How do you answer the question, "Is it worth it?" Jesus had told his disciples that followers of him would necessarily deny themselves and be willing to daily bear many crosses. 8 days after saying that, Jesus would show them the whether (and why) following him was worth it.
Jesus didn't just say "love your enemies" because it felt like it. He commanded it because, well, loving your enemies just what people do who recognize the difference between "were" and "are." Because how could you not?
#blessed is used as a label in over 106 million posts on the photo-sharing platform Instagram. But what does being blessed really look like? What situations, what types of life circumstances, merit the descriptor "blessed"? God gives us his answer through Paul, as Paul reflected on his "thorn in the flesh."
"Because you say so," was the reason...the only reason that Peter decided to do what Jesus suggested. And when Jesus' instructions paid off, all Peter could say was, "Get away, I am a sinful man!" But Jesus didn't get away--and what is more, he refused to leave, and instead came even closer. Does he do the same for you?
In short, the answer is “no.” And that’s a good thing, because it heals you of worry and anxiety about yourself, and your accomplishments, and you're standing. Instead, you’re free to simply rest in how special Jesus is.
The people were sitting at rapt attention as Jesus sat down and said, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Turns out Jesus was the one promised to announce good news to the poor in spirit, to free the prisoners, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. What this all means for you and your relationships? It means forgiven people...forgive.
It was Jesus' first public miracle: he created 900 bottles of the best wine out of water at a wedding celebration. But why? What was the point of his miracle? What should the headline have read in the Daily Cana Chronicle?
Why did Jesus get baptized? He didn’t need to have his sins forgiven, he didn’t need to receive faith—he was already the Savior! Why, then?
Jesus was baptized because in his baptism he received benefits in two ways. Two of the same ways that you benefitted from your baptism.
"Live a bright life in order to overcome the darkness in the world and in your heart," is not something Jesus ever said. Christmas is about God giving his Son to be the light in the midst of all darkness, internal and external. "Come and see what God has done!"
In order to truly "get" the why of Advent and Christmas, we must contemplate 2 distinct questions:
#1: Do I believe how incomprehensibly horrible hell is?
#2: Do I believe how incomprehensibly amazing heaven is?
How do you feel about the future? Excited? Nervous? Anxious? Fearful? Optimistic? You don't need us to tell you things happen, and they're not all good. Many are bad. Jesus shows us how we are able to move forward in life, all the way until the end.
It doesn't make sense for Paul to ask what he asked for...because he's Paul! He's God's missionary to the world, the one who traveled the world, proclaiming Jesus as the Savior. So why did he ask what he asked then?
"Earn It." "Prove yourself." "If you are good enough, I'll love you." ...3 statements on the list of things God has never said.
We're not naturally wired for grace, to receive unconditional love from people or God. It tends to make us uncomfortable, and it denies us our natural desire to earn things, prove ourselves, and feel adequate.
But grace is so good. Especially when it comes from God.
The woman Jesus met at the well in Samaria would not be the pundits' pick for missionary of the year. Who she had been, who she was, where she lived, what she believed...not conducive to being a missionary. But Jesus changed all that.