Friday, March 28, 2014

"What do you want from Jesus?"

Day #91:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - March 29th

Scripture Reading:  Mark 5 - 6 …

What do you want from Jesus?  If you believe that Jesus is who He says He is - the eternal Son of God who came in the form of human nature to offer the perfect sacrifice for sin, and who died and rose again and ascended into heaven … what do you want from Him?  What do you want Him to do for you?

The Gospels reveal Jesus' wisdom and power.  He cast out demons, healed the sick, raised the dead, calmed the storms …  There is nothing Jesus can't do.  So what's the "catch?"  We have grown skeptical of offers that seem too good to be true.  Jesus did these things then, but what about now?  Probably not.  We who know Christ believe that He is STILL able to do anything that He desires to do.  That's what He did when He was here on the earth, and all authority, in heaven AND on earth has been given to Him by the Father.  Jesus could heal every disease, He could erase poverty and hunger and sickness from the earth.  So why doesn't He?

Because there is a greater problem facing mankind!  Every person who has ever lived, who is living now or who ever will live has a deep spiritual need to know God, their Creator, and to be reconciled to Him.  While on the earth, Jesus displayed His power in many ways in order to reveal Who He was, so that those who were moved by the Spirit would believe in Him as the promised Savior, the One talked about in Isaiah 53:4-6:  "Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows …  He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. … and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all."

All that Jesus did during His brief ministry on the earth was designed to point people to the cross, where He suffered God's wrath against sin for all who would believe.  People then and now failed to understand.  People then and people now want miracles.  But the more miracles Jesus did, the more miracles people wanted.  And look at their response:  the people in Mark 5 preferred a demon-possessed menace rather than the power of Jesus!  When they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons sitting there, dressed and in his right mind, they were afraid (5:15).  They "pled with Jesus to leave their region" (5:17).

When Jesus said that Jairus' daughter was not dead but asleep, the people laughed at Him … until He told her to get up!  When Jesus went to Nazareth and told the men in the synagogue that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2, they drove Him out of the city.  And when He fed the five thousand, the disciples failed to understand that it was a picture of a spiritual hunger that only Jesus could fill.  Many people read the Gospel records and wish that they had been alive as Jesus walked the earth, but what they don't see is the deep spiritual blindness of those who heard Jesus teach and saw Him perform miracle after miracle.  If they had been alive then, they would have failed to understand, too.

What do YOU want from Jesus?  Those who know Him as Savior and Lord can testify that we already have all we need from Him:  the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.  Each believer can and should testify that Jesus has performed a miracle in my heart and my life.  He has saved me!  He has delivered me from the kingdom of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of light!  And by His Word and Spirit He is transforming me into His likeness, that I might be His witness in the world.

People have a lot of reactions to Jesus, and I think of Jesus' words to the church in Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16:  "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth!"  I don't want to be a lukewarm disciple of Christ!

The disciples were sent out by Jesus and He gave them authority over evil spirits and the power to heal the sick, but it was their call to repentance that demanded a response.  Sin enslaves each of us until or unless we are set free by the power of Jesus Christ though His Word and Spirit.  The greatest miracle Jesus performs is the spiritual surgery that only His Word and Spirit bring about in the lives of those who are born again by the same power that raised the dead and healed the sick.  What do you want from Jesus?

Have you received His gift of life by faith, then live for Jesus and trust Him to give you all you NEED as you live your life for Him.  Look at the testimony of those who have believed God's Word, who suffered much for the sake of His name.  Look at the testimony of so many today who are suffering for the sake of the Gospel, but who will not give up or give in or turn away from Christ, believing that their reward is in heaven.  Faith believes and faith trusts, no matter what!

You can be like those who wanted more miracles, like those in Nazareth who drove Jesus out of town, like those who wanted Jesus to leave, like Herod, whose guilt moved him to kill John the Baptist and whose fear made him a pawn of Satan to try to get rid of this annoying man named, Jesus.  People say they believe in God and may even say they believe in Jesus … as long as things go their way.  But what happens when Jesus doesn't give you what you want?

Will you remain with Jesus?  Will you confess His name and worship Him, whether you are walking beside still waters or in the midst of a raging storm?  Will you be like the man who was healed and testify to everyone what Jesus has done for you?  When Jesus told His disciples to give the crowd something to eat, He showed them that HE would give them what they needed to feed people:  LIVING BREAD … LIVING WATER!  "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty" (John 6:35).

What do you want from Jesus?  If your faith is in the risen and exalted Savior, Jesus, the Christ, you already have all you need.  He tells us to bring our requests and sometimes He gives us a miracle, to strengthen our faith or to give us an opportunity to testify that the greater gift is eternal life through His death on the cross.  But you need to know what you want … what you NEED … from Jesus, and not be distracted by the cry of the flesh for miracles.

Jesus doesn't have to prove Himself.  He has already done that, and we have the testimony of the Scriptures.  Have you seen a miracle?  Have you experienced a miracle (we all have in hundreds of ways!), then don't point people to the miracle, but use it to point people to the One who can save their soul by granting them forgiveness as they repent and believe.  Jesus never met a sinner He can't forgive … unless they reject His offer of life.  "He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith" (6:6).

What do you want from Jesus?  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!" (Acts 16:31).

"Father in heaven, I need and want Your forgiveness; and I need and want Your Spirit to change my heart and renew my mind, so that I may serve You without fear all my days, and finally enter into Your eternal kingdom.  THANK YOU for giving me all I need through faith in Jesus.  Help me to want nothing more than to be a faithful witness of Your love and grace, as Your Spirit now lives within me.  To You be all the glory for Your marvelous gift of life.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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