Friends? Of Jesus

Mark 3:21

21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

We don’t meet them, and we don’t get to know their names. He knew them, and they thought they knew Him. The friends of Jesus, or some say relatives, but since it mentions His Mother and brethren a few verses after, let’s go with friends.

They loved Him enough to check on Him, but they didn’t understand. What do you do when the people who love you, don’t believe in you? It wasn’t only Jesus’ friends from the thirty years of obscurity. His own stepbrothers, the sons of Mary and Joseph, didn’t believe, until after the resurrection!

We get discouraged when we don’t feel we get any support from our circle, but neither did He. I realize that He was, and is God Incarnate, but He was also a man. An the men who He grew up around, those He called friends, didn’t understand Him.

I find it ironic, and fitting, that the last person mentioned in verse nineteen, Judas, would also call Him friend. Some friends will love you, but not understand. Others will care about you, but not believe in you. A few will act like friends, until something or someone more valuable is between the two of you. Guess which one they’ll choose, and what they’ll do to you to get it.

Support systems are important, and friends and loved ones are precious. Still, the absence of them, does not prevent you from being successful. I’m not saying to go it alone, merely follow the path of Jesus.

To everything He did, because He was both God and man, Jesus applied prayer. He did this for two reasons. One, because as both, He knew the value of it. Prayer keeps flesh in subjection, and provides direction. Second, it was for our example.

If Jesus prayed, even before Calvary, how can we take any significant step without bowing our heads first? The morning The Lord Jesus walked to the river Jordan to be baptized, He knew something. First, He knew it was God’s will, and second, that He was walking to one thing, and away from another.

He was leaving security, literally trading life for death. The majority of His circle would look at Him like He was wrong. Then eventually, a lot of them would stop caring. We don’t read of another reference of His friends ever trying again after this.

The Lord had weighed the cost of His calling, before He walked into it, on the scales of prayer. This was what He was supposed to do. He knew it, and He didn’t allow, even loving voices to stop Him. Notice, He did not stop listening. Another place, His brothers, who He knew didn’t believe, tried to influence Him. Jesus was kind, but unswayed.

Don’t allow those who do not believe in you, to discourage you. Listen, pray about their words, counsel with your Pastor, and then do what’s right. Jesus did not allow their lack of confidence, to shake His. He also surrounded Himself, not with yes men, but good men. These friends show up, after He had selected the twelve.

In life, you will be part of groups. Some groups will always be connected to you, but you will no longer be a part of them. Other groups will be with you for the rest of your life. Don’t get caught up by the fact you don’t always know which is which. Jesus knew, and still endured the pain associated with it.

Instead, know this. Know you have prayed, that the Man Of God in your life is on board, and that you are doing God’s will. If you know this, then keep walking. He will replace the old group with the new one. It will have men like Simon, James, and John in it.

Yes, there may also be a Judas in it, but the road of purpose will have a few crooks who try to snatch you away from it, or try to kill you on it. Keep walking, keep listening to the right voices first, and continue to love those who do not understand. One day, just as some did post Calvary, they may see what you saw first, and follow too.

Eddington Mocha Espresso

“The question is, was the gardener double crossed, or did he know it was going to happen? If he did, what was he promised? What was good enough to go to jail for?”

Sam was outlining the line of thinking he was going to approach the gardener with. “I have a Grandfather’s face now, so I’ll take the good cop approach. Your grandson can be the not so nice guy that I control.”

Michael smiled. “Meaning I have to act like I would tear him apart without touching him. I can do that very well. Just ask my cousin here about the time he dented my truck.”

“I was 17, and it was dark, and…”. Like always I don’t get to finish, the laughter is too loud. I hit the grocery cart holder in an empty parking lot because I hit the gas when I thought I was hitting the brake. I had worked several hours, and was trying to go home, and it wasn’t a fun night.

They were still smiling when they laughed, though they had stopped laughing. Otecko mended my broken pride the same way he had that next day, some espresso and a story. Only this story held more than a smile at the end, and it wasn’t ancient history either.

Everyday

This reminds me today. We should the cross, and The One who endured it, conquered it, and turned it into an invitation everyday of our lives. Jesus should be more than our soon coming King, and personal Savior. He must be Our everyday confidante, counsel, and Lord.

Art Supplies

Two of the greatest enjoyments of my life, after God, my family, and friends, is writing and painting. Now, as I write and paint, I have the added blessing of knowing the art supplies I use are gifts from the people I love.

From my Pastor to my Parents, my Wife, and all my loved ones, they have given me the items I use to practice writing and painting, and it brings me even closer to them in the process. It’s truly been a great year, and an incredible birthday!

Unfinished Landscape

I love the unfinished look at the bottom of a watercolor landscape. It reminds us that, like it, The Lord is still building, and growing us. Today is my forty first birthday, and I’m so thankful that God has more in store ahead of me.

Whatever you’re facing today, know that there is a mountain just beyond your valley, a path just across your river, and a hope just ahead of your despair. You may not see it yet, but it is there in the mind of God, and He will bring you to it, because He never leaves anything unfinished. It is in the nature, and nurturing heart of God, to complete what He began, and He started you and I.

So don’t worry about the parts that aren’t filled in yet, they will be. Everything is going to turn out beautiful. He just hasn’t revealed them yet, the paint isn’t dry!

In Step With Jesus

Matthew 9:2

2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Matthew 9:6 – 9

6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

Seeing things you’ve never seen before, that’s what is so intriguing about The Lord Jesus. It’s not the miracles, but the experience of a relationship with Jesus that appeals to seekers. Yes, we have problems, and needs, but it’s more than a miracle worker we seek, it’s a life changer. That is what Matthew both saw, and followed after.

I’ve read the Scriptures the majority of my life, and I don’t remember making the connection of these two events before. Yes, I believe Matthew saw love in Jesus’ eyes, but he had first seen it modeled in the forgiveness of the man who had palsy, and watched him transform the man.

Is it possible that Matthew saw his own sins that paralyzed him in his condition, not physically but spiritually? Is it possible that Jesus saw Matthew because Matthew was looking at Jesus? We’ve always assumed, or at least I have, that Jesus made eye contact first, but maybe that’s not the case.

Jesus saw Zacchaeus, after he climbed up the tree, and put himself out on a limb. Perhaps it was Jesus who met Matthew’s gaze, and not the other way around. Of course Jesus knew what was happening, the Bible says this miracle happened in Jesus’ own city. Besides the fact that He is God wrapped in flesh, He knew where Matthew would be sitting, and He knows where we are today.

The Lord knows what we’re facing, just as He did with Matthew. Another word in the Greek for custom is toll. If you’ll pardon the play on words, He knew the toll life had taken on Matthew called Levi, and He knows the same of you and I.

Whatever you’re facing, or whatever you’re sitting behind, leave it and place Jesus in front of you. Matthew didn’t only get out from behind the things that separated him from Jesus, he placed Jesus as His focal point and guide.

Jesus said follow Me, and Matthew did just that, all the way to Glory, but before that, He followed to prison, and according to tradition, to martyrdom. Matthew knew that nothing could separate us from Jesus, not even death itself. For he saw Jesus conquer it first! Matthew called Levi, which means attached, joined himself to The One who could empower you to walk away from the things that bind you, and walk into newness of life.

What is separating you from victory today? I challenge you to leave it behind, and follow Jesus today. Don’t try to figure out everything, only which way The Master is walking. Everything else will fall in line, or in step with Jesus.