Jesus encountered many different people and groups in his earthly ministry. Some followed because of what they could get out of him while others were more seriously committed to him and his message. We’ll look at how Jesus interacted with these various groups and how his ministry was geared toward making disciples, so that we might learn how we are to be disciples ourselves and how to make disciples of others.
God spoke and the world came into existence. Jesus spoke and Lazarus arose from the dead. The Holy Spirit spoke and Paul became an international missionary. Words matter. They have the power to glorify God or deny Him, to serve others or cause them harm. Sadly, our words often tear down rather than build up. Paul shows us how to put aside the useless words of our old nature in favor of life-giving words that speak of our Savior.
The phrase “reformed and always reforming” has been used to justify many unbiblical practices in the church, as if every human innovation is in keeping with the spirit of the Reformation. Its true meaning is found in Ephesians 4: that having been saved by grace we pursue a life that is constantly being reshaped by the word of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than blazing a trail to some undiscovered frontier, we actually return from our corruption to the likeness of the One who set us free.
We were born again in Christ but never meant to remain infants. God intends for us to grow to maturity as we serve one another in love. But how do we grow in spiritual maturity? Through God’s enduring word that leads us to our glorious Head, Jesus Christ.
From the outset of his public ministry, Jesus shows compassion to many of the people he encounters. Jesus the compassionate healer becomes one of the prominent themes that Luke weaves throughout his gospel account. This is an important part of Jesus’ Messianic mission, and he is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise under the old covenant to compassionately shepherd his people.
In His wisdom, Christ builds His unified Church by bestowing a diversity of gifts. He equips each of His people with specific gifts so that we might serve one another and make His glory known. He grants us His power, in a plurality of ways, so that we might advance His purposes in a world desperately in need of His grace.
People often refer to themselves or others as “God-fearing,” perhaps without really thinking about what that means. Jonah 1 shows us what it means to truly fear the Lord, but the example doesn't come to us from the Israelite prophet, Jonah; it comes from a group of pagan sailors, who take seriously God's majesty, his mercy and his mission.
After reviewing all the great doctrines of the faith, the very first exhortation Paul makes to the Ephesians is to preserve the unity of the Church. With practical guidance and biblical footing, he shows how and why to seek this goal-a goal we seek as well through the grace of Jesus Christ.
The doxology we sing on Sunday morning is not intended to be a solitary event but the beginning of an entire week of giving praise to God. The words we sing together as His church propel us into a week filled with many moments of stopping to praise Him. But how should we do this? The apostle Paul provides an inspired example of how to stop and give glory to the One who has given us all things through the grace of His Son, Jesus Christ.
As Luke’s faith-building account of Jesus’ person and ministry continues to unfold, he interweaves the theme of opposition with the theme of popularity. Even as Jesus’ fame spreads, he experiences criticism from the religious establishment. This criticism quickly builds to outright hostility as the leaders of the nation conspire to eliminate the threat posed by Jesus.