Read: Mark 5:1-20
Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. (Mark 5:5, 6 ESV)
Demons are real and people can fall under their power. I know that sounds like some kind of horror movie mumbo-jumbo, but it is true. There are dark spirits in existence and they want to harm us.
The man from the tombs had tragically discovered the truth of malevolent spirits in the worst possible way. They had led him to place of death, separated him from his people, his culture, and his spiritual heritage. The evil spirits had isolated him in every possible way.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I think Jesus knew just where his boat would wash up that day. I think he went there with the express purpose of freeing the man from the legion of demons.
Notice how the situation changed when Christ arrived. The man who had been mutilating himself suddenly ran to Jesus and fell before him. Here is the kicker. His response wasn’t out of his human desire to be free from those entities. The action of submission and supplication was actually a response by the demonic spirits to the presence of Christ. Jesus changes everything. When the demons saw his arrival they took note. They cast themselves upon the mercy of the Son of God.
If a demonic legion would seek the mercy of Jesus with such fearful reverence shouldn’t we take note and consider our response to Jesus?
Read: Mark 10:17-22
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27 ESV)
You can not save yourself. You just can’t. None of us can. But God did. And only by journeying through this life with Him will we know the joyous peace of our intended eternal home. Apart from God arriving at this place is impossible. With God the impossible becomes possible.
Why? Because there is nothing that is beyond the scope or ability of God.
I’m certainly no mathematician, but I think it could look something like this.
If: X + Man = Impossible Then: (X + Man) + God = Possible
God is the change agent in your life. These are the words of Jesus. Nothing is beyond Him. Nothing is above Him. Nothing is impossible.
That is a truth that is so powerful it holds the potential to uproot and alter every discouraging piece of news, every negative circumstance, and every bad day. The fact is that facts change when God gets involved. Why? Because apart from God we are impossible, but with God the impossible becomes possible.
Read: Matthew 19:16-30
When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:22 ESV)
During the final stretch of Jesus’ public ministry a young religious ruler secretly came to him to find out the truth about eternal life. Jesus shared with him several insights about living a devout Godly life. The young man met all of the criteria, he was on his way to experiencing eternity with God, until Jesus revealed the final piece of the young man’s personal journey.
Some biblical translations call this man a rich young ruler, a name that adequately describes his place in life. At a young age this fellow had amassed great power and wealth. That was a problem. Not because either of those things are bad things, but because when Jesus asked him to leave it all behind he was unwilling. He went away sorrowful.
I am not rich and powerful. If God called me to lay aside my finances it would not be a monumental request. For this man it was. I believe that is exactly what Jesus asks of his followers sometimes. He sees into our hearts, and knowing the very things that would distract us from following him with the greatest sense of passion, he sometimes asks us to lay them aside in favor of a simpler life in pursuit of him.
In those moments we are presented with a choose similar to that of the rich young ruler. Either we will lay aside our idolatrous distraction and follow Jesus without reservation, or we will walk away sorrowful, unwilling to part ways with the gods of our own making. What will you choose?
Read: John 7:1-10
For not even his brothers believed in him. (John 7:5 ESV)
I want people to believe in me. It’s part of my personality. I have an innate desire to inspire others to believe. In an often selfish twist of this I regularly wish for them to believe that I know what I am doing, how I will do it, and why I will do it. Perhaps I am not so alone in this.
We all probably crave to have others believe in us. Sometimes it can become a distraction, especially if we come to depend on it as a measurement for self-worth or accomplishment. But encouragement is an exceedingly powerful thing. So, who believes in you?
Jesus faced this same issue. His own flesh and blood siblings doubted his divinity. They would not change their minds about it until after his resurrection. They would not simply believe in him. In spite of their doubt Jesus kept on ministering. He never lost focus. He never got distracted. He knew there was a source of belief in him that surpassed anything that could come from men. The Father believed in him.
The Father believes in you too. He believes in His image and likeness with which you were created. He believes in His righteousness with which you were covered. He believes in His future in which you can be a part.
That is a life changing bit of encouragement. It is actually quite daunting. God believes in you. We spend so much time sometimes considering the notion of belief as a term for the contemplation of existence. To believe also means to support, to encourage, and to rally to. So let me say it again, God believes in you.
Jesus believes in you. He believes in you so much that when his family, his culture, his country, and his friends rejected him he carried on. He endured. He sacrificed.
All. For. You.
All because he believes in you. He believes you were worth it.
Read: John 7: 1-24
For not even his brothers believed in him. (John 7:5 ESV)
Sometimes the people you love the most can be the harshest critics. Maybe family are your biggest critics, often it is family, perhaps it is close friends or peers. The simple truth is that the more we operate inside of Godly community, the more we love, and are loved; the more vulnerable we become to rejection at the hands of those same people.
Jesus was rejected by His hometown of Nazareth. He was rejected by His own brothers, at least until after his resurrection. He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by one of His chosen twelve Apostles. He was denied by His best friend. His own Father turned His back on Him in His final moments.
Sometimes, many times, the Christian existence will call, send, and guide us into territory where life’s many potential vulnerabilities become realities. Thankfully we follow someone that has already faced that kind of hardship and overcome it. We can carry our cross with the full faith that Christ leads us into His own glory. That is, He leads us into the glory of God, by the grace of God.
Read: Matthew 12:46-48; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21
But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” (Matthew 16:48 ESV)
Brotherhood is a remarkable thing, truly. Many of my favorite memories in life involve my brother. I have loved him deeply, as only brothers can, since the first moment my parents told me he was coming into this world.
Jesus had brothers too. After his birth Joseph and Mary went on to have other children. James, one of Jesus’ brothers eventually even went on to pastor the Jerusalem church.
Jesus’ statement concerning his family wasn’t an attempt to downplay his love and concern for his earthly family. There are several examples in the Gospels that demonstrate Christ’s consideration and adoration for his family. Rather, it was an inquisitive statement put forth to engage his audience.
The New Testament frequently uses the language of family to describe Christian community. Those of us who follow Jesus have been adopted into the family of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Read: Mark 8:10-12
And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8:12 ESV)
Why are we always looking for signs? We seem to be a people who crave the security of inside information. We doggedly go about searching for clues or insights to the near and far future. We even sometimes fall into the trap of worshipping that kind of information, maybe not in ritualistic religious observances, but with our intense desires and passions.
The Gospels record Jesus being approached about his signs on a few different occasions. People wanted proof of his claim. They wanted some kind of supernatural ID, but they wanted it on their schedule and on their time. He had already been demonstrating all kinds of supernatural things. Healings, exorcisms, and other miraculous wonders that superseded the natural world.
I believe God does supernatural things for two reasons. He does them simply because He loves us and wishes to help us. And He also does them to bring glory to Himself. He does not do them to whoa us, wow us, or woo us. No sign is coming simply to sate our estranged curiosity. God does not work on our time, to please our whims, or to satisfy our selfishness.
I think that leaves us with an important question. Will be of a generation that freely receives from God simply because He loves us and is longing to demonstrate His love? Or, will we go to Him as the Pharisees did with our list of demands and conditions for belief? One option leaves us disappointed, depraved, and destitute. The other leaves us sitting as His feet, awaiting the Father’s good pleasure.