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.
The ministry of John the Baptist is a key component of the Gospel story, hence it is included in all four accounts of the Gospel. The ministry of John the Baptist is one more fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, and John’s ministry demonstrates the divinity of Jesus Christ.
However, if we only make a theological point about John’s ministry, and miss his words, we’ve missed the point altogether. John’s preaching in Luke 3 teaches us three key things. (1) Judgment day is upon us, (2) The way of repentance, and (3) the power of Christ.
John the Baptist said, “The axe is laid to the root of the trees.” In that statement, he warned that Christ was coming, and so the people would need to make a decision regarding their faith. The proper choice, of course, is to repent and believe.
In discussing repentance, John gave clear teachings on what it meant to repent, and what true repentance looks like. The word repent means to turn and never return. It’s very similar to the word “forsake,” which means to turn away and never return.
While the repentant sinner may stumble and fall in the sin again, his life and desires are no longer consumed by the sin. Along those lines, John gave some guidelines by which to evaluate your life.
He said, “Let those who have two coats give to the one who has none. Let the tax collectors collect no more than is due. Let the soldiers no longer extort the civilians.” At the root of these statements are an evaluation. Are we covetous, are we content, are we prideful?
Had John been preaching today, he may have said, “Let the porn addict log off his computer, let the drug addict put down the pipe, and let the thief earn his way.”
The fact is that we often self-medicate with sin. If we are self-medicating, have we repented? And if we are self-medicating, are we really trusting God for healing and salvation?
John’s ministry also points out the power of Christ, who will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire. The Holy Spirit indwells us at the point of salvation, giving us the power to overcome sin and heal. The fire is the adversity God uses to transform and purify us. Our job in life is to trust that process.
Judgment day is closer now than it has ever been, and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that business as usual can no longer be trusted. Let us all repent and trust the Lord as we move into 2021.
One of the more fascinating stories in the Bible is the story of the wise men who came to visit Jesus when He was born. With little more than a bright star that lit the night sky as a guide, the wise men traveled a far distance to worship the newborn Messiah. What motivated their journey? How did they know of Christ?
There are a lot of good theories and stories out there, but since none are backed by scripture, we may never really know. The good news is that their motivation is not key to the message of the scriptures.
Matthew wrote His Gospel to record the life of Jesus, to record His teachings, to demonstrate the redemption He purchased on the cross, and to prove that He is the Christ based on how He fulfilled Old Testament scripture.
With that context, the message of the wise men takes shape. From this passage, we learn that Jesus Christ is real, that He redeemed us from sin, and that He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy foretelling His birth in Bethlehem.
These lessons should make Christ more real and tangible to us, and should teach us to rest in His grace and salvation.
The Gospel of Luke teaches us Who Jesus is by telling us everything we need to know about Christ. Jesus is identified as the Christ by His identity, teaching, and mission.
In Luke 2:41-52, we are given a peek into the childhood of Jesus Christ. This is the only look, aside from His birth, that we are given into the life of Jesus before He became an adult. What we see in this snapshot of Jesus’ childhood is a boy that is already empowered by the Holy Spirit. He is already God in flesh, and this makes sense, as the angels who heralded His birth didn’t say, “Come see the future Christ,” but rather announced, “Come see Christ the Lord.”
This passage puts to rest the notion that Jesus wasn’t born Christ, but rather became Christ. Had Jesus not been the Christ prior to this passage, He would not have had the wisdom to be able to confound the doctors of the Law in the Temple. His wisdom and teaching in this moment can only be explained by His divinity.
In this passage, we see the divinity of Christ, the wisdom of Christ, and the mission of Christ. The divinity is shown when Christ declares that He is in His Father’s house, the Temple. The wisdom is shown in his interaction with the doctors and lawyers. His mission is shown in the words He spoke, translated by the KJV as “I must be about My Father’s business.”
Check out the video above to see Pastor Leland Acker demonstrate Who Christ is from this passage of scripture.
Matthew is one of the most fascinating individuals in the Bible. He was a publican who collected taxes from his own people on behalf of an occupying empire. The people saw him as a traitor. The Pharisees believed that he couldn’t go to Heaven. He was a social outcast, and his only friends were the other marginalized individuals of his day: prostitutes, sinners, disabled, and other publicans.
Matthew knew what the religious folks thought about him, and he was well acquainted with their hatred of him. When he held a dinner for Christ, Jesus was criticized for dining at his house.
Yet, Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple, and He called him while he was in the act of collecting taxes. What’s fascinating about Matthew is his rise from social outcast and wretched sinner to being one of the men closest to Jesus. Furthermore, he becomes one of the four authors who wrote an account of the Gospel.
Matthew was a tax collector. He was a financial guy with an eye for detail, and who knew how to find authorization for anything. Thus, as Matthew gives his account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he is careful to point out how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament.
He gets right down to business in chapter 1, as he shows the genealogy of Christ, then records how His birth fulfilled scripture.
No matter how you analyze his reaction to the news that Mary was expecting, he conducts himself with grace, mercy and faith. He was a very faithful man.
Tradition teaches that Joseph believed Mary to have been unfaithful… a rumor dispelled by the appearance of the angel of the Lord. Joseph, being a loving and forgiving man, was willing to give Mary a private divorce and spare her the shame and punishment for her alleged transgression. That is, until the Angel intervened, and Joseph learned the truth and stepped into his role as step-dad to the divine Son of God.
Had that been the case, then Joseph acted with Grace and Mercy. He was gracious in that he showed undeserved favor to Mary, in being concerned for her well-being. He showed mercy by considering a private divorce as opposed to a public stoning. All of these are Christlike attributes.
Despite our sin and rebellion against God, and our betrayal against Christ, the Lord gave His life on the cross to redeem us from sin. He showed grace and mercy in giving us time to learn the truth, to come to faith, and to repent and believe.
We should not only learn about God’s love for us, and realize the grace and mercy He bestowed upon us, but we should extend Grace and Mercy to each other.
However, suppose Joseph knew the truth. Suppose he knew exactly Who the child Mary was carrying was. Suppose he, believing that the virgin would conceive and bring forth a son, decided that he would not defile the virgin. To honor God, he would quietly break-off the engagement so that Mary could live the purpose God had for her.
In doing so, Joseph was giving up what was most precious to him, his beloved wife. That’s sacrifice, which is also a Christlike trait.
Jesus sacrificed the glories of heaven, comfort and adoration in order to live among sinful men, and give His life on the cross to redeem the very people who were mocking Him. He gave up what was precious to Him for our well-being.
From this, we learn how valuable we are to Christ, and we learn that, like Christ, we should not approach life with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, but rather, “how can I help?”
And finally, as we see the angel of the Lord give assurance to Joseph, we see Joseph respond in faith. Joseph’s faith was marked by his obedience to God’s will.
Obedience is an act of faith. Is your faith revealed in your obedience, life choices, and priorities?
There is a lot to learn from Joseph’s reaction to the news of the birth of Christ. May we all turn our hearts to the Lord so that He can transform us, so that our actions reveal the faith He was cultivated within us. God bless you, and Merry Christmas!
Simeon was a man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would live to see the day that Christ would arrive. Think about how amazing that must have been?
How would you feel if you knew that scripture would be fulfilled in your lifetime? How would you feel knowing that you would live to see the second coming of Christ, and the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth?
How would you be impacted if that which you believed in your entire life was suddenly real, tangible, and right in front of you?
All of these were realities to Simeon, who in Luke 2:22-40, was overcome with his excitement and lifted up his praises toward God. In his and Anna’s praise, three observations are made:
- Jesus is the Christ.
- Jesus is Salvation.
- Jesus is Redemption.
The Christ is the Anointed One, the Chosen One, the Messiah. In scripture, God made multiple promises to Israel, and He made many promises to us. Each and everyone of those promises would be fulfilled by the Christ. Simeon identifies the Christ as Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus is Salvation. It’s His very nature, and it’s even in His name. The name “Jesus” literally means “The Lord is Salvation.” Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from our sins, from darkness, from hopelessness, and to bring in everlasting life, and eternal reward.
Jesus is redemption. Redemption means to be liberated from bondage by the payment of an outstanding debt. We were in bondage to sin and condemnation, but Jesus liberated us by paying our sin-debt, that we may go free.
Simeon’s words are deep and profound. Check out Life Point’s worship service, posted above, and learn more through Pastor Leland Acker’s message on “What Child is This?”
As more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed across the US (we have a local case here in Brown County, Texas), more people are asking the question, “Is this a sign of the end times?” Yes, and no.
In the days leading up to the return of Christ, Matthew 24:7 says “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Verse 8 goes on to say, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
“Sorrows” in scripture is often a euphemism for child birth. If you’ve ever had a baby, or if your wife or anyone close to you has had a baby, you know how this works. An expectant mother has a contraction. She doesn’t panic and run to the hospital, rather, she waits for the next contraction. There it is.
At first, the contractions are mild, and far apart (2 or more hours), but as time progresses, the contractions grow closer together, and become more severe. Ultimately, they become just a few minutes apart. Mom delivers the baby, and the joy of that newborn erases any memory of the pains of childbirth. (Or, so I’m told).
The end times, and the return of Christ works the same way.
The signs given in Matthew 24:1-8 are birth pangs, contractions, “The beginning of sorrows.” These signs repeat themselves with greater frequency and intensity until the Tribulation starts, ends, and Christ returns.
These signs both get our attention, and move the world closer to a place where the final events of this age can happen. It is all in God’s plan, and He is still in control of all things.
That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 24:6, “See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
As the news continues to fill up with stories of COVID-19, outbreaks, and instability, remember the words of Christ. See that ye be not troubled, these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Watch, and pray. And use common sense.