Thursday, February 12, 2015

Watching Jesus Live Out His Calling

At around age thirty, Jesus began his public ministry. He was baptized by John, led by the Spirit to the wilderness, and tempted by Satan. He emerged from those experiences as a man with a mission. He lived for the kingdom of God.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17) Jesus had a simple sermon with a pointed focus – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” To repent simply means “to turn.” Jesus was calling people to turn from their sin to the holiness that God desires; to turn from their desire to live only for themselves to the realization that God is calling us to live for him and for one another; to turn from settling in comfortably into the kingdoms of the earth to a robust commitment to living fully in the kingdom of God. That is what Jesus preached.

            The strategy of Jesus concerning how best to live in the kingdom of God involved, of course, other people. So he began calling people to follow him, to walk with him, to serve others with him, to model a different way to organize daily life. He began with some young fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James and John. Jesus called, they answered! It looks quite simple but there is a lot of faith and hope bound up in the back story. With these four men as his core disciples, Jesus would put together a small group that would literally change the entire world! 

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23) Jesus was an amazing healer; he healed because he cared. From the compassionate heart of Jesus, God unleashed a flood of grace and healing that swept over Galilee and Judea like a refreshing stream in a parched and weary land. Jesus was later described by Peter as a man who “went around doing good!” What an impression the compassion of Jesus made in Peter’s heart. And this man who by trade was a fisherman, learned from Jesus what it meant to live in the kingdom of God and the power of doing good to everyone you meet.

            The gospels present Jesus as a person committed to listening to and obeying the voice of the Father, who loved people enough to befriend them and train them to listen to and obey the Father, and who cared so much about the people around him that he did everything he could do to bring healing and health to their lives. As we watch Jesus interact with people he met, we learn what it means to live in the kingdom of God. 

            Like Jesus, you have a calling from God concerning how to live your life. You will not automatically know how best to live out that calling, but through watching Jesus carefully and looking into the lives of other disciples, you can learn what it means to walk with Jesus in the kingdom of God. The strategy of Jesus was clear – listen to and obey God, teach others to do the same, help everyone you meet. That is world changing!

- Kenny Payne

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