PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XCVI
We cannot, ourselves, measure success or well-being with the Spirit because we depend on material substances to sustain the Spirit within us. The God of Israel did well with his people when He blessed them materially. However, when God gave Israel “God’s Moral Laws,” they turned against their own God. The Israelites wanted independence, manna from heaven, and a land filled with milk and honey. The arrival of Jesus echoed the repeating of another period in which God again would display physical favors. Jesus’ Ministry began precisely physically with miracles and feedings that hinted at the repetition of the time of Moses, and even of David. And when Jesus told the people that He had not come to feed them, the crowds rapidly diminished (John 6:27, 66). On the day Jesus was crucified, only one disciple, taking care of his mother, was present and it is doubtful that this disciple was one of the twelve (John 19:26-27).
JESUS BECAME VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH CAPERNAUM WHERE HE DID PHYSICALLY THINGS THEY NEEDED
Jesus could not stay in Nazareth, where He grew up, because He was rejected and they nearly killed Him (Luke 4:16-30). Jesus went to Capenaum and found a city with open arms, but they never closed their arms around Him (Luke 4:31-44). It was a commercial fishing area. And therefore it also was a safer place than Jerusalem and Judea. Galilee was under Herod, and he had burned himself with killing John the Baptist, over his adulterous living with his brother’s wife. King Herod did not pursue Jesus, even though he had many requests from the Jews. And therefore, the Jewsish leaders did come to Capernaum to investigate Jesus; nevertheless, they had no authority to apprehend Him. According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus spent most of His time in Capernaum, and He did all His major work near and in Capernaum. Jesus spent only His last week in and near Jerusalem. And that is where the Gospel of John has Jesus spent most of His time, and therefore it all fits into only one week, and it adds little to the Synoptics.
Capernaum was on the main road between North and South. Many people came to buy fish. And in the beginning, many people also came to Capernaum to hear Jesus. Jesus found his disciples near Capernaum and Judas was among them. It is highly likely that Jesus became acquainted with John Mark. And Jesus also arrangements for Himself to stay with his disciples in Jerusalem, for “His Final Appearance” as the Messiah. Also, it was in Capernaum that Jesus entered a large Jewish synagogue where He cast out a demon, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, made a paralyzed man walk, did many mighty deeds, and then He returned often to Capernaum in His short time on earth. To God, time is not a hindrance like to man. Man finds himself in a bind when he cannot complete his objective. God can do in a minute what man can never do in ages (II Peter 3:8). It is difficult for me to accept the idea that Jesus had three years to spread His Message, in a society that demanded to stone a person who pretended to be in any way connected with the Hebrew God. Out of my own life, and on the day Germany invaded Poland, our father instantly left to rejoin his Polish military unit. We were Germans, and by nightfall most of our people, who were able bodies, were incarcerated. They came to our home, looking for our father and walked away embarrassed when they learned that our father was facing German tanks. Again, the next day they came for our mother, but she did not trust the Polish police. Therefore, mother took us into hiding until the war with Poland ended.
Now, look at the Gospels: Jesus lasted in Nazareth only a few hours. In Capernaum, Jesus was tolerated. Yet, Jesus slept only briefly and He did not return to Capernaum that same day, but He went from town to town outside Judea, and therefore He avoided being apprehended. The Gospel of John is very revealing; for the writer wants us to believe that books could not contain all that Jesus did (John 21:25); yet, the material John provided would barely fill a month. The Synoptis have Jesus clean up the temple at the end of His Ministry, while John has Jesus do it at the beginning. For John, after Jesus’ stay in Galilee, Jesus began and ended in Jerusalem. And, it lasted no more than a week. God and Christ did not and do not need three years, several months, or even days to tell us what we need to do, so we can spend eternity with Christ or with the devil.
The Holy Spirit says:
“Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts; As I have sworn in my wrath, ‘They shall never enter my rest’” (Hebrews 3:7-11).
GOD’S MESSAGE STANDS ON ITS OWN AND NOT ON THE MESSENGERS! HOWEVER, GOD’S MESSAGE DOES DEMAND VISIBLE ACTIONS
Jesus’ Message for Capernaum and the vicinity was one brief statement, and the people were no longer listening to Jesus, but they did listen to his followers (Luke 10:13-15). Messengers differ! But God’s Message does not differ! One may find Jesus’ Message unacceptable, but one cannot deny the “Authenticity” of His Work. The same principle applies to the people who carry out Jesus’ Commission of Redemption. To avoid human curiosity, Jesus stayed in lonely places, and He sent out his twelve apostles (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6; Matthew 10:5-15). Luke was informed that Jesus had sent out a second large group of dedicated and willing messengers with guidelines.
After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And remain in the same house eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida!for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgement for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that our names are written in heaven” Luke 10:1-20).
JESUS WAS NOT LOOKING FOR THE BRIGHTEST, BUT FOR THOSE WITH COMMON SENSE
Jesus looked at the seventy happy messengers and offered this prayer of thanks. There was not one among them that the world would have chosen; and yet, quite a few became followers of Christ because of their humility, simplicity, and belief in Jesus. Jesus, Himself, must have marveled what His Father had given Him to work with? Imagine how the Lord must feel about us? One of our last questions on the pastoral care test, all the graduates missed. What is the most important thing a pastor should use? Imagine what we came up with and all the professor wanted was: “Common Sense.”
In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou has hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Luke 10:21-24)
TO WHOM DID JESUS REVEAL HIMSELF?
The Holy Spirit, with the form of a dove and a voice from heaven, introduced Jesus to John the Baptist as, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29-34). John’s witness prompted Andrew and John Zebedee to follow Jesus and spent the day with him. Andrew sought out Simon, his brother, and told him that they had found the Messiah. And Andrew took Simon to Jesus. And Jesus renamed Simon “Peter, the Rock” (John 1:35-42). The second day, Jesus found Philip, who found Nathanael, and this is their meeting with Jesus.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and he said to him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?” You shall see greater things than these.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:43-51).
DID OR DOES JESUS REVEAL HIMSELF TO PEOPLE WHO LIVE ONLY ONTO THEMSELVES?
Grace and love are best understood and appreciated by what we do and not by what we believe. If our deeds contradict our faith, we do need to reexamine our spirituality. Our belief in Jesus is best seen in what we do for others, is also done for Jesus (Matthew 25:34-40). What did Jesus say would happen to the goats (people) who care only for themselves?
Then the King will say to the goats on his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when did we see Thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or sick or naked or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?” Then the Lord will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41-46).
Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:2-4).