Tuesday, September 25, 2012



In chapter 5 of Luke we are immediately set into a sharp contrast from chapter 4. Jesus was having some difficulty in Nazareth, but here in Capernaum He is finding a mass acceptance. Let's look at it: One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
This all seems pretty presumptuous on the part of Jesus to simply get into a boat that didn't belong to Him. But if you investigate the context of this story in the Gospels, you will soon see that Jesus had already had an encounter with Peter and his friends in the 1st chapter of John.

The first time Jesus met Peter He challenged him to follow Him. It must have been a positive encounter and impression on Peter, but they really didn't start following Jesus fully at that time. They were still in the fishing business, yet were probably following Jesus from afar. This time Jesus is going to sink the hook a little deeper and He does it by advising these professional fishermen on how to fish. NOTE what happens:
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. Peter is really saying, "Jesus, we know the fishing business and there aren't any out there in that area. We've been fishing there all night." Then Peter relents and says, "But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.

Simon Peter and his partners were very impressed with Jesus' fishing knowledge. Even though they were experienced professionals at fishing and Jesus wasn't, Jesus really showed them up. Now listen to what is said next: Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

There are 3 very important principles here: 1. There are various levels of commitment in following Jesus and both are acceptable. Yet, it's important to note that Jesus seems to have changed the level. This time Jesus wants these fishermen to be released from their vocations and begin fishing for people.

2. No matter your profession, Jesus knows how to work it best, so let Him. Listen to Him and follow His lead. You don't know better than He does how to run your business.

3. When you see Jesus at work with His miraculous touch, you will drop to your knees in submission. As you see His purity and power, you come to realize how vulnerable and weak you really are. Therefore, you are drawn to Jesus as the only solution to your need.

What strikes me about this episode in the life of Jesus is that here we have a clear as to the heart of Jesus. He isn't concerned to start an organization or club or to build a membership list. Jesus is most concerned about people and He will continually come back to you, until He gets you headed in that same direction with the same heart He has. If you are in real estate, you are not just selling property. It isn't the property, but the people that matter most. If you are in the high tech business, you are not just building a competence in high tech. You must be concerned about developing a high touch with the people around you.

The focus for revolutionaries today is reaching and touching people in the name of Jesus. He calls you to be a fisher of men and then gives you the opportunities and the power to fish most effectively. So, if you are hearing Jesus' revolutionary call, "Follow Me!", then do whatever you have to do to follow Him.

Have you ever heard those words from Jesus, "Follow Me"? Listen carefully, because you are just the kind of person He is looking for.



There are 3 scenes in the life of Jesus that are quite revealing: A demonized man healed. Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, "Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" "Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.
All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!" And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Simon's mother-in-law healed. Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

A variety of people healed. At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Remember when Jesus spoke to the synagogue in his hometown? He quoted Isaiah 61 which set forth the mission of the Messiah--healing all kinds of diseases and difficulties, setting people free. Well, in this section of Luke, Jesus is doing just that--being God's Messiah.

NOTE that when the people tried to keep him in one place, Jesus said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."

Just a few years ago I came to realize that Jesus is the Gospel--Jesus plus nothing else. Now, here Jesus talks about the "Gospel of the Kingdom." Jesus is the person (the what) of the Gospel. The Gospel is a person, not a program.

And, the Kingdom of God is the way we act out this person's presence in our lives (the how). When you practice kingdom principles, you are practicing the rule of Jesus in your life in that situation, in that moment.

So, the Gospel--the good news--is Jesus and His kingdom. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (that's Jesus). Just as we have been seeing in the book of Acts. The primary theme is Jesus and the kingdom. Jesus, in person, taught the disciples about the kingdom, Jesus, in person with His great I AM's taught mostly about the kingdom. Then at the end of Acts Paul hosts all those who are interested in his rented quarters and taught them about Jesus and the kingdom of God.

When you encounter Jesus, you will be changed or will be healed. The healing touch of Jesus' presence is most powerful and empowering, no matter your background or religious beliefs. So, do everything you can do to stay close with Jesus and His kingdom and you will know His healing touch on your life. This is not just a first century experience; it is for today--for you and those you love.



Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:  
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked. Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself!' And you will tell me, 'Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "
"Truly I tell you," he continued, "prophets are not accepted in their hometowns. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed-only Naaman the Syrian."
All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

Why are the people so furious? These are his neighbors from his home-town, so what are they reacting to?

It's important to note that Jesus was accustomed to going to synagogue. And, at the synagogue he was given the opportunity to read the Scriptures. This is still done at the synagogues today. Years ago I visited a synagogue and was asked to read the appointed passage of the week.

But in this case, Jesus is reading Isaiah 61, which is a passage explaining the work of the Messiah would do when He comes. He will proclaim the good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, set the oppressed free and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. This is all Messianic. Now, Jesus comes to Nazareth after having performed many of these same miracles elsewhere. BUT the locals from Nazareth just weren't that impressed.

So, Jesus acknowledges this and gives them two illustrations when God used two of His prophets to do miracles. However these two prophets didn't perform the miracles among the Jews, but among the Gentiles. There were many widows in Israel, but Elijah sought out a Gentile widow in Sidon. And, although there were many lepers among Israel, but Elisha sought out a Syrian, Naaman, to heal of leprosy.

What really ticked off the people in the synagogue was that Jesus compared them to the unbelieving Jews of Elijah and Elisha's time that forced them to go outside the Jewish community to bless and heal those who would really appreciate what God can do.

I've received some of the same fury when I speak of true followers of Jesus who are not Christians, but Buddhists, Moslems or Hindu. What this scene in the life of Jesus says to me is that God is out to touch the world, no matter who they are. They just have to be interested. Well, are you interested?