The Lord says to you today…come back. Turn around and face Me, for it’s only by Me that you can be delivered from all the evil that still clings to you. You may have accepted Me in the past, but you are still a slave to things you have not been able to give up. You have been set free of those things, but you either don’t fully realize it or just don’t want to leave them behind. Change directions today… for those chains that have bound you in the past have been broken off – you are no longer a victim…you are a victor.
Jesus Christ is that open door, sacrificing His life in order to make a way to God. And it’s only through His death, burial, and resurrection that we have this open door of faith that we can freely walk through. The final sentence in these Scriptures states, “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” This has to give hope to all that have been praying for a lost love one. No one can shut this door on them. This open door of hope will always be there…standing wide open to welcome them in.
The disciples thought Jesus was confused and making a mistake for wanting to go back to a place where He had almost been killed. But where they were coming from was a very incorrect and sorely limited understanding, perception, and interpretation of just who Jesus was and what He could do. Psalm 18:30 tells us that, “As for God, His way is perfect.” Nothing that God has done or will ever do is a miscalculation or blunder. His Will in your life is faultless, flawless, and correct in every detail…and His timing is always perfect.
In our minds, we’d love to have it…the perfect Christmas, complete with bells and mistletoe, gifts and family. But it usually doesn’t work out that way, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas stress takes over and we find ourselves focused on the wrong things. We’re worshipping the problems by worrying…we’re devoting ourselves to a crazy schedule out of desperation…and we’re putting up on a pedestal the to-do list only we think must get done. Quit fretting and stewing over the small stuff…Christmas will happen with or without every detail being done and it will be perfect in its imperfect way. For if you think about it…there has been only one “perfect” Christmas…and it happened in all places – a cow shed.
For Simon Peter, he had come full circle from that first encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when this stranger approached them and declared, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now three years later, following Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s denial of Him…Peter has been restored and re-commissioned. “Follow Me,” is fellowship of faith and life with our Savior…it’s both inner fellowship of trust and confidence, and outer fellowship of becoming more like Him daily. “Follow Me,” ultimately means counting the cost and determining it’s all worth it.
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
The crowds were getting larger and larger that followed Jesus and His disciples. In these verses, many have crammed themselves into a private home to hear Jesus teach. No wonder Jesus’ family sent word into the house they were outside wanting to see Him…there was no way they could get into the packed house! When Jesus asked this question, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” He wasn’t showing disrespect, but rather saw it as a teachable moment. The story goes on in verses 34-35, ” Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s Will is My brother and sister and mother.” Jesus wanted the crowd huddled around Him to see that they were just as highly regarded to Him as part of “The Family of God” as His own kin were.
By human standards it looked like Jesus had no control over His arrest, trial, crucifixion, and death. But here in these verses He emphatically states otherwise. Jesus was totally in control of every detail, every minute of that horrendous event…and He still is. When trials and tribulations come, remember that the same control and power Jesus had over His own life is at work in yours. Remember also, that nothing will ever happen to you that hasn’t already gone through your Heavenly Father’s hands first.
Philip, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, had found a Ethiopian eunuch traveling the road between Jerusalem and Gaza. The eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah, but was perplexed, so Philip started with that scripture, (Isaiah 53:7-8) and explained to the eunuch the good news of Jesus. Later as they traveled together, they came upon some water and it’s here the eunuch asks, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” Now in some late manuscripts verse 37 is added which says, “Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ The eunuch answered, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ ” Baptism is the public demonstration of a personal decision…it symbolizes spiritual renewal, forgiveness of sins, adoption by God and eternal life. If you are a Believer but have never been baptized…ask yourself the same question the eunuch did, “Why shouldn’t I be baptized?”
The yearning we feel inside is a Jesus-shaped void. Although we try to fill it with lots of things…the spiritual thirst is still there. And it’s not until we have that “Coming to Jesus” moment, that the void can be filled. Matthew 5:5 tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Quit trying to fill the hole inside you with junk, it’ll never work and only leave you more unhappy. Jesus is the only answer to finding peace in your life today.