The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jesus, Man of the Word

“And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written” – Luke 4:17b

Jesus was a Man of God’s word. He is described as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). He is the manifestation and culmination of God’s word. The entire Bible speaks of Him (Heb. 10:7). God’s purpose for us is to become like Jesus (Rom. 8:29). If that is to happen an essential indispensible ingredient is to become people of God’s word like Jesus. In Luke 4 we see Jesus, Man of the word depicted for us. Our calling is to follow His example.

When Jesus, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” to be “tempted for forty days by the devil” He went with God’s word in mind (Luke 4:1-2). Because Jesus had God’s word memorized and embedded in His heart He was able to ward off the temptations of the devil (Luke 4:3-13). Even when the devil attempted to misuse the scripture itself in his attack, Jesus, knowing the context of scripture, was not duped but was able to answer the adversary. If we are to survive our wilderness experiences and times of temptation, and attacks of the devil, we need to be like Jesus and have the word of God firmly embedded in us through memorization. And we need to know God’s word in context so that we don’t fall prey to those who would take it out of context. We need to be students of God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). We need to know “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

The victory in the wilderness empowered Jesus. It states, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). His successful resistance to temptation led to empowerment. His familiarity with and use of God’s word was integral to this. Jesus was powerful because He was a man of God’s word. Every time we apply God’s word and resist the devil’s temptations or the lusts of our flesh we get stronger spiritually. That is a principle. Sow to the Spirit and reap a harvest of righteousness. The opposite is true too. Sow to the flesh and reap corruption. We are exhorted by the Lord in His word to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6:7-9). Don’t give up! Obey God’s word! Apply it to life in the power of the Spirit and you will increase your spiritual strength.

When Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit He became popular. The Spirit made Him known throughout the entire region. But Jesus was not influenced by the crowds. He returned to His home town of Nazareth. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and was handed the book of Isaiah (Luke 4:14-17a). Then it states, “And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:” (Luke 4:17b). Jesus “found the place” in God’s word; He was familiar with God’s word. Jesus was a student of God’s Word. He knew exactly where to look in God’s word for pertinent information for the given situation. That tells us He knew the word of God. Jesus was a man of God’s word. We need to know God’s word and be familiar with it. We need to be able to apply God’s word and be ready to share it pertinently in the circumstances of life. Learn to speak with God’s word in the conversations of life. That is God’s will for us.

Because He was a man of God’s word He was able to read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me . . .” (Luke 4:18). The Spirit being upon Jesus and the Lord’s anointing were the result of Jesus being a Man of God’s word. He was empowered and was able to confidently apply the scriptures to Himself because He knew the word of God. As a man of God’s word He knew He was anointed by God” to preach the gospel to the poor, . . . heal the brokenhearted, . . . proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” He knew His calling and purpose and confidently walked in them because of the certainty He had in God’s word. He knew God’s word and where He stood in relation to it enough to say, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:20-21). If we want the power and anointing of the Spirit and to know and confidently walk in our calling and purpose, then we too must be people of God’s word. Otherwise we will be like sheep wandering aimlessly without a shepherd. We need to heed the revelation of God’s word (Mark 6:34).

When Jesus shared the word His listeners, “marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). Jesus spoke the uncompromising truth of God’s word in a gracious way. He taught God’s word in a way that identified sin but always accompanied that with pointing people to God’s grace. The grace of God was upon Him from birth (Luke 2:40). He was full of grace and the truth of God’s word (John 1:14; 17:17). The grace He embodied was the ultimate goal of the Law (John 1:17; Gal. 3:10-13). We need to receive and share God’s grace based on His word.

Jesus’ familiarity with God’s word also enabled Him to make true assessments of people and His life situations. He was not deluded by the fancy of humanity. He knew the whimsy and waywardness of sinful humanity. He shared this honestly and openly (Luke 4:23). He spoke truthfully with the people and applied God’s word to their lives even if it ruffled some feathers. He spoke of how previous generations of Israelites had rejected God and His word. He was not intimidated by their anger but meekly passed through the midst of them (Luke 4:24-30).

There’s a consequence to rejecting God’s word. God through the prophet Hosea said of His people, “I have written for him the great things of my law, but they were considered a strange thing” (Hosea 8:12). They had allowed God’s word to become “a strange thing” to them. They were unfamiliar with it. It had lost its importance in their lives. They lost sight of the treasure of God’s word. They turned to worldly pagan alternatives to God’s word. God brought discipline and firm judgment on His people because they rebelled against His Law (Hosea 8:1). God said of those ignorant and rejecting of His word, “their heart is divided” (Hosea 10:2). Without God’s word as our source of absolute truth we degenerate into idolatrous self-serving gods of our own tossed to and fro with every wind and wave of religious or worldly teaching (Eph. 4:14). This ultimately leads to us being cheated out of God’s best for us (Col. 2:8).

God’s people also relied on false idols and as a result had become hardened toward God. Through Hosea God said, “The inhabitants of Samaria [i.e. the capitol of the northern kingdom of Israel] fear because of the calf of Beth Aven. For its people mourn for it, and its priests shriek for it - because its glory has departed from it” (Hosea 10:5). Israel was mourning and shrieking in agony before a calf god idol! They had forsaken the One True God and His word and the result was a pitiful delusion. Today people are mourning their financial plight. They weep in the vicinity of the Wall Street bull because Ichabod is written where prosperity used to be. Is there any doubt that we as a people and nation and even throughout the world are shrieking over the idol of mammon? We have made money our god, our idol. The glory has departed and we mourn. And unfortunately this is true in much of the church as well.

Whenever we neglect or reject God’s word or rely on an alternative it leads to sin, spiritual dullness, and a hardening of our heart. The word of God is able to tell us exactly where we are with the Lord. It “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). It is like a mirror that gives us the correct reflection of who we are (James 1:22-25). In God’s word we are exhorted to ask God to, “search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). We need to go to God prayerfully with an open Bible before us.

Through Hosea God called to Israel and He still calls to us saying, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12b). The coldness we see in hearts today is directly related to a departure from God’s word (Mat. 24:12). Instead of mourning and shrieking over the idols of this world we should be mourning over our sin before the One True Holy God. We need to break up our own hard hearts before the Lord. Isaiah in the presence of Holy God said, “Woe is me, I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). When was the last time you mourned before the Lord and cried out anything like that? “A broken and contrite heart – these O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17). We and our nation are too concerned with the banking of the Lord. God just may break our banks to break us. We need to be broken before the Lord. That will only happen, that can only happen, if we return to God’s word. Being a person of God’s word is essential to a true assessment of others and ourselves.

Jesus, Man of God’s word, ministered with authority. What He said and did was powerful because it was rooted in and based on God’s word. Those who heard Him teach, “were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority” (Luke 4:31-32). Demons left at His word (Luke 4:33-35). People were amazed at the power of the Lord. They exclaimed, “What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out” (Luke 4:36). How sad it is that the people of Jesus day were so unfamiliar with God’s word. What an indictment it is against the ministers of that day that the people were so ignorant of God’s word. God through Hosea said similarly, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). He called out, “Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel, for the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). How could this be? What was the cause of this indictment? The answer was, “Because you have forgotten the law of your God” (Hosea 4:6). Gods people forsook His word and “willingly walked by human precept” (Hosea 5:11). How sad it is when people rely on human opinion or precepts instead of or in a place superior to God’s word. There’s little power in personal opinions. The power of God is in His word.

The word of this Man of God’s word was circulating throughout the land (Luke 4:37). There’s something about God’s word that impacts people. It is God’s word! God’s word is powerful (Heb.4:12). And therefore ministry and what is done in the name of the Lord is powerful in proportion to the amount of God’s word that is in it. God magnifies His word above His own name! (Ps. 138:2). God honors and empowers His word. Human opinion is a vapor. God’s word is a solid rock foundation (Mat. 7:24). Be a person of God’s word.

Lastly, Jesus, Man of God’s word, healed the sick and defeated demons but priority and prime purpose was, “I must preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:38-44). Jesus’ purpose was to share the kingdom of God. The way He did that was by sharing the word of God. That must be our priority and purpose too. If we are to fulfill and experience God’s ultimate purpose we will need to become people of God’s word who share God’s word with others. There’s no getting around this. We need to get into God’s word and let it get into us. And then we need to share it from our hearts and minds where it has been cultivated and grown. Jesus was and is a Man of God’s word. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Mat. 24:35). Are you a person of God’s word like Jesus?

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