Saturday, May 15, 2021

Jesus: The Hometown Tour

Bobservations Column

By Pastor Bob Lawrenz

After Jesus’ initial travels around the Galilee Region, He takes His message and ministry to the hometowns of the Apostles. They would have been with Him on the first trip around “Lake Gennesaret,” and those from the Apostles’ home cities might have realized that they had been missing from home for several weeks, or maybe months.

Now Jesus takes them back to their hometowns. In John 1:44, we learn that brothers Andrew and Simon Peter were from Bethsaida, but had apparently moved across the Jordan River to Capernaum, near the river’s inlet into the lake from the north. Philip was also from Bethsaida. Other parts of the Gospels tell us that Matthew was from Capernaum where he sat at the gate receiving taxes.

If Jesus were to call to the Apostles to follow Him today, I wonder if anyone would notice that they were missing from their neighborhoods. The folks in my neighborhood don’t know anyone beyond two or three houses on either side of and across, the street. Our world has changed! Our cities are overcrowded with families that do not know one another. And the current pandemic hasn’t helped! Wearing masks for the last 14 months has depersonalized us all, and kept us even from recognizing each other. But literally, society’s depersonalization has been going on for decades. One could very easily feel all alone in today’s world.

But take heart; God has known you from before the foundation of the Earth! His promises include, “I will never leave you, or forsake you.” “No man is able to pluck them (believers) out of my Father’s hand.”  “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.”  Above all else, the believer is never out of God’s mind, and He remains faithful and just. Through Jesus Christ, we gentile believers are grafted in (Romans 11:17-24) to the Abrahamic Covenant applied to Abraham’s children: The family tree of God’s Chosen.

Revelation 2 and 3 reminds us to have on our spiritual ears to understand the scriptures through the Holy Spirit. “He that overcometh (sin and the world) shall…” have specific blessings in their lives. And in Revelation 21:7, the Holy Spirit writes:

"He that overcometh shall inherit all things;
and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."

Today's Audio Message

Matthew 11:1-15 - "Jesus: The Homeland Tour"


In John 1:29, John the Baptist declared of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John the Baptist also said of Jesus, “Whose shoes lachet I am not worthy to unloose." (John 1:27), and, “I have need to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?” (Matthew 3:14). It is clear that John the Baptist recognized Jesus to be the Messiah and had faith in Him.

However, later, as recorded in Matthew 11:3 and Luke 7:19, John the Baptist is in prison. He sends messengers to Jesus to ask Him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  What happened? Why was John the Baptist doubting whether Jesus was the Messiah?

Jesus’ response is telling. He understood John's doubt, and instructed his disciples to go back and encourage John with what they heard and saw. He then encourages his disciples, pointing to the Old Testament, the prophecies concerning Him. Isaiah 35 couldn't be more clear, He would make the blind to see, the deaf to hear the lame to walk . . . no one need ever doubt the Lord at His Word.

It’s found repeatedly in prison stories where God's people are unjustly thrown, facing death, enduring awful conditions, and their faith is stretched in ways we can’t imagine. Fear, confusion, doubt, discouragement is part of the human condition. Yet faith is central to the whole Christian experience. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is always found in the Person and work of Jesus. Those suffering for Christ's sake are at their most vulnerable when in the hands of God's enemies. But, this is exactly where God wants them, they are still in His hands. Faith tested through the furnace of affliction is where we must learn to trust Him, and where we are reminded of the precious promises of His Word. The Lord is faithful to His Word, and in all things.

God’s plans and purposes are not always what we think they should be. In fact, most of the time they are not. John may have expected Jesus to deliver Israel from their oppressors (which He will do at His second coming), but Jesus came to deliver us from our sins. Through his death and resurrection, Christ our Substitute, saves us from the eternal punishment and death we all deserve (mercy), while at the same time providing eternal life that we don’t deserve (grace).

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