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Jesus the Ascended King

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87. Partake –Jesus Ascends and the Spirit Comes

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28v16-20

Jesus’ resurrection is the catalyst for the mission of the church, beginning with the disciples and throughout history.Jesus’ mission to earth is coming to an end and shortly He will be returning to the right hand of the Father.Before He does so though, He has some more words to say to His disciples.

Jesus’ Authority

Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ authority is a major theme.Where Matthew records Jesus doing miracles, this is to highlight Jesus authority in action and not just merely in words.Matthew records Jesus’ authority to forgive sins (Matthew 9v6) and He imparted authority to His disciples for a short time when they went on a mission in Matthew 10.Jesus has authority (Matthew 28v18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. Jesus has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons.Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers.Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities.Jesus has the authority.This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control.Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us.We can obey Him regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.It is a great comfort to know, that He is in control of everything!!Through His death on the cross and His rising from the dead, Jesus has conquered all enemies.

Now people sometimes confuse authority with authoritarian.Authoritarian means severe, rigidity and a dictator.None of these apply to Jesus.We have been given a free will, but as His disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey Him and live a life worthy of Him.As the Christian depends on Jesus’ authority, the Christian Disciple gains wisdom, guidance, and power.

You Go

If Jesus had not risen from the dead, then the disciples would not have had a story to tell.But Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, and the early church exploded numerically as the twelve disciples exercised Jesus’ authority and His power.We read about the growth of the early church in the Book of Acts.

Christianity is a faith whereby all Christian Disciples are to tell others of the goodness of God.Indeed God Himself is a missionary God.Ever since Genesis 3 and the fall of man, God has been on a mission to bring and call people back to Himself.That was the purpose of the nation of Israel, to be a light to all nations of the goodness and glory of God!That was purpose when God, who is outside of time and space, entered human history taking on human flesh and restricted Himself in a human body as the man we know as Jesus Christ.Jesus whole mission was one of calling people back to life in God.As followers of Jesus Christ, all Christian Disciples are to evangelize.Evangelism is showing and telling others of God’s message of reconciliation to all people of all time.It is not forcing people to adopt Church standards (1 Corinthians 5v12) and nor is it simply a message of join the church as a symbol of good works (Ephesians 2vv8-10).

Why evangelize?The prime motivation for evangelism is out of gratitude for what God has done, in that we love because He loved us first.Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5v14, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”As His servants we are to tell and live of God’s reconciling message

As I said before, we are all to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4v5). In these last words of Matthew’s Gospel, all Christian Disciples are to make disciples throughout the whole earth!Making disciples is not just evangelism but ensuring that guidance and care is given to new Christian disciples.How is this achieved?How can the Christian Disciple exhibit Jesus’ authority and power in evangelism?Who gives the impetus for Christian Disciples?That is part of the role of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would come once He had ascended back to the right hand of God the Father.

The Holy Spirit is coming

This is in fulfilment of Ezekiel 36v27 “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” where Almighty and All-powerful God will indwell those who follow Him.Throughout His ministry Jesus had talked about how after He was to depart, and that the Holy Spirit would come (John 15v26).

We know from the other writings in the New Testament who the Holy Spirit is and what His ministry is.

The Holy Spirit is spoken of as God (1 Corinthians 3v16).The attributes of God are ascribed to the Holy Spirit life (Romans 8v2), truth (John 16v13) and love (Romans 15v30).

The Holy Spirit is also a Person and is always referred to as ‘He’ in the New Testament (John 16v14).He relates to us as a person for He is comforter, guide and teacher (John 14).He can be blasphemed against and be grieved (Ephesians 4v30), and wherever the Holy Spirit is, the Father and Son are also present because they are one. (John 14v18-23).

The Ministry of the Holy Spirit

What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit and what does He have to do with Christian Disciples?

1. Glorify Christ: This is the Spirit’s prime role that He will glorify Jesus Christ the Son of God is praised and glorified(John 16v13-14). He will testify for Jesus Christ (John 15v26).He will witness for Jesus Christ (Acts 1v8).

2. The Paraclete – Comforter: He is one called to stand alongside (John 14v16). Jesus said it would be better for Him to go away and send the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 16v7).The Holy Spirit ministers to us all that Jesus would be to us if He were here in person.

1.Declares God’s Word: The Holy Spirit has a prime role in revelation.It was he that spoke through the prophets (Ezekiel 2v2) and it was He who inspired the Bible, God’s Word (2 Peter 1v21).Further to this, the Holy Spirit interprets and illuminates God’s Word (John 16v12-15; 1 Corinthians 2v10-16) to people!

4. Conviction: The Holy Spirit is sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16v8)

5. Salvation: Christian Disciples are born of the Holy Spirit and are known as regenerated (John 3v3-8)

6. Indwelling:God lives inside each Christian Disciple through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, a person cannot be a Christian Disciple (Romans 8v9; Gal 2v20; Colossians 1v25-27)

7. Sealing / Ownership: The Holy Spirit indwelling the Christian Disciple is assured proof of being God’s possession (2 Corinthians 1v22; Ephesians 1v3)

8. Security: The Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our future redemption, salvation and inheritance (Ephesians 1v13; 2 Corinthians 1v22).

9. Filling: This speaks of the Holy Spirit’s control or domination of our lives.The imperative here is that we are to be filled (Ephesians 5v18), and go on being filled. He gives power to enable Christian Disciples to evangelise (Acts 1v8; 4v8, 31).

10. Sanctification: The Holy Spirit transforms us into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 7-18), as we walk, live in, and are led by the Spirit (Galatians. 5v16; Romans 8v13).

11. Baptism: This expression occurs 7 times in the New Testament.It occurs 4 times in the gospels, referring to Jesus baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with fire.1 Corinthians 12v13 states that we are all baptized with the Holy Spirit into one body.

12. Service:The Holy Spirit equips us for service.God is working in you to will and to act accordingly to his purpose (Phil. 2v13), to be my witnesses (Acts 1v8).

How is the Spirit seen?The Spirit’s work is in evidence, where people’s lives become more holy and more like Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12v3; 2 Corinthians 13v7).

The Holy Spirit equips Christian Disciples for Service through the giving of spiritual gifts. Elsewhere on this website that has been discussed.

Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Matthew 28v16-20. How does the authority of Jesus aid me in evangelism?

Q2. Read John 21. How am I carrying my cross for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Q3. How is the presence of the Holy Spirit transforming me into the image of Jesus Christ?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partakes(at) googlemail.com. Thank you.

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Jesus Last Prayer

84. Partake – Jesus’ Last Prayer

John 17v1-5: Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendour of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour, the very splendour I had in your presence before there was a world.

After His last teaching on His last night, Jesus now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for Himself, then for His twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples that will follow, the church. This prayer is probably the pinnacle of revelation in John’s gospel. Here we see Jesus’ very words, revealing an unparalleled intimacy with His Father.

The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus prays for Himself

Central to this part of His prayer is glorification. That is the glorification of Himself in order that God the Father who sent Him will be glorified. Glorify is rarely used outside of church circles today. If ever it is, is usually in the context of somebody pretending to be better than they really are. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person’s true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus is saying in John 17v1: “May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also through Me, see Your true nature, Father!” Praying as He does, just before He knowingly goes to His death on the cross, shows the importance of the cross. For it is through the cross that God the Father and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus’ death on the cross reveals a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. John 17v4 reveals that it was this purpose that He came, in order to complete the work given. Jesus’ entire earthly life has been one to show divine love. All His works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see sinful people turn to God for reconciliation and forgiveness. At the cross and through the cross, this is achieved. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside His glory by taking on human form, He will return to God’s right hand, having achieved the work of redemption. The theme of eternal life runs throughout John’s Gospel (John 3v15-16; John 10v28). Eternal life is knowing God personally and intimately, and that is only achieved by faith through Jesus’ death on the cross. It is a free offer and open to all. It is the responsibility of all people to take up the offer. Once the offered is taken up, the responsibility is then to tell others of this offer.

Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 14v6-8: I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me.

In this part of the prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples. Note how He describes them: they were chosen by God Himself, seen God in Jesus and have received God’s words and obeyed them (John 17v6). John 17v6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17v7-8 shows what the disciples know. Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. Having taught that they will endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, Jesus prays for their safety. They will be safe, not because of their own cunning, character or conduct. They will be safe because of God’s care and protection (John 17v11-12). As they are God’s possession, He will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also borne from glorifying God and being witnesses for Him (John 17v10). God is glorified whenever His salvation plan is explained and told.

Who are the disciples enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17v11-12, 15)? The first enemy is the world who does not know God and is therefore in rebellion against God. The disciples were told of this prior to this prayer. Satan is also an enemy of the disciple and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciple. How will God keep them safe? Through His mighty name and nature. By remaining loyal to Jesus, obedient to His teachings and telling others about Him, God’s name & nature will therefore protect them.

Jesus also prays that they may be filled with joy (John 17v13) and be dedicated wholly and solely to Him. The disciples now have a mission and purpose to fulfil – to tell others of Jesus. This mission though whilst their responsibility is not theirs alone, but is the continuation of Jesus’ mission to bring people to reconciliation with God. Part of that mission is to live a holy life in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the real and true pioneer evangelist! Living a holy life, means living a life not for themselves but for the glory and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Jesus prays for all Christian Disciples

John 17v24-26: Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendour you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them — Who you are and what you do — And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Now Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become His followers. As such, it brings all Christian disciples into intimacy with Jesus and a part of a dynamic relationship with Him.

What does Jesus pray for His church of followers? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity is on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17v21-22). The life of all Christian disciples are inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christian disciples are united because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17v22). This unity is also physical, in so much as through a visible unity, people will come to know Jesus personally and take up the offer of reconciliation with God (John 17v21, 23). This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17v20).

Remember Jesus’ words earlier in John’s Gospel? John 15v12-14: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. If the world sees Christian Disciples loving others sacrificially, then unity is seen and it is an effective witness to the reality of reconciliation with God.

For more to think about please do read John 17. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

 

Q1. How am I as a Christian Disciple glorifying God and being His representative?

Q2. What are the hindrances that I face regarding evangelism and telling others about Jesus?

Q3. What can I, as a Christian disciple, do to maintain a witness of unity with other Christian Disciples?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partakes(at) googlemail.com. Thank you.

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Jesus’ Identity

75. The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Identity

Mark writing in Mark 8v27-33: Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

This section of the Bible contains the verse, which divulges Jesus’ identity, when Peter calls Him the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8v29). In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man.

1. See who Jesus is – (Mark 8v22) reveals that the faith of others apart from the blind man was also involved

There are two very obvious questions that come out of this.

Why did Jesus touch the blind man twice to heal him? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that Jesus kept on until the man could see clearly. Two things to remember though. Firstly that Jesus was unable to do miracles because of people’s lack of faith and we also need to remember that God does things in His own time and for His own purposes, but also acts in order to tell us of His love for us.

Why does Jesus tell the man not to tell anybody? Jesus didn’t want to be seen as only a healer and miracle worker.

2. Confess who Jesus is

Now we come to a climactic part of the Gospels when Jesus asks His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?

John the Baptist

  • · Jesus and John had been seen together in public and they were different in personality and ministry
  • · John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1v17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
  • · John performed no miracles (John 10v41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
  • · John even dressed like the Prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1v8; Mark 1v6)

Jeremiah (Matthew 16v14)

  • · Jeremiah was the ‘weeping prophet’, and Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’
  • · Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
  • · Both men were misunderstood and rejected by their own people.
  • · Both men condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple.
  • · Those in authority persecuted both men.

In both His works and words, Jesus gave evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message.

a Why did Jesus tell the disciples to keep quiet about Him?

Disciples had much to learn about Him and what it meant to follow Him.

The Jews were expecting a victorious Messiah (Isaiah 11v1-5). But they had forgotten that the Messiah must suffer and die (Isaiah 53v1-12; Luke 24v26). The Jewish people thought that the Messiah would set up an earthly political kingdom, but Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that would last forever (Isaiah 9v7; Daniel 7v13-14; Luke 1v33; Revelation 11v15)

b What was the purpose of the Messiah? (Mk10v45)

Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16). His purpose as the Messiah was neither that He be served nor that He will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, His purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people.

3. Follow who Jesus is

When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8v33). Remember that they did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. By the time Peter had written his epistle 1 Peter, he did (1 Peter1v6-8, 1 Peter 4v13-5v10).

Some Jewish leaders taught of 2 Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1v10-12)

Price to pay for true followers

  • · We must surrender completely to Him.
  • · We must identify with Him in His suffering and death.
  • · We must follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

What is the reward for the true disciple of Jesus?

  • · Satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
  • · God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.

Spiritually, at this time, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind.

Our confession of Jesus is a matter of life and death (John 8v21;1 John 4v1-3). Confession of Jesus as Lord is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12v1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10v9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus, to take up their cross and this could mean nothing less than being ready to suffer and die for Jesus. If we are ashamed of Him on earth, He will be ashamed of us when the end of the world has come. He will reward those deserving the reward, and deny those who deny Him.

For more to think about please do read 1 Peter 1v1-12. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. What does Jesus’ revealed identity as Saviour offer me as a Christian Disciple?

Q2. How does knowing Jesus’ identity help me as I undergo trials, suffering and bad times?

Q3. What part does each member of the Trinity play in my life as a Christian Disciple?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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