The Passion of Yashua


Luke 2:41-42  His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

This passage is not so unusual. A set of parents taking their son  to participate in a big event. Jesus is now of the age to begin His entry into manhood. Up to this point, as a traditional Jewish boy, He had been a student of the Tanakh (scripture collection of the Old Testament), memorized the five books of the Torah (the law), and has possibly began His studies in the Talmud (collection of teachings and ethics). It becomes very evident from His three day stay in Jerusalem and His knowledge of Scripture later in life, that Jesus was passionate about the ways of His Heavenly Father. “…I must be about my Father’s business.”

My son has a love for cars. At age 15 he purchased his first car for $750.00, a 1969 Mustang. He poured two years into its restoration and about $7,000. By the age of 18 he owned an additional 4 cars; a 67′ convertible Mustang, a ’95 convertible Mustang, a ’79 Z28, and a ’05 Focus. He worked at a cookie store and paid cash for all but the Focus. Instead, he paid the five year payment off on it in less than 3 years. Within the next two years I had to stress to him how important it was to focus on one project car and get rid of the rest. My driveway had become a car lot.

Today, between his ministry trips to Romania, he works 60+ hours a week as an auto mechanic. He has a passion for cars and a second love for Romania.

At the age of 12 Jesus’ passion was already evident. He loved the Word of God. He loved to talk about the things of His Father. He was already, at this age, aware of what His Heavenly Father’s business was and wanted to be a part of it.

Separated from His parents for three days, would it not have dawned on Him that His parents might be stressing over His absence? Where did He sleep? Who fed Him during the days?

He was a normal 12 year old lost in His growing passion. The last verse of this chapter describes Jesus as increasing in wisdom. How many wise 12 year old boys do you know? None and Jesus was a human boy. But, how many 12 year olds already have a passion? Some do and Jesus was one of them.

Therefore, I do not believe that this was His last trip over the next 18 years before His ministry. But, this may have been the last time He sat and talked with the leaders for three days like this.

If he did not talk about the greatness of God and the conflict of God’s Word and their modern culture with these leaders anymore, then who did He discourse with? Joseph? Mary? Neighborhood boys? His local Rabbi?

For the most part, I believe that much of it Jesus kept bottled up, ready to explode it upon a people who are hungry to hear what He has to say. For this, He will need someone to work the crowd. Someone who will spread a single word, “Change.” And John the Baptist one of the few who did this effectively. “Repent!”

It has been 10 years since my son’s first car and he still has it and the ’95 convertible. He collects facts, attends classes to advance his career, is making plans to do a second restoration on his first car, and knows more about his field than most his age.

We may not have anymore glimpses into the life of Jesus until He enters into ministry, but you can be assured that His passion for the Father and the Word always set the stage for any conversation and any collections He may have had.

If He was truly 30 years of age when He began His ministry then He spent most of his childhood, his teen years and his young adult life preparing for the moment that He would pour His wealth of collection into a small group of men. Jesus’ investment into their lives would change them forever and thus change the world.

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My Stage in Life


Matthew 5:1-10. 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Keep in mind that what we have read is still during the early part of Jesus’ ministry. This would seem to be the first official teaching of the twelve since He made their calling official.

No, Jesus was not teaching to a multitude, although they could have been crowded around listening. What Matthew describes is that Jesus ministered to the multitude, then sad down on the side of a hill and began to teach His disciples.

Not only is He sitting down with His twelve. But, were there twelve or were there as many as 70? Jesus sent 70 out to do ministry. There is a point that many of His disciples walked with Him no more. We really do not know at this point, but they were His disciples.

What we find in this great sermon covering 3 chapters is the foundation for what we look like living in God’s Kingdom where Jesus is the King.

As we start into His introduction keep in mind who the audience is. We can call them His disciples, but it is much deeper than that.

These men, a great representation of the rest of Israel, are frustrated men. It was just days or recent weeks earlier that Peter asked Jesus to leave him because he was a sinner.

    • Sinners, those who try to find their own way.
    • Sheep without a shepherd.
    • Blind who have leaders who are blind also.

Their understanding of who God’s children are is skewed. They do not personally have copies of the Old Testament and have to rely upon the teachings of their leaders, trusting that what they say is correct.

Jesus’ job, for the first year of His ministry, is to teach the people correctly. To be successful in leading people anywhere they have to know what it looks like when they arrive. It’s knowing what a win looks like.

    • What does a successful family look like?
    • What does a successful children’s ministry look like?
    • What does a good retirement look like?
    • What does a good pastor look like?
    • What does a relationship with God look like?

What is often called the beatitude happens to be a simple progression in a beautiful relationship.

First, allow me to help you understand the picture a bit better by clearing up the translation. In the original there is no verb in the initial phrase of each of these eight insights. The “are” in the “Blessed are” is not there.

Actually, it would read more correctly like this:

    • Blessed! the poor in spirit…
    • Blessed! they who mourn…
    • Blessed! the meek…

Blessed is not to be an end result of being poor in spirit but is perfume that comes from the process. It is a more Jewish statement that lines up with how the Hebrew word is used in the Old Testament.

What is the difference? One is a statement and the other is an exclamation.

    • Blessed are the poor in spirit…
    • Blessed! the poor in spirit…

See the difference?

What difference does it make in Jesus’ message? The first sounds like basic instruction and the second is an attention getter. He has something important to say.

So, let’s take a look at this growing process.

1. The POOR IN SPIRIT – Aware of Spiritual Emptiness: They are those who are painfully aware of their misplacement as in the poor in Isaiah 61. They do not fit in this place. We are people of another world, the Kingdom of God. This is a reflection upon the awareness that we are weak without God. Peter exemplified his awareness of emptiness when he said, “Go away from me, I’m a sinner.”

They were lost. They were sinners. They wanted to live right before God but did not know how to do it. They were already poor in their spirits.

2. They THAT MOURN – Repentive: how can being blessed and mourning go hand in hand? Paul gives us the understanding in 2 Corinthians 7:10:

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Awareness of your spiritual emptiness will produce repentance.

3. The MEEK – Give Up Control: This is a direct quote from Psalm 37:11. The Hebrew word that is used in the Psalm literally means humble. It is not a word for weakness but it is an understanding of our proper place in this universe. God is great and we are small. The opposite of meek are those who are manipulative, controlling, and violent.

The progression continues. Awareness – Repentance (Savior) – Give Up (Lord)

4. Those Who HUNGER and THIRST for RIGHTEOUSNESS – Godly Desire: Jesus is painting a picture of perseverance. Without food or water you will die. The right things in our lives have got to be like food and water to our souls. These are those who want to live right really badly.

Psalm 42:1-2  As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

5. The MERCIFUL – Compassion to Others: The common thought of that day was like the idea of Charma of today – what goes around comes around. If something bad happened to you it is because you were bad in this life or the one before it or because you parents were bad. What Jesus taught was that people go through bad times. Later in this same chapter He taught that it rains on the just and the unjust. Therefore, show mercy. Reach out to the hurting. When we show mercy we receive mercy.

The Hebrew word for compassion comes from the root word that means womb. In other words, compassion is what a mother feels toward her unborn. What does it say about our compassion if we kill our unborn?

6. The PURE IN HEART – Seeing God in Every Circumstance: What does an impure heart look like?

To be pure in heart is to be focused on one thing, God. When we focus on God then God can be seen even in calamity. What calmness we can experience when we can see God even in the middle of everything falling apart.

Awareness of Emptiness – Repentive – Release Control – Desire More of God – Compassion on Others – See God Moving in Everything  – still growing

7. The PEACEMAKERS – Healers: The Hebrew word for peace does not mean the absence war but means “completeness”, “wholeness”, “healing.” To be peacemakers we must be about bringing people to a place of wholeness, completeness, and healing.

8. Those Who Are PERSECUTED for RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE – Through Good or Bad, We Are Committed: These are those who are totally committed to stand for what is right. This stand must be the willingness to stand in the face of those who hate what you stand for.

On these progressive stairs, where are you located?

Now that you see the picture the Jesus described, can you see a reflection of yourself?

Is someone standing at the top step better than the one at the bottom of the step? According to Jesus both the first step and the last step “have the Kingdom of Heaven.”

If bother are equal, why should we care if we move from one level to the next? Each level is built with the foundations for the succeeding level. Every level is transitional and moves our relationship closer to God.

Which level is your stage in life?

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When You’ve Had Enough


Mark 1:40-45 is a story early on in Jesus’ ministry. It’s a story shared in somewhat the same manner in Luke 5 – a leper being healed or cleansed.

Leprosy is a disease where your body is literally rotting while you are alive. Many lepers end up with missing fingers, ears, toes and oozing soars with the smell of rotten flesh.

There was no treatment for it and the control of it was as bad as the disease itself. Lepers had to be isolated into their own little communities. Just imagine having a family that you would not be able to touch, hold or kiss ever again. Those who were closest to you would not be allowed to console you while you suffered.

Therefore, when Jesus touched this man and he was healed he received his whole life back.

But, there is a detail that Dr Luke shares that Mark misses. It is worth noting. Luke said that the man was “FULL” of leprosy.

He was not just sick but what we would think in terms of someone in stage 4 cancer. He was very bad off when he got his life back.

How about you? Are you FULL of anything? Full of frustration? Full of anger? Full of hurt? Full of disappointment? Full of bad news? Full of anxiety?

First, the man left his community, his comfort zone, and went to Jesus.

Second, what the man did was against the law. The leper was to yell “unclean” when someone came near so that they would keep their distance. This man come so close to Jesus that Jesus was able to touch him. Sometimes I feel that many of the rules that come from our churches end up keeping people from God. Forget the rules! Pursue after Him hard!

Third, maybe out of desperation, the man declared that he knew that Jesus could heal him.

Did he really believe it. For at least that moment he did.

When you are FULL of crud it is time to believe in someone better than other humans that have to deal with their own crap when they go home too.

Lord, empty me so that I can be filled with You!

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It’s Not The Wine Talking


John 2:1-10

This is the story that is known for Jesus turning water into wine. But, do you realize that Jesus gained no popularity from this event? The wedding was on a Tuesday, a popular day for Jewish weddings because it was the day that God blessed twice in Genesis 1 on the third day of creation.

By that Saturday morning Jesus was in Capernaum teaching and ends up casting a demon out of a man in the meeting. Now, that got him popularity. By that evening a crowd had gathered around Peter and Andrew’s house wanting prayer. A second wave of needy came to the house a few hours later but Jesus was off praying.

The point is, the wine was not the focus of John’s story as he tells it. So, what was?

John 2:4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Let’s investigate this verse:

1. WOMAN – in the original this is not a word of disrespect but a general word in the respectful sense. We would say “madam” or “maim.” Jesus, not calling her mother, has set the stage for a conversation with Mary as just another woman.

2. WHAT DOES YOUR CONCERN HAVE TO DO WITH ME? This is a phrase too Jewish for us to understand it well in the English. It occurs several times in the Bible.

David used this phrase with some of his cousins in 2 Samuel 2:10 distinguishing the major difference in thought between he and his cousins. They wanted to punish a man and David did not. They were of two different understandings, not on the same page.

Elisha uses this phrase in 2 Kings 3 in speaking to the King of Israel and then told him to go back to his own prophets, the false ones. He was expressing a major difference between him and the wicked king. They were of two different understandings, not on the same page.

The very Sabbath, following this wedding, He was teaching in Capernaum in the synagogue when a demon possessed man says,

“Let us alone? What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!”

Understand, this phrase was one of comparison. Mary was asking Jesus to do something in the natural, something materialistic, something to save a families cultural reputation. But, all through Jesus ministry, from this point on, was a battle against customs that really didn’t matter. They were of two different understandings, not on the same page.

    • Jesus was baptized just two months earlier and spent 40 days fasting and praying and being tempted by Satan.
    • Now, full of the Holy Spirit, He acknowledged in Nazarath that He had been anointed to preach the good news as He read the first few verses of Isaiah 61.
    • He met John, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathaniel in John 1.
    • He invited John, James, Andrew, and Peter to spend more time with Him, to follow Him in Mark 1 while they were mending their nets.
    • And now He is at a wedding just outside of Capernaum getting ready for His first day of healing ministry scheduled for that weekend where his three year campaign begins.
    • He will confront demons, heal those who have never known what a healthy life was, raise the dead, preach to crowds of thousands, stir up the religious society enough that in three years they will kill Him on a cross and then He will rise again.

And Mary wants Him to go to the store and get more wine.

Keep in mind that there is no hint that Mary thought that Jesus would do a miracle. It is more likely that Mary gathered servants up to assist Jesus to find and carry wine. What Jesus did saved the host from embarrassment and added joy to the party soon to be forgotten.

Talk about a contrast. Compare this story the story John writes in chapter 11 of a brother of two sisters who has been dead for four days and He raises him from the dead. Now, that is true celebration and one not soon forgotten.

Which story do you think falls into where Jesus’ heart was?

3. MY HOUR HAS NOT YET COME – This phrase is just as important in understanding the whole of what Jesus was saying.

Keep in mind that Mary had the inside scoop that Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, any prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah was like her photo album.

What Jesus did next, I believe, was not what John was shooting for in this story. Water was turned into wine but he did it discreetly where only a small handful knew what had happen.

To understand this you have to go to a prophecy by Jacob on his death bed in Genesis 49:10-11

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him  shall be  the obedience of the people.  Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes.

Here Jacob is prophesying over his son Judah. He prophesies that the line of kings would come from the tribe of Judah until the Messiah comes.

Just after the birth of Jesus the Roman Empire took away the title and authority of the office of the king in Israel and Josephus wrote that many of the priests ripped their robes, sprinkled ashes on their heads and cried that scripture had not been fulfilled.

In their eyes, for the first time, scripture had failed and a prophecy had been found wrong. The Messiah was to have come before the kingship would stop.

They did not know that the Messiah had already been born. Scripture was still correct. God DID get it right again.

But, notice the picture that is painted. When the Messiah comes something else will happen. There will be prosperity seen in the abundance of wine. Grapevines will be plentiful that they will be used as hitching posts.

Could Mary have understood this and thought that this wedding could be the beginning of that fulfillment? But, Jesus said that His hour had not yet come.

It’s not about the wine. It’s about the fact that Jesus and Mary were on two different pages. Jesus was not about the customs and traditions, to save a families reputation. He was about healing hurts and He still is about that. He has an itch that can not be scratched unless He is impacting lives!

When traditions become more important than healing hurts then we have lost focus of the heart of Jesus.

Temptation


Have you ever placed a magnet on a piece of metal, expecting it to stick just to find out that it was actually plastic? Temptations are only those things that are attractive to our desires, differing from person to person.

Therefore, Jesus must have had desires too. Otherwise, how could the “temptations” of Satan in Matthew 4 have been temptations?

There are three things of importance to note about these temptations:

1. Matthew and Luke write about them in detail and yet they were not there. It is not hard to believe that Luke received much of his information from Matthew and other disciples. But where did Matthew receive his information? He wasn’t there.

Do you really believe that every detail about Jesus’ time with the disciples is recorded? Therefore, isn’t it possible that Jesus shared a heart to heart with his disciples one day to share about His struggles and victories. In sharing this story with them He was sharing a very vulnerable time with them.

2. These temptations assure us that Jesus understands our temptations. When you put them in light of what John defined temptations in 1 John 2:16 you understand that all temptations fall into one of three categories and Jesus faced each one at the close of not eating for over a month. He can relate.

3. Matthew had his own message in Matthew 4. The next thing that Matthew records Jesus saying is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

We all face temptations. But, if we fail the simple message is “turn around!” To what? Temptations is all about us. The last words that Jesus said in Matthew 4 were “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew did not throw together what we find in chapter four. It had a purpose – Repentance moves us from our desires (temptations) to focusing on others.

The vaccination for temptation? Be others focused. The cure for temptation if you do fail? Turn around, repent.

The Day Jesus Was Tempted


  Matthew 4:1-10

If Jesus was alone, fasting for 40 days, has anyone bothered to ask how Matthew knew about the details? At the time of this 40 day experience there is no evidence that Matthew even knew who Jesus was. Therefore, Jesus must have felt it an important enough to share His personal moment with Matthew in detail.

Not only was it personal but it was a time that Jesus was vulnerable. Or else, how could that have been temptations unless each were attractive to Him?

So, what was so important about the three times that Satan tempted Jesus?

According to I John 2:16 all sin falls into one of three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. Satan dangled a carrot for all three of these categories. Jesus may not have experienced the temptation you struggle with but whichever the three categories yours falls into, Jesus faced it.

  1. It proves that Jesus understands the temptations that we experience.
  2. It shows how he confronted those temptations
  3. Jesus took the time to rehearse this story to Matthew so that we may benefit from it.

Grace


Genesis 6:8 Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

This verse is the first mention of the word “Grace” in Scripture. The Law of First Mention says that to best understand a word in scripture you go to its first mention and there you will discover its basic meaning.

The Hebrew word for grace is “chen”. It literally means favor.

What is very interesting is that grace is Noah spelt backwards. Let’s look at Noah’s name first.

Noah means rest, derived from the root word which means resting place. His name is spelt with a “Nun” and a “Chet”. Nun, in the pictogram, looks like a seed or even a sperm. Chet, in the pictogram, looks like a gate or wall and means protected.

Therefore, from the ancient alphabet Noah gives the picture of a seed being protected, a seed behind the gate. This would take us back to God’s prophecy in Genesis 3:15 about the seed of the woman. In God saving Noah and his wife, the seed in the prophecy was protected. If God had wiped out Noah and his family also then the prophecy would have been false.

What protected the seed? Grace. Noah in reverse is grace, chet and then nun (the gate and then the seed). Grace is the protector of the seed.

Man had become corrupt on the earth and truly God had every right to start all over again. He did, to an extent, but keep the seed alive in Noah and his wife. He did not have to, but He did because of His grace, His favor.

As a result, the seed of a woman was born 2,000 years later – Jesus Christ.

The same grace that kept the seed alive from Eve all the way to Mary is the same grace that is enacted when we accept the seed, Jesus Christ, into our lives. It is the very same favor that Noah experienced. The prophecy of Genesis 3:15 becomes ours, not by who we are or what we have done, but by the favor of God.

It is at the point that we believe in Jesus that His grace, the protector of the Seed, allows the seed to abide in us.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and, through believing, we too have that same grace in the eyes of the Lord.

To understand more about the seed, see my previous blog at https://wordnuggets.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/seed-of-abraham-deeper-meaning/

To find awesome iPhone & iPad apps for the Christian Walk and Ministry go to n8slist.com