Sunday, November 07, 2010



Jesus shows up "where two or three come together in His name."

When Jesus shows up no one is the same again. · The dead are brought back to life. · The blind see. · The lame walk. · The deaf hear. · The mute talk. · Enemies and rivals become friends. · Women's status is elevated. · The poor are made rich. · The rich realize their poverty. · The lost are found. · The weak finds strength. · The strong are made aware of weakness.

No transformation is more vivid than what happened to the early disciples. They were weak-willed and timid, then found inner strength and courage. The usual reason given for this dramatic life-change is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The resurrection is no doubt paramount, however I see their transformation coming from something else. Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples, where He spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Check out what Peter shared regarding that time, when he spoke to those gathered in the house of Cornelius: "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen-by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

I think the real transformation took place during the time spent with Jesus, eating and drinking and discussing principles of the kingdom of God. And, this is the same today. When two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, He will show up and make a significant difference in all who see Him.

In E. Stanley Jones' book, Christ On the Indian Road, he shares this same principle of Jesus within the Indian culture. He says, "Jesus does not stand before the blind and the leper and the poor and the sinner and discourse philosophically on why they are in such condition, but lays His hands of sympathy upon them and heals them through his servants; and more-he puts his gentle but condemning finger upon the conscience of the hale and hearty Pharisee in the crowd and asks why he has allowed all this."

Jones goes on to say, "Christ is confronting men everywhere. He has got hold of us. A Hindu lawyer of fine ability gave an address to which I listened on the topic, 'The Inescapable Christ.' He said: "We have not been able to escape him. There was a time when our hearts were bitter and sore against him, but he is melting them by his own winsomeness. Jesus is slowly but surely entering all men in India-all men.'"

"How is it possible to limit or demarcate the lines of the Kingdom any more? He steps beyond them, and shocked and frightened like the Pharisees of other days we stand and wonder how far he will go in his warm sympathy and understanding. He eats with publicans and sinners and with the Hindu, too. No wonder H. G. Wells in summing up the influence of Jesus upon human history in his Outline of History exclaims, 'The Galilean has been too great for our small hearts.'"

Now, here's my point. If Jesus brings positive transformation in every life He encounters, then doesn't it make sense for us to introduce everyone we can to this Jesus? You see, when Jesus shows up, no one is ever the same again!



This is exactly what is revolutionary about the revolutionary model and methodology of Jesus. Think about it! If you were out to start a movement that would change the world through its message of faith, love and hope, how would you have orchestrated it? I would have launched into doing massive seminars and workshops to as many people as possible. My model for reaching the world would have been filled with the latest papyri flyers being handed out by the best-trained management and sales team ever!

Jesus did just the opposite. He came into this world with a quiet, yet supernatural birth. He performed quiet, yet powerful miracles, mostly on individuals. Instead of a series of massive, promotional events, Jesus chose to work with a few. He chose a few just to come alongside Him-to be with Him (3 and 12). Note that He didn't lay out a plan to reach the world right away. That came later. Then, after experiencing the power of being together with the few and learning how to love one another, He sent out several more followers into the villages with His message (72 and 120).

Jesus' strategy proved to be the most explosive movement ever launched! This movement of a few consisted of unlikely people who were used to turn the world upside down! Now that's powerful!

What was it that Jesus came to do? What is the work He came to complete? The finished work of Jesus is more than what we normally think. We usually think in terms of one of the last "words" Jesus spoke at the end of His life while on the cross. He said there "It is finished." But then it's important to reflect on Jesus' prayer in John 17, which is really the Lord's Prayer. It's within these words that we can find the true revolutionary nature of what Jesus came to do and what He expects from us as disciples. Jesus said that He finished the work the Father sent Him to do: 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.

6"I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7"Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; 8for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.

13"But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14"I have given them Your word.

18"As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19"For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. 20"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22"The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

26and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

There are several things that stand out to me here... FIRST-The revolutionary work Jesus came to accomplish, given to Him by the Father, was to share with His disciples certain words from the Father. Wow, if we only knew what these "words" were that the Father gave Jesus to share with His disciples, we could continue this as the work Jesus is still accomplishing today. Well, I think we do know what those words are, certainly for the most part. These words are recorded for us in the 5 Gospels-Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. So, maybe it makes sense to focus most of our energies in learning what Jesus shared with His disciples in order to embrace the revolutionary work of Jesus.

SECOND-The revolutionary work Jesus came to accomplish was to be done with a few. I am continually struck with this fact. Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, saw that it would be most effective to work with a few as He shared what the Father asked Him to share. He was not tempted to share it with the masses, because He knew that they wouldn't "get it." By going to the masses, Jesus would have produced hearers of the word who delude themselves, rather than doers of the word. Or, that those within the masses who did "get it" might be diluted into thinking that these words from the Father could be passed on effectively by one or two people talking and the crowds only listening and not experiencing. Think about it. Most life-changing experiences from the Lord (truly transformational experiences) in your life have come in relationship with a few. So, if that is true (and I'm convinced it is), then why aren't we more compelled to share with others in such a way so they can have the same experience with the Lord?

THIRD-The revolutionary work Jesus came to accomplish was to be different from the world system already in place. Jesus, as the King of kings, came to establish His kingdom on earth with those who become His disciples on the earth. This kingdom is not separate from the earth, but different from it. Check it out. What Jesus shared seems to most always be just the opposite of what the world system is today and just the opposite of what we feel is the natural thing to do. Instead of buying and selling being the primary theme, Jesus teaches giving and receiving. Instead of getting even, Jesus teaches the supernatural power of forgiveness. Instead of avoiding pain and suffering, Jesus teaches to embrace your pain and suffering so that you will emerge more whole. Instead of being repulsed by the poor, diseased and disabled, Jesus teaches to go to them and extend His love toward them. Instead of going with the crowd, Jesus teaches us to stand with Him and His people. Instead of loving the masses in general (whatever that means), Jesus teaches us to love one another-on the personal level.

FOURTH-The revolutionary work Jesus came to accomplish was to be passed on by His disciples to others over the generations to come. Jesus came to share these "words" from the Father to those who will share these "words" with others. He even prays for those who will believe through these few for generations to come. It's just that simple. You haven't gotten the message of Jesus, until you learn to pass it on.

FIFTH-The revolutionary work Jesus came to accomplish would result in His disciples having His joy made full in them and being loved the same way the Father loved Jesus-all wrapped up in one another in a unique oneness with the Father, Jesus and the disciples. This makes it all worth being a revolutionary with Jesus. You will know what it means to have His full joy and you will be enveloped in His love and the love of the Father. Possessing these two results will encourage you to continue, allowing Jesus' finished work to work itself out through you. We have known this joy and this love from time to time in our lives, but not on a continual basis, until Jesus apprehended our lives in a new and very real way. This is what makes this life of practicing Kingdom principles and acting as revolutionaries in the name of Jesus such an enjoyable adventure.

SIXTH-The revolutionary work Jesus came to accomplish is not limited to the first 12 apostle/disciples, but is for those of us who claim to be His disciples today. This is not another good Bible story to be stored away for small group discussions later. This is primary for our lives today! But let me take the edge off a bit by saying that being a revolutionary on your own or with a group of people has nothing to do with you and your performance. Being a revolutionary is simply lifting Jesus up in your life and inviting him to do his revolutionary work in you and through you as you touch others. It has nothing to do with "converting" people to a group, a club, a church or a religious system, but it is all about transformation. This is why I've always said that the reformation never went far enough. We must never settle for anything less than transformation and the only person I've ever seen who can accomplish transformation, changing a person's heart inside out, is Jesus. Consider joining the revolution, because the REVOLUTION IS STILL ON and thriving on planet earth!



Do you remember the first "City Slicker" movie with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. Palance is the seasoned cowboy who is leading the city slickers on a cattle drive. He gives them lots of advice, but there is a time when he holds up one finger and says, "This is what life is all about. It's just one thing." He didn't explain clearly, but it is indelibly printed on my mind.

Well, Jesus made a similar statement, but He clearly spells what the one thing is. In fact, He did this kind of thing on several occasions, yet those who heard it just didn't have ears to hear. In John 5 Jesus is speaking with the Jewish leadership and He points out to them that they have spent their lives memorizing and studying the Scriptures, thinking they will find eternal life, but they will not. He says, "The Scriptures speak of me and I will give eternal life, but you don't seek me." They kept on burying themselves in their study of the Scriptures and missed the one thing-Jesus!

I am continually drawn back to the John 15 image in Jesus' teachings about the vine and the branch. Let me share it from the new re-translation we did this year: 15:1-8 -"I am the real vine, my Father is the vine-dresser. He lifts up any of my branches that are not bearing fruit and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit to increase its yield. Now, you have already been pruned by my words. You must go on growing in me and I will grow in you. For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me. I am the vine itself; you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all. The man who does not share my life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away. He becomes just like the dry sticks that men pick up and use for firewood. But if you live your life in me, and my words live in your hearts, you can ask for whatever you like and it will come true for you. This is how my Father will be glorified-in your becoming fruitful and being my disciples."

There are several stages of fruitfulness mentioned here. First-no fruit. Even though most translations translate the verb "cut off", it actually means to "lift up". It is the same verb that is used to describe Jesus being lifted up. You know how it is when a tomato plant droops down and touches the ground. Touching the ground will destroy the plant and make it unfruitful. So, the vine-dresser lifts it up in order to allow the branch to be fruitful.

Second-there is the stage of being pruned. Now, when a plant is pruned, it is not only the dead wood that is cut; the pruning must also include part of the live plant as well. Even though this is most certainly painful, the end result is fruitfulness.

Third-there is the stage that brings about greater fruitfulness. This is brought about by a closer connection between the branch and the vine. Jesus says: "But if you live your life in me and my words live in your hearts, you can ask for whatever you like and it will come true for you."

In the middle of this teaching Jesus brings up a simple yet vital principle. Jesus says: "Without me you can do nothing!" Even though Jesus' teaching here is clear, very few actually believe it or take it seriously.

You see, it's all about Jesus! What is the gospel or good news message of God? It's Jesus, simply Jesus.

More than anything else Jesus and the Father want us to become fruitful disciples. And they will do anything necessary to help us be fruitful-lift us up when we have no fruit, prune us for a greater fruitfulness and nurture us with His life flowing through our connection with Him, the Vine. The Father is positively reflected when we are fruitful and act like followers of Jesus. All you must do is hang on, embrace and enjoy your connection to the vine; He will do the rest! Make like a branch and hold on for dear life-your life-to the vine-Jesus. I just saw this and I love it. Jesus alone is enough. Jesus plus something is nothing. Jesus plus nothing is everything! Life is about one thing! It's not your Church, your cause, your doctrinal beliefs, the 2nd coming, healing, supernatural gifts or prayer. Life is all about Jesus. He is the one thing that matters most! Without Jesus you can do nothing! Do you really believe this?



If you are going to be a disciple, it's vital that you be keenly aware that you are a learner and follower of the most unique and amazing person ever-Jesus. I've been thinking lately about how easy it is to become side-tracked with the vastness of the Scriptures and miss the point of it all. That point which the Scriptures present is simply Jesus. Luke, the author of two of the five Gospels, notes how central Jesus is to the Scriptures.

Luke references Jesus, Himself, using the Scriptures to explain His central role. After the resurrection, Jesus joins a couple of disciples walking along the road and He begins with Moses and all the Prophets to explain what the Scriptures have to say about Him.

When Paul was in the synagogue in Thessalonica, note what he said: As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah," he said.

In the next chapter of Acts (18) we find Apollos was in the practice of proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah. Also when Philip met up with the Ethiopian eunuch, he began with the prophet Isaiah and explained to him the good news about Jesus.

The primary role of the Gospels was to take a teaching strand out of the ancient teachings of the prophets about the Messiah and pull that thread through to a fuller explanation. For instance, Matthew picked up on the teaching that the Messiah will take on the role of the King. Mark pulled through the thread that the Messiah would be the Servant. Luke picked up the teaching as the Son of Man and John presented Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God.

The Scriptures were not written to build a great religious or a theological system. The Scriptures were written to teach us and lead us to Jesus. And, this is the most frequent mistake Christians make. Too many Christians actually worship the Bible. This is what the Jewish leadership was doing in the 1st century and Jesus called them on it. Listen to this: You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you possess eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

The more I study the various cultures of the world the more I see Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of them all. I am not the only one seeing this. There are several who are studying the original writings of the Creator-God stories within the many religions and cultures. I love reading and discussing what they are each discovering. Believe me, in every case "eternity has been set in the hearts of mankind" no matter where they are on the earth and Jesus is the natural and ultimate fulfillment of each.

Salvation and eternal life in any culture is not a religious thing or even a theological understanding; it's a personal thing. The person? His name is Jesus. And you are signing up to be His disciple.