In Luke 10, Jesus told His disciples to tell the cities that rejected Him that “the Kingdom has come near” to them. Those cities had the opportunity to hear Jesus, see Jesus, be healed by Jesus, and most of all be redeemed by Jesus, yet they passed on that opportunity and rejected Him.
We live in an amazing time where we have an abundance of Bibles in multiple languages and translations, we have stores full of books about the Bible and the Christian faith, and you can go online and listen to almost any Bible teacher in the world. We live in a time when the Gospel and scripture, as well as solid Bible teaching is readily available. The Kingdom truly has come near to us.
The question is, what do we do with that? Join Pastor Leland Acker in Luke 10:10-24 by listening to the audio posted above.
In Luke 9, Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of His death, burial and resurrection, before telling His disciples that they must take up their cross to follow Him. What does it mean to take up your cross? Check out today’s message, posted above, as Pastor Leland Acker defines the Gospel, then discusses what it really means to take up your cross.
Jesus called us to do more than say a sinners prayer and rest upon our blessed assurance. He called us to follow Him.
In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
The call to follow Jesus is the call to an amazing lifelong journey in which you will literally see amazing things.
The life of a disciple is truly a transformational and fascinating experience. Think about it. When we read the Gospels, we often imagine ourselves as one of the disciples, as one who would follow and learn from Jesus.
In fact, there’s an entire TV series dedicated to that idea. The Chosen spends as much time, if not more, exploring the lives of the disciples and their personalities than it does recreating the events of the Bible.
None of us imagine ourselves as just one of the townspeople, Roman soldiers or Pharisees. We tend to imagine ourselves as disciples. That’s where Jesus was. That’s where the action was.
But life for the disciples was not for the faint hearted, and neither is life for disciples today. When Jesus issued this call to discipleship, He clearly set tough expectations. He made it plainly known what we should expect.
In Luke 9:23, we see three steps to discipleship.
1. Discipleship begins with the commitment to follow Jesus. Jesus had just predicted His death, burial and resurrection for our sins according to the scriptures. He then said, “If any will come after me.” Basically, He was saying, “This is where we’re headed.” To follow Jesus meant that you would have to be committed to the cause.
2. Discipleship involves sacrifice. Jesus’ next words were “let him deny himself.” Denying yourself means foregoing current temporary pleasures in order to achieve the greater goal of following Jesus. Sometimes this involves financial or career sacrifice. Sometimes this means discontinuing activities that are not pleasing to the Lord. Either way, there is sacrifice.
3. Discipleship involves following. This means we learn from the Lord and conform our lives accordingly.
Being a disciple means learning from the Lord and growing in your faith. This is an endeavor we have all undertaken. This is a journey that is best taken together.
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In Luke 9, Jesus sent the disciples out into the villages to preach the Gospel and heal the people. As His fame grew, Herod heard about Him and was perplexed. The last great prophet that drew a following was John the Baptist, and Herod had him beheaded.
In his exasperation, Herod asked, “Who is this?”
It’s possible that Herod had a guilty conscience and knew his day of judgment was coming. Or, maybe he was simply curious. Either way, his question stood, and it’s a question upon which the eternal destiny of every individual hangs.
“Who is Jesus?”
In Luke 9, we see that Jesus was many things to many people. Some saw Him as a great prophet, or the resurrection of one of the great prophets.
To those whom He miraculously fed, He was a free (and much needed) meal.
But when He asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “The Christ of God.”
In that confession, Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, and the Savior and Redeemer of Israel, as well as all mankind. Jesus went on to discuss the Gospel with Peter, how that He would die and rise again to redeem man from sin.
We live in a world today where people are encouraged to define and live by their own truths… Their own beliefs. This freedom is essential in allowing us to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, and to live our lives in peace and Godliness, which is God’s will for us.
However, our freedom to define truth and our own belief system does not mean that there are no wrong answers. The question of Who Jesus is must be correctly answered, and accepted, or the sinner is doomed.
For many, Jesus is a wise prophet or a great teacher. For others, He is merely a source of blessing. Some treat Him like a magic genie or a trump card to fulfill their desires in this life. To others, He is a culture warrior who shakes the foundation of the establishment and exacts social justice.
While some of these descriptions fit, the truth is that Jesus Christ is the only Begotten Son of God, who took on the form of man, lived sinlessly, and then went to the cross to pay for our sin, freeing us from guilt and reconciling us to God.
His resurrection conquered death and gave us hope for eternal life.
That is the true Gospel. That is the central message of Christianity. That is what we believe, and it’s what brings us hope.
In Luke 9, you see the people being distracted by the miracles and events surrounding the ministry of Christ. Today, we can be distracted by controversies, politics, debates and economic conditions surrounding the church. Let us tune out the noise and get back to what matters.
Who is Jesus?
He is my Savior and Redeemer, the one Who didn’t see the good in me, but rather put the good in Himself as He transformed me into the person He intended on me being. He is my source of hope, and the reason I live and minister today.
Who is Jesus to you?
Each miracle that Jesus performs is simply amazing. From healing the blind man, to feeding 5,000 with just a few loaves and fishes, the miracles of Christ not only amaze us, but demonstrate His compassion upon those who are helpless and hopeless. Furthermore, each miracle has both the physical, and Spiritual application.
Such is the case with the miraculous catch in Luke 5:1-11. In it, Jesus demonstrates His power in a way that catches Simon Peter’s full attention. He makes Peter’s wildest dreams come true, but does so in a way that makes Peter leave them behind to follow the Lord.
Peter was a fisherman. He made his living dragging nets along the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, hoping to gather enough fish to be able to feed his family and make a living in the market place. History records that during the time of Christ, the fishing industry along Galilee was struggling.
If that were the case, the Peter, Zebedee, James and John were likely in need of a great catch. Such a catch had proven elusive, however, as when we find Jesus teaching along the shore of Galilee, the four fishermen were washing their nets after an unsuccessful night.
In reading this passage, we are reminded of the struggle of mankind. Man’s curse, brought on by Adam’s sin in the garden, is that work would be hard, and would pay off only after maximum efforts had been expended. As God told Adam in Genesis 3, “In the sweat of your face will you eat bread.”
The Lord sees this struggle. It’s real. And He’s sympathetic. It’s worth pointing out in Matthew 6:31-33 that Jesus promises to meet those needs for His followers.
After concluding His teaching, Jesus told Peter to take the boat out into the deep, and to cast the net one more time. When Peter did so, he pulled up a net so full of fish, that it filled both boats to the point that they began to sink.
If you read too quickly, you’ll miss what this really meant.
Everyone who goes into business does so with the dream that they will be wildly successful. What generally happens, however, is that the businessman struggles to make ends meet, and constantly has to worry about the consequences of a bad month.
Peter was in business as a fisherman. When Christ provided the miraculous catch, He made Peter’s wildest dream come true, and He placed that dream right in front of Peter.
At this point, Peter has a choice. Stay and count the fish and work out the logistics of getting them to market, or follow Christ. Peter chose the latter.
Peter was a skilled fisherman who built a business and supported a family. However, his purpose in life was not to be a great fisherman. It was to follow Jesus and become the lead apostle.
Dreams are good, and we never fault anyone for pursuing them. However, the lesson we learn from Peter is that our purpose is not always tied to our dreams. However, when we find the path of our purpose diverging from our dreams, what God has for us down the road of purpose will bring us greater fulfillment than our dreams ever could.
This passage gives us an opportunity to reflect on our priorities and make sure they are in line with God’s.
In his book, The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders explored the life, character and divinity of Jesus Christ in a way that left the reader in awe after every chapter. It’s definitely a book that should be on every Christian’s reading list.
In the same way, Luke captures the essence of Christ by recording His acts, teachings, and the teachings about Him. In Luke 4:31-37, several amazing attributes of Christ are on full display as He heals a demon possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum. The three most prominent are the power (authority) of Christ, the vision of Christ, and the compassion of Christ.
The power of Christ is on full display as the demon has to obey the Lord’s command to come out of the man. Christ is so powerful that even His spiritual opponents must obey Him. He has power over all creation, yet He uses that power on behalf of His people.
The vision of Christ is such that He not only sees us at face value, but He sees our hearts, our inner-most emotional workings, our trauma and sin nature, and He sees what we could be if healed. That brings up the third attribute on display, His compassion.
The compassion of Christ is such that, not only does He see our hurts and scars, but He heals them. Physical, Spiritual and emotional healing are available to any who will believe.
Christ really is incomparable. For more, check out Pastor Leland Acker’s message on The Incomparable Christ.
Numbers 24:17 is often cited as the verse the Wise Men found that led them to seek out the newborn Christ. While scripture does not confirm that, it is still a prophecy concerning the coming of Christ.
The tragedy of Numbers 24:17 is not in the prophecy itself, but who gave the prophecy. Balaam was not a Godly man, nor was he a man of faith. When he prophesied of the coming Messiah, and the glory of Christ, he did so as an outsider, one who would never experience the blessing of that glory.
How tragic it is to see the glory of Christ, and the blessing of life, and never receive that blessing yourself. It’s like being stuck in a dark place that is surrounded by light.
Isaiah 9:2-7 is one of the more famous Old Testament passages foretelling the birth of Jesus, as that is the passage that contains the words, “Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given.”
Isaiah prophesied in a time when the nation of Israel (both northern and southern kingdoms) was in great decline. The kingdom was constantly losing territory and cities to neighboring invaders, the economy was crashing, and the nation was in a state of moral and spiritual decline.
All of this could be traced back to the inception of idolatry in Israel, and the nation’s drift toward sin and worshipping idols.
As a result, the nation declined, and God warned of a coming captivity which would correct their sin.
Israel was in a dark place. Times would get darker. Yet, on the other side of the darkness was light, prosperity and joy. In this lesson, Pastor Leland Acker discusses how God takes us through the darkness and into the Light, and how all blessings come through Christ.