week 4

Luke 8:40-56

This passage in some ways presents to us the tale of two daughters. One is a young girl around 12 years old who was dying. The other is an older lady who has suffered for 12 years with a chronic bleeding issue. Both needed healing. Both needed Jesus. Jesus’ call in both situations is the same: believe.

Jesus tells the older woman that her faith has made her well. Jesus tells Jairus to believe and his daughter would be well. The woman believed Jesus could heal her and He did. Jairus believed on behalf of his daughter. His faith made her well.

To be sure, Jesus was the one who healed these women. We must however recognize that the conduit through which the healing came was the faith of those involved. In Matthew 13:58 we see that Jesus did not many miracles in His hometown of Nazareth because of the unbelief or lack of faith of those who lived there. Faith is the means God uses to accomplish amazing things.

All throughout Scripture, God calls people to respond in faith. It is through faith that we come into a relationship with God and receive forgiveness of sins. It is through faith that we persevere and grow in our relationship with Him. And it is through faith we receive the fullness of life promised by Jesus.

There are many things that may cause our faith to waver. These two situations would probably do that to most people. However, their example of believing in spite of their circumstances encourages us to “...live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

What in your life is causing you to lose faith?  Ask the Lord to increase your faith in Him.

Luke 9:1-17

Jesus called together his disciples and sent them out. They were to do two things: proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (verse 2). They were to meet spiritual needs and physical needs. Later, we see that when the crowds came to Jesus, He “spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing” (verse 11). Then He miraculously provided food for over 5,000 people.

Keeping this idea of meeting both physical needs and spiritual needs in balance can be difficult. Often people tend to lean one way or another. They are deeply concerned for a person’s soul, so what they want to do is share the Gospel with them more than anything else. Others see the deep physical need and pour themselves into meeting that need. What we find is that an overemphasis on one will lead to a neglect of the other.

There can be no doubt that Jesus was concerned about the needs and suffering people were facing. There can also be no doubt that Jesus was concerned about the need of the people to be cleansed and forgiven of their sins. And we seldom see Him meeting one need without being intentional at seeking to meet the other.

There will be times that the need, whether physical or spiritual, will be overwhelming. That was the case for the disciples when they were faced with feeding 5,000 people. Jesus demonstrated to them that the size of the need shouldn’t keep them from striving to do what He said. It just meant they were going to have to learn more and more what it means to trust in Him to be the one who would ultimately meet the needs before them.

Do you tend to gravitate towards meeting physical needs or spiritual needs? Why? What are some ways you can be intentional about seeking to meet the needs that you don’t gravitate towards?

Luke 9:18-46

Jesus asked the disciples who the crowds thought He was. Their answer reminds us of the words of Herod in yesterday’s passage. Some thought he was John the Baptist, come back from the dead. Some thought He was a prophet from the Old Testament, come back to life. But they were wrong.

When Jesus asks the disciples who they thought He was, they had a different answer. Peter, the spokesman for the group, says that He is the Christ, the Son of God. The title Christ is the same as the Hebrew “Messiah”. The Messiah, or Christ, was the promised deliverer. And Peter recognized the He is no mere man. He is the Son of God. This was affirmed by God on the mountaintop just a few days later.

What is important to realize is that as soon as Peter confesses this, Jesus tells Him what a life of following the Son of God looks like. It is one of dying to ourselves and living for Him. It is a life of surrender and service. And if we try to hold fast to what to what is temporary, we will lose what is eternal.

At first glance, the call to this kind of life could seem either unfair or unfulfilling. That’s why we must start at the confession. We are not living this life for a mere man. We are not living this life for a good teacher. We are living this life for God Himself!  And life with Him is greater than anything this world has to offer! To give up things now doesn’t compare to the riches gained by being adopted into His family. He died for us so that we can live for Him. Our confession of Christ as Lord sets us on a journey of costly sacrifice and eternal reward.

Where do you feel Christ has called you to sacrifice most?  How does setting your mind on the glory of God empower you to make sacrifices in life when Jesus calls you to do so?

Luke 9:37-62

Failure. Jealousy. Pride. Self-concern. Anger.

All of these emotions and feelings are swirling around the people in this passage. The disciples cannot cast out a demon. Other people can and they are jealous. And in the midst of it, they want to make sure that their rank in the Kingdom is secure and not taken by a well-intentioned but less deserving disciple. One village wants nothing to do with Jesus because He won’t stay. Others approach and say that they want to follow Jesus but have a multitude of excuses as to why it can’t be right now.

In the midst of this turmoil, Jesus makes a profound statement: “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men” (9:44). Jesus has set His face to go to Jerusalem to give Himself as a sacrifice for all who believe.

The setting of this statement causes us to pause and rejoice at the good news of the Gospel. Rather than look down upon the disciples and the people along the way, we must turn and look inward to see the same failures and emotions in us. And we remember that Jesus died for these things. He came to a sin-wrecked earth, walked among the mess, and gave Himself to make all things new.

Unlike the disciples, we know and understand what Jesus meant. We know the victory that is ours in His death. We know that even though our sin had separated us, when we trust in the Gospel, we are made righteous in Him. Yes, we will fail. Yes, we will get it wrong. Yes, we will fall short of what we could be. But we have been forgiven and are brought near to Him.

What person(s) in the story do you most relate to? Why?  How does the Gospel specifically help you as you face failure?

Luke 10:1-24

Jesus gathered seventy-two of his followers and sent them before Him to share the good news of the Kingdom and to prepare for His coming. They were to depend entirely upon God and His provision. It wasn’t to be a time of comfort and ease, but one of purpose and intentionality. They may be received and they may be rejected. Either way, they were to pray and go.

In the end they returned to Jesus rejoicing. It had been a marvelous experience. The capstone was that even the demons obeyed in the name of Jesus! This passage stands in contrast to the passage we examined yesterday. In that passage, the disciples weren’t able to cast out a demon from a young boy. There they had failed. Here they had succeeded.

The same application we drew yesterday hits us again today. There, we trusted the Gospel in the face of our failures. Here, Jesus reminds us to trust the Gospel in the face of our successes. That is what He tells his disciples: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (10:20).

Our hearts can tend to doubt when we know our failures. On the other hand, our hearts can tend to become prideful and self-sufficient when we see accomplishment. Maybe it is leading someone to Jesus, teaching a Bible study, or having a strong conversation with an unbeliever. Or it may be reading the Bible in a year or memorizing a large chunk of Scripture. Any number of “spiritual successes” can move our hearts to think that God loves us more or better because we are doing well. While He is pleased with our faithfulness as Jesus was in the passage, we remember His love for us isn’t based on how well we do, but on the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.

How does the Gospel help to fight pride in your life?  How is God teaching you to rely completely upon Him and His provision?