waiting?
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NKJV)
Jesus finished His redemptive work (Sword Tips #2133). Yet, people have devised doctrines that effectively deny this truth. 1) Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:17). Yet some churches (like the Seventh-day Adventist Church) listen to Moses and the prophets for their faith practices instead of hearing Jesus. This is false (Matt. 17:5; Heb. 1:1-2). 2) Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10). Yet some churches (like the Baptist Church) reject His salvation by refusing the necessity of water baptism to be saved. This is false (Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). 3) Jesus came to give His life for all sinners (1 Tim. 2:6). Yet some churches (like the Reformed Church) teach limited atonement (Christ’s death only reaches those God elected for eternal life). This is false (Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 4:14). 4) Jesus came to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23; Mk. 1:14-15). Yet some churches of Christ teach Jesus was only teaching Jews how to be good Jews. This is false (Matt. 9:35; Lk. 16:16; Matt. 5:31-32; 19:8-9). 5) Jesus came to be a king (Jno. 18:37). Yet many churches teach the premillennial doctrine that because the Jews rejected Jesus as their King, God withdrew the kingdom promise and substituted the church. They believe Jesus will return to earth in His kingdom in the future. This is false (Matt. 16:18-19; Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; Col. 1:13; 1 Cor. 15:23-24). One denies the truth that Jesus finished His work by accepting doctrines that contradict His work and word. Let us go back to the New Testament of Jesus, to a time before the doctrines and creeds of men corrupted the purposes and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and please God by remaining in its truth (Gal. 1:6-10).
“I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4, NKJV)
Jesus emphatically declared He glorified the Father and accomplished the work His Father gave Him. Jesus lived each day by God’s word to do God’s will. He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (Jno. 4:34). Jesus used every day to “work the works” of the Father who sent Him, thus teaching diligence to His disciples (Jno. 9:4). With His dying breath, Jesus said, “It is finished” (Jno. 19:30). What work did the Father give Jesus? Summing it up in one sentence, He gave Jesus the work of accomplishing human redemption from sin and death. “The Father sent the Son as Savior of the world” (1 Jno. 4:14). The work Jesus accomplished is understood by how the Scriptures describe His work. Jesus came 1) To fulfill the law and the prophets (Matt. 5:17); 2) To seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10); 3) To give His life a ransom for us all (Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6; Jno. 10:17-18); 4) To preach the gospel of the kingdom (Mk. 1:14-15, 38-39; Acts 3:22-23); 5) To be a king (Jno. 18:37; Mk. 9:1). 6) To bring division (Matt. 10:34-38; Lk. 12:49-53); 7) To bring light, life, and judgment (Jno. 1:4-9; 9:39); 8) To destroy the works of the devil (1 Jno. 3:8); 9) To do the will of the Father (Jno. 6:38). This list is not exhaustive, but each one identifies the work Jesus did and the honor it gave the Father (Jno. 17:4). If Jesus failed to finish even one of these works, then He also failed to glorify the Father fully. Which of these works are you willing to say Jesus did not accomplish? Our next “Tip” will identify some doctrines that do just that.
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: 6 “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:4–6, NKJV)
God’s purposes are not overthrown by the plots and schemes of humans (Psa. 2:1-3). God replies with scornful derision in verse 4 to those who would fight against His Anointed (Christ) and their rule. God responds with wrath and fury (v. 5). He is Lord (Heb., Adonay) over earth’s kings and rulers, and He counters their opposition to His will with an unequivocal declaration in verse 6: He would succeed. 1) “Yet” – They would fail in their resistance to God and His Christ. This verse lands a death blow to the premillennial doctrine that God withdrew His kingdom plans because the Jews rejected Jesus. 2) “I have set My King” – God installed the King of His choosing. God’s Anointed was chosen for His righteousness and crowned king by Almighty God (Jer. 23:5-7; Heb. 1:8-9). After His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended to His throne at God’s right hand (Psa. 110:1; Dan. 7:13-14; Eph. 1:20-23; Acts 2:32-36). Jesus is king now. 3) “On My holy hill of Zion” – Christ rules over God’s kingdom. Zion is God’s “dwelling place” and “resting place” (Psa. 132:13-14). King David seized the stronghold of Zion (1 Chron. 11:4-7). Now Jesus Christ (the son of David) is enthroned on Mount Zion, the “heavenly Jerusalem” to which we have come and over which Christ reigns (Micah 4:1-4; Heb. 12:22-23). Christ rules “in the midst of His enemies” (Psa. 110:2). Heaven and earth are under His authority (Matt. 28:18).
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21–22, NKJV)
Repeatedly forgiving one who has sinned against us is not easy. It requires faith to do as Jesus said (limitless forgiveness). He went on to describe God’s forgiveness is driven by compassion, not withheld due to wearisome repetition. Such unceasing forgiveness means our hearts must be filled with the love, mercy, and longsuffering of God (see Sword Tips #2116 on 1 Timothy 1:15-16). It requires a generous, sympathetic heart toward the sinner and the struggles against sin to repeatedly forgive when wronged. Oh, the magnitude of God’s repeated forgiveness of us and our sins against Him! As God forgives us, we are to forgive others (Matt. 6:12, 14-15; 18:32-35). The numbers Peter proposed were literal. He thought seven was a perfectly generous amount of times to forgive repeat offenders. Jesus used numbers figuratively (“seventy times seven” does not make the four hundred ninety-first sin beyond our need to forgive). In another place Jesus said, “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Lk. 17:4). Ready, willing, abundant forgiveness is our task of faith when sinned against. We want and need God’s unending compassion and forgiveness (Matt. 18:23-27). Let us not withhold the same from those who sin against us (Matt. 18:28-35).