February 28 – Jesus’ Tours

Read: Matthew 11

When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 11:1 ESV)

Jesus went on several large tours of the region around Galilee. He preached and taught about the kingdom of God everywhere he went. Traveling, preaching, and teaching were the practical means by which he communicated the purpose of God.

Jesus recruited men from all over Galilee. Men of all different backgrounds, probably from cities and villages of all different backgrounds, and then he travelled to their various cities preaching the kingdom of God. In some way I believe he was strategically modeling for them how to reach their own people.

Several instant images that come to mind when I think of the word tour. There is the kind of tour you need a guide for. It means stepping into unfamiliar territory and having someone explain your surroundings. For some of the disciples that’s exactly what Jesus did.

There is also the kind of tour where you travel a previously determined route. Musicians, authors, and many other creative outlets use is kind of tour in order to help maximize the amount of people connecting with their work. I believe that’s why Jesus went on his various preaching tours. He was going to strategic places of maximum impact. He was influencing in a way that would forever change the course of history, and it did.

February 27 – Say and Bring

Read: Luke 8:1-3

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, (Luke 8:1 ESV)

Jesus preached a lot about the kingdom of God. He was always proclaiming his radically correct ideas through spoken words. But he also brought the good news with him. It was more than a simple theological proclamation. It was also a practical demonstration. Jesus talked about the kingdom of God, and then he showed people the kingdom of God.

I genuinely believe that we can show people the kingdom of God, but we need to bring it to them. All to often our mentality is to bring people to the kingdom, when in reality Jesus demonstrated a model that was all about taking the kingdom to the people. Truthfully many people won’t come to your kingdom, but of you take them THE kingdom they will be more receptive.

It’s not a guaranteed way to reach everyone. I’m not convinced anything like that actually exists. But it will be fruitful. Not everyone will see, comprehend, or embrace the kingdom of God through a saving knowledge of Jesus, but not taking it to them greatly lessens the potential that they will.

To be in the kingdom we have to bring the kingdom. To be in light we have to be sharers of light. The gospel is the best news. People need and want to know it. Take it to them.

2 Months In

So, here we are. What started as a personal challenge to hang out in the Gospels for the last half of 2012 has taken shape as something that’s become pretty special to me. Many of you have been following along. The daily hits are more steady than they have ever been. All of this works together to put nathanology on track to majorly surpass last year’s traffic statistics.

I just wanted to extend a personal thanks to everyone that’s been reading along. And to offer a warm hello to some of the new faces that have popped in over last couple of weeks. Your participation here is an honor. I will try not to disappoint.

I’ve received emails, tweets, and Facebook correspondence from some of you about the project, but many of you are still silently following along. That is of course welcome here, but I would love to hear your thoughts, questions, or critiques. I may not be able to respond to them. However, I promise to read and carefully consider each one.

That being said, please sound off with your feedback about the “A Year With Jesus” project in the comments below. As always warm regards and happy reading.

February 26 – The Compassion of Christ

Read: Matthew 9:35-38

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

Jesus was compassionate. He was sincere in approach, specific in affection, and direct in the administration of humanitarian consideration toward those in need. If you were sick, he was a healer. If you were blind, he made you to see. If you were marginalized, he sought justice. If you were dead to your sin, he brought you to life. His compassion seemed to come without boundaries, borders, or prerequisites. However, Jesus especially, and lovingly, reached out to the poor and neglected.

Crowds followed Jesus. He did the miraculous regularly. Often these were comprised primarily of those deeply marginalized by the corrupted religious establishment. They gathered en masse as a leaderless people looking for a leader, protector, and provider. Jesus came to be exactly that. He was and is the good shepherd. Whether physically or spiritually blind, he can still help you see. If you are arrested by fear he can set you free. If you are walking in the death of darkness he can lead you to the light of life. He still has great compassion.

What about you? I’ve been personally reevaluating this for some time. How compassionate are you? Sometimes people are just naturally compassionate. Some of us have to work at it. How do we do that? By reaching out with the authentic love of Jesus to someone that just needs to know him. Jesus showed compassion to show his caring nature, desire to serve, and to glorify God. Should our motivation be any different?

February 25 – Famous

Read: Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44

So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. (Matthew 4:24 ESV)

If you could pray for someone with pretty much any ailment in existence and they were miraculously healed do you think it would make you famous? Never mind your particular personal stance on the possibility of miracles. If you could instantly heal people you would get attention of all kinds. You would be famous.

Jesus had begun to travel quite a bit in his ministry. He was basing his work out of Capernaum, but was spending a lot of time in the overall geographical region of Galilee. He healed a lot of people, and huge crowds began to follow him.

What merits fame? Sometimes it seems like people become famous over the most frivolously silly things. When is the last time you remember someone becoming famous for the good they were doing?

Jesus worked with his fame. A couple of his miracles actually involved feeding the humongous crowds that had begun to follow him. He used his platform to great affect. He used his influence. Each of us have our own sphere of influence. We have our own platform. We may not be famous or have large crowds following us, but we still must daily choose how to use that influence to shape the world around us.

February 24 – Authority

Read: Luke 4:31-37

…and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. (Luke 4:32 ESV)

We all know and recognize authority. Even if we don’t like that authority or feel like it is being abused we know authority when we see it. Official representatives of our government carry authority. Officers of the law, firemen, first responders, and other emergency personnel carry authority. Even the IRS has authority.

Authority is power. It is a voice of order. When authority speaks, those of us within the sound of the message have to choose how that we will respond. Compliance or rebellion? The trick I think sometimes comes in recognizing and validating authority. It’s fairly easy if a policeman pulls up behind you with their lights flashing and siren going to recognize the authority they should have over you. Sometimes in the world of Christian faith this seems to get a little unclear for people.

As Christians our ultimate authority is Jesus. The demons he cast out recognized his absolute authority. As such, we should filter life’s big decisions, personal victories, and private troubles with Jesus. He already knows them, but his authority works in our favor. In fact, in some ways it actually extends to us. Jesus cast out demons because of his authority, and for nearly two millennia his followers have done the same thing while operating as heavenly representatives of his authority.

Also, chances are pretty good that God has placed us under the authority of a fellow believer. Timothy was under Paul, even as Paul had submitted himself to the authority of the disciples and other Christian leaders such as Peter and James. Rare indeed is the occasion that God places us in a position to love and serve Him without living under authority. It’s unhealthy and dangerous. Who is your authority? How are you submitting to them?

February 23 – Hometown

Read: Isaiah 61 & Luke 4:14-30

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24 ESV)

Jesus grew up in Nazareth. It was his earthly home. A small town with probably around one hundred inhabitants, the chances are pretty good that Jesus pretty much knew everyone by name. What would you think if someone you’ve known for a long time came and told you they were God? I think I would probably respond a lot like the crowd in Nazareth.

Sometimes its hard to go home and be taken seriously. The people who have known you the longest can sometimes be your harshest critics. They still see that little kid they watched grow up. When faced with that actuality we have to confront it as Jesus did— by lovingly stating our purpose, vision, and calling.

We might not be given an actual platform to vocalize our entire directive in a single setting. This is where relationships become so important. Relationships give us context and platform to share what God is calling us to do in a way that is natural. You may still catch flak like Jesus did, but go with your heart and your gut.

Jesus declared his intentions and mission in very specific terms by reading from Isaiah 61 that day. It was a prophetic kind of declaration. It was his mission statement. It still is today. How has Jesus fulfilled the claims of Isaiah 61 in your life? Do you know anyone that needs to hear these promises from Jesus? Do the people who are close to you believe what you have to say about Jesus? Sometimes sharing life’s big moments with people from our past, even people close to us, can be really hard to do. The difficulty doesn’t release us from the obligation of doing it.