Leaving everything to follow Jesus

“Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God. He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.” (Luke 5:1-3 NET)

Jesus’ popularity was growing. Just standing by the lake (we know this lake better as the ‘Sea of Galilee’) caused a crowd to gather around him. They were eager to hear him teach more from God’s word. We aren’t given an exact location for this scene, but as Simon is there we are fairly safe to assume this was near Capernaum at the north of the lake. Continue reading “Leaving everything to follow Jesus”

A radical message

“…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.’” (Luke 3:1-9 NET)

John caused quite a stir when he began preaching and baptising. Can you imagine what that would have been like? For the past 400 years there had not been a prophet in Israel. The country had been invaded many times but no word from God. And then this ‘wild’ man began to preach what might have been considered a ‘harsh’ message. Can you imagine being called the “offspring of vipers”? Continue reading “A radical message”

The parable of the fig tree

“Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near” (Mark 13:28 NET).

When we approach Mark 13 we must be aware not only of the context of what he was teaching but also the context of that week. This parable from the fig tree is placed in context when we consider an incident that took place a few days earlier. Continue reading “The parable of the fig tree”

Taking care of what is needed

“As Jesus came ashore he saw the large crowd and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he taught them many things.” (Mark 6:34 NET).

Jesus cared about people. When he saw this crowd – a large crowd at that – he felt for them. They needed a shepherd, someone to guide them. So he did, by teaching them many things.

And that caused the problem. It became too late – definitely too late for anyone to get anything to eat. There were no McDonalds they could go to (or even fish and chips) – they were in the middle of nowhere. Jesus’ disciples thought they should get rid of the people: “This is an isolated place and it is already very late. Send them away so that they can go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy something for themselves to eat” (Mark 6:35-36). In other words, “it’s not our problem.” Continue reading “Taking care of what is needed”

Proclaiming Jesus

“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him. Then he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God – do not torment me!’ (For Jesus had said to him, ‘Come out of that man, you unclean spirit!’) Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘My name is Legion, for we are many’” (Mark 5:6-9 NET).

It isn’t strange to us that a man saw Jesus, ran up, and bowed down before him. We can read about this happening quite often while Jesus was teaching and healing. What makes this man different is that he was not in his right mind. Continue reading “Proclaiming Jesus”

Always be ready

“As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3 NET).

Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24 is still amongst the most controversial of all that he taught. It seems that in every age there are some who believe that Jesus was talking about the time in which they are living. Sadly they miss the context of Jesus’ message and instead begin to look for “signs” which would show that Jesus is about to return. We should notice what prompted the disciples’ question. Continue reading “Always be ready”

True greatness

“Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach. They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people’” (Matthew 23:1-7 CSB).

The scribes and Pharisees often received criticism by Jesus – and rightly so, as we can see in the opening of this chapter. Continue reading “True greatness”

Are we ready?

“As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, ‘Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.’ The disciples asked him, ‘Why then do the experts in the law say that Elijah must come first?’ He answered, ‘Elijah does indeed come first and will restore all things. And I tell you that Elijah has already come. Yet they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. In the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:9-13 NET).

Earlier in Matthew 17, Peter, James, and John were privileged to witness what we call Jesus’ transfiguration and also to see Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus. They heard the voice of God which told them to listen to Jesus. Continue reading “Are we ready?”

Jesus came to call sinners

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ he said to him. So he got up and followed him. As Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said, ‘Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. Go and learn what this saying means: “I want mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:9-13 NET).

Have you noticed those whom Jesus spent time with? He wasn’t concerned to appear politically correct and only spend time with the movers and thinkers of his day. His concern was the everyday, normal people. Continue reading “Jesus came to call sinners”

Are we willing to follow Jesus?

“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). He said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people!’ They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John, in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. Then he called them. They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22 NET)

Fishermen. Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. They lived by a large lake that we call the Sea of Galilee (the lowest freshwater lake in the world). These four fishermen were from the town of Capernaum, on the northern coast of the lake. Continue reading “Are we willing to follow Jesus?”