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Healing the royal official's son by Joseph-Marie Vien, 1752.

A Royal Official

“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” my wife said when she realized Jesus was our only hope.

My son was sick—dying really—and the doctors gave us no hope. They couldn’t even give a name to his malady. He couldn’t keep his food down, and breathing caused such pain it made him shudder. For the last week, he’d had no more than a few cups of milk. He was dying. My little Marcus would leave this life as a twelve-year-old, and leave his mother and me broken.

It came on him suddenly, just three months ago. At first, we thought he had the flu. There were times we thought he would melt from the heat his body produced. Food was harder and harder for him to hold down. The doctors tried everything. I called in doctors from all the neighboring towns. Each one had the same advice. “Try to keep him comfortable.”

I’m a Roman, noble by birth. I’m part of Rome’s occupying force here in Galilee. I’m not military. There are many of Rome’s military forces spread over the region, but I’m here to create Roman culture. My counterparts and I come to these satellite conquests and live Roman lives. This way the people of our new territories can see what Roman life looks like. We live in relative luxury when compared to the rest of Capernaum. This luxury includes the servants we brought with us from Rome. I miss my homeland, though, and have wondered more than once if Roman doctors could heal my son.

My butler brought his family with him from Rome when we moved here four years back. They lived together in a suite of rooms in the servants quarters, off the main house. He is my most trusted confidant. I speak with him about things I would not even share with my wife.

Three days back, my butler mentioned that Jesus, the healer, was back in Galilee—in Cana. We had talked about taking my son to him a few weeks ago, but the reports had him in Jerusalem and around Judea. My son was too sick to travel that far. But Cana—Cana is only a few hours from here.

We first heard of this healer a few months back, when my butler took his wife to find him. It was one Saturday night after the Jew’s Sabbath was over, right here in Capernaum. He told me, the next day, there had been dozens of people waiting outside the home where Jesus spent his Sabbath. When He emerged He healed every one of them. Not one person went home without a touch from this healer, including my butler’s wife. She had been suffering from vision loss since he came into my service. In any practical sense, she was blind. But when he came back in that night, there was a ruckus in the servants quarters. I went to see what was going on and found a full-blown party going on. When he saw me, he didn’t even apologize for the noise or seem concerned. He ran over and gave me a hug. His eyes were wet with tears.

“She can see,” he said through his tears.

I looked at her across the room and our eyes met, and she was nodding. It was true. She was completely healed. She could see.

So when he told me Jesus was back in the area, I told him to get my horse and carriage ready. Then I ran to my son’s bedside. I found my wife holding him, tears running down her cheeks.

“What is it?” I asked.

“He’s gone,” she said.

“Dead?” I asked.

“No,” she answered, “but close. He’s not responding to anything anymore.”

“I want to take him to see the healer—up in Cana,” I said.

“He can’t travel. He’ll be dead before you get him in the carriage.” She said.

“But the healer is back in Cana. He can save him, I’m sure of it.” I urged.

“No. I won’t let you take him,” she insisted.

“Well, I’m going anyway,” I told her.

I threw on my cloak and rushed for the door.

“You’re leaving now?” she asked. “It will be nightfall by the time you reach Cana.”

“Look at him,” I said. “He’s at death’s door. I must see this man as soon as possible.”

“Just go, and go now before it’s too late,” she finally agreed.

I ran out the door and found the horse and carriage ready for me in front of the house. I briefly explained I was going alone. We separated horse and carriage and saddled him. I was off for Cana.

My last look at my son panicked me. His body seemed limp, his color, gray. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind. I had to find this healer and all I knew of his whereabouts was Cana.

When I got to the town, I headed toward the magistrates building near the town center. But before I got there, I saw a crowd gathered in the square. In the center was a man who seemed to have everyone’s attention. As I approached I began to understand why. His words drew me like a bee to a blossom. The sound of His voice seemed to exude peace if that’s even possible. After two hours riding in panic, a calm from without began to press its way into my soul.

When the crowd saw the royal insignia on my horse, they made room for me. I dismounted and walked through the assembly to Jesus.

He stood before me in silence.

“My son is at the point of death,” I began. “He may be dead already, but I’m sure if you will come with me to Capernaum, you can make him well.”

Jesus turned from me to address the crowd.

Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.

Sir,” I almost barked, feeling the panic rising again. I gathered myself and started again, this time with a forced calm. “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus said, “Go; your son lives.

The confidence in His tone—in His words—banished my fear and I believed Him. Three words turned my fear—panic—into peace. I turned and headed back toward my horse. I stopped. I realized I hadn't thanked Him. I turned to go back but He had His back facing me, holding another man in the crowd who knelt before Him.

As the evening hurried toward night, I found an inn at the side of the road. I slept well all night long, and that surprised me. I hadn’t slept that well since before my son fell ill.

I started awake, disoriented, forgetting where I was. For a split second, worry pressed upward from the depths. Then I saw my cloak and gear and remembered everything.

Only minutes after I left the inn, my butler and I met in the way.

“Master, master, your son lives!” he was calling as he ran to meet me.

We rejoiced for no short time, and then I asked, “When? When did things change?”

Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him,” came his answer.

“It was Jesus!” I said with confidence. "That’s when He spoke the words."

“Words?” he asked.

Your son lives,” I answered. “Those three words saved Marcus’ life. Three little words. Your son lives.”

We would be a few more hours on the road, but there was no gap in our talk of this fellow, Jesus. My servant told me of the things he had seen in Capernaum, and I told him my story again, and again, and once more.

Your son lives.” His words resound in my mind.

When we arrived at home, my son greeted me at the end of the walk. He started telling me what happened at home, while I tried to tell him what Jesus had done. In the end, I told my story to everyone in the household. I told my son, my wife, my other children. I called all the servants together and told them to bring their families. I then recounted the miracle for them as well. 

All who heard believed in this Healer from Nazareth.

~~~

To read the original story, see John 4:46-54.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2017

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more like it in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes you, as you read, from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon.

If this story encouraged you, would you do me a favor? Would you share it? It would be a great honor to me and would get the word out about the book.

Thanks so much for taking the time to spend here with me.

Walk with Jesus,

Ben

Yesterday, we looked at the fact that Jesus is the express image of God and to see God we should look at Jesus. But as I promised, I want to see where Jesus took this truth next as He answered Philip’s request:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." - John 14:8

Here is the passage again, with my highlighting:

Again, it would be awesome if you would read this aloud:

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. "In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. ~ John 14:9-21

Jesus, the way to know God

So along with telling the boys how they could see God, how they could get to know God’s character and nature, He was going to take this conversation to another destination.

The first paragraph of His answer basically goes like this. You have seen God because He lives in Me, and you have seen Me, the things I do and the words I say, show you exactly who God is.

And as we saw yesterday in Hebrews 1, He is not just the “good parts version” of the immutable (unchangeable) God, He is the “exact representation of His nature” (from Hebrews 1:3.)

The Other Shoe

After making it clear to the disciples that He was how they were to see God, He explains that in the very same way, they were, and we are, a way for people to see and know God.

Each reason Jesus gives Philip for seeing the Father through Himself, He turns around and explains how they will have the same ability to present or should I say re-present the Father to those they touch.

The same Spirit that was in Christ, “will be in you.” The same works that Christ used to demonstrate the character and nature of the Father, “he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.”

Just as Jesus spoke only what He heard the Father say, His promise to the boys comes down like this:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. - John 14:26

Honestly, this revelation is a bit of a world rocker to me. I can be such a screw up at times. I hurt the people I love on a regular basis because my head is stuck where the sun does not shine, and I am thinking about my agenda, my needs, my…self, and that is NOTHING LIKE GOD.

But THIS is His plan. The master plan, set in place before the foundations, before time, before sin, before life as we know it.

If you are in a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, His idea is that when people see you, they would be looking at the Father. [Boy, that feels downright blasphemous, doesn’t it?] [Click here to tweet it anyway]

OK – let’s not get all arrogant-n-stuff, because we fall, we fail, and that’s on a good day. But the fact is, when men and women look at YOU and ME, because of the new creation, the new heart, the new covenant, God, using His infinite power, gives your circle of influence a glimpse of the Almighty.

When they look at you, they see God, and when they see you fall, and God lift you up, they see their own need for God, their own need for “my Glory and the Lifter of my head.”

I know, crazy, right?

Lord, today, this day, shine through my successes and my failures, so those around me can see You, and are drawn to the Lover of their souls.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon. In the mean time…

Shine where you're screwed in.

Ben

Kingdom of Heaven"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." - Luke 1:32-33 NASB

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary to give her the good news that her life was about to be tossed into the tumbler, He included some details we don’t see in fulfilled as yet.

He tells her the Son she is to bear will be given the throne of His father David, and He will have an everlasting reign over the house of Jacob.

David’s line had lost the throne over 400 years before Christ was born. The house of Jacob had been dispersed across the known world. They had no common ruler. They were a scattered people.

When the Great Shepherd walked the streets of Galilee with a dozen followers he showed no kingly ambitions.

He made no move for political power.
He didn’t try to reestablish the throne of His father David.
He didn’t stir up the crowds that gathered to Him for a revolt.
He didn’t preach a political agenda.

So here’s the question. Is His reign a future reign. Is Gabriel prophesying of a second coming reign, where Jesus will come and rule and reign?

Or is Gabriel speaking of dominion of Christ in the hearts of the true Israel—the true people of God—the called according to His plan and purpose.

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. - Galatians 3:7

John the Revelator grabs Gabriel’s words and applies them to His second coming. He paints a picture of the heavenly throne room where God’s most honored fall on their faces before Him.

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, - Revelation 11:15-16

And so it shall be.

All that said—His reign did begin in Galilee with that band of uneducated fishermen whom He picked up along the edge of the Sea of Galilee. He began His eternal reign that day on the shore:

And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." - Matthew 4:19

They followed, and He reigned. He took His place on the throne of their hearts.

When tempted to go elsewhere, Peter famously replied:

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." - John 6:68-69

There will be a day when every knee will bow to Him and honor Him as Lord of All, but today He reigns in those like Peter who answer His call, “Follow Me.”

Truly, even in this day of gross darkness, His rule—His government is increasing. As the dark grows darker, the light continues to shine.

He’s still inviting people to follow Him and become fishers of men (and women). He’s still setting those alight who will follow and sending them into the immense darkness of our day, to shine.

He’s walking the shores of your life today and calling you to leave your nets and follow Him. He wants to give you new nets—nets for catching men and women.

And so His reign does increase even today.

Will you forsake all and follow Him?

What would that look like in your life?

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by.

Think on these things.

Ben

3

If she is a wall,
We will build on her a battlement of silver;
But if she is a door,
We will barricade her with planks of cedar.

Song of Songs 8:9 NASB

The battlements in a castle wall were the openings where the archers would hide and shoot. They look like slits in the walls.

Normally, in Solomon’s day, the battlements would be made of stone, or wood, but the Bride wants to make battlements of silver.

Why silver?

It wouldn’t be practical to use silver in the real world, so we take this to be a spiritual picture.

Where gold usually speaks of royalty, silver signifies holiness in the Bible.

A wall is for the most part a defense, but the battlement is the offensive aspect of the wall.

Here is a striking idea. Holiness is an offensive position. [tweet this]

We think of holiness as passive, more of a state of being. But in the spiritual realm holiness is an offensive posture. “We will build on her a battlement of silver.”

We situate ourselves with the weapons of our warfare, high on the wall. The holiness in which we stand, rendered ours by the blood of Jesus, is the only place from which we can wage spiritual war. Spiritual warfare, if it is to be effective, must be waged from this place of holiness.

We learn from James:

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. - James 5:16 NASB

Thank You Father, for this battlement of silver You have built for us. There is no way we could ever stand unless you made a place for us.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by today.

Stand in that high tower of holiness today, and thank Him for the price He paid so you could.

Ben

1

In Luke 10 Jesus visits Mary and Martha. You may know the story. Martha is busy with the work of entertaining. You know the drill, cleaning the corners, setting the table, preparing meal after meal, doing the dishes, making sure everyone is comfortable, offering drinks and snacks, pointing the way to the power room. (Archeology has not yet proven the existence of powder rooms in the first century BC, but you get my drift.)

Jesus is sitting in the sitting room bringing more and more light to the kingdom of God. Jesus' words enthralled Martha's sister Mary, and just sat at His feet listening.

As you may know Martha come us to Jesus, somewhat indignantly, and ask that He tell Mary to help her with the important work involved in having people in the house.

The Passion Translation gives His response this way:

Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing the most beautiful place of sitting at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her. - Luke 10:41-42 TPT

I love Jesus’ description of Mary’s place. In it we can glean how she learned to abide in Him.

1) Discovered - Mary discovered this place. She was looking for the best place, and discovered this place - the feet of Jesus.

2) Most Important - This place Mary discovered was no minor find. She found the key—the most important place. This place is the one place—the one thing David speaks on in Psalm 27:

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, - Psalm 27:4 NASB

3) Chosen - Once she knew of this place, she chose to be there. This was not easy with her sister scurrying about and pressuring her to help. Often life flits about us pressuring us to join the busy work, while Jesus sits in the sitting room or our hearts, teaching us of the kingdom of the Father. Sitting at Jesus’ feet is a choice—every time.

4) Beautiful - Her discovered and chosen place was a beautiful place. Not only is abiding in Him important, it is a place of beauty. To continue the verse above:

To behold the beauty of the LORD - Psalm 27:4

5) Undistracted - When she arrived in this place, she could sit, undistracted by life’s tight hold on here. She was able to give Him her full attention. Here’s the end of the verse:

And to meditate in His temple. - Psalm 27:4

6) Privilege - This is the life of privilege that the Lord will not take away. Do you know that a privilege it is to sit at the feet of Jesus? This is one of life’s great secrets. Many pay big bucks for the privilege of a back stage pass, or an autograph of one of the world’s greats. But the privilege of sitting at the feet of Jesus, is free, and can’t be taken from us. Yet it’s value is above all the world can offer. It is the one thing - the only thing that matters.

Find your way to your heart's sitting room today, and sit undistracted at the feet of Jesus.

benheadshot1Thanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

4

I’m reading through Luke in the Passion Translation (TPT). It’s a wonderful new translation of the Bible, not yet complete, so you can only get it in bits and pieces so far. I hope the translator, Dr. Brian Simmons, is able to complete the whole Bible.

As often happens when I read a familiar passage in an unfamiliar translation different things jump out.

Today as I read the story of the feeding of the 5,000, a line in Luke 9:11 struck me.

Here it is in TPT.

But the crowds soon found out about it and took off after him. When they caught up with Jesus, he graciously welcomed them all, taught them more about the kingdom of God and healed all who were sick. - Luke 9:11 TPT.

Later in the passage we learn there were “nearly five thousand men here, with women and children besides!” (Luke 9:14 - TPT)

What a day! It’s no wonder it was getting late. He welcomed them; He taught them; He healed them all—ALL.

Wonder how many folks went away with two miracles that day. The saw the Lord Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, which meant they went away with full bellies, but they also went away, leaving their crutches on the hillside—some seeing for the first time—others hearing the sound of their children’s laughter as they headed back to their villages.

What a day.

What a day.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8 NASB

He’s still welcoming.

He’s still teaching.

He’s still healing.

benheadshot1Thanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

===

Encounters With JesusPS - I need some help. I would love to get my book - Encounters with Jesus - into the hands of more folks. One way that can happen is Amazon reviews. Many of you have made wonderful comments about it. I wonder if you would take the time to head over to Amazon and leave an honest review. I believe the book has the potential to change lives, but only in the hands of readers. If you have ever purchased anything from Amazon, you can review this book there. It would be a huge blessing to me.

Thanks in advance.

Oh - and if you haven't read it yet - get your copy today!

If you're on the fence, here are some reviews and such:

A Must Read! by Debby Maciorowski

Encounters with Jesus by Felecia Clarke

Encounters With Jesus by Kristyn Mogler

Encounters With Jesus | Book Review by Steve Bremner

An Interview with Benjamin Nelson by Felecia Clarke

2

Through Ezekiel God promised

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. - Ezekiel 36:25-27

Christianity is no ‘religion of the mind.’ It’s not made up of ideas and dogmas. It is God coming and living – dwelling – in flesh.

It’s not man cleaning himself up and trying to be good enough to get back into God’s good graces.

It’s not making sure your good deeds out weigh your bad deeds on some celestial scale.

It’s an act of God

It’s God who cleans you

God who breaks the hold idols have in your life

God who takes out the heart of stone

God who put in a heart of flesh

God who put’s His own Spirit in you.

8 from the mouth of 4 prophets God repeated that we would be His people and He would be our God.

And check out this one:

"My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. - Ezekiel 37:27

Jesus links all this directly to us when He tells the disciples in John 14:

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” - John 14:23

That “abode” is dwelling place – it is the noun form of the verb to dwell. This statement Jesus makes in John 14 is a direct reference to Ezekiel 37

Do you see it?

This is the crux of the Christian life. This is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. INCARNATION – Christ in you.

In this last conversation Jesus has with the disciples before He goes to the cross He told them that He, Jesus Himself, and the Father – God the Father – the almighty King of the Angel Armies, and the Holy Spirit would all be moving into you as you surrender your life to Him.

You are a dwelling place – a home – for the God who created all things.

Paul said it this way – Christ in you, the hope of Glory – Colossians 1:27

Nora and Papa BenThanks for stopping by.

Have a blessed week.

Ben

 

2

Many Waters - SoS header

You are as beautiful as Tirzah, my darling,
As lovely as Jerusalem,

Song of Songs 6:4 NASB

The Shepherd King expresses once again His recognition of the beauty of His bride. This is, in fact, the 8th of 9 such declarations of her beauty in the Song.

Here He compares her to two cities, Tirzah and Jerusalem.

In Solomon’s day, the nation was one, and so Tirzah was a city far to the north of unified Israel. It lay in the mountains, and a beautiful setting, to the north of Sheckem and to the south of the Sea of Galilee.

The name Tirzah means pleasant or well-pleasing. It would serve as the capital of the northern kingdom for many decades, and was no doubt chosen for it’s beauty and it’s fortified location.

It was an ancient city even in Solomon’s time, and had been taken from the Philistines a few generations earlier.

It symbolizes the beauty of a converted life. There is a beauty in the way the Lord can take that which once belonged to the enemy and turn the ugliness of a worldling into the beauty of a holy child of the King.

This is the beauty carried by His bride. She was dark but lovely, and is now a lily among thorns.

Next He compares her to Jerusalem – Zion – the city of the great king – the city of God – beautiful, beautiful Zion.

Where Tirzah is the beauty of conversion, Jerusalem is the beauty of holiness. Jerusalem is the center of true worship. It is God chosen city. Jerusalem is God’s favorite place on earth!

And Jerusalem during the reign of Solomon would have been without equal in all the world.

Hear this – you who have given your lives over to the Lord – you are beautiful.

You are beautiful as one converted, one surrendered to Him.

You are a place of holy worship to Him.

You are a well pleasing dwelling place for the King of glory, the King most high.

What a wonderful King!

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

See you again soon.

Ben

 

4

Wineskins
From: By Book by William Henry Koebel (1872-1926) ."Madeira: Old and New" [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jesus often spoke in parables, and I want to pick around the edge of one this morning.

The day Jesus called Matthew (a.k.a. Levi the tax collector,) to follow Him, they headed back to Matthew’s home where Matthew hosted a “big reception for Him” (Luke 5:29) This was not some intimate gathering, but rather it was crowded with tax collectors and sinners, and apparently paparazzi, because both the Pharisee’s and the disciples of John the Baptist heard about it.

This big shindig is the setting for today’s Red Letters.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough.' - Luke 5:37-39

As you probably already understand, in that day, they would put their unfermented wine into fresh leather bags, where the wine would age, and give off it’s gasses, and the skin would stretch to accommodate this expansion. As the wine aged, it became less volatile and the wine skins became less flexible.

This wine skin still worked as a perfectly acceptable vessel for other old wines that were past the fermentation stage, but could never again be use for new wine.

Ok, so we get it in the natural, but what was Jesus getting at with this teaching?

Message:

The message of the parable is pretty clear and easy to derive. The new wine He speaks of is the gospel of the kingdom, the good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The old wine skins are the religious folks of the day, who are starting to crack and leak and burst at the seams as they try to take in this new wine.

Audience:

At this point in the reception He is responding to two groups of critics. I think when we approach this parable it is easy for us to point at the Pharisees as the Old School Religious folks He was rebuking, but there is a second group sitting in judgment of His carousing, the disciples of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was, in Jesus own words, the greatest prophet born of woman. Jesus gave great honor to John. John was the man who fulfilled all those prophesies, like “I send my messenger before Him to make His path straight.” He was the prophet in the spirit of Elijah who every Jewish child knew of because there was always an empty chair at the Passover feast set just for him. John the Baptist was a big deal.

But John’s day was over, and John himself pointed his followers to Jesus.

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. - John 1:35-37

But apparently there were some who had been baptized by John, who gathered together to encourage one another in their resolve to live the fasted and repentant life style John lived in the wilderness. It seems there were pockets of these disciples all over the region, because people came from far and wide to be baptized by John in the Jordan. Decades later Paul ran into some of these folks in Ephesus in Acts 19.

I believe that Jesus spoke this parable not to the Pharisees, but to these disciples of John. The parable for the Pharisees was that of the physician, but to these who were zealous for good works, the Lord has a different message.

These men were asking why Jesus’ disciples did not fast, why they were not living in the austere pattern of repentance that John’s had taught them.

I am sure God had blessed them as they walked in repentance. God showed up for them when they fasted. They were attaining some satisfaction in their walk with the Lord as they lived the life John demonstrated for them.

Then they took one look at Jesus hanging out with crowds and joining them in their parties.

The very people who did not repent and follow John were now hosting Jesus, and He was spending time with them. These are the folk that the disciples of John had set themselves against, the drunkards and gluttons.

  • Don’t they know that the way to God is through sacrifice?
  • Doesn’t everything we know about God point to His pleasure in our sacrifice?
  • How can This Man be the Messiah?
  • How can this be a move of God?
  • Isn’t our way of touching God sufficient?
  • This old wine is good enough!
  • And so it has been for the two thousand years since Jesus’ ascension, and so it is today.

God has chosen to reveal Himself to the Church progressively. Every few generations there is a move of God.

The life of the Church is like that river described in Ezekiel 47 that flows from the throne of God. The river is teaming with life, there are trees beside this river that bring healing to the nations, but the banks of the river are dead.

What happens in every generation, or at least in every new move of God is that those in the move, upon the death of its leader, build a Church on the banks of the river.

There was Luther with a break through revelation of the grace of God, and his followers built a church on the banks of the river, and rejected anything that came later. After all, the wine in their wine skin was good enough. What’s wrong with that “old time religion” that was good enough for my grandparents?

The same thing happened with Wesley, and Calvin, and Finney, and Roberts.

Jesus wants to fill your wine skin with new wine, but as you grow stiff and inflexible, you exclude yourself from the ability to grow with what God is doing today, and you  will find yourself on the banks of the river. You will be the ones criticizing ‘those upstarts.’

Lord, will you make me a new wine skin today, so I can be a carrier of new wine to my generation. [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Shine where you're screwed in!

Ben

This is a repost from last November, but it spoke to me this morning, so I share it once again with you.

11

question-mark

Have you ever wondered, “Is that a sin?”

It’s the wrong question.

It’s actually the question satan wants you to ask.

WHAT – I just don’t want to offend God – I don’t want to do the wrong thing – What’s wrong with that?

OK – OK – hold on there. I am not saying we should just forge ahead and do questionable stuff.

What I am saying is that the question is actually an old Covenant question.

It’s a throw back to the Garden of Eden if the truth be told.

Remember – 2 trees.

And what did satan want Eve to do?

Eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Do you see the problem with the question?

Life – eternal life – does not come through making all the right behavioral choices. It does not come through avoiding sinS. In fact it was TotKoGaE (boy – that’s an ugly acronym) that ushered them (and us) into death.

The other tree is called the Tree of Life.

Jesus, in His high priestly prayer said:

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. - John 17:3 NASB

This verse really got me thinking.

If I ask you – what is eternal life – how would you answer?

A mansion in glory?

Avoidance of hell?

Eternal life is a life of knowing the Father and His son Jesus.

The life we are called to is not one of knowing right and wrong, (though He does write all that in our hearts,) it is a life in communion with Jesus, in relationship with God.

I started by saying “Is that a sin?” is the wrong question. The right question is what I used to ask my mom all the time. It has two parts. Ready – here it is:

Father, what are you doing? Can I help?

BN Writers Page 150Thanks for coming by.

Keep shining.

Ben

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