Friday, January 10, 2014

"So it begins …"

Day #14:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - January 11th

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 3 - 4 …

The world had been waiting for this moment, not only since Jesus had been born, but from the moment Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.  As you read these two chapters in Matthew's Gospel record you discover a huge gap between the end of Chapter 2 and the beginning of Chapter 3.  Chapter 2 ends with Joseph and Mary taking Jesus to Nazareth, where He grew up and became a man.  Chapter 3 begins with Jesus about 30 years old.  What happened in between and why isn't it recorded for us?

The only glimpse we have into Jesus' childhood and youth is what we find in Luke 2:40-52.  Every year Jesus traveled with His parents to Jerusalem and even at the age of twelve He amazed the teachers at the temple with His wisdom.  He grew up as a carpenter in Nazareth.  No more is known about the first thirty years of His life.  No more needs to be known.  As a true man, Jesus "grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52), but it was all preparation for this moment in Matthew 3, when He began His ministry, leading to the cross, and ultimately to His resurrection and ascension.

Jesus' life on the earth was no ordinary life.  Perhaps you have read the poem, "One Solitary Life."  It attempts to describe the impact that this one life has had on the history of mankind for the past 2,000 years.  But there's more to it than that!  Jesus came to fulfill God's promise to send a Savior.  As John prepared the way by pointing out mankind's sin and the need to repent, so Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (4:17).  It was not a popular message then, and it is not a popular message now.

Satan tried to distract Jesus from His mission to deal with the consequences of sin.  Jesus knew already what lay ahead.  Everything needed to be fulfilled, just as the Father had planned.  God's own testimony concerning His Son and the descending of the Holy Spirit confirmed that this was the promised One who would redeem God's people and deliver them from the guilt and power of sin that enslaved them.

Almost immediately, Jesus began to display His power over the consequences of sin as He preached and healed and cast out demons.  Truly, this world would never be the same again - EVER!  "The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned" (4:16).  And "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people" (4:23).

Light exposes the darkness and Jesus came to offer hope to a world in despair.  He does the same today through the preaching of the Gospel and the power of His Spirit in the lives of those who believe in Him!  Jesus' "story" continues and by faith you and I become part of it as He calls US to leave the world and to follow Him.  Are you a disciple of Jesus?  Have you experienced His healing?  Have you become a "fisher of men?"  Jesus is still calling people to follow Him today and through His Church He is still preaching the good news of the kingdom all over the world.

What a privilege to know Him and to serve Him!  Be excited!  Get involved in the ministry of Jesus Christ as He works in you and through you by His Word and Spirit.  Then YOUR life will never be the same again - EVER!

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to be our Savior and our Lord.  As Jesus defeated the temptation of the evil one, so help me to repent, to turn aside from the things of the world, so that I may give my life in the service of Jesus and be found proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of heaven to all around me.  In Jesus' name, I pray.  Amen"

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