The Greatest Story – Chapter 15: Salt and Light

The wedding celebrations had lasted until the early morning, but Jesus and His disciples had left as soon as they could because they would be traveling to Capernaum with His family. It was here that Jesus tried to prepare His family for the time to come and in particular He felt a longing to explain to His mother all that would unfold. After much prayer He gathered His family and His disciples together and shared with them the words His Father had given Him:

“In the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God, for the Word already existed. God created all things through the Messiah and for the Messiah, nothing was created without Him. The Word gave life to everything and everything was created to bring God glory. The light shines brightly in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:1-5)”.

Jesus paused and prayed for the right words as He allowed the truth to sink into their hearts. After moments of silence Jesus softly continued “Our ancestors walked away from God as they wandered through the wilderness, they constantly grumbled and complained. God heard their disgruntled protests and sent poisonous snakes among them. Many were bitten and died.” Jesus looked around at the solemn faces and continued: “When the people’s hearts were gripped with terror they cried out to Moses: ‘Forgive us! We have sinned against the Lord our God and against you, please speak to God for us and ask Him to remove the snakes.’ Moses did as the people asked and spoke to God, he was instructed to make a bronze replica of the snake and attach it to a pole. When people were bitten they could look upon the bronze snake, remember the Lord God and be healed! Just as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole for deliverance so must God lift up the Son of man and place Him on a cross.” (Number 21:4-9 & John 3:14-15) Mary gasped as fear gripped her heart, “what are you saying?”, Jesus grabbed her hand and said: “It must be done so that everyone who believes will receive eternal life.” Mary collapsed into Jesus’ arms sobbing as His family and disciples looked at Him with confusion and concern. Jesus’ heart felt heavy with the burden and He murmured: “You MUST always remember that the light shines brightly in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it”.

For the rest of the day Jesus’ family wandered around in a daze of confusion while Jesus took His disciples to the nearby hills to teach and encourage them. As they gathered on the highest hill, He sat with them and declared: “To this world, which is shrouded in darkness, you are the light. Just like a light on a hill cannot be hidden your light will shine for all to see. When it becomes dark inside our homes, we quickly light the lamp and place it on the table for all to gather around. We do not light the lamp and place it in a basket under the bed where it would be of no benefit, no we place it where all can see and gain benefit from its light. So will be the same for you, people will gather around your light and you must never hide it. Let your good deeds shine forth brightly for all to see, for your works will draw everyone to praise our heavenly Father.” Jesus looked around and made eye contact with each of His disciples before continuing: “you are the salt of the earth. Preserve well the words you hear from me and the works I reveal. Remember that salt is only useful if it still has its flavour, keep to my teachings. Do not become like salt without flavour, for it is quickly discarded. Food tastes best with the right amount of salt, too much and it is inedible but too less and the flavour is not changed at all.” Jesus spent time answering the many questions the disciples had and as the sun began to sink they made their way back to the others.

As darkness fell Nicodemus sought out Jesus, as a Pharisee he knew the laws and had awaited the Messiah with great anticipation. The reports that he heard about Jesus pointed to Him being the One they had waited for and Nicodemus was curious. As they sat and chatted Nicodemus asked: “Rabbi, I believe that God has sent You to teach us. I have seen the miracles You’ve performed and I know that God is with You. What is it that You want us to know?” Jesus looked intently into Nicodemus’ eyes and thought of the various things He longed to say and reveal, praying for wisdom He eventually replied: “I tell you the truth, unless you’re born again you cannot enter the Kingdom of God”. Nicodemus looked at Jesus confused “how is this possible? Even a small child cannot enter its mother’s womb to be born again.”. Jesus lovingly replied: “I assure you that no one can enter into My Father’s Kingdom without being born again through water and the Spirit. Humans reproduce human life but the Holy Spirit births spiritual life. That is why I say: ‘you MUST be born again’. Think of the wind that blows where it wishes, you can hear it but you can’t tell where it is coming from or going to, the same goes for the Spirit.”. The more Jesus talked the more confused Nicodemus became, “I really don’t understand, how is it possible?”. Jesus smiled kindly and replied: “Nicodemus you’re a respected and well-known teacher but yet you do not understand the deep meaning of the Scriptures. I assure you and most solemnly declare that I speak of eternal truths, I speak of things I’ve known, experienced and believe in. My testimony has no faults but yet you struggle to believe. If you do not believe Me when I speak of earthly things, then how can I possible reveal the heavenly realm to you?” Jesus paused and Nicodemus replied, “I want to understand, please be patient with me.” Jesus smiled and nodded, “No one has ever gone into the heavenly realm and returned but the Son of man has come down. God loves the world with an incomprehensible love, so much that He has gifted His one and only Son. All who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God has sent His Son not to judge and condemn the world but to save it. Those who believe in God’s beloved Son will no longer live under condemnation and the Light of the world will flood them with life and hope.” Jesus sat back and watched as Nicodemus tried to process all that he had heard. They chatted late into the night with Jesus patiently unpacking all that He had revealed. (John 3:1-21)

Notes:

To find out more about Capernaum visit Bible Walks.

Thank you for your patience. I received some great insights as I spent time in the mountains. I will use the timeline obtained from the Bible History website as a guide but I also feel prompted to try and collate chapters into themes, therefore my chapters may not seem to unfold with great historical accuracy but I pray that the story will still greatly impact your heart. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Many blessings, Keona

 

Doubt

I’ve just finished watching a sermon titled: “Doubt”, 14th April 2019, by Petty Mudzingwa at C3. Petty is a friend of mine and I love her wisdom. I’ve put together the notes from the sermon as well as a few of my own thoughts. I pray that it is a great encouragement to you.

Jesus’ last words: “it is finished” sound like “I am finished”.

Trapped between a mountain and the Red Sea do you:

  • doubt,
  • get discouraged,
  • disappointed
  • or feel deserted?

The 4 d’s: doubt, discouraged, disappointed and deserted.

Sometimes we doubt and question God when:

  • the battles are the roughest and toughest ever fought
  • or when the burdens are the heaviest ever carried
  • or the wait for a prophecy or promises seems unbearable
  • or when pain increases rather than healing coming
  • or when things do not make sense

John the Baptist was doubting Jesus: “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”” Matthew 11:2-5 NIV

 “Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”” Matthew 11:6 MSG

John touched Jesus when he baptised Him, John saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and John heard the voice of God declare: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!” (Matthew 3:17b Amplified Bible)

But John couldn’t see any miracle coming, there were no signs of release so his faith was being tested and tried. John reviewed the checklist from Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to”:

  • proclaim good news to the poor
  • bind up the brokenhearted
  • freedom for the captives
  • release from darkness for the prisoners
  • the year of the Lord’s favour
  • the day of vengeance of our God
  • comfort all who mourn
  • beauty instead of ashes
  • joy for mourning
  • garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair

John wasn’t released so how was Jesus the fulfiller of the prophecy? John had unmet needs and started doubting so he sends a message through his disciples to Jesus because John wanted confirmation.

Doubt brings up questions because it requires more information and clarity.

Doubt can result in unbelief.

Jesus knows our struggles and that doubt resolved becomes faith.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God, we need to hear the gospel every day. We all waver and we need to be encouraged and strengthened by someone’s testimony. Which means that we need to share our testimony as well to build other people’s faith, we need to be like Aaron and Hur and hold other’s arms up.

When we’re stuck, we can ask: “When is my breakthrough coming?”

Many others have doubted before us:

  • Sarah doubted becoming a mother
  • Moses doubted being the deliverer
  • John was doubting as he was stuck in prison

We need to find the root cause of the problem – doubt.

James 1:6 explains that when we ask for things with doubt we are thrown about like a stormy sea: “Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next.” James 1:6 The Passion Translation

Doubts is like a weight and we need to throw it off so we can press on, see Hebrews 12:1.

FAITH

Live by faith for the just shall live by faith (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38)

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Corrie Ten Boom.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1  NIV

“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen” Hebrews 11:1 The Passion Translation

Trusting God that when He promises something then He will fulfil it! Walk by faith and not by sight. Decree and Declare!

Jesus has felt forsaken like us so we can readily pray for forgiveness and assistance: “God forgive me for doubting, help me, please remove my doubt and unbelief.” (see Mark 9:23-25).

Trust and obey

Trust and obey and God for He will transform your test into a testimony; your mess into a message; He will take you from the prison to palace; and HE will turn your doubt into confidence and faith!

Jesus is aware of our ‘prison’ situations and can set us free!

Jesus is EVERYTHING we need!

Genesis – He is the Creator

Exodus – He is the Redeemer

Leviticus – He is the Sanctifier

Numbers – He is our Guide

Deuteronomy – He is our Teacher

Joshua – He is the mighty Conqueror

Judges – He gives victory over enemies

Ruth – He is the Kingsman, Lover and Redeemer

1 Samuel – He is the root of Jesse

2 Samuel – He is the Son of David

1 & 2 Kings – He is the King of kings and Lord of lords

1 & 2 Chronicles – He is our Intercessor, our High Priest

Ezra – He is our temple, our house of worship

Nehemiah – He is the mighty wall protecting us from our enemies

Esther – He stands in the gap to deliver us from our enemies

Job – He is the arbitrator who not only understands our struggles, but He does something about them!

Psalms – He is our song, our reason to sing

Proverbs – He is our wisdom helping us make sense of life and live it successfully

Ecclesiastes – He delivers us from vanity

Song of Songs – He is our Lover, our rose of Sharon

Isaiah – He is the mighty Counsellor, Prince of Peace and everlasting Father

Jeremiah – He is the balm of Gilead

Lamentations – He is the forever faithful One, upon whom we can depend!

Ezekiel – He is the One who assures us that dead dry bones shall live again

Daniel – He is the ancient of days, who never runs out of time

Hosea – He is our faithful lover always beckoning us to come back to Him

Joel – He is our refuge keeping us safe in times of trouble

Amos – He is the husbandman whom we can depend on to stand by our side

Obadiah – He is the Lord of the kingdom

Jonah –   He our salvation bringing us back into His will

Micah – He is the judge of the nations, a jealous God

Habakkuk – He is the Holy One

Zephaniah – He is a witness

Haggai – He overthrows enemies

Zechariah – He is the Lord of hosts

Malachi – He is merciful

Matthew – He is the King of the Jews

Mark – He is the servant

Luke – He is the Son of man feeling what we feel

John – He is the Son of God

Acts – He is the Saviour of the world

Romans – He is the righteousness of God

1 Corinthians – He followed Israel

2 Corinthians – He is the triumphant one giving us victory

Galatians – He is our liberty, setting us free

Ephesians – He is the head of the church

Philippians – He is our joy

Colossians – He is our completeness

1 & 2 Thessalonians – He is our hope

1 Timothy – He is our faith

2 Timothy – He is our stability

Titus – He is the Truth

Philemon – He is our benefactor

Hebrews – He is our perfection

James – He is the power behind our faith

1 Peter – He is our example

2 Peter – He is our purity

1 John – He is our life

2 John – He is our pattern

3 John – He is our motivation

Jude – He is the foundation of our faith

Revelations – He is the coming King!

Believe again in the powerful and mighty name of Jesus.

“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I pray that this sermon encourages and spurs you on.

Many blessings, Keona

 

Notes:

YouTube Sermon link 

Live by faith: The Bible verses noted are from BibleGateway.com. If you would like to read more about this Christian Courier has an article written by Wayne Jackson.

Martin Luther King Jnr: For more quote by Martin Luther King Jnr check out the following links: blog.capterra.com & www.crosswalk.com

Corrie Ten Boom: The quote by Corrie Ten Boom was found at AZ Quotes.

 

God’s Love, a word of encouragement

My family and I are blessed to have a home with stunning water views, on a clear day we can see a long way across the bay to cliffs.

Recently a fog rolled in and I couldn’t see past the railing of my balcony, the view was completely obscured from view.

fog 1

If you had visited me that day you might not have believed my gorgeous view.

God spoke to me as I looked out into the mist.

He said that the fog of sickness and circumstances in my life had obscured me from seeing God’s love. When I was in the depths of despair I felt so distant from God’s love. I couldn’t see it and I definitely couldn’t feel it. All I could see and feel was overwhelming defeat.

As I sat and looked out at the fog and prayed a wonderful thing happened- slowly and steadily the fog rolled back. At first the rooftops came into view, then the edge of the water, then iron pot and finally the cliffs on the far side.

As I sat and watched I knew that’s what God had done in my life. When sickness trapped me in bed God healed me and bit by bit and He has been restoring my strength. Each day I’m feeling more of His gracious love and His great goodness.

I share this with you because I want to encourage you that even though it feels like it there is a wonderful promise that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. When you’re surrounded by the fog of despair His love is still there!

I know this because of what God has shown me and its confirmed in Romans 8:38-39: So now I live with great confidence, in fact I’m convinced beyond any doubt, that there is nothing in the universe that has the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m truly convinced that His unlimited passionate love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels and all created things. I know that Jesus has conquered our past, is at work in our present and will triumph in our future. Because God’s extravagant love is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

I want to encourage you today that if circumstances or situations have you feeling trapped in a fog that is obscuring your view of God and feeling His love then please hold tight. Declare that there is NOTHING that can separate you from God’s love and allow Him to roll back that fog from your heart and mind.

I’ve been battling a bit of a writing fog when it comes to ‘The Greatest Story’ but I’ve set aside some time next week so I’ll try to get back on-track with it after Easter. Thanks for your patience, prayers appreciated.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture – Pixabay

 

Marriage: leaving and cleaving.

This week hubby and I celebrate 23 years of marriage, which is terribly exciting! I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for Trav’s love, his support and care for me over the past 23+ years (we’ve been together for 28 years) has been amazing and in particular the past intense 5 years. The challenges we’ve faced have been difficult and confronting but looking back I realise that God’s grace has been at work helping us each step of the way. This reminds me of the promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God’s grace is all we need in our time of trial, for His great power works best in weakness. I see that now but I did not see it at the beginning because when I laid in bed, barely able to get out, I could not see how God was at work.

My dear friend Elisa sent me a link to the song ‘Gracefully Broken’ and the following lyrics really helped me to process the season I’m in:

“Your power at work in me

I’m broken gracefully

I’m strong when I am weak

I will be free”

My weakness has forced me to rely COMPLETELY upon the only One who is always strong – God. As I’ve allowed Him to break away all the bits of my life that have needed to be destroyed, I’ve discovered a new level of freedom.  I asked God to show me something in regards to my marriage and I was surprised when He asked me to look more into leaving and cleaving. Here is the journey God took me on:

I was talking to a friend about being homesick and I shared with her that when my kids were little I was DESPERATE to move back to the NW coast to be with family. But with Trav being the main earner the right job just wasn’t there. For at least a decade every visit home would leave me feeling depressed, I’d feel a heaviness hit my heart the moment I got into the car and it would grow with the distance. For days after I’d be so annoyed, sad and mad that we lived so far away. I asked God many times for a door to open. Early into my deep inner healing journey I discovered a truth that helped me so much, I realized that closed doors can be God’s sovereign protection. I love how Lysa TerKeurst explains it:

“When God says no, we are sometimes tempted to wonder if He loves us. In reality, it’s because He loves us, He sometimes says no. Instead of feeling like it’s the end of the world, we can remember His no may simply mean not now, not yet, not necessarily, or not in your best interest. Let’s stand on His Promise of love so we don’t get deceived with doubt in this process. And let’s trust His best for us is on the way!”

I see now that we are called to be here, that God has a plan and a purpose in this. So what is this leaving and cleaving all about? In Genesis 2:23-24 Adam proclaims: “Finally! At last, this one is one of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called ‘woman’ because she is taken from ‘man’.” The verse finishes with this statement: this explains why a man leaves his father and mother to be joined with his wife, the two are united into one.

Ted Cunningham explains that we are to leave home physically, relationally, emotionally, financially, spiritually and sometimes geographically.

  • Physically (and sometimes geographically) – you move out of your family’s home and that can sometimes be some distance away.
  • Relationally – Your preferred person in life is now your spouse.
  • Emotionally – process a decision through with your spouse taking into account their feelings. Don’t allow your parent’s emotions or opinions cloud your decision making.
  • Financially – blaze your own financial trail.
  • Spiritually – It is a personal faith in Jesus saves you, not just your family’s faith.

These are points I’ve found so helpful. I am extremely grateful that God is so patient with me and as I look towards the future I’m grateful that I can learn, grow and encourage others.

Here is my prayer:

Lord Jesus, You dealt with the root of all issue – sin. You defeated it and I no longer need to be a slave to sin. Lord, please help me to leave behind my old ways and cleave to You – to be set apart for You. I ask You to unite me deeper with my husband, I’m so grateful for him because he is such a blessing to me. Thank You for Your truly amazing grace that sustains us and works in our moments of weakness. Thank You for being our strength and refuge in life’s storms and trials. Lord smile upon us and be gracious towards us (Number 6:25). May the grace of our Lord Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit continually teach us (2 Corinthians 13:14). In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Blessings, Keona

Notes:

‘Gracefully Broken’ by Matt Redman YouTube link

““At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’” This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” Genesis 2:23-24 NLT

“Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” GENESIS 2:23-24 AMP

“The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.” Genesis 2:23-25 MSG

The Greatest Story – Part 14: Water into Wine

The next day Jesus was walking through town when John the Baptist called out: ‘Look! I see the Lamb of God!’, then John’s two disciples quickly followed after Jesus. He turned around when He noticed them following Him and asked: ‘what is it that you want?’ Andrew (Simon-Peter’s brother) and Philip exchanged a glance and Andrew replied: ‘Rabbi we wondered where You were staying.’ Jesus replied: ‘come and I’ll show you.’. They made their way through the narrow streets and then gathered into the small room as Jesus patiently spent time teaching and sharing what was on His heart. Late into the night Jesus looked intently at Simon and declared: ‘you will be called Cephas’ Peter looked at Him with surprise ‘Lord do You mean rock or Peter?’ Jesus smiled ‘You will see’.

After a refreshing night’s sleep Jesus set out to find Phillip and invited him to join him, Philip readily agreed and went searching for Nathanael to tell him to good news. It wasn’t a hard search and Phillip excitedly declared: ‘We’ve found the person Moses and the great prophets spoke about! His name is Jesus, to son of Joseph from Nazareth!’, Nathanael looked at him with surprise ‘Nazareth? I haven’t heard of anything good coming from there!’ Phillip urged him: ‘please come and meet Him, see for yourself.’. As Nathanael approached Jesus he heard Him declare: ‘now here comes a genuine son of Israel, a true descendant of Jacob. Here is a man of complete integrity, there is no deceit hidden in his heart.’ Nathanael looked at Jesus with surprise ‘how do You know all this about me?’ Jesus smiled and replied: ‘I saw you under the fig tree long before Phillip found you.’ Nathanael fell onto his knees and proclaimed; ‘Rabbi! You are the new King of Israel. You are the One we have waited for, the Son of God!’ Jesus pulled Nathanael to his feet ‘do you really believe all of that?’ Nathanael nodded with tears of joy flowing down his face, Jesus looked intently into his eyes ‘do you believe just because of what I said?’ Nathanael shook his head and replied: ‘I know You are Him.’ Jesus smiled ‘Oh you will see great things! You will see the heavens open and sight heavenly beings, you will understand that I’m the stairway between heaven and earth.’. The other disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying but a deep revelation hit Nathanael’s heart and he embraced Jesus.

After another late night of teaching Jesus and His disciples finally managed a few hours of sleep. Wearily they awoke and made their way to a wedding celebration in Cana. When they arrived Mary smiled as her gaze fell upon Jesus, she quickly ran to Him and embraced Him. After a short time chatting the formalities began and the large crowd settled down to witness the ceremony. The wedding feast was a sight to behold, tables were laden with the finest foods and people greedily ate their fill. The wine flowed freely and the mood was merry and light. Late in the night Mary noticed that the groom’s mother seemed anxious and concerned, she made her way over ‘is everything ok?’ the lady turned and tried to smile ‘um..’ Mary could see her reluctance and pulled her to a quiet corner of the room ‘I’d like to help if I can.’ The groom’s mother smiled ‘Oh Mary you’ve already helped so much, I don’t want to burden you further.’ Mary grabbed her hand and replied: ‘if I can help I will, just tell me what the concern is, please.’ The groom’s mother reluctantly shared that they had no idea so many people would arrive, looking quite embarrassed she continued to explain that they were almost out of wine. Mary gasped she knew that if that happened the family would be disgraced and much shame would fall upon the newlyweds, the words that she had often heard Rabbi’s declare rung in her ears: ‘Without wine there is no joy!’. Oh dear she could see the dilemma that the family faced, Mary assured the groom’s mother that she would do all that she could and made her way to Jesus.  Stooping down she whispered in His ear: ‘there is no more wine.’ Jesus looked at her puzzled ‘that is not my concern.’ Mary insisted that He help but He replied: ‘Mother, it is simply NOT My time yet.’ Mary smiled, patted Jesus’ hand and walked to the nearest servants. Within listening distance to Jesus she pointed to Him and said: ‘Please do WHATEVER He tells you to do.’, she smiled at Jesus and sauntered away. The servants quickly raced to Jesus and looked intently to Him for instruction. Jesus sighed and prayed quietly before instructing them: ‘fill those jars with water’, Jesus indicated to the six stone jars that were nearby. The servants looked at Him a bit puzzled ‘we use those for the ceremonial washing which has been completed.’ Jesus sighed and patiently replied: ‘please just fill them with water.’ The servants nodded and quickly filled the jars. When the jars were full Jesus instructed them to take some out and present it to the master of ceremonies. The servant closest quickly obliged but Jesus could see his hand shaking as he carried the cup, walking up to the master of ceremonies the servant bowed and presented the cup. The man tasted it and exclaimed: ‘Oh how wonderful!’, beckoning the bridegroom over he declared: ‘a host always serves the best wine first and when people have had their fill they usually bring out the less expensive wine.’ Taking another sip he continued: ‘but you have kept the best until now and what a pleasure it is to taste!’. The master of ceremonies slapped the bridegroom on the back and loudly declared that the best wine was now being served. The crowd let out a loud shout and Mary winked at Jesus. The servants stood amazed and looked at Jesus with curiosity, they dared not question the fact that it was only water that had been served to the master of ceremonies, or was it? The servants gathered around the jugs they were serving from and smelt the surprising scent of a rich wine, they looked at each other with slight fear gripping their hearts, who was this Jesus?

Notes:

You read the wedding story in the Bible: John 2:1-12.

For more details about the importance of not running out of wine you can read the sermon ‘What Do You Do When The Wine Runs Out’ by Steven Spence, found at faithlife.com.

Also Biblehub.com has several commentaries that delve into this story.

The disciples can be found mentioned in: John 1:35-50; the first Disciples called: Matthew 4:18-22 & Mark 1:16-20 & Luke 5:1-11; and the 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:1-4 & Mark 2:13-19 & Luke 6:12-16). Those I haven’t mentioned yet I’m sure will weave their way in soon.

Picture – Pixabay

The Greatest Story – Part 13: The First Disciples

When Jesus was rested He returned to Galilee and regularly taught at the synagogues where He was praised by everyone, reports about Him soon spread around the entire region. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore taught with great authority and wisdom. One Sabbath Jesus was asked to read at the synagogue in His home town Nazareth, the scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to Him. Jesus unrolled it and read:

‘The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News. I bring hope to the poor; comfort for the brokenhearted; new eyes for the blind; I proclaim liberty for the captives; and freedom for the oppressed. I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great favour had come!’ (Luke 4:18-19 paraphrased)

Jesus rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the attendant, He could feel everyone’s eyes looking at Him intently. He took a deep breath and declared:

‘The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!’

The crowds murmured: ‘but isn’t this Joseph’s son? How can it be?’. Jesus looked at them sadly ‘why do you disregard a prophet in His hometown? Why do you doubt and squabble so? Elijah battled with this same disgruntled unbelief, he was sent to a widow of Zarephath and healed a Syrian leper. Foreigners welcomed and embraced him and he in return brought food and healing to their lives.’

The crowds became furious, jumping to their feet they raced forward and grabbed Jesus roughly. At the edge of town they dragged Him towards the cliff, determined to push Him off, but confusion hit them and Jesus passed right by them and safely escaped.

With a heavy heart Jesus made His way to Capernaum where He began teaching in the synagogue every Sabbath. People were amazed and greatly impacted by His teaching and the word soon spread. One day as Jesus was teaching a man began yelling out: ‘Go away! Why are you here? I know You’re the Holy One sent by God, have You come to destroy us?’. The man fell to the floor and Jesus walked over to the man ‘Be quiet!’ He yelled, ‘Leave this man alone, come out of him right now!’. The man’s writhing stopped and immediately he stood up looking slightly dazed. Jesus smiled, blessed him and sent him on his way. The crowd watching were amazed and began speaking to each other ‘who is this man? He speaks with such power and authority, look even the demons obey Him!’.

Jesus pushed through the crowds and made His way to Simon’s home. He was greeted at the door by a servant who was weeping ‘please help, the lady of the house is very ill.’ Simon heard the voices and made his way to the front door ‘Jesus! Welcome, please come in.’ As Jesus made His way through the home He could feel the grief and tension hanging over everybody’s hearts, He turned to Simon ‘Is you mother sick?’, Simon hung his head and nodded, ‘can you show me where she is please?’ Simon looked up with surprise and led Jesus to her room. Jesus walked in and saw another servant trying to bring the high fever down, Simon’s mother writhed in pain and mumbled incoherent words. Jesus made His way to her bed and rebuked the fever. Immediately Simon’s mother opened her eyes and smiled, Jesus helped her to rise up as Simon and the servant stood with astonished looks upon their faces. Simon’s mother embraced Jesus ‘thank you! Now let me get changed and I’ll make you a meal.’ Jesus and Simon left the room and soon enjoyed a delicious meal which included lots of laughter as joy filled the hearts of all in the home.

That evening people throughout the entire village brought their sick to Jesus, no matter how severe the illness was Jesus was able to heal them all. He didn’t allow the demon possessed to speak instead He delivered them immediately. The people were amazed by the power and authority that Jesus wielded. There was much rejoicing as the people were ecstatic to see such dramatic transformations take place.

The news spread like a raging wildfire throughout the entire region and soon people began to search for Jesus. Early one morning, as Jesus was alone praying, the crowds found Him and begged Him to stay with them. Jesus replied: ‘but I must go and preach the Good News to many more towns, that is why I was sent.’ The people did not understand and begged Him to stay but Jesus left and travelled throughout Judea.

A little while later, as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a great crowd gathered to listen to His message. As the crowds grew Jesus saw two empty boats and approached the owner, Simon, ‘can I please teach from your boat?’ Jesus asked and Simon readily agreed. They pushed Jesus out so that all the people could see and hear Him.

Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, calling out to them : ‘Repent, seek eagerly after God’s purpose for your life and believe in the Good News. Trust deeply the glorious message, believe that God loves you and longs to grant you salvation.’ (see Mark 1:15)

As the day drew to a close, and the crowd disbursed, Jesus turned to Simon ‘Please take me out to the deep and drop your nets to catch come fish.’ Simon looked at Jesus wearily ‘Master we worked hard all night and didn’t catch a single fish.’ He hung his head and continued ‘but because You’ve asked me, I will do it.’.

Jesus smiled and watched with delight as Simon wearily went about his tasks and issued orders to the others. When they were deep enough the nets were let down. To Simon’s great surprise and delight the nets began to fill immediately and they shouted for help from the nearby boat. Quickly both boats were filled to the brim with fish and were even on the verge of sinking because of the vast quantity. As Simon gazed upon the vast quantity of fish a reverence fell upon his heart, kneeling before Jesus he cried out: ‘Oh Lord, please leave me for I’m too great a sinner for You to be around!’. Jesus pulled Simon up and replied: ‘don’t be afraid, I’ll make you a fisher of men.’. When the boats made it to shore Jesus called out to the men: ‘come, follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.’ Immediately Simon, James and John (the sons of Zebedee) left everything behind and followed Jesus.

Jesus cries out still today: ‘Come follow Me. I will transform you into servants who capture people for the glory of God. I’ll teach you how to turn their hearts back to the One who loves them and longs to care for them. Just come and follow Me!’

Notes:

This story can be found in the Bible: Luke 4, Luke 5, Mark 1:16-19 and Matthew 4:18-22.

The Greatest Story – Part 12: Temptation

Jesus smiled as He heard His Father’s voice boom out from Heaven, oh how He missed hearing Him so clearly. He thanked John and waded out of the water as people stood with a look of wonderment upon the faces. Many pushed closer to touch Him and Jesus smiled, welcoming them to Him. When all the fuss died down He withdrew to the mountains nearby to pray and was then led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.

For forty days and forty nights Jesus had fasted and prayed, today He felt as if all His strength evaporated and His parched lips reminded Him of how desperate He was for a drink. Although He felt physically weak His spirit remained steadfast and strong. The fact that Jesus could call upon Scripture had brought Him much comfort over the long days and nights. He knew that it was the words from the Psalms that had enabled Him to endure and in particular He had often called out for God to revive Him, just like the Psalmist had cried out:

“I’m bruised and broken, overwhelmed by it all;
breathe life into me again by your living word.” Psalm 119:107 (TPT)

As Jesus rolled over His weary head began to pound and He once again cried out for a refreshing. He could feel the sun beating down on Him causing further damage to His aching skin but He couldn’t find the strength to move. He tried to roll His head to the side but sharp rocks cut into His scalp. Jesus laid there and tried to pray through the pain and discomfort. As darkness began to creep over the land Jesus felt a change in the atmosphere and knew that something was shifting, as He slowly sat up He was surprised to see that He had company. The hooded figure remained standing over Him and Jesus tried to see who it was. The Accuser glared at Jesus and menacingly growled: ‘Are You really the Son of God?”, Satan bent down and spat the last word out and then continued: ‘IF You are then why don’t you tell these stones to become loaves of bread?’, he laughed as he kicked rocks towards Jesus. A few tumbled and hit Jesus’ knee which caused a shooting pain. Jesus calmly returned the menacing gaze and softly replied: ‘No! The Scriptures explain that man does not live on bread alone but lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Satan continued to sneer at Jesus and walked to the edge of the cliff, beckoning Jesus to join him. Jesus slowly pushed Himself up and stifled a groan as His freshly injured knee tried to take His weight. As Jesus looked out over Jerusalem He smiled, the Temple sparkled as the sun’s rays hit the golden carvings.  Satan turned to Jesus and indicated to the ground below ‘IF You’re truly the Son of God then jump off the cliff.’ Satan leaned in closer and sneered ‘the Scriptures say that God will order His angels to protect You.’, he looked down at Jesus’ injured leg and laughed ‘I thought the angels were meant to hold You up with their hands so that You wouldn’t even stub Your toe on a stone.’ Satan indicated to the ground again ‘jump!’. Jesus took a step back from the ledge and replied: ‘it is written that you must NOT test the Lord God.’

Satan quickly turned and climbed higher up the mountain, beckoning Jesus to follow. Jesus took a deep breath and slowly made His way higher. Near the peak of the mountain Satan stopped and Jesus joined him but at a distance, Jesus could feel His legs shaking and prayed for strength as the dark spots danced before His eyes trying to overtake Him and pull Him into a dark slumber. Satan turned to Jesus and smiled ‘I will give ALL of this to You, just one taste and You will see how intoxicating power can be!’ his hand made a grand sweeping gesture. Satan leaned in close to Jesus ‘just kneel down and worship me.’, he smirked and looked at Jesus with eager anticipation in his eyes. Jesus lifted His eyes and looked back into the Accuser’s face ‘leave me alone, get out of here! For the Scriptures say that we are to worship only the Lord God Almighty and serve only Him!’ Satan looked closely at Jesus’ face with delight, he could see that Jesus was struggling, but Jesus screamed out: ‘GO!’ and Satan quickly withdrew down the mountain. As soon as Satan was out of sight Jesus collapsed onto the ground, as He laid there He could feel the last of His energy leaving His body.

Jesus felt a cold cloth being pressed to His mouth and quickly tried to sit up, ‘shhh, it’s ok’ Jesus forced his tired gritty eyes to open and smiled as He took in the magnificent face of Michael. Jesus looked around and saw that Michael had brought his faithful warriors and breathed a sigh of relief as He took in the sight of many angels surrounding Him. He could feel hands of comfort tending to His injured knee, blistered feet and sunburnt face.

Michael handed Jesus manna and He grabbed it with gratitude ‘ah the food of angels.’, Michael smiled ‘yes but for some strange reason eating it 3 times a day for 40 years tends to make people grumpy’, Jesus laughed but then reflected with sadness on the Israelites in the wilderness, they had witnessed many astonishing miracles, but yet their hearts had quickly turned to rebellion and disobedience. God’s beloved and delivered people had been led by a cloud each day and a pillar of fire each night, but yet still they had doubted God’s presence amongst them. They had been given food, the very same food that Jesus now held in His hands, which had been delivered direct from the heavens, but yet still they had grumbled and complained doubting God as their perfect Provider. When Moses had struck the rock and water gushed forth surely that would have been an amazing sight to behold, but yet they took their fill and still mumbled and complained. When the Promise Land was within easy grasp fear and trepidation has arisen in their hearts, they still had not learnt that God is a mighty, fierce and faithful Warrior. Jesus allowed tears to flow as His heart ached, how He longed for all to know and truly believe that God IS faithful towards those who believe in Him.

Jesus sat up and broke the thin bread, He could smell the sweet coriander and as He placed it on His tongue the richness of honey revived Him immediately. Michael handed Jesus a jug of water and Jesus took great big gulping sips, ‘hey slow down’ Michael laughed, ‘I can’t have you getting all water logged on me’. Jesus laughed and put the jug down to have some more of the delicious manna.

As the stars came out Michael and Jesus talked late into the night, by the warmth of the fire Jesus slept soundly and awoke feeling strong and revived.

“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.” Hebrews 4:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Notes:

The temptation of Jesus is found in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

You can read more about it at allaboutjesuschrist.org.

If you would like to read more about manna gotquestions.org has an interesting article.

Jesus, the only One

who deeply understands

our weaknesses

see Hebrews 4:15