You must be a registered user to access our website. Please complete the registration form at no cost, or login if you are already a registered user. Be assured, your registration information is secure and will not be sold or made available to others.
To learn why registration is now required, see this editorial on the website changes. Once you have completed the registration process, to include verification of your email address, a cookie will be placed on your computer to automatically complete the login process in the future.
Registered users, click here.
New users or if you have never registered before, click here.
As we think about the assigned topic, we may ask ourselves how we measure up. Our probable answer is, good in some respects, but not so good in others. We preachers face a more complex situation, namely, how does the church I serve rate on an imaginary scale? To illustrate, a student who was serving in a church I knew quite well, was discouraged. No matter how sincerely and intensely he preached, nothing was happening. I posed the following situation. Suppose a church had a core of members who had been faithful for decades, had a fair number who attended prayer meeting on Wednesdays, supported the church with tithes and offerings, and who liberally gave to missions through the Cooperative Program, and exceeded their Lottie Moon Offering goal. I asked how highly he would rate the church, and he was impressed. I observed that I had described his church. I then asked, “What can they do to demonstrate their commitment?” He had no specific program except he would like to see more evidence of outreach concern. I suggested he take a deacon with him and begin. Soul-winning is caught, not taught.
In our assigned passage, Jesus emphasized the necessity of a sound, scriptural understanding of himself (v. 20). The disciples had matured greatly in their understanding of the Master, but their understanding was still under-developed. They had watched Him perform miracles and had even cast our demons (9:1). That the Messiah must suffer, die, and rise from the dead they did not comprehend. The ultimate understanding was voiced by Thomas in the upper room in a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus. After Jesus showed him, and them, the nail and sword wounds, Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
We must be equally firm in our defense of the Deity of Jesus. Many of our contemporary so-called Christian religions doubt that truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, believe Jesus was a created being and therefore not God. The word Messiah is now popularly adopted by groups who wish to give importance to a central figure who founded the group, such as Jim Jones who led his members in mass suicide.
An important factor in dealing with others relates to a balanced witness (vv. 21-22). The disciples had been with Jesus long enough to realize that the way they projected Him would directly affect their ministries. To be a co-worker with a man capable of such miraculous, super-human acts placed them in exalted company. But there was a down side. The popular view pictured Jesus as one like unto Moses (Dt. 18:15). The miraculous feeding of the crowds in the wilderness could set off wild speculations about the One like Moses who would lead the people out of bondage to Rome. Such a reaction would harm His role as the Messiah who dies for sin.
Jesus Himself, however, defined what He meant by commitment (vv. 23-26). The first is the willingness to lay down one’s life for Him. Taking up the cross carried a horrific image for the hearers. They had witnessed convicted felons who were forced to carry their crosses to the place of execution. Bystanders along the route would spit at the condemned, shouting insults. In some Muslim cultures today to confess Christ publicly can lead to martyrdom. Those people are ushered into the presence of the Lord. They lose their life but gain eternity.
We close this study of commitment by noting our Lord’s caution about being too concerned about one’s past (vv. 57-62). To understand His message we must begin with His statement about putting one’s hand to the plough and then looking back (v. 62). When using a horse or mule to plough a field, the farmer begins in the middle of the field to make the first furrow. He picks out an object on the far side, such as a fence post or tree, and directs the animal toward it. If he is continually looking back, the animal will wander away from a straight line. Similarly, if a Christian is distracted by family (vv. 6, 61) or the prospects of less than comfortable living, such as missionary service (v. 58), the person will miss the perfect will of God.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.