Why God Loved
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
As we look and to many, celebrate this special occasion of Valentines day. What is it about us that God would show His love? To the married, there has to be a reason why we married our spouse, right! To those that are single, what is it that you are looking for a partner? When you see someone you like, for whatever reason of attraction, there is a reason right?
But what is it about you and I, that a great and Holy God would give us His love? Wrap your mind around that that question before we begin with the message. It can’t be for our personality. It can’t be for our looks or how good or nice we are. So what is it, or why did God show His affection of love towards you and I, that He had to sacrifice His Son to show His love for you and I?
John 3:16 is one of the best known and most loved verses in the whole Bible. Probably no other single verse of Scripture has led more people to salvation. Martin Luther called John 3:16 'the miniature gospel.' It has also been called 'the gospel in a nutshell,' and 'a love letter from God that was written in blood and addressed to all people.'"
Max Lucado called John 3:16 "a twenty-six word parade of hope: beginning with God, ending with life, and urging us to do the same. It's brief enough to write on a napkin or memorize in a moment, yet solid enough to weather two thousand years of storms and questions. If you know nothing of the Bible, start here. If you know everything in the Bible, return here. We all need the reminder."
John 3:16 is the heart of the Gospel straight from the heart of God. God so loved the world! God wants to touch your life with His love. God wants to transform your life with His love, and He will… if you will believe.
"For God so loved the world" This word "world" is found 79 times in the Gospel of John. And this word is not talking about the physical world or the sinful world system. It's talking about the world's people. God even loved us before the foundation of the world! "For God so loved the world!"
God loves the best Christian you have ever known. But He also loves the worst sinner you have ever known. God so loved the world! That's why one of the most astounding truths in God's Word is found in Romans 5:6…
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Christ died for the ungodly! Christ died for the worst of the worst. Murderers, thieves, drug addicts, and every other sin we could possibly think of. Christ died for the very people who are trying to lead our nation away from Him. Christ died for the people who are filled with hate for Christians like us. But, in due time, God willing…God will save them too!
One preacher was talking to some children about the things that money can't buy. He said, "Money can't buy laughter, and it can't buy love." Then to drive his point home, the preacher asked, "What would you do if I offered you a thousand dollars to not love your mother and father?" Stunned silence followed, but finally a little voice asked, "How much would you give me to not love my big sister?"
Church… There is nothing anyone could ever do to take away God's love for you!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. . ."
Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that has ever been given, or ever will be given to anyone, anywhere. God gave His "only begotten Son." That means His one-of-a-kind, one and only Son, the God-man Jesus Christ.
The point here is that Jesus and God the Father share the same DNA so to speak. Jesus isn't begotten in the sense that He began, but in the sense that He and God the Father have the same essence, the same eternal life span, the same infinite goodness, the same perfect wisdom, and the same boundless power.
Every quality we can find in God the Father, we can also find in Jesus Christ. Jesus is and always has been God the Father's unique and sinless Son. But 2,000 years ago, the Lord humbled Himself to become a man. He came down to earth and became the only person who ever lived a perfect life, so the Lord's humanity is unique.
The Bible makes this truth clear in many places. For example, the Old Testament prophet Micah spoke of the pre-existence of the Messiah. In Micah 5:2 the prophet said…
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me. The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”
Jesus also affirmed His unique existence. For example, Jesus claimed to have existed in Abraham's day, even though Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Jesus was born on earth. In John 8:56-58…
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Then in John 17:4-5, on the night before the cross, Jesus prayed to God the Father and said…
4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together [a]with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
God the Father gave His one of a kind, only begotten Son for you, for me, and for the whole world! No one can save you but Jesus. That's why He is the greatest gift that has ever been given! "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (2 Cor 9:15)
3. GOD'S LOVE GAVE US THE GREATEST GIFT. IT ALSO SUFFERED THE GREATEST SACRIFICE.
In order to see the sacrifice, we've got to go back up to vs. 14-15. Here Jesus said…
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should [a]not perish but have eternal life.
This Old Testament story in found in Numbers 21:4-9. Fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born, God gave us an Old Testament picture of what Jesus was going to do on the cross for us. The holy Son of God was going to become like a hated, dead snake, lifted up on a pole for our sins. And what a sacrifice! God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins. And Jesus willingly took all of the suffering and shame that belonged to us. He willingly took all of the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross for us.
Jesus was the only person who could make that sacrifice for us, because He had no sin of His own. And He did make that sacrifice, because He loves us.
On Sunday, August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 225 crashed just after take-off from Detroit. One hundred and fifty-five people were killed, and only one survived. It was a 4-year-old girl from Tempe Arizona. Her name was Cecelia.
When rescuers first found Cecelia, they didn't think she had been on the plane, because it hit several cars when it crashed onto the highway. But Cecelia's name was on the flight register.
And the investigators found out that Cecelia survived for one reason. When the plane was about to go down, Cecelia's mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go.
That is a picture of what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins. He sacrificed His life so that we might have eternal life. No higher price has ever been paid, no greater loss was ever felt, "for God so loved the world."
God's love calls for us to have the greatest confidence in Jesus. And we can because Jesus proved His love for us on the cross. But that wasn't the end of the story, because 3 days later Jesus rose again from the dead. Now our Risen Savior reaches out to give eternal life to everyone who will believe in Him.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." That "whosoever" means me, and it means you. Everybody has sinned, so everybody needs a Savior!
And Jesus will be your Savior, if you will believe in Him. But this believing means a whole lot more than just believing with your mind. It means believing with your heart, believing with your life. It also means receiving Jesus into your spiritual heart, having a real relationship with the Lord, following His ways, and allowing Him to lead our lives.
John Paton helped us understand this word "believe." John and his wife were pioneer missionaries in the South Pacific, and they were trying to work with people who didn’t even have a word for "believe" in their language.
That was a huge problem when John began translating the Bible into the native language, because this key word is found over 200 times in the New Testament. John was completely stuck until a villager came to visit one day. The man was exhausted from working in the hot sun, so he sat down in a chair. And in his native language, he said, "How wonderful it is when you are tired and can LEAN YOUR WHOLE WEIGHT ON SOMETHING."
When John Paton heard that phrase, he said it was like lightning struck, and suddenly he realized, "That's it! -- 'Lean your whole weight on something.'” That was the thought John Paton was searching for, and that’s what he used to translate "believe" into their native language.
This is what it means to believe in Jesus. You fully lean on Him. You trust in Jesus to hold you up for all eternity, and He gives you His life. Jesus makes clear that the salvation of those whom the Father gives Him is not a mere possibility but an absolute certainty. All of those whom God has chosen will Come to Christ, who has laid down His life only for His sheep and not for those who have not been chosen from the foundation of the world.
5.GOD'S LOVE CALLS FOR THE GREATEST CONFIDENCE. AND IT RESULTS IN THE GREATEST RESCUE.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Jesus is talking here about the greatest deliverance from the greatest danger. People without Christ are going to spend forever in hell…
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is talking about eternal death, eternal separation from God. Years ago, from a devotion, a story about a preacher who came to the conclusion that nobody is going to hell. He lost his church for it, but later began preaching in another church, and hundreds of people were flocking to that church. No hell. -- Everybody's going to Heaven. Sounds nice, but it's just not true. The Bible is perfectly clear about this fact. Here in John 3:17-18 say...
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
We must base our beliefs on the rock-solid foundation of God's Word. We must follow the Word. The Bible is always right. It doesn’t matter how we feel. It doesn’t matter what we think. The Bible is always right!
We must believe it when it talks about the greatest danger, and the greatest deliverance: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
This means everlasting life in a place too wonderful for us to imagine, living forever with our loving God. In 1 John 3:1-2…
1 John 3:1-2
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore, the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
Christians… That's our rescue! The greatest rescue of all! Rescued from death. Rescued from hell. Rescued for everlasting life in Heaven. And it's all because of the love of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So…God gave us the answer of why He did what He did. From the message that we just heard, it all about Gods love. There was nothing in us that would be…to our standards attractive. Its not our personality, how good we are, so we think. Its not in our looks, or any good works. Its all because He/God Loved. A holy God had to make a way for us not to perish and the only way is to sacrifice His perfect/sinless/Holy Son.
That is why… “God so loved”
Fruitful Growth In The Faith
2 Peter 1:2-8
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter begins his teaching by reminding them and us of the basics of authentic Christianity. If we continue to live by the divine power which God has given to us, and if we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we will be fruitful. Thus, we are challenged to take full advantage of the divine power and promises of God. Peter then gives us the specific steps to follow so that we may be victorious through Jesus Christ. If we practice these characteristics of the divine nature not only do we grow in Christ-likeness, we also experience the assurance of eternal rewards.
I. DIVINE POWER, 3.
II. DIVINE PROMISES, 4.
III. DIVINE PROGRESS, 5-7.
IV. DIVINE PRODUCTIVITY, 8.
I. DIVINE POWER, 3.
The expectations of becoming Christ-like would be impossible if not for God’s divine enabling. Verse 3 teaches that Christ has provided everything believers need for life and godliness. “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue”.
The first amazing statement is not in the future tense. “give us all things” “to bestow, to endow.” and stresses the freeness and worth of the gift. The perfect tense also stresses the certainty of the fact and possession of this gift. Peter contends that God has already given us His divine power and through that power He has made everything which pertains to life and godliness available to us.
God has provided believers with all the resources necessary to make spiritual growth possible. Peter’s teaching sounds like that of Paul when he declared “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
How do we grow? ... through the true knowledge of Him who called us. All that believers need for spiritual vitality (life) and godly living is attainable through our knowledge of Him (Christ). In knowing Jesus believers have freely at their disposal all the resources necessary to enable them to work out the process of sanctification or growing into the likeness of Jesus.
An intimate “full knowledge”, of Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth (Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10; 2:2). As we get to know the Lord Jesus through prayer, through the Word, through worship through walking day by day with Him we grow. For the better we know Him, the better we understand how all things that pertain to life and godliness can function within us.
Notice that Christ called us to this [intense] life of godliness, worship, literally rightly directed worship, by His own glory and goodness. “Glory” expresses the excellence of His being, His attributes and essence. “Goodness” depicts His excellence of deeds or His virtue in action.
Christ attracts people enslaved by sin (2:19) by His own moral excellence and the impact of His glorious Person. Everything that has to do with life or serving God has been freely given so that we lack nothing. Christians are fully equipped to live a life pleasing to God, to overcome any obstacle we face, and to persevere under trial.
II. DIVINE PROMISES, 4.
Progress in the Christian life is made possible by the power of God (v. 3) and, as we see in verse 4, by the promises of God. “4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The promises are great because they come from a magnificent God and lead to an abundant life. The promises are precious because their value is beyond calculation.
We have so many magnificent and precious promises in the Word of God. The promise of the forgiveness of sin, rest to the weary, comfort to the sad, hope to the dying, resurrected life to the dead, and answered prayer. The promise of sharing the very nature of God by the gift of the comforting, teaching empowering Holy Spirit. The promise of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth.
The promises of God are precious for at least two reasons. The first reason is because “by them” we “become partakers of the divine nature.” [“Participate” (genēsthe … koinōnoi) is literally “become partners.”] [What an utterly staggering precious promise that is. Jesus first gave it to His disciples shortly before His Crucifixion when He said…
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.
That is exactly what happened to the disciples who gathered together on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and His divine nature became their own. And that marvelous promise is for us and our children (Acts 2:39).]
A born-again Christian has the divine nature of God so that he/she is a new creation, a new being. And so Scripture says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The implications of this promise are incredible for us. We have the potential to live by the very power of God. God’s divine nature can replace ours as we follow Jesus as Lord and as we allow the Holy Spirit to possess us.
Second, by the promises of God we can escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The craziness of the world can be traced directly to lust. Whether regarding money, sex, esteem, or approval, lust simply says, “I’ve got to have more.” God wants to deliver us from such a mind-set.
God’s way of escape lies in seizing hold of His promises and thereby growing in God’s own nature. Through them means as you apply them to life. That is a major concern. When we walk and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are walking in the opposite direction of our natural life. Paul stated that truth in Galatians 5:16, 17…
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
III. DIVINE PROGRESS, 5-7.
Because Christians have the power and the promises, Peter urges the essential goal of growing to be like Jesus and spells out the steps towards it in verses 5-7. Verse 5 begins the steps to becoming fruitful disciples. “5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge”.
“For this reason,” “having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (v. 4) through our "faith" in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can now grow spiritually. We mature spiritually by conforming our being/nature and practice to our Lord’s. This growth happens when we put to use the divine nature we now possess, recognizing that He has provided all the resources we need.
This beautiful paragraph sounds like the Christian symphony of grace. Its practical advice concerns the basics of the Christian faith. These graces are to be applied to our life with all diligence, or “all zeal, applying. Peter urges the importance of applying every effort. For it takes every bit of diligence and effort a Christian can muster, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to “escape the corruption” of the fall so that we might be transformed into the image of Christ.
Spiritual growth does not come without effort. God though has provided all we need, but we must give “all diligence” for the process is much more than simply allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts we must pursue the character and habits that bring spiritual growth.
All of these virtues are dependent upon our faith. Our Christian life begins by faith and continues in faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is what separates Christians from all other people. Trust in the Savior which brings one into the family of God, is the foundation of all other qualities in the Christian life. The Christian life begins with faith and is carried on with “faith”. Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).
“6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
Knowing God will deepen our knowledge of ourselves and where we need to exercise self-control.
To know is vitally important, but it is not enough. We are to do what we know we should do. In many of our lives, though there is a great gulf between our knowledge and our conduct. It was to this problem James spoke when he wrote, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). It is one element of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:23. The real sense of the term means more than self… being in control. A more descriptive and accurate term would be “God-control.” Only when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit can we be self-controlled.
Add perseverance to self-control. A self-controlled, disciplined lifestyle must lead to perseverance, strength in the face of adversity. Both James and Peter write a great deal about the virtue of “perseverance” . This word means “enduring, continuance or patience”,which can mean “to bear trials, to have fortitude, to abide or to endure.”
Literally it means to “remain under.” In our vernacular, we would say “hanging in there.” There are only seconds which separate those who fail from those who succeed in running most races. Too many people drop out of the race just before it is to be won. Those who persevere by “hanging in there” are those who win the prize.
Perseverance produces or adds godliness. Godliness cannot be fabricated. We cannot merely pretend to be godly. The quality of godliness comes from God Himself. He must give that quality of life to us. We receive it as we are dead to self and alive to God and as we allow the Spirit to live within us. The fruits of the Spirit are attributes of the character of God. The more we are possessed by God, the more we will act like Him and the more His character will be revealed in our lives.
In verse 7 we find the 6th Christ-like character. Add brotherly kindness to godliness. Brotherly kindness is the wonderful warmhearted affection between fellow believers. “Brotherly kindness” is a special kind of love. Peter uses this word in instructing us regarding the importance of having unfeigned love of the brethren (1 Pet. 1:22); Paul teaches us to be kindly, affectionate to one another in brotherly love (Rom. 12:10). This is one of the amazing qualities of the church of Jesus Christ. We are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ—and are members one to another (1 Cor. 12:27). We must live out our faith by having love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Kindness is one of the most powerful tools in the believer's kit of virtues. We cannot always do exceptional deeds; but there are thousands of small, generous things we can do that will help others and bring glory to God. Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. May we seek to serve Christ through deeds of kindness and the sincerity of' our love.
IV. DIVINE PRODUCTIVITY, 8.
“8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 8 gives a marvelous and precious promise to those who increasingly integrate these qualities into every part of their life. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing”, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sharing the life of God should produce and the finest and most godly character for Him. That itself is reward enough, but it also leads to fruitfulness in our walk with the Lord. If we make these things ours and they abound, says Peter, two specific benefits will follow.
First, they will keep us from being barren. None of us want to be “barren” in our Christian lives. To be barren is “to be useless or idle.” The best defense against such a useless life is an active offense. If we are actively following Jesus Christ as Lord and are diligent in adding to our faith, we will never be barren in our Christian life.
Second, they will keep us from being “unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus gave instruction to Peter and to all of us concerning the life of bearing fruit when He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
The secret of fruit-bearing is to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. Peter encourages us to follow Jesus aggressively by adding to our faith with all diligence; then we will never be unfruitful.
The value of a promise depends on what is promised, who made it and whether or not they will keep the promise. We all have been impacted by promises that have not been kept, but that is not so with God. He, being God can keep all He promises and His integrity, His righteousness demands that He keep all His promises.
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.” 7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Temptations. We all have them. We’d like to have that big, beautiful house, that fancy car, the high-paying career, the winning lottery ticket. Those are big temptations. But on a daily basis, we’re faced with things that tempt us in more subtle ways. The foods we eat, the thoughts we have, and also in what we truly believe about ourselves, and about God. It’s these areas in which the devil can start to get a foothold in our lives and draw us away from the things that God would rather have us keep our minds on.
One night an Arab had settled in for the night and had just fallen asleep when his camel stuck his head in his tent and explained that it was awful cold and asked permission to just stick his legs inside the tent to keep them warm. Granting him permission the Arab went back to sleep. A little while later the camel woke him up a second time and asked permission to stick his head in. Again permission was granted. This continued on throughout the night until finally the Arab woke up to find the entire camel in the tent with him. When he told the camel that there just was not enough room in the tent for the both of them the camel suggested that the Arab might want to leave.
That is exactly what Satan does. He slips into our lives a little at a time and one day we wake up and alarmed we tell him that there just is not enough room for both he and Jesus in our lives. To which he suggests that Jesus might then want to leave....
Our lives are full of temptations. We are constantly bombarded by ads telling us that we just aren’t complete unless we have the latest product to fulfill our wants/desires. Sure, they may look harmless on their own, but the fact we give in to these desires, is giving in to temptation, and that can lead to problems, even addictions, or simply put…sin.
From our text, Matthew 4:1-11, we’ll read how Jesus Himself was put to the test. Face to face with the devil, He was tempted. Why was Jesus tempted like this? Why would God allow the devil to try to cause Jesus to sin? I believe it was to show US how to overcome sin, and to put the devil into his place! Let’s look at how Jesus overcame these three temptations of the devil.
First: realize that Jesus was in a weakened physical state after fasting for 40 days in the desert. He ate nothing, and we don’t know if He even drank anything. This would be an ‘absolute’ fast. But, as we see in the passage, His MENTAL capacities were sharp!
How do you feel when you miss even one meal? We are blessed to have, on average, 3 meals a day. We eat when we want to, not when we need to. We snack, we munch, we sip, and drink almost to our heart’s content. Not that it’s GOOD for our HEART to eat some of the foods we tend to crave. Now think of how you would feel after a day of no eating. How about 2 days? A week? Can you even imagine 40 days? I have never fasted that long in my life. And that was hard. I don’t know if there is a word that could describe how HUNGRY Jesus was after 40 days.
Now, in this weakened condition, the devil comes to Him. Another name for him here is the ‘tempter’ (Luke 4). And the first thing he tempts Jesus with is food. He asks Jesus to prove He is the Son of God by turning stones to bread. He knows Jesus could do it. He doesn’t ask Jesus to show His miraculous power, but instead tries to appeal to His human craving for food. Really nice of the devil, eh? But Jesus answers with a great scripture, “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3)
Do you remember the movie by C. S. Lewis’ classic The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Edmund makes his way through the wardrobe and into Narnia where he meets the White Witch. Unaware of the evil of the White Witch, Edmund climbs up into her sleigh. The Witch asks Edmund what he would like, and his request is for some Turkish delight, a sweet blend of sugar and starch, covered in powdered sugar. Later Edmund would forsake his friends and seek out the Witch for more of the Turkish delight. The White Witch did not force Edmund to eat the Turkish delight or to leave his friends. Edmund did so out of his own desires within him.
Principle: We should not give into our fleshly desires if the result will be to sin. What we need to desire MORE than food for the body is food for the soul. We need to feed ourselves on God’s word. Read it. Hide it in our heart. Meditate on it. Learn it. Memorize it. Crave it! That is the first evidence of one who has been born again. The desire, the hunger to know and learn more about God. We can never have enough of it.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Next, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, to the temple. He told Him to stand on the highest point and jump off. Do you have a fear of heights? Does your stomach get a little queasy when you look down from a tall building to the ground below? I remember being in Chicago, at the Sears Tower. The Sears Tower, was completed May 3, 1973, rises to a height of (1,450, 1,729′ to tip) feet and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Chicago skyline and in the world. The Sears tower held the record for the world’s tallest building for 25 years until the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia were built in 1998. When I moved to Chicago, this is one of the places Tina brought me to see. And whenever we would have visitors, we would take them there as well.
We went up to the sky deck, to the same windows that are in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We put our heads up against the glass and looked down to the street. And I tell you, even knowing the glass was there, and with a handrail to hang on to, I still felt as if I my stomach was going to take a leap! It was an incredible view as you looked across the city, but looking down, that was a different story!
Now the temple in Jerusalem was not nearly as high as the Sears Tower. 45.72 meters, (150.0 ft) Depending on which wall, and what foundation is being referred to. That’s still along way up. Here again the devil tempts Him. This time, he even quotes an Old Testament scripture to Jesus. (The devil knows the scriptures, too!) He tells Jesus to jump. ‘Don’t worry, you won’t get hurt. The angels will catch you! Your foot won’t even hit the ground’ He quotes Psalm 91:11,12.
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. 12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
So…the devil did his homework, he remembered his memory verse. Again, the devil knows scriptures too. So, be very careful in how he can use it to tempt you as he did to Jesus. Jesus replies, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deut. 6:16) Again, Jesus replies with scripture. The devil took that passage a bit out of context. Yes, he has been doing that same trick from the very beginning. The same way he tricked Eve into taking the fruit. God would have protected Jesus. But, it would not have been part of His plan for Christ’s life here on earth.
Jesus was showing us a lesson here on how we too can fight the tempter.
Question…Do we test God? Have you ever said something like, ‘God, if you’ll only allow me this one thing, this one indulgence, then I’ll give my whole life to you.’ That’s testing God. It is not right. It’s actually trying to tempt God. God cannot be tempted by OUR evil desires. Yes…it is an evil desire if it goes against His will!
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
The first chapter of James deals with trials and temptations. Read it sometime and learn how trials and temptations are GOOD for us. That’s when we grow.
ILLUSTRATION: “Cocoon” The cocoon of the Emperor moth is a flask like in shape. To develop into a perfect insect, it must force its way through the neck of the cocoon by hours of intense struggle. Entomologists explain that this pressure to which the moth is subjected is nature’s way of forcing a life-giving substance into its wings. Wanting to lessen the seemingly needless trials and struggles of the moth, an observer said, "I’ll lessen the pain and struggles of this helpless creature!" With small scissors he snipped the restraining threads to make the moth’s emergence painless and effortless. The creature never developed wings. For a brief time before its death, it simply crawled instead of flying through the air on rainbow, colored wings!
Principle: Don’t let your thoughts get the best of you. Don’t try to out-think God. Don’t try to twist the word of God to justify things that are not part of God’s will for your life. Be sure not to take things out of context. Read an entire passage of scripture, and not just one phrase.
The devil takes Jesus to a point where He can see all the kingdoms of the world. The devil offers to give all this to Jesus for one simple act. ‘Just bow and worship me,’ says the devil. Just think. Rather than a lowly human, with no wealth of any kind, no real home, no one who likes what you say, no money, no power. I’ll give it ALL to you. You’ll be the KING OF THE WORLD! Just worship me. What was the devil asking here? He was asking for Jesus’ place in the kingdom! He wanted to be restored to the ultimate place in heaven. He wanted out of the destruction he will ultimately face at the end of time. For if Jesus worshipped the devil, then Christ would be lowering Himself below Satan!
Again, Jesus rebukes Satan with scripture. “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only!”
Satan leaves, I’m sure in a big disappointment, and angels come and attend to Jesus.
Serve Him only. Our first obligation in life is to worship God, then to serve Him. And Him alone. Putting anything else in that first position is wrong! Our God is a jealous God. He does not share His position with anyone or anything. The first few verses of the 10 commandments, found in Exodus 20, tells us this clearly…
And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
A song by Philips Craig & Dean says this well:
You are not a god created by human hands You are not a god dependent on any mortal man.
You are not a god in need of anything we can give by Your plan that’s just the way it is.
You are God alone from before time began You were on Your throne You were God alone.
And right now, In the good times and bad You are on Your throne You are God alone.
You’re Unchangeable. You’re unshakable. You’re unstoppable. That’s what You are.
You’re the only God whose power none can contend You’re the only God whose name and
Praise will never end. You’re the only God who’s worthy of everything we can give You are God that’s just the way it is.
Principle: Don’t put ANYTHING in your life ahead of God. Nothing. Not your family, or your health, not your job or your house, not your car or your toys, not money or power, not your time or your habits. NOTHING can come before the Lord. Let’s get our priorities straight. Our eternal soul depends on it!
Jesus was tempted in three areas, as we are – Lust of the flesh (our body), lust of the eyes (our mind), pride of life (our soul). (1 John 2:16).
1 John 2:16
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
He/Jesus, faced up to these temptations by knowing the scriptures. If we know our Bible, we can face up to the temptations we face today. Many bibles have references to passages to read in regard to different situations we find ourselves in.
Find these tools in your bible. And the more you read it, the more time you spend learning it. The more you will be able… like Jesus, to rebuke the devil and his temptations through the power of scriptures. Keep in mind, that everything we do, everything that we are has an eternal destination. We are saved by grace that is true, Gods grace. But it does not mean that we are to do whatever we want. “we we’re bought at a price”. Our life/the Christian life is no longer our own. It belongs to God.
29 Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. 31 So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them. 32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
In our passage today we’ll see the power of Christ displayed over physical diseases in
verses 29-34. Let’s take on these verses in two parts. The first half goes like this, When you bring Jesus to your home… We see this in verses 29-31: “Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. 31 So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.”
1.The setting. Look at verse 29: “Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. After the synagogue service everyone headed to a Village Inn, only they didn’t have one. It was common for this service to end at noon and then people would gather in homes for Sabbath lunch. The scene now moves from a public encounter in the synagogue to a very private event in a home.
We know from John 1:44, that Simon and Andrew were originally from Bethsaida. It’s likely that Peter had purchased this home in Capernaum because that’s where they had moved their fishing business. Note that Peter still had a house and that he used his home for hospitality. He fully followed Christ and yet as a follower he was to care for his family and use His home for God’s glory and to make Jesus famous.
Archaeological excavations have uncovered a home in Capernaum that is near the site where the synagogue stood. Ancient writings have been discovered on the walls with the words “Lord” and “Christ” in Aramaic, Greek, Syriac and Latin. They’ve also found first century fishhooks and graffiti references to “Peter.” Tradition says that this house was only about 100 yards from the synagogue.
When Peter left everything to follow Christ, that meant that he gave everything to Christ. Too often we categorize the spiritual and the secular. We put worship and prayer and Bible study into the spiritual pile and things like work and hobbies and relationships and family into the secular pile. Listen… When you repent and receive Christ, when you forsake all to follow Christ, it means that everything becomes spiritual – your family, your house, your possessions, your finances, your job, your hobbies, your relationships, your schoolwork, your activities, because everything matters to Jesus.
Peter’s priorities had changed when he met Jesus, the people in his life and all of his possessions now belonged to Jesus. He could still enjoy them, but he had transferred ownership of everything to Him. Have you made this same transfer?
2. The sickness. We’re told in verse 30 that Peter had a mother-in-law. That probably blows some of your minds because you’ve been taught that Peter was never married. That’s something the Catholic Church advocates and since they believe Peter was the first pope, they restrict popes and priests from marrying. 1 Corinthians 9:5 clearly states that Peter had a wife, “Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” Cephas is the Armaic name for Peter. We see this in John 1:42 when Jesus says, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). If you’d like to dive deeper into this, see Galatians 2:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:5.
It’s clear that Peter was married and that he cared for his mother-in-law, “Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever…” The idea in Greek is a bit stronger than that she was just lying down with a fever. The sense is that this fever had so affected her that she was thrown into a sickbed without any hope of ever getting better.
The phrase “lay ill,” means that she was flat on her back. The word “fever” refers to “a fire in the bones.” Because of the kinds of diseases that were prevalent in that marshy area around the Sea of Galilee at the time, it’s possible that she had malaria or typhoid fever. In the Gospel According to Luke, we read that she had a mega, or “great fever.” This is not surprising that Luke would give us this diagnosis since he was a physician. It was common back then to categorize fevers as “small” or “great”, so this tells us that she was in a life-threatening situation. It’s important to know that in the ancient world “fever” was a disease itself, not just a symptom. Plus, they had no Advil or Tylenol, to comfort the one who was sick.
Are you aware that as part of our discipleship we’re called to care for our families? This is clearly stated in 1 Timothy 5:8: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
“and they told Him about her at once.” I love how they told the Lord about the problem. In essence, they were interceding on her behalf. They didn’t know what else to do or who else to go to. A crisis does that, doesn’t it? Even pagans will pray if the problem is big enough.
3. The Savior. We see what Jesus does in verse 31, “So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.”
• He came. Don’t you love that Christ comes close to us in our time of need? Luke tells us that He/Jesus… came “took her by the hand and lifted her up”, and He didn’t stay at a distance but came near. Our greatest need when we’re hurting is to experience His presence. I love Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and is attentive to their cry.”
• He touched. Jesus could have snapped His fingers or just said a word but instead He took her by the hand. Jesus did the same with the blind man in Mark 8:23: “He took the blind man by the hand.” There’s power in touch, isn’t there? It was a big deal for Jesus to touch her because according to the Talmud (a Jewish commentary on the Old Testament), touching anyone with a fever would have rendered one unclean. But with Jesus, the touch did not defile the healer, but healed the defiled! When Jesus touches someone, everything changes!
• He lifted. I love that Jesus lifted her up. He came down so He could lift her up. She couldn’t get up on her own. Listen to 1 Samuel 2:8: “He raises up the poor from the dust; He lifts the needy from the ash heap.”
• Fever left. We have every indication that the fever left immediately, which was amazing in itself. It was common in that culture to use elaborate incantations that would take a long time and then they still wouldn’t work. Some so-called faith healers on TV, urges listeners to send in seed money for a miracle. Not so with Jesus. Christ came, He took her by the hand, and then He lifted her up and the fever left.
This is a big deal because Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would have a healing ministry in Isaiah 35:5-6: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” Matthew 8:17 tells us that Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.’” This shows how caring and compassionate Christ is. He feels every fever. He carries every cancer. He bears our brokenness, and He takes our transgressions.
4. The serving. The end of verse 31 implies that she served them immediately: “and she began to serve them.” Have you ever recovered quickly after a fever? It generally takes some recuperation time, doesn’t it? Your bones ache, you feel weak and all you want to do is sleep. Especially for us men. Have you heard about the “Man Flu”? It’s an illness that causes the male to be helpless and sicker than any other family member. I’m told that in females it’s called a cold.
But for Peter’s mother-in-law she was completely helpless and sicker than any other family member. And yet, there was no recovery time. She didn’t get better gradually. She was healed and went right into helper mode.
Anytime you encounter Jesus the natural response is to serve Him! This word for “serve” is the word we get “deacon” from. It literally means to “wait on tables” and was also used of the angels ministering to Jesus at the end of His terrible temptation in the wilderness.
Peter’s mother-in-law made her life immediately available to Jesus and His ministry. We have been saved to serve, healed to help and touched, so that we touch others. By the way, the female followers of Jesus seemed to understand the necessity of serving more quickly than the guys got it. Mark 15:41 says that a number of women “followed Him and ministered to Him.” Luke 8:2-3 tells us that many women provided for Jesus and his disciples out of their financial means.
Let’s look now at the second half of our main idea from verses 32-34: “At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
The reason they waited until sundown was because they were prohibited from carrying anyone on the Sabbath, because that would have been considered work. Sabbath started at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday.
I imagine it like a countdown clock before the start of a big event. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the setting of the sun so they could bring battered/sick people to Jesus. This makes me think of Malachi 4:2. When the sun sets “The sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”
The people who came had all sorts of problems. Some were suffering from sickness and others were sabotaged by evil spirits. Some were diseased and others were demon possessed. Broken legs and broken hearts gathered outside the home. Some couldn’t walk so they were carried. Verse 32 says they were “brought,” which means, “to carry as a burden.”
The people who came had “various diseases,” which means manifold, or a wide variety. Remember this, Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. The older I get the more convinced I am that everyone is suffering – emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually…or all the above.
According to verse 28 the fame of Jesus’ name spread throughout the region when Jesus cast out a demon and now that He has brought physical healing to Peter’s mother-in-law… crowds line up to see Him. In verse 33 we read that the “whole city” was gathered at the door of the house. The tense of the verb suggests that the crowds continued to come. People knew that Jesus was not only at Peter’s home but that He could help those who were hurting.
Can you imagine this scene as people pounded on Peter’s door? I wonder what it would look like if people gathered on our front lawns because we brought Jesus home with us from the service today. Here’s the deal… When Christ shows up, the crowds will be curious.
Verse 34 says that He “healed many.” What this means is that He doesn’t heal everyone in this life. In this world there will be woes and challenges and disease and cancer and fevers. And while we should pray for healing, we must realize that sometimes His will is to not heal.
Jesus silenced the demons because He didn’t want their testimony, “And He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” It’s interesting that the demons wanted to declare who Jesus was but were not permitted to do so. Jesus wants us to speak about Him, but many of us walk around muzzled.
Before we assume that all these people were putting their faith in Jesus, it must be pointed out that many just wanted a miracle. They wanted relief from pain and affliction but weren’t ready to repent and receive salvation. While Jesus healed many who were sick and cast out demons, He came for a different purpose. He extended mercy but He was also on mission. He was merciful.
We’re to gather with God’s people to worship and then bring Jesus home with us so that we grow in our faith. We then give to others by serving and finally we go with the gospel to our neighbors and to the nations.
Let’s allow this passage to percolate in our lives. Here are some action steps.
1. Take care of your household. Is there anything you need to do to reconcile this relationship?
2. Live out your faith wherever you are. Are you helping your children learn about Jesus? Are you taking Jesus to your workplace? Have you invited Him into your hobbies, your sports, and other activities? Do you take Him with you?
3. Ask the Healer to bring healing to you and others. Sometimes Jesus heals miraculously. Other times He does it through doctors and medicine and surgeries. And sometimes we won’t receive healing until we’re in heaven. Let’s not be like Asa, who neglected to ask for healing in 2 Chronicles 16:12: “Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians.” Remember that God loves to hear from His children. That’s why it’s a relationship.
4. Find somewhere to serve. The question should never be whether you will serve. The real question is where and when will you serve? We have not been lifted up only to lie back down. I know that interacting with people are hard to do at this time but be sensitive to Holy Spirit when He does bring someone your way. The possibilities are endless because the needs are unending. If you’re saved, settle this truth, you’re a servant.
5. Ask the Savior to save you. We all have a sickness called sin and Satan is out to destroy us. Our fever is fatal and there’s no way we can help ourselves. We’ve fallen and we can’t get up. Ask Jesus to come and He’ll come. And He’ll touch you and then lift you up. Repent and receive Him into your life and then follow Him wholeheartedly. He died in your place, taking your punishment, His blood paying the price for all your sins. And then He rose from the dead on the third day, showing His power over sin, sickness and Satan!
Remember that Jesus did not save you just to leave you. He save you because your precious, He did after all died for you. Jesus loves to hear from you when you are, thankful, in need, suffering, when you’re ill, in trouble, you name it. Jesus wants to hear it. So…speak/ talk to your Savior/your Christ.
Pastor Richard Santos
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