“keep him in custody, but let him have some liberty and don’t prevent any of his friends from taking care of his needs.” Acts 24:1-23 Ever wonder why you are who you are or why you are where you are right now? When Paul was accused by the Jews and brought before the Roman Council, one aspect of his identity (Roman citizenship) not only served to benefit him, more importantly it served to glorify God. Paul’s message, carried a double edge – saving and convicting the hearts of both Jews and Gentiles. When we like Paul say yes to God’s will and his way, it doesn’t matter who we are or where we are, God our protector and provider will also use us to his glory as well!
If you are the Son of God, command this stone; If you worship me it will be all yours; “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here… Luke 4:1-13 How many times have we heard the expression “If your friend jumped off of a bridge, would you jump too?” In most cases the answer would be “no”. Of course literally we wouldn’t do it. However figuratively, we’ve probably done it many times. The key to not jumping off that “bridge” is not because of the action itself, but rather the thoughts that precede the action. The enemy of what is good and right is not really interested in what we do. The enemy is more interested in what we think and believe ourselves to be. Satan approached Jesus when he was hungry and believed him to be “vulnerable”. So too, he approaches us in the same way. Our reality is that knowingly or unknowingly, in our humanness, sometimes we choose to “jump off the bridge”. The good news is that our God always loves. Our God always cares. Our God always forgives. We must always remember what Christ remembered in times of vulnerability; who we are (identity), to whom we belong (inheritance), and why we are called in spiritual relationship with Him (mission).
“Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” ...‘Go and do likewise.’ Luke 10:25-37 The lawyer in this passage of Luke thought he was being rather smart by asking Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” However, his question reveals that what he was asking, is about who is to be the neighbor that he should love. It’s one of those kinds of questions that has the potential to separate and divide the haves and have-nots, the righteous and sinners; if we allow our sense of who we are, to be defined by the world’s standards rather than by God. I like the way Jesus addresses the question with a question after first telling a parable about four men. Jesus challenges the lawyer to identify himself in the parable. Of course the lawyer would not see himself beaten at the side of the road. How many of us would? He could however see himself as the Priest or the Levite. That is until he realizes that both in the story show more folly than compassion as would be expected from a Priest or Levite. At the very least, Jesus’ question briefly forces the lawyer to identify with the Samaritan (considered to be “unclean”). The parable helps the lawyer and us to understand simply, that the one who acts is the neighbor. At all times, each of us is to be the neighbor because in Christ it’s who we are. A scripture from Ecclesiastes 10:1-18 …folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place, really begins to take shape in times of need. We don’t always have the luxury of determining who will help us. Perhaps one day we may find our selves “fallen at the hands of robbers.” Which of the three would we want to pass by? Is it not the one who acts on our behalf?
Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgement you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Lent: Day 26 – In a very busy waiting room of a hospital located in an urban city, a man impatiently makes his way to the medical station and rather authoritatively says to the woman sitting at the desk, “How long is this going to take? Don’t you know who I am?” The nurse immediately moves to the desk microphone and announces over the intercom “I have a man here in the waiting room who doesn’t know who he is can someone please help him find out?” Very cleverly, the nurse helps this man to understand that it is not her job to know who he believes himself to be. What she does know is that he is one of many in the waiting room in need of attention. As the body of Christ we are one of many who believe, one of many with different gifts, one of many in need of God’s love. God has enough grace for each of us, enough to heal our mind, soul and body all in his time. We have only to be patient and trust that he does know who we are, even when we forget and just as faithfully, when others against us, forget who they are.
Exodus 1:6-22 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us…But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
Mark 8:27-9:1 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Psalm 69: 1-23
For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother’s sons.
Why would Jesus tell his disciples not to share with anyone who he was? Peter at least is convinced. After all who could possibly perform the miracles that the disciples themselves have witnessed? However, when the word “officially” reaches the authorities and Jesus is brought before them, who among the disciples remain present to defend him? As we look back over our own life how do we share the blessings we’ve experienced? To whom do we attribute those blessings? When Jesus asks Peter and the other disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” he is asking each of us the same question. It speaks to the essence of our relationship with Christ and I believe the question goes even deeper to asks of us who are we. What have we experienced in this relationship with Christ? Are we in fact ready to defend that experience? How will people know we are, who we say we are, if we don’t first understand who Christ is within us? For Peter, Jesus was The Good Shepherd. As a sheep it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of flight; Peter and all the other disciples did. But after the resurrection, Peter would become the shepherd. Eventually, that manifestation of the resurrection comes for each us as we journey to become shepherds of our own experience with Christ. It is then that we like Peter, are no longer hesitant of the truth about who we are in Christ, bold and reconciled to share the true experience of the Gospel.