OLD MAN vs. NEW MAN
13:53ff When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
14:1-36 When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus, he said to his advisers, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead! That is why he can do such miracles.”
For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.
But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted. At her mother’s urging, the girl said, “I want the head of John the Baptist on a tray!” Then the king regretted what he had said; but because of the vow he had made in front of his guests, he issued the necessary orders. So John was beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a tray and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened.
As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
“But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered.
“Bring them here,” he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers. About 5,000 men were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children!
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
Please take the time now to read Matthew 13:53 – 14:36. The first point is taken from the last 6 verses of chapter 13. The second is from the words Jesus speaks to His frightened disciples in 14:27. Then we will step back to get the whole passage in view. [NOTE: Don’t skip reading the passage. The personal look at Jesus that you need comes from the committed, personal reading of His Word.] So, first read Matt 13:53-58. I’ll wait.
This has always been a bit painful for me to read. People from Jesus’ own community (Nazareth) were offended. It hadn’t occurred to me to ask why they responded like that. I guess Jesus’ own words were strong enough to relieve me from any personal soul searching. He makes it sound like, “That’s just the way it is for a prophet.” But I think it would be healthy to ask why.
If “that’s just the way it is”, why did those people, and why would anyone, take offense at a home-town boy coming back with authority and power? Fear? Pride? Jealousy? How do I feel when an acquaintance of mine makes an accomplishment or gets an advancement of some kind? Do I just naturally feel happy for them or is there a tiny impish voice whispering in the back of my mind,”He’s just not one of us any more.” or, “Boy! She must think she’s really hot stuff now!”?
An old saying about personally convicting discoveries says, “If the shoe fits, wear it.” But Paul tells us to, “Put off the old man and put on the new Man, even Christ Jesus.” (Romans 5:17-6:18, Ephesians 4:21-5:5, Colosians 3:9-10) Let the Holy Spirit’s surgical Light shine deep into your heart. Let Him do the work that self-discipline can’t do, especially when we would rather say, “That’s just the way it is.”
Now read through the next chapter. Go ahead, I’ll still be here.
In this passage we see that in the real world there’s:
BUT JESUS SAYS, “Oh, cheer up boys. It’s Me! Don’t be afraid.”
Doesn’t that sound a bit like Proverbs 3:6 – In all thy ways acknowledge (know, learn to know, perceive and see, find out and discern, discriminate, distinguish) him, and he shall direct (right, straighten, level) thy paths (way of living). [Amplified Bible] (I love it! All the meaning that English boils off the original language and leaves to interpretation, right there on one page!)
I wonder how many Christians today continue to be confused about how they should look at the things that are happening to them? Constantly I hear stories of what’s been done by “the enemy”, the devil, Satan, demons and “the god of this world”. They are given credit for circumstances and events that are seen as negative or depressing or even just a little different from the way we expect them to be. Acknowledging God seems to happen only when the event is immediately seen as positive or pleasing in some way.
This makes me uncomfortable, especially in light of the panorama of Scripture and the history of God’s interaction with His people. We seem to have somehow gotten the idea that being “blessed by God” means that the powers of heaven supernaturally shroud us and protect us from all “negative” forces and events. If we hold that view and that shroud is spoiled by something negative (and, of course, it will be) we live in fearful denial.
Doesn’t it sound a little too much like voodoo? and seem adolescent, even arrogant to call out demonic forces in order to engage in some kind of verbal pugilism or ritual power-play? Can it really matter what the world or even the devil himself does to me if my complete trust and confidence is in my Father, the Creator-God? … Well, can it?
The real demonstration of the power of God in us is in how we live our daily lives even in the turmoil of the worst that evil can throw at us. Acting like we have personal authority over the forces of evil will not make it so, no matter how many people we convince. Jesus is the One with all authority and only as we absolutely rest in Jesus and the unlimited power of His Spirit will we enjoy actually experiencing such phenomena. It will obviously be His hand we see moving, His power displayed.
If you have been drawn into this preoccupation with “discerning” and “warring” against the activities of Satan, then my challenge to you is to allow Jesus to show you what is happening beyond that superficial level of Satan’s deceptive facade. Of course, everything the devil does is dirty and nasty. Of course, Jesus has the power to overcome the dirtiest and nastiest that the devil can come up with. BUT – the good news is that He already HAS overcome the devil and all his works. The question now is: Will you place your unreserved trust in that? If that is your desire then you must exert a little more effort to apply that truth to the postures you take in conversation, relationship, prayer, worship and the daily activities of your life.
The last words of this passage are “As many as touched (His garment) were made PERFECTLY WHOLE” What exactly does that mean? Jesus is clearly able to change the bad stuff of life but He didn’t come to clean up the world and straighten the world out. He came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10. Many of us would be shocked to know what Jesus’ actual point of view and objectives are. God’s ultimate goal is not to make our lives more comfortable or rescue us from the ugly plots of the devil.
Some of us may question this piece of news but it is clear that His agenda goes far beyond that. In fact some of us have built our definitions and perceptions of God on such a humanistic, self-centered philosophy that we can’t even read the Old Testament. We haven’t got the stomach for it. There’s too much suffering and too many times we can’t justify God’s actions. Could that be a hint that we simply don’t have a clue about what God is up to? The Bible is very clear about what humans are up to. We are seeking our own comfort and personal power over the environment and people. Jesus said that God is seeking genuine worshipers… Jesus came seeking the “lost”.
Would you say you are “the lost?” Most will recoil in self-defense because we culturally connect that with being “bad people.” But changing bad people or bad breaks, etc, didn’t seem to be Jesus’ goal as we read Matt 14. Was His time and energy consumed with our brand of righteousness which, for example, would have found a way to bring Herod to justice, among others? No.
We see Him grieving for His cousin and re-generating alone with His Father. We see Him healing and feeding and rescuing lost, confused, hurting and frightened people – the victims of all those bad things in the real world. Sometimes He changed physical circumstances but most of the time He was, and is still, dealing with people – personally. They were His from the beginning. They were lost. He came that we, His lost Children could be rescued from this world and reconciled back to our Father; to be re-instated members of His Family…then to be in this world as fiber optics.
As with fiber-optics the source-light may be far away but the intensity is as if it was “close at hand.” Jesus wants to be personally shining on those at whom we smile, mending the brokenhearted, encouraging the hopeless. But we must choose. Which will be our vocation? Fixing the bad things, waging war on the nasty (already defeated) enemy, campaigning for justice? Or will we be about what Jesus is about? If we really want to overcome evil, let’s do it the Biblical way – Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Direct and personal, one-on-one. Just like Jesus.
As I write these words, prayerfully disclosing the heart of Jesus, the intentions of God, many nations and people are being consumed by a wave of evil and corruption that is the beginning of the end for Satan’s domination. What I have written must not be taken as license for not speaking out, voting, taking action to stand openly for the freedom God has designed us for and Jesus has bought us back for. No matter how bleak the circumstances or the cost of standing for righteousness, it is our duty and responsibility as citizens of God’s Kingdom sent and given to be the light of this world to be holding the Word of God above all that would exalt itself above it.