Thanks for attending our School of Discipleship course on the life of Christ. Our goal is described in the specific title: Savoring Our Savior in the Synoptic Gospels. In other words, we desire to cherish, treasure Jesus our Redeemer as we study His ways, words and words in Matthew, Mark and Luke. I hope that excites you as much as it does me!
Our first WOW (word of the week) was aseity. If you recalled, I reminded us of a fundamental truth related to the character of God–His self-sufficiency. God does not need me. He does need you. He did not create us because He was lonely. He created us to glorify His great name. Jesus came for that very same purpose. And, at the perfect time, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We were the ones in need and Jesus came to meet our desperate need! Simeon and Anna (Luke 2) had the Holy Spirit-infused confidence that Jesus would indeed successfully accomplish His mission! I look forward to our study together as we see Him stay on mission throughout His life!
Our second WOW was righteousness. As we studied the baptism of Jesus, we were reminded why Jesus submitted to the baptism of John. He was baptized in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). In other words, Jesus knew that it was something He was supposed to do. Knowing the Father’s will in the matter, Jesus gladly allowed Himself to be dunked! (Even if it freaked John out!) After doing the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reasons, Jesus was led into the Judaean wilderness by the Spirit. Throughout a tough period of testing, Jesus proved that He Himself was full of righteousness! In His humanity, Jesus was truly tempted. Satan very much wanted Jesus to doubt the Father and take the easy way out. Jesus refused! He knew that He was the Son of God and He was committed to suffering to the glory of God and the good of His people. How easy is it for us to savor Christ after considering these things?!
Our third WOW was light. This was one of the passages we considered from the Synoptic Gospels:
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.14 This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light,
And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death,
Upon them a Light dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Pretty easy to see why I chose the word “light.” He is a “great Light”! And–the Light had dawned. After a long period of silence, God began to speak! After a very long time of not walking among us, The Light of the World put on sandals! Don’t regulate your celebration of the Incarnation to a few weeks each December. Celebrate today!
Everyone needs compassion,
Love that’s never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.
Laura Story begins her song Mighty to Save with those words. She is correct. Everyone does need compassion–our fourth WOW. Peter’s mother-in-law needed it. The leper needed it. The paralytic needed it. At times, Laura needed it. And so have you! I sure have. How full of praise we are that we–like those we studied on Sunday–have had mercy fall on us! Our triune God surely does not treat us as our many, many sins deserve.
One month into our study, we have ample reason for which to savor our Savior!
There has never been a Rabbi (our fifth WOW) like Jesus! When He called disciples, they left everything to follow! They left fishing boats and tackle (the boys from Bethsaida) and lucrative positions (Levi) because something better had been offered–the King and the kingdom! Due to the great plan of God, they were given an opportunity far greater than sitting at the feet of a Torah scholar. They were invited to walk with the Word of God Himself! They also saw that the Incarnate Word was also a Great Physician! The sick (Levi’s co-workers and friends) needed a doctor! And didn’t you love being reminded of that this past Sunday?! How awesome is our Lord?!
I think I did indeed open a can of worms with our sixth WOW–Sabbath. The Lord’s Day and how we celebrate it/use it often causes more questions than it answers! However, we were encouraged to remember that rest is not just allowed, but strongly encouraged! If you are anything like me, you need to be told to stop working! In that, I am more like my Mom than my Dad. I am a do-er. Give me a task that I can do and I’ll do it. And, if you won’t give me a task, I’ll find one to do! Jesus said that the Sabbath (an extended time of rest) was made for me (I wasn’t created for the day)! And that gives me–and you–a lot of freedom for how the day is spent. Isn’t freedom in Christ a good thing?!
I sure enjoyed our study of The SERMON (our seventh WOW) on the Mount. I’m probably not going out on a limb here by saying we were all blessed by our reading of the famous sermon and our brief discussion. Jesus was an amazing teacher (remember how Matthew ended his rendering of the sermon). And He shared some amazing truths in the passages we read! The theme we noticed was the kingdom of God/heaven. The King had arrived and He declared the Kingdom Ethic–how we should live in light of the King and the righteousness He provides! Self-righteousness isn’t what is required. Personal righteousness is! We need to look like the tree Sherry described–healthy and full of branches!
Thanks for deciding upon our eight W.O.W.–Faith! We definitely saw Jesus’ power as we studied the account of His calming the sea, raising Jarius’ daughter and healing the woman who risked enough to touch His robe (Mark 4-5). Only God can make a fierce storm immediately turn into a beautiful day! Only God can raise the dead! Only God can heal an incurable disease in an instant! Only God. And the true identity of Jesus is revealed. But faith played a major part in each of the accounts, didn’t it? The disciples had no faith (very little). In contradistinction, Jarius believed that his terminally ill twelve-year-old would be healed by a mere touch from Jesus. Likewise, the suffering woman had the confidence in Jesus due to what she had heard that she would be cured if she could only reach His clothes. And what did we see in our study? Jesus scolded the disciples for their weak faith. He rewarded the synagogue ruler for his genuine faith. And he commended the woman for her strong faith. The application is self-evident, isn’t it? How’s your faith? How’s mine? Let us remember that we have the same Lord! He still calms stormy seas! He could still raise the dead should He choose to do so! In a very real sense, His power is just a touch away!
If you are looking for an over-arching theme in the Synoptic Gospels, Kingdom–our ninth W.O.W. might just be it! Jesus clearly proved to be the King of all kings and He announced that His kingdom had arrived. In our study, we saw the interesting account of His earthly family coming to visit Him, most likely with the hopes of bringing Him back home with them. Then we heard Him teach several parables about the kingdom (sower, seed, leaven, treasure, dragnet). Members of His family hear the Word of God and do it. Members of the kingdom do the same. They recognize that the King and the kingdom is valuable and their lives prove that to be the case! Do our lives do so? I hope that they do! I hope that mine does!
As we spent time with Jesus, we noticed that He gladly welcomed children (even babies!). Parents were coming to Him with the kids, asking Jesus to bless them. And, to the chagrin of His disciples, He blessed! He also took the opportunity to use it as an analogy of what is required to enter the kingdom! Children are not encumbered by so much of the baggage found in the lives of adults (we also studied the rich, young ruler). When he walked away grieving, Peter reminded Jesus that the disciples had sacrificed to follow Him. Jesus said, “You will be blessed.” See repeated word? Our W.O.W. was Blessing! It was a blessing studying about blessing! Agree?
Hosanna! God saves! Our Lord and Savior rode into Jerusalem to the shouts of Hosanna! (Our 11th W.O.W.) I enjoyed our study of the Triumphal Entry, Jesus’ clearing the temple, and His healing of those blind and lame. As we work our way through His life, He continues to amaze us! If you recall, I pointed out the Jesus proved to be Messiah, Lord and Healer! We followed our time in Sunday School with a survey in church of what transpired in the Upper Room until the point Pilate handed Jesus over to be executed. I hope you found the time in God’s Word as meaningful as I did!
It’s a bit hard to believe, but we met for our 12th time on Sunday, April 9th. When we did so, we meditated upon the fact that Jesus alone is The Master Teacher (W.O.W.)! And we clearly saw that Jesus was just as good at answering questions as He was at asking them. Three times the religious leaders attempted to trap Him in His words and three times Jesus proved to superior! You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger. And you don’t mess around with JESUS!
He successfully got those religious leaders HOT-N-READY, proving again that He was in complete control of the events transpiring!
WOE! The W.O.W. was an easy selection for us this past Sunday, wasn’t it?! Jesus had some rather straight-forward things to say about the religious leaders of His day! INCOMING! Hopefully, He would have more complimentary things to say about us. Remember the representative list Jesus shared regarding what the self-righteous leaders lacked–justice, mercy and faithfulness (23:23). We can’t help but examine our own lives in light of those characteristics. Are our lives marked by just actions (and standing up for justice for the oppressed) and merciful deeds and faithful living? I hope those qualities are evident in my life! The professional ministers of Jesus’ day did not practice what they preached. May that accusation never be leveled against any of us!
Have a great week!