Jesus was given over to the heavenly Father’s purposes without reserve, even when those purposes involved suffering and injustice. He seeks followers ready to do the same.
In one breath Jesus consigns all the food laws of Judaism to history. They have no place in God’s Kingdom or in the new covenant he has brought in. In Christ’s Kingdom holiness matters absolutely. But it’s not the ritual cleanness of religious duty. Rather it’s the inner cleanness of a heart made clean by God’s word, issuing in pure living.
The Shepherd-King of Israel feeds a multitude in a desert, after feeding souls with the word of truth. The disciple’s part is to distribute to others from the abundance of good food He alone provides.
The tragic and terrible death of John the Baptist at the hands of Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias tells us starkly that Christian discipleship is not for the half-hearted. The call to follow Jesus is for dark times as well as light times. Christians who last the distance are those who know that their reward is not success or even safety, but the certain knowledge that they are serving God’s great purposes.
Scepticism is normal, and God will not force anyone into a positive response to his Son or his message. But there comes a point where a person needs to be willing to ‘park’ their scepticism and try faith (or belief). Only then will the hand of God become evident, and only then can a person be God’s instrument in his mission to establish his kingdom.
Christ will return to gather a church far grander and extensive than any past or present appearances may suggest.
Moses and Elijah – their work is done. Moses, Elijah, the Law and the Prophets – Jesus surpasses them all and fulfils them all. He is the last man standing on the mountain of God’s revelation. Therefore he is all you need.
In what we commonly know as the Parable of the Sower (or perhaps better, the Parable of the Soils) Jesus explains his ministry, what it’s end will be, and why it is that his message met with such widely diverging responses. It’s all about listening – the kind of listening that leads to change and growth. The personal question is:
What kind of soil are you?
The crowds mobbed him, the religious leaders challenged his legitimacy, and his family declared him mad. Jesus has always drawn a wide range of reactions from people. But as God’s King in God’s world, he has come to defeat Satan once and for all, making complete forgiveness available to all who come to him seeking it. Equipped with that assurance, his true family are those who continually seek to do God’s will more and more.
Small group Christian community begins when Jesus calls and appoints a band of twelve leaders to be first “with him”, and then to be sent out in service. Service comes from call and community. Jesus the true Israel calls twelve to be the foundation of the new Israel, gathered around himself. We can be encouraged in his service, because God always calls and uses imperfect people.