Leading By Forgiving

 

Jesus continued teaching his students about leadership, emphasizing the importance of forgiveness & reconciliation (122).

“If a member of God’s family sins against you, discuss the matter with him privately. If he listens to you, then you are on the road to reconciliation with that brother.

forgiveness private

“But if he refuses to listen to you in your private conversation, then take one or two other brothers with you as neutral observers, and go to discuss the matter with him again.

“If that does not bring resolution, and if the observers agree that your brother is at fault, then get your church leaders to intervene.

“And if your brother will not listen to the church leaders, then you should keep your distance from him.”

Jesus continued: “Keep your eyes on heaven. You must learn to forbid here on earth only what is forbidden in heaven.  You must learn to allow here on earth only what is allowed in heaven.

“When it’s impossible to resolve a dispute with another member of God’s family all by yourself, get other family members involved.  When two or three of you pray together about the matter, you’ll get a better grasp of God’s perspective.”

Men praying

Then Peter asked Jesus, “Master, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times must I forgive him? Seven times?”  To emphasize the essential importance of God’s command to forgive, even someone who repeatedly sins against you, Jesus answered, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!”

God, please help us to love forgiving others, as You have loved forgiving us.

(122) Matthew 18:15-22

The Focus Of Faith

About a week later, Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up a small mountain so they could pray alone (119).

As the three witnesses looked on, a change came over Jesus; his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white!

Then Peter, James & John saw Jesus talking with Moses & Elijah — both of whom had died hundreds of years earlier! They were discussing what Jesus would soon accomplish at Jerusalem.

Transfiguration

Not fully understanding, Peter exclaimed, “Master, it’s great for us to be here! Shall we make three tents — one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah?”

But while he was talking, a shining cloud came over them all, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dear son, with whom I am very pleased.  Listen to him!”

When Jesus’ witnesses heard the voice, they were so terrified that they fell face down on the ground.  Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up & saw no one there but Jesus!

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As they came down the mountain, Jesus told them, “Don’t tell anyone about what you saw until after I’ve risen from death.” They obeyed, although they didn’t really grasp what “rising from death” meant.

Then they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah has to come before the Messiah?” “Elijah is indeed coming first,” said Jesus, “to get everything ready. In fact, Elijah has already come and people didn’t recognize him; instead, they mistreated him, even to the point of killing him.  They will mistreat me in the same way.”

Again Jesus’ witnesses didn’t fully understand him, but they did realize he was referring to John the Baptizer as Elijah.

God, please help me to love hearing You in Jesus.

(119) Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36

The Birth Of Faith

As they went on to the territory near the town of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his chosen witnesses, “Who do people say I am?” “Some say John the Baptizer,” they answered. “Others say Elijah or Jeremiah or some other prophet.” (117)

“What about you?” Jesus asked them. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the son of God!”

Peter's Faith

“God has truly blessed you with this faith, Peter” answered Jesus. “On this foundation I will build my church, my family of believers.  Not even Satan & the kingdom of hell will ever be able to overcome you!

“In this faith, you will speak with the authority of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.  You will forbid here what is forbidden there; you will permit here what is permitted there.”

Then Jesus told his students not to tell other people that he was the Messiah.  But, from then on, Jesus began to be more open with his students about his plan. “I must go to Jerusalem, where I will suffer much at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders; they will even have me executed.  But three days later I will rise to life!”

Peter got stuck on the execution part of the plan & exclaimed, “May God forbid this, Master!  May God never let this happen to you!”

But Jesus rebuked Peter: “When you think that way, you’re actually working against me, just like Satan.  You’re looking at things from a human perspective instead of from God’s perspective.”

rebuked

Father, please help me to love being Your child.

(117) Matthew 16:13-23, Mark 8:27-33, Luke 9:18-22

No Turning Back

Many of the people following Jesus, when they heard the teaching about flesh & blood communion, said, “This teaching is too hard. Who can even understand this?” (111).

Jesus knew that they were grumbling again, so he said to them, “Do you want to give up? Do you need to see me go back to heaven in order to be convinced?

“Only God’s Spirit gives real life; it’s impossible to find real life in the strength of your flesh.  What I’m teaching you is what gives you access to God’s life-giving Spirit.

Dove

“But I understand that some of you won’t believe me.”  Jesus always knew which ones wouldn’t believe and which one would betray him. Then Jesus added, “This is why I said that no one can come to me unless the Father has willed it.”

After all this, many of Jesus’ students turned back & would not follow him anymore. So Jesus asked his twelve chosen witnesses, “Would you also like to leave?” Peter answered him, “Master, to whom would we go? We believe & know that you are the Savior who has come from God.  Only you have the words that promise real life.”

eternal-life

Later, Jesus told them, “I chose the twelve of you to be my witnesses.  But now I have to tell you that one of you still refuses to believe in me.” He was talking about Judas Iscariot, who would ultimately betray him.

Jesus, please help me to love believing & serving You.

(111) John 6:60-71

Walking With Jesus

That night, the boat carrying Jesus’ students was far out on the lake, being tossed about by the waves because the wind was blowing hard against it (108).

Suddenly, Jesus came to his students, walking on the water! When they saw him walking on the water, they freaked out. “It’s a ghost!” they screamed with fear.

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But Jesus called to them: “Have courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter called out, “Master, if it’s really you, command me to walk on the water to you.” “Come on,” said Jesus. So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus!

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But when his attention was distracted by the strong wind & the big waves, Peter panicked & started to sink under the water. “Save me, Jesus!” he cried. At once Jesus reached out and pulled Peter to safety.

Water

Jesus asked Peter, “Why is your faith so small? Why did you doubt?”

In an instant, they were both in the boat, and the wind died down.

His students looked at Jesus in amazement & exclaimed, “You really are God’s son!”

Jesus, please help me to love walking with You, in any storm.

(108) Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:16-21

Health For The Sick, Life For The Dead

Jesus went back across to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd met him (95).

Jairus, an official of the local synagogue, arrived.  When he saw Jesus, he bowed down at his feet & pleaded with him: “My little 12-year-old daughter is very sick. Please come & place your hands on her, so that she will get well & live!”  Jesus immediately started off with Jairus.

Many people were going along with Jesus & his students, and they were being crowded from every side.  In the crowd, there was one woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for 12 years.  During that time she had been treated by many doctors, for which she had spent all her money, but instead of getting better, she got worse all the time.

The sick woman had heard about Jesus, so she came in the crowd behind him, thinking: “If I just touch his clothes, I know I will be made well.” Finally, when she was able to touch his cloak, her bleeding stopped at once, and she felt that she was healed of her trouble.

Flow

At that same moment Jesus knew that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His students answered, “You see how the people are crowding you.  How could we possibly figure out who touched you?” But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.

The woman realized what had happened to her, so she came to Jesus.  Trembling with fear, she knelt at his feet, and told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her, “My daughter, your faith in God is the reason for your healing. Go in peace, and remain healed of your trouble.”

While Jesus was saying this, some messengers came from Jairus’ house and told him, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the teacher any longer?” Jesus ignored the messengers and told Jairus, “Don’t worry; just trust God.”

Jesus didn’t let anyone else go on with him & Jairus — except Peter, James & John. When they arrived at Jairus’ house, Jesus found confusion, loud crying & wailing. He went in and said to them, “Why all this confusion? Why are you crying? The child is not dead — she is only sleeping.” The mourners — certain that the girl was indeed dead — were offended by Jesus & started making fun of him.

Taking only the child’s father & mother, plus his three students, Jesus went into the room where the child was lying. He took the girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, get up!”

Jairus

The girl sat up at once, got out of bed & started walking around!

Her parents (and Jesus’ three students) were completely amazed.

But Jesus told them not to tell anyone else about this miracle.  Instead, he just said, “Give the girl something to eat.”

Jesus, please help me to love living wholly in You.

(95) Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56

Twelve Witnesses

Jesus and his students returned from Jerusalem to the area around Lake Galilee (82).

Word had spread about his miracles & his message, so crowds of people came to Jesus from all over Israel & Judea. Because Jesus had already healed many people, these crowds included many other sick people who were coming to be healed, too. As the number of people kept increasing, Jesus decided to have his students get a boat ready to use in preaching God’s message.

Stich, Abbildung, engraving, gravure : 1863.

Sometimes when people who were tormented by evil spirits came to Jesus, the evil spirits would make those people fall down before him and scream, “You are God’s son!” Sternly & consistently, Jesus ordered the evil spirits to stop telling people who he was.

Then, in the midst of all the commotion, Jesus knew that it was time to involve his students in his ministry. So, instead of going down to the boat, Jesus first went up the hill — taking twelve of his students.

“I have chosen you to stay with me,” Jesus told them. “But I also intend to send you out as my witnesses — to preach God’s message to people, and to expel evil spirits from people!”

Twelve

These are the twelve he chose:

  • Peter (originally named Simon),
  • Andrew (Peter’s brother),
  • James (a son of Zebedee),
  • John (James’ brother, another son of Zebedee),
  • Philip,
  • Bartholomew (also called Nathanael),
  • Matthew (the tax collector, also called Levi),
  • Thomas,
  • James (son of Alphaeus),
  • Thaddaeus (also known sometimes as Lebbaeus & sometimes as Judas),
  • Simon (the Patriot from Canaan), and
  • Judas Iscariot (who would eventually betray Jesus).

Over the next three years, Jesus would spend the largest portion of his time & energy in training these twelve witnesses.

Then, when Jesus came down the hill with the twelve, they were again surrounded by a large crowd of people from all over Judea & Israel & the surrounding areas. Some people had come to hear Jesus teach. Other people had come to be healed of their diseases, including people who had evil spirits in them.

Jesus healed them all! Some were healed as Jesus spoke to them; others were healed simply by touching Jesus.

Sovereign God, please help me to love going wherever You send me.

(82) Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:7-21, Luke 6:12-19