The Ongoing Influence of Jesus

Luke 2452–53 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 24:50–53 (ESV)

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

With today’s reading, we come to the end of our time reading through the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts. After Jesus’ resurrection he spent forty days on earth revealing himself to different individuals and groups and making final preparations for the future of his followers. At the end of those forty days, Jesus departed and ascended into heaven.

We might think that with Jesus no longer in the world that his teaching and influence would fade and disappear. However, nothing could be further from the truth. After Jesus’ departure, his fame and influence spread quickly. His original followers went throughout the known world proclaiming all they had seen and heard and many believed. Even today, the name of Jesus is known and discussed throughout the world. There are many who still hear the news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and believe. It is amazing to think how influential Jesus has been on our world. There is none like him!

The Bible tells us that those who hear the news about Jesus, repent of their sins, and turn to Jesus in faith, will be saved and have eternal life. He came into the world to give his life as a sacrifice for sin. He died. He was buried. And he rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. That is the Good News. He came to save us. Have you trusted in him?

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The Great Commission

Matthew 2819 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared to depart this world and return to the Father, he left his disciples with instructions. He told them that they were to “make disciples of all nations.” They were to accomplish this through “baptizing” and “teaching.” When we read these words, we can summarize the task given to the disciples as evangelism and discipleship. Jesus used the term “baptizing” to summarize bringing an unbeliever into the faith. Baptism is the picture of that. Jesus then used the word “teaching” to describe the ongoing growth of the believer as they learn the word of God and how to live in the world.

As believers today, our task remains the same. We are called to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to a lost world. In doing so, we will see unbelievers saved. As unbelievers are saved, it is then our responsibility to continue to teach the word of God so that new believers can grow to maturity. These twin callings are the core of the Christian life. May we go into the world as the people of Christ and proclaim the gospel.

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The Difference a Few Days Can Make

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Reading the Word

John 16:16–22 (ESV)

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his disciples of his coming death and resurrection, but they did not understand him. He told them, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” They would not see him because he would be dead and buried. However, they would see him again as he would be resurrected on the third day. The disciples would weep over Jesus’ death while the world celebrated that he was gone, but the disciples would experience great joy when they saw him alive again!

Imagine the emotional roller coaster that the disciples experienced when Jesus was first crucified and buried, but then rose from the dead. At his crucifixion, the disciples would have felt that the time they had spent with Jesus was all for nothing. They thought he was the promised Messiah, but now he was dead and nothing had changed. Then, when they saw him alive again, there would have been great joy and final confirmation that Jesus was who he had claimed to be.

The disciples were so emboldened by the resurrection that they went into the world telling everyone about it. They proclaimed the name of Jesus at the cost of beatings, imprisonments, and death. Why were they so driven and willing to die? Because they knew that Jesus had changed the world. He had made forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God possible. They had to preach this news! It was too important to keep quiet. We too should be emboldened because our Savior is risen! Christ has come and his life, death, and resurrection have changed everything. The news is too good to stay quiet.

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When You Do Not See Results

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Reading the Word

John 10:40–42 (ESV)

40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in him there.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Have you ever felt like your service to the Lord was accomplishing nothing? Perhaps you have shared the gospel with many people, but have not known any who have actually come to trust in Jesus.

When Jesus escaped the people who wanted to seize him (see yesterday’s post), he went across the Jordan to where John the Baptist had ministered. John’s ministry took place before Jesus’ and he served as a forerunner to tell people of the coming Messiah. However, many did not believe John. Then he was arrested and later killed. When Jesus arrived, the people saw that everything that John had told them was true. As a result, many believed in Jesus. John never saw the fruit of his labor, but his faithfulness had a profound impact on the lives of many.

We too must remember that God has called us to be faithful to proclaim the Good News. We may not see the results, but we may be laying a foundation for someone else to continue building. Let us not lose heart, but instead let us pray for those who need the Lord and continue to trust in the One who gives new life.

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A Future Harvest

harvest

Reading the Word

Mark 4:26–29 (ESV)

26 And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Only Mark’s Gospel records this short parable. The story is of a farmer who scatters seed, but is powerless to make the seed grow. The man goes about his days working the ground and cultivating while the seed sprouts and produces a crop that the farmer can harvest, but it was the earth that gave the growth “by itself”, not the man. The farmer does not know fully how these things work together.

Jesus tells us that, in the same way we are powerless over the growth of the kingdom. We do our part in spreading the news of the kingdom, but it is God who gives the growth. He alone can change hearts and bring people into the kingdom. Let us continue to work in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, knowing that God is at work in the world and that there is a harvest day coming.

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