When was the last time you were amazed? When was the last time you confronted something with such wonder that you stood and just marveled? There are two things that happen. First, you stop what you are doing and then admire what is wonderful. The night of Jesus’ birth, angels in heaven and humans on earth, stopped what they were doing and drew together in awe. And the angel said to them, “fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” The start of Jesus’ earthly life was marked with such wonder because this was the next step for Jesus, who was more than just a great teacher or a prophet. Jesus was the only person ever to live a sinless life. He was both fully human and fully God. God could have announced the birth of Jesus in a king’s palace, yet he sent his angles to shepherds.
Why do think God choose to begin with a humble woman like Mary and common shepherds? Does this amaze you?
Baptism links Christian believers to the foundation of their faith and the central event of human history - the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. When the prophet, John the Baptist, baptized Jesus, a voice from heaven said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. Many people came to hear John preach, to confess their sins, repent and be baptized. John told them: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of his sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” So, when John baptized Jesus in the river and he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and the voice of God said, “You are my beloved son, in you I am well- pleased.” The Spirit of God descended like a dove and landed on Jesus in fulfillment of the Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 11:2; 42:1). The next day when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him he exclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Then John the Baptist gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:33-34).
The shortest route from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria. Most Jews avoided going through Samaria because they disliked the Samaritans. Along the way, Jesus and his disciples came to the town called Sychar near where Jacob had lived and had given a piece of land to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from his journey and about midday sat down by the well to rest. When a Samaritan woman came to get water from the well, she drew her water near Jesus. He then asked her, “Will you give me a drink?” The woman was astonished and said, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
What does Jesus mean by saying 'Living Water?"
Usually when a farmer goes out to plant his precious seed he makes sure the soil is ready to receive the seed so he will have a bountiful crop. In this parable Jesus tells it seems the sower of the seed scatters it liberally over all types of ground: rocky ground, thorny weeds, by the busy roadside, and in some patches of good soil. Obviously this sower knows that not all seed is going to produce a crop and some won’t produce anything at all. So, what is he saying. First we have to identify the sower and the seed. Since Jesus is telling the story he’s obviously referring to himself as the Sower. The seed is God’s TRUTH. Ah, yes, and what do the four types of ground represent? The parable is aimed at our lives, our humanity, our hearts.
Let’s ask the question then…. is the Sower wasting His seed scattering to and fro without regard to where it lands? Jesus, the Sower, doesn’t think so. He’s sure that some of His seed will find good soil and look what it does. It yields a hundred fold.
So, what is our response to this parable. How do I prepare my life, my humanity, my heart to receive God’s seed? It would seem it is up to us to open ourselves up to receive this free seed from God, through His Son, Jesus.
Who is my neighbor? At first this question is very obvious to all of us. It’s the person living next to us, our community, our political affiliation, our town, or our country. If we found a person robbed, stripped naked, beaten and left on the side of the road we might help him if we recognized him as one of these neighbors true enough.
But Jesus paints the picture of a different kind of neighbor. Read the story if you dare and these five things will give you food for thought.
1 - The good Samaritan had compassion and he acted on it.
2 - Even though despised by the beaten man’s race, the good Samaritan put aside racial differences.
3 - The good Samaritan took from what money he had to pay the beaten man’s expenses out of his own pocket without concern for getting any of it back.
4 - The good Samaritan had a good name as the innkeeper trusted him and took him at his word.
5 - The good Samaritan was a very generous man and could possibly have gone into debt to put the beaten man up for as long as it took to get him back on his feet again.
When Jesus finished his parable the teacher of the law who’d asked the question left stunned, knowing that he could never pass the test.
Could we? I know I couldn’t without God’s help.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities and the mountain of cares, pain and woes of the humanity swirling around you? Does the universe even acknowledge our small spec of dirt in the mighty scheme of things? We seem so insignificant, a whiff of air, a breath and in a second we’re gone. Where is God in all this? Does He care? Jesus says He does. Jesus teaches us how to speak to God and how to address Him. And most wonderful of all is he tells us to address God as our Father… FATHER. That He’s as close to us as the air we breath. That He’s got a Kingdom and wants us to be part of it and share in His glorious plans for His creation. Jesus taught his twelve disciples how to pray and it changed their lives and it can change our lives, as well.
It is hard to watch this reenactment of Jesus being crucified. So why do Christians insist on focusing on this brutal event? Many people want to remember Jesus as a good man, even a great prophet, but they insist on denying his crucifixion. Denying Jesus’ crucifixion corrupts God’s merciful work for all of humanity. Because of Jesus’ crucifixion our sinful nature was put to death on the cross with Christ. God pronounced that our sinful nature can produce no good thing. He regards sin as an utterly corrupt, useless thing, by passing a sentence of death upon it and nailing it to the cross with Christ. Through this painful act of crucifixion, God put to death the sinful nature of those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 6:6 that Christian believers are “crucified with him." And he goes on to say in Romans 6:11, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” To the world, this belief seems foolish. Yet, this horrible act produced the greatest blessing for the world and achieved what human wisdom has not accomplished-the release of man from sin’s bondage.
Jesus’s crucifixion has never been the end of the story. In fact, in many ways, it is the beginning. When Jesus appeared in the room with the disciples, he calmed their fears, wished them peace, and then began showing them how he was the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament. Look at Luke 24:44. Jesus clearly identified himself as the one who would fulfill God's Old Testament promises. The Apostle Paul would later sum up this good news by saying "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures" (I Cor 14:4). If Christ did not rise from the dead, the faith of Christians is in vain. There was is no gospel, unless he who died for mankind’s sins, rose again. All the doubt that crashed in on the disciples as Jesus died was erased in a moment when the angel said to the women at the tomb, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen" (Luke 24:5-6).
Do you trust in the death of Jesus Christ for your Salvation, which is deliverance from sin and its consequences?
Do you believe that Jesus is who he says he is?