Lesson 10 -- third quarter 2005
August 7, 2005
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
Has Jesus accomplished His ministry in you?
For what purpose are you here?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
God's Spirit empowers those whom He sends.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to... [and] he hath sent me to..." (Luke 4:18). Though Jesus said this about Himself, the principle applies as well to all of God's children. No assignment from the Father comes without the empowering presence of His Spirit. God wishes to see His mission accomplished through us; He has no desire for or pleasure in our failure. That is why He does all He can to ensure our success.
The Gospel is for the poor.
"He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor" (Luke 4:18). This statement does not make economic lack a virtue. It does not limit the Gospel to those who are not financially self-sufficient or who do not have an adequate supply of material things. Jesus made this clear a little later: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Interestingly, the word used for poor is ptochos (Strong's: 4434), which speaks of one so lacking in self-sufficiency that he only obtains his living by begging. The Gospel is solely for those who know they cannot earn it and thus depend completely on the help and mercy of Another. Because the scribes and Pharisees failed to grasp that reality, He later declared to them, "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17).
Jesus meets the needs of those who receive Him.
Whatever the need of the one turning to Him, Jesus ably meets it. It doesn't matter whether we are brokenhearted, bound, blind, or wounded, or all of the above -- He will bring us rest, peace, healing, freedom, and restoration. That is the Gospel we receive; that is the Gospel we offer.
Questions and Responses
Why is it so easy to reject the teaching of "one of our own"?
Though we may not necessarily despise him and his message, we certainly seem unable (unwilling?) afford him the ear, honor, and esteem that we with such ease grant someone from another congregation. If he's of our congregation, he will most likely enjoy higher esteem from people in other congregations. Consider three possible explanations for such attitudes and behavior.
Familiarity. We know the local one. We have seen and heard him during his low times. We know and have had to put up with his weaknesses and failures. We remember his immaturity, maybe even his youth or childhood. He is, after all, one of us. How can we possibly accept him in this "strange" role of prophet? (We aren't always like that, but it is a human tendency which we must resist.)
Vulnerability. The local one knows us -- our low times, our weaknesses, our inconsistencies, our failures, our history, our immaturity, and so forth. This makes us extra vulnerable to him and his prophetic voice. When he speaks, we can often be sure he knows exactly how it applies to us...and he knows that we know as well. We cannot pretend with him.
Mistrust. This factor is particularly unfortunate because it is magnified by the two preceding ones. Because we know him and his past as well as we do, we find it difficult to trust his spiritual gift and perception. And because we know he knows us just as well, we struggle with trusting that he isn't just trying to lord it over us or put us in our place.
Blessed is the congregation which can produce its own home-grown prophets and leaders! So "know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And...esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves" (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13) . . . and don't hold the home-grown ones in lesser regard.
Do your ears itch?
We like to hear new teaching. We like to hear interesting teaching. We like to hear pleasant teaching. So did the people in Jesus' home town. They even marveled that He should have such gracious teaching. But they, like we too often, changed their opinions very quickly when the teaching and words found their mark in the hidden, vulnerable areas of their hearts. They had itching ears, wanting to be tickled and pleased. Alas, they lacked open hearts that want righteousness above all else.
So why did He bother going to Nazareth?
No matter how closed their hearts were, even they needed to have Luke 4:18,19 fulfilled in their ears. Even if they rejected it, they needed to have the message delivered to them. Even if they despised the Messenger, He loved them beyond measure. So He went to them.
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