Jesus and the Disciples

Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me, yet believe” (John 20:29 Eyewitness).

Eyewitness: pp. 258,259

In Your Bible: Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36-44; John 20:19-31 and 1 Corinthians 15:5,7

Jesus Appears to the Eleven

The first day of the next week the disciples, afraid of the Jewish leaders, met behind closed doors. They discussed all that had happened, the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. But now they couldn’t find Jesus’ body. Further, some of the women claimed to have seen him. The disciples were disappointed and confused.

Later [that Sunday evening] Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating, and he reproached them for their lack of faith and rejection of those who had seen him after he had risen (Mark 36:14 Eyewitness).

He showed them his wounds and they realized it really was Jesus! Then he blessed them and commissioned the disciples. This was before Thomas was present.

“Peace be with you,” Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I send you.” After saying these words he breathed on them. “Receive the Holy Spirit. The sins you forgive will be forgiven, and the sins you do not forgive will not be forgiven” (John 20:21-21 Eyewitness).

Some Bible commentators* say breathing on the disciples was a sign to them that Jesus was alive. It also demonstrated the spiritual life and power they would receive.

Thomas was Convinced

Eight days later, the disciples were gathered behind closed doors, and Thomas was with them. Jesus appeared and stood among them. “Peace be with you.” He said to Thomas, “Look at the scars in my hands, and put your finger where the nails were driven. Put your hand on my side. Do not doubt anymore. Believe.” Thomas cried,”My Lord and my God” (John 20:26-28 Eyewitness).

Jesus shows he cares for his disciples and all believers. He said to them [disciples], “When I was with you, I told you that everything written in the Law and the prophets, and the Psalms concerning me must be fulfilled.”He opened their eyes to understand the Scriptures”… (Luke 24:44,45 Eyewitness).

Application: It is still true. Blessed are those who have not seen Jesus and believe. The Savior is waiting for you to believe in him. If you already believe in Jesus, how can you help others believe?

Prayer: Father, thank you for forgiving my sins. Help me to forgive others.

Question: Who was the first man that God breathed life into? How do you relate to the disciple Thomas and his reluctance to believe? When was the last time you were emotionally sure of something but confused and disappointed at the same time?

* Mattew Henry, Commentary in One Volume, Matthew Henry, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, 1960. p.1628.

Faith and Results

…… “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 9:27).

THE MESSAGE: Matthew 9:27-30
In Your Bible: Matthew 9:27-30

Why should we be surprised? Jesus often didn’t say many words when he met peoples needs, healing, deliverance and more. He used phrases like, “be opened,” “come out” (for demons), or in Matthew 9, “Become what you believe.” Simple, powerful words from the Master, bring results including healing.

God in Action

We may call them stories, but they are indeed accounts of miraculous intervention – God/Jesus at work. Faith is a theme found throughout the Bible – with many wonderful and yes, amazing results. A few highlights found In the Old Testament:

  • Noah built an ark with God’s directions – to save people and animals
  • Moses parting the Red sea with his staff
  • Abram and Sara believing God for their own child
  • Joshua and God won the battle at Jericho
  • Daniel in the lion’s den
  • Elijah the prophet saving the widow’s son

The Gospels are loaded with wonders/miracles and many examples of Jesus’ healing touch. The point made is faith in God is intimately attached to results – including healing. Here are three in Matthew Chapter 9:18-29!

  • Ruler’s daughter healed
  • A woman with bleeding for 12 years
  • Two blind men on the road ask for sight from Jesus

Jesus Simple Healing Words

Let’s look at these two blind men (Matthew 9), who followed Jesus, on the road. This is one account of many who encountered Jesus, probably daily. So, why are they mentioned in Scripture? I believe it’s to emphasize the faith of the believer is a hidden key to action with God.

These two men cried out to, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us” (Eyewitness Matthew 9:27). Then they went into the house where Jesus was. Jesus asked a direct question, “Do you really believe I can do this?” Their answer in unison was Why yes, Master” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 9:28). Jesus reached out and touched each man’s eyes, “Become what you believe. It happened. They saw” (THE MESSAGE Matthew 9:28-30).

Bible scholars comment, * these two blind men were deprived of their sight but had eyes of understanding and discernment of the great things of God they requested – they believed Jesus could heal them. Jesus credited them with that discernment.

As Jesus demanded the recipients not tell anyone, they were healed! However, they did tell everyone they saw throughout the area! Wouldn’t you? Jesus saw and knew the faith of the believer enabled healing by just few words by him, The Master.

Application: Jesus pointed out that believers have the faith needed, the challenge is the strength of our belief. He says even faith as small as a mustard seed – will grow. Believers need to exercise faith, be confident in what Jesus can do, and not doubt (another subject altogether).

Prayer: Father, help me exercise the gift of faith you’ve given me. You bless me so much….thank you. I want to grow in faith.

Question: Why do believers struggle with faith? How much is enough faith? Do these examples of exercising faith, help you grow?

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary In One Volume, Matthew Henry, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961, p. 1248.

(We’ve been out of town from April 18 through May 2, so I’ll post two intended/scheduled but not sent for April 25th and May 3rd from England. Sorry.)

Jesus Did Odd Things

Jesus said, “You are about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him [Lazarus]” (THE MESSAGE John 11:15).

THE MESSAGE: John 11:1-48
In Your Bible: John 11:1-48

Jesus was beyond the Jordan

Jesus was beyond the Jordan

Only a few times does the Bible mention how much Jesus loved friends. Lazarus was one of them. He lived in Bethany, where his sisters Mary and Martha also lived. Jesus was teaching on the other side of the Jordan, when he heard Lazarus was sick.

New Reasons For Believing


He said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son”…but oddly, when he heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. After two days, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea” (THE MESSAGE John 11:4-7).

Here THE MESSAGE brings out Jesus’ emotions better than most versions. The disciples thought Lazarus was asleep. Then Jesus became explicit – “Lazarus died! I’m glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You are about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him” (THE MESSAGE John 11:14,15).

When Jesus finally got to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days. They had already prepared his body and taken it to the grave. Martha said, “Master if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know whatever you ask God he will give you” (THE MESSAGE John 11:21,22). She thought it was more than odd that he took so long to arrive after getting word. She was distraught.

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life


Lazarus' Tomb

Lazarus’ Tomb

Jesus replied to Martha, ….“I am, right now, the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all….” (THE MESSAGE John 11:25,26).

Mary came to Jesus and fell at his feet weeping. The Jews with her were also weeping. Jesus wept too. Jesus heard the crowd say he’d done many miracles for others. Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of the blind man.” This made Jesus angry, then he said, “Remove the stone” (THE MESSAGE John 11:38).

Note: Of the forty-six Bible versions I checked (BibleGateway.com), only THE MESSAGE, Living Bible, and Eyewitness used the strong word angry for Jesus emotions toward the crowd and their comments at the tomb of Lazarus.

Thinking logically, the sister of Lazarus, Martha said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench, he’s been dead four days.”

Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? Go ahead and take away the stone” (THE MESSAGE John 11:39-41).

They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here, I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me” (The Message John 11:41,42).

Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out (THE MESSAGE John 11:43,44). The only thing left to do was unwrap him. Glory!

Application: Jesus knew his task was to bring God glory. He made sure all knew Lazarus was dead. This odd act of waiting successfully challenged unbelief of all who were present. God got the glory in raising Lazarus to life.

Prayer: Father, help me see your desire in things around me. Show me how to take action and be your instrument to meet needs of people around me.

Question: Why do we balk when we know God shows us to do something odd…. Something that would make us look awkward or maybe even foolish? If God directs us to do or say anything, why don’t we do it?

Map from: Baker’s Bible Atlas, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961,1973,1979, p.190.

Picture from: Tomb of Lazarus from The Holy Land, Plurigraf-Narni-Terni, Riproduzion Vietata, Finito di stampede, bel febbraio, 1975.

When Jesus Says, “If You Love Me”

Jesus said, “People must love me enough to do what I say. Then my Father will love them and we will come live with them” (Eyewitness John 14:21).

Eyewitness: pp. 224,226
In Your Bible: John 3:16; John Chapters 13 and 14

This is the season for romantic love or friendly love. But today we will focus on God’s love.

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Jesus brought captivating “Good News.” Because people had not heard that God loved them, the disciples and early followers, took almost three years to grasp the strength and impact of this message.

God So Loved

Most people hear John 3:16 before they become believers. This verse shows how much God loves mankind. Only God can give agape love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not die, but live forever (Eyewitness John 3:16).

* Vine’s Expository on New Testament Words, says this:
Agapao love as used of God, expresses a deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential love towards the Giver.

Near the end of Jesus’ ministry, he taught and demonstrated many important things to the inner circle of disciples (John Chapter 13).

  • Jesus washed the disciples feet – modeled serving.
  • Had his last supper with them – celebrating commitment for his return.
  • Told them he was going away to the Father – but would return.
  • Gave a new commandment – love one another.

Philip seemed confused, so Jesus replied, “Don’t you know that I am the in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not due to my own initiative. The Father lives within me and does his work through me. Believe in me when I say I am in the Father…..” (Eyewitness John 14:10,11).

How to Show Love for the Father


There is a direct tie between listening to Jesus and obeying what he says. Jesus explained what the believer gains:

  • If you love me, you’ll be happy for me that I go to the Father – He’s greater than I am.
  • If you love me, you will do what I tell you to do.
  • If you obey my instructions, you show your love for the Father.

How can we miss this? We should listen and do it all.

Application: Jesus pointed the way to please the Father. Jesus also gave followers the key – believe in him, rely on him, and trust him. Listen to him when he says, “If you love me,” there is more to follow.

Prayer: Father, thank you for Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know he pleases you, help me to listen and do what he says. I want to please you too.

Question: Do you struggle with Jesus’ teaching? Keep my commands. Love one another. Believe in me. Listen to me. Show you love for me. prove your love for the Father. If we do not abide in him the struggle will go on. How do we abide in him and live in him?

Image courtesy of idea go / FreeDigital/Photos.net
* An Expository of New Testament Words, Vol 3, W.E. Vine, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey USA, Love pp. 20-22.

The Point Is

“What God wants from you is to believe in the one he has sent” (Eyewitness John 6:29).

Eyewitness: pp.103-107
In Your Bible: Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:14-21

The story – Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children. A lot of people in one setting! He did it with a boy’s lunch (five loaves and two fish). They even had more food left over than when they started. All who were there were amazed.

The Crowd Missed the Point


The crowd wanted miracles to prove who Jesus was. The people said, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus said, “What God wants from you is to believe the one he has sent” (Eyewitness John 6:29). Basically Jesus explained that it’s simple and not complicated.

Jesus wanted to correct their thinking, “You were not searching for me because of the miracles but because I filled your stomachs with bread. Do not work for food that spoils. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. God the Father sent me for this purpose” (Eyewitness Matthew 14:27).

Peter Missed the Point


Jesus sent his disciples ahead in a boat to Capernaum. When a storm arose, they desperately fought the wind and the waves. Before dawn, Jesus came walking on the water toward them. But they thought he was a ghost and were frightened. Jesus comforted them and said, “It’s all right, I am Jesus, you do not need to be afraid” (Eyewitness Matthew 14:27).

Then Peter put Jesus to the test . . . “Sir, if it’s really you, tell me to come walking to you on the water.”
“Come!” Jesus said
(Eyewitness Matthew 14:28,29).
Peter started walking on the water, but became frightened after a few steps and began to sink. Jesus held out his hand and grabbed him. As soon as Jesus climbed into the boat, the wind calmed.

Even after the miracle of the loaves, they had not learned what God could do. . . . Utterly amazed and worshipful, the disciples said, “Truly you are the Son of God!” (Eyewitness Matthew 14:32)

Application: The point is — God wants you to believe in the one he has sent. Miracles meet needs, Jesus’ teaching meets needs and change man’s thinking to Kingdom Living. Even today, Jesus can help you with things that seem impossible.

Prayer: Father, I believe in you, I’m available, teach me daily, and use me to further your Kingdom.

Question: Today we have Jesus’ words and accounts by eyewitnesses of his miracles always available in Scripture. We know he is the Son of God. Consider what keeps you from believing who he is and limiting what he still does?

The Father Shows – Jesus Does

“Whatever the Father does, the Son will do likewise, because the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does” (Eyewitness John 5:19,20).

Eyewitness: p.99
In Your Bible: John 5:17-24

Healing a lame man in Jerusalem at the pool called Bethesda, brought Jesus trouble again – because he did it on the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders claimed Jesus did work which was not allowed by Law on this holy day. They were sure this time they has a valid reason to persecute Jesus.

Jesus reasoned with the leaders, but the spiritual level he presented was beyond their understanding. Jesus said, “My Father has always been at work doing good, and I must do the same” (Eyewitness John 5:17). His intent was to tell religious leaders of “why” instead their focus was on “when.” It inflamed their anger.

THE FATHER SHOWS JESUS EVERYTHING

Now they had Jesus in another offense, he called God his Father inferring he was equal with God. In defense, Jesus said, “I assure you that the Son can do nothing by his own initiative but will only do what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, because the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does” (Eyewitness John 5:19,20).

What a joy for Jesus to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs each time the Father shows him to do something. The Father shows – Son does. It’s not merely for mankind to get the blessing or healing, but for God to get the honor and glory through Jesus.

Believers, receive Jesus’ encouraging words: “Listen. Those who hear what I am saying and believe on him who sent me will have eternal life. They will avoid condemnation, passing from death to life” (Eyewitness John 5:24). If we think this is only applies to those who heard Jesus speak when he was on earth, John the Apostle clarifies it in his Gospel: The Holy Spirit is given to believers to help them remember everything Jesus said.

WHY BELIEVERS MUST HONOR JESUS

Be sure to hear what Jesus has to say. Showing honor due the Son of God, reveals believers are honoring the Father too. This was a additional mountain sized stumbling block for the Jewish leaders. It should not be a stumbling block for believers today, but instead a wonderful opportunity embedded in every breath we take. Glory!

Application: Jesus admits he does only what his Father shows him to do – an amazing revelation. We should not take any of Jesus’ words lightly. No, we must meditate on them and let them sink in to our spirit. They should “direct our path” as the psalmist says.

Prayer: Father, I want to know/hear all that You are saying and doing.

A Glimpse of God’s Compassion

…….”Today, God has visited us” (Eyewitness Luke 7:16)

Eyewitness: pp. 75,76
In Your Bible: Luke 7:11-23

The disciples and increasing crowds followed Jesus to Nain. They eagerly listened to every word he spoke and expectantly watched everything he did. At the town gate, they met a large funeral procession. The sorrowful scene centered on a widow, who lost her only son, funeral musicians, and many wailing townspeople.

FUNERAL PROCESSION MEETS JESUS

Luke emphasizes Jesus’ overwhelming compassion, as he came upon this mourning widow. Many Bible commentators say this may be the most touching story in the Gospels.

When Jesus saw the widow, he was filled with compassion and said to her, “Do not cry” (Eyewitness Luke 7:13). Then he walked over to the bier, a flat stretcher bearing the corpse, and touched it. Immediately, the men carrying the bier stopped walking. Then Jesus commanded the corpse to get up.

IMG_0192Amazingly, the widow’s dead son came alive again. He sat up and began to speak. Jesus presented him with new life, back to his mother. Jesus showed his deep compassion for the widow and the power of God to raise her son to life.

Now, the very large crowd stood in awe of what Jesus had done. They knew what they witnessed – God in their midst. They praised God saying, “A great prophet has risen among us,” and “Today, God has visited us” (Eyewitness Luke 7:17).

JOHN WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT JESUS

Word of Jesus raising the widow’s son from the dead spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee and Judea. John the Baptist heard of it from his disciples while in prison at Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea. And he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the One to come.

“Go tell John what you have seen and heard,” Jesus replied. “The blind see, the lame walk, and lepers are cleansed. The deaf can hear, the dead are raised, and the needy receive words of hope. Tell him a man is blessed when he puts his faith in me” (Eyewitness Luke 7:22,23).

John the Baptist received verification of who Jesus was. Great testimony of what Jesus did – people knew it must have been God!

Application: Jesus’ compassion continues today. He is aware, he cares, and he wants God’s best for you.

Prayer: Father, thank you. Your compassion overcomes our sorrow and grief. Yes, your lovingkindness is everlasting and your faithfulness touches us deeply in times of need.

Photo of young boy healed by Jesus from: Jesus His Life and Times, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey, 1979, The Genesis Project.