Posted by: Akash Vansal | May 23, 2011

The Temptation of Lord Jesus Christ-III

We, conclude this series with this final post on The Temptation of Jesus Christ

III. In his third attempt that John records, Satan says
1. I will give You…, 2. …worship me.

Satan does not give up easily. For he don’t have any second priority work. His only priority is to deceive people, to mislead them, to destroy them, to keep them enslaved to him.
In his third attempt, Satan allures Jesus with riches and fame, but with a rider, to worship him.
This ambition of Satan has always been his hidden agenda. The Lord exposes this in Isaiah 14:13-14. He wanted to take the place and praise of Our Lord. We see Satan making his ambition straight forward. He promises riches in exchange for worship.
a) But does the world belong to him? He himself tells God, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. “ Job 1:10
Satan knows it is The Lord who is the owner of all the creations and in control of all the creations.
Prophet David says the same in 1 Chr. 29:11-12, ‘Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength all.’
Satan always allures with those things that he cannot give and that is not possible to him. He is the liar. Do you remember what he told Eve? You will become like God!

b) As already seen, Satan knows the scripture totally. He knows why Jesus came into the world. ( Matthew 8:29, Isaiah 9:7). He knew Jesus came to reign over the creation and that everything will be His but after crushing satans head (Ps110:1). He knew Jesus was to offer Himself as sacrifice (Isaiah 53) to save the sinners. The Satan also knew that Jesus was to undergo severe pains, agony and hardships. Satan knew that this was going to be painful even to Jesus and would like to skip it (But he did not knew that Jesus always vouched for The Fathers will!). Jesus knew He was to suffer many things. It was not an easy task, but painful (Matthew 26:39). It was the perfect plan of The Lord(Matthew 26:39) and Lord Jesus knew this was the perfect plan of The Father(Matthew 16:21)
And precisely it is here Satan tries to allure Jesus. He seems to be telling Jesus, OK, You want to be the ruler and master of this world. I will give it. I know you will get it ‘without my help’, but for that you will have to endure severe pains. If You will worship me, You will not have to undergo any trials and still be the owner of this world. So, why don’t You obey me.

When faced with ambitions, Satan offers to help us in his way but we should always be careful how we try to achieve our dreams. Satans way always seems be to easy and The Lords way, always hard. But we need to remember God’s plan is the best for our life.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

What is God’s plan ? He says, “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
It is God’s desire that we live and not die. (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

Jesus overcomes it.                                                                                                              

And again Our Lord overcomes the satan with the Word of God. Worship belongs to the One and only God, Lord Almighty. Only God alone is worthy of our worship, because He created us. He seeks true worshippers.

This worship cannot be exchanged for anything even in exchange (if that really belonged to Satan) of the entire worlds wealth. It is not only a matter of robbing God of His due, but also deadly to us. ‘ “You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Ex 20:3-6

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26

Now, literally many may not be worshipping idol or serving it, but at times could be giving priority to other things when we should be actually giving priority to God. Maybe it is worship time and you prefer to do something else at the cost of it, or with the money owed or belonging to Gods service, you try to spend on something else. This could be an idol beside God!

Let us review our life and try and see if we are holding our life to any idol such as these or other and pray to God that we shall be freed from the slavery of idol worship to glorify and adore the One and Only Living God, The Heavenly Father. God bless you.

Before winding up, let us remember that these were not the only occasions, when Satan tried to deceive Jesus Christ. He tried many times even after, like Peter rebuking/discouraging Jesus from dying on the cross

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Posted by: Akash Vansal | May 20, 2011

The Temptation of Jesus Christ-II

II. Satans second attempt. And here he fires three salvoes

This is in continuation of our previous posting titled, The Temptation of Jesus Christ-Part I
1. If you are…
2. throw yourself down….
3. For it is written…
a) Satan is very cunning and changes his tacts very fast to deceive. He deceives as per the circumstances we are stuck in. Seeing that Jesus had no doubt of His identity in His mind, that He will not take in His own hand the authority that does not belong to Him and also that Jesus depended on The Word of God for His defense, he shifts his attack using the very Word of God!. Again we see he is using the same term, If you are…but here, he has a slightly different meaning. He wishes to say, OK, I believe you are the Son of God and You also believe, But do Your Father accept or approve You as His Son? Again Satan tries to create confusion in Jesus that are you sure God accepts You as His Son. Why don’t You check this by throwing Yourself down? If He really accepts You as You think, He will surely save You by sending His angels! The very Word of God on which You trust says so. Then I as well as You can be sure of this. So jump.

If Jesus had indeed jumped, it would have meant
# again of obeying the Satan
# doubting the love and the power of God or in other word having no faith in The Father
# forcing God to do that was not His will
# disobeying the Lord

Many a times we are confronted with such disbelief. We often seek things that are not at all needed but just ask in prayer saying, If Lord You really love me, give me this and that. If You really are powerful, do this to me. This is a sin. God says do not put your Lord to test. (Psalm 78:18-22)
then at times, when we enter into argument with people of other faith, we often put Our Lord to test, Lord by doing such and such things, You show that You are the Only God. We have nothing to prove of God’s existence or of His power to any one. Only those people who do not believe in God seek such things or challenge for such things. Jesus did not argued with Satan. We should also not argue with foolish, faithless people.
Our prayer should be to seek His will and not ours.

Now coming to the point of Satan using the scripture verse. Satan knows The whole Bible very well. And thats why he could allure people into those things that are against the commands of The Lord.
The Bible states in 2 Cor. 11:14 that he masquerades as an angel of light, and this he does only by the use of the scripture or as if follower of God. Satan could mislead us by the scripture as if God’s approval of our misdeed. This happens when we read the scripture out of context or in part. No doubt Satan quoted from the Holy Bible, but he hid a part of the scripture. God did promised that He will protect His people by sending His angels. But this was only for those
a) who love Him(91:14),
b) who take refuge in Him and who trust in Him (91:2),
c) who fear Him (Psalm 34:7).
This promise is not for those who doubt. So, we should avoid reading the scripture out of context or in part.
Let us always remember that we have nothing to prove to Satan.

Jesus overcomes it.
If the Satan knows the Bible in full, then no doubt Jesus Christ, the Author and Inspiration of The Bible knows it even best and even more than what Satan knows. For when Peter tried to defend Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? “ Matthew 26:53. ( 2King 19:35)

To counter Satans attack, Jesus tells him that the same Bible also tells, “Not to test the Lord”
Just because someone challenges to prove God’s love, we should not be carried away to do things that would be termed as foolishness instead of mis-trust. Just because The Lord has promised us to deliver us from every problem doesn’t mean that we purposely put ourself in problem and then call upon The Lord to save us.

We read in The Gospel of John, (8:59, 10:39, 11:54, 12:36) many a times Jesus literally avoided the confronting violent Pharisees inspite of fully aware that He was on His Fathers mission and that His Father will deliver Him from all the hurdles if He had prayed for, He always prayed for the accomplishment of The Fathers will. (Matthew 26:39).

To Be Concluded

Posted by: Akash Vansal | May 9, 2011

THE TEMPTATION OF LORD JESUS CHRIST-PART 1

The Temptation Of Jesus Christ

We often find ourself in dilemma when tempted, face hardships and trials. We argue as to why a righteous man be subjected to suffering under the presumption of testing of faith. Are we really more righteous than the Son of Man, Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ IS the only blameless Man in the sight of Lord Almighty. Still, He was tested with the same temptations that we face, (Hebrews 4:15). We argue because we succumb to temptations and later on face problems. But Jesus triumphed over temptations and ruled over it. How let’s see and gain from it.

Passage
Matthew 4: 1-11: 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

I. Satans first attempt:

In his very first attempt, he fires 2 salvoes at Jesus Christ
1. If you are the Son of God…                                                                                                 2. Tell these stones to become bread.
What would have happened if Our Lord would have made the stone into bread?
a) In the very first place it would have amounted to obeying the Satan.
Obeying Satan is a sin. Through out the gospel and particularly in the John’s gospel, Jesus very often made the statement that He did what The Father told Him to do. John 8:28, 14:30

b) Secondly, It would have amounted to of Jesus doubting His very identity! The Satan says, if you are…The Satan doesn’t say that I don’t believe you to be Son of Man but creating doubt in Jesus mind. Satan very well knew that Jesus is The Son of Man, The Son of God ( Mark 5:7, 10). He was not seeking any proof so as to strengthen his own belief. He wanted to create confusion in Jesus mind whether He really is The Son of Man. He is the master in confusing people. (James 3:16, 1C14:33).
In this same fashion, Satan creates confusion in the faithfuls mind, Are you really son of God, are you really saved, are you worthy to come before the Lord’s presence? We should not fall prey to these temptations. We need to be fully confident that we are saved not because of our doings but by His grace.

c) Thirdly, turning stones into bread would have amounted creation of bread. Creation is the work of The Heavenly Father, We read in Genesis, In the beginning, God created…Not that Jesus is not God, but here He had taken the form Son of Man, He was a human. He did not consider Himself to be equal with God, (Phil. 2:6-8). Now, since He did not consider Himself to be equal with God, HE certainly did not wanted to take into His hand the authority, the power that did not belong to Him, that of His Father, and that too against His own wish! For, if He had wanted , He would have already did that. He was fasting since forty days!

Satan analysis our needs, our weakness, our desire and plans his attack accordingly. He provides us with solutions to solve our problems, to meet our needs, but in an immoral, un ethic way, in a sinful way. He never intends the welfare of the people. He is always on prowl to devour them.(1P5:8)
We may be having financial problem, health problem, and even more , but at these times we should be careful as we try to tide over the problems. At times such as these, Satan may offer ways that could really sort out our problem for that time being, but later, we may have to pay heavily. We should be careful.
Like we maybe facing serious financial problem and one of the loved ones may be seriously ill. And you find a wallet stacked with currency notes that could solve your immediate genuine needs. Also in the wallet is the owners information. What will the righteous person do? Satan will surely prompt you to think that you did not robbed it, you did not cheated anyone, you just got it, God provided it for your use and like wise. We need to be aware of the fact that along with the money, we are also provided with the whereabouts of the owner and need to remember that it does not belong to us and therefore have no moral right to use it.
And also, many a times we take decision of which we do not have rights. Some times wife could be taking decisions of her husband and mostly the youths. Youths are particularly more vulnerable to this as they behave against the wishes of parents and decide for themselves which actually is the right and authority of parents.
When we are in close fellowship with God, we are more likely to be tempted. Temptation has nothing to do with our close ness with God. But close intimacy with God empowers us with power with which we can easily overcome the temptations. Temptations are inevitable, but our willingness to overcome, to resist it will make us succeed in resisting it.

Jesus over comes it.
Lord Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3. Lord Jesus does not say that man cannot live without food. Man has been living and will live on food and then dies one day. Thats all, but those who feed on the Word of life (John 6: 27, 63) lives even after the death! Peter could perceive this truth when he said, ‘ Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69, 33

To Be Continued

Posted by: Akash Vansal | May 3, 2011

Was Laden hindering world peace?

It is but natural for the victims of O.B.Laden to feel jubiliant. And let me also confess, I too share joy with the joyous. But with OBL’s death, will peace really reign? That is a million dollar question. One man cannot hijack world peace. Before Lord Jesus was crucified, HE promised Peace to all of His followers.

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14)

Yes, I am with the jubilant people, I endorse their joy and happiness, but let us not be under the deception that peace has been restored. With Laden or without Laden, Peace reigns in the heart of all the followers of Lord Jesus Christ.

When Adolf Hitler was on rampart to annihilate the Jews and the people in general, irrespective of religion, it was reasonable to label him as enemy of the Jews. He exhibited considerable hatred towards the Jews as is evident from the history. But with his death or suicide, was world peace restored?  The world then cried “Peace, Peace”, The Jews certainly  lived life with better confidence without Hitler no doubt , but peace has been alluding everyone.

Saint Paul while writing to the Thessalonians alerts them with the following,

3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. ( I Thessalonians 5)

Let us therefore acknowledge the fact, the truth , Only Jesus can give us peace.

No Jesus, no peace,  Know Jesus, know peace.

Posted by: Akash Vansal | May 2, 2011

Jonathan s/o Saul

Jonathan : A Benjamite

Some of the my most fascinating heroes and heroines of the Holy Bible all have their names beginning with the letter ‘J’..like Jesus Christ, Joshua, Jacob, Joseph, Jael, John, Jonathan…

Jonathan ….A Prince
Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and heir to the throne of Israel. As a prince, he had every comfort and pleasure at his disposal. He was always surrounded with servants at his service. He had access to all the luxury that we can only dream of.. He loved and respected his parents. He was humble and kind to his friends and people. When Saul was determined to put his own son to death, the people pleaded and rescued Jonathan (1 Sam. 14:45)

Jonathan…..A Brave Warrior
Jonathan was a brave warrior and dared to enter the enemy camp without fear. He knew God’s ability and putting his hope in Him said, “perhapsLORD will work for us, (1 Sam. 14:6) LORD was with Jonathan and delivered twenty men into their hands. It was Jonathan’s courageous “the LORD is able” attitude.

Jonathan…..Loved God
Jonathan understood something Saul did not – “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.“ (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Jonathan…..Obeyed God
Later, we find Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. (1Sam. 18:1) What immediately comes to mind is “love your neighbor as yourself .”(Leviticus 19:18). The life story of Jonathan is exemplary of living out this great commandment. We are not only commanded to love our friend, brother or companion, but also to love the stranger as ourselves. Now, because Jonathan loved David as himself, he made a covenant with him – that is, a solemn agreement or pact, not a casual relationship but a permanent commitment.

Jonathan…..Defended the just
When Jonathan discovered Saul’s intentions to kill David (out of jealousy) he defended David, saying “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” risking even his own life!(1Sam. 20:32-33). He dared to speak the just even if it was against his own father.

Jonathan…..Humble and Selfless
Jonathan being the legal heir to the throne yet he remained selfless in his love for David. Perhaps he knew that David was anointed by God to become king, and His respect for God’s decisions kept him free of envy. And he would encourage David to not be afraid, saying “my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel, and I will be next to you”( 1Sam. 23:17) brought together or torn apart, their friendship remained strong.

Jonathan…..Loyal to the Kingdom
Jonathan was loyal to his Kingdom till the end of his life, honest and faithful executing his duties and responsibilities. He died on the battlefield with his father Saul and his brothers. (1Sa. 31:2). When David heard, he lamented saying “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful,wonderful than that of women. ”(2Sam. 1:26).
Later, King David not only enquired of his family, but also gave royal treatment to his household for Jonathan’s sake. “ So …ate… David’s table like one of the king’s sons. “(2 Sam. 9:1-11)

Jonathan…..Loved to Uphold The Lord’s will
Jonathan was interested in establishing God’s kingdom rather than his own. And God was planning to establish his kingdom through David. I can want the best for someone else, but if it comes in conflict with what I want, it’s difficult to not “look out for #1.” It only is through recognizing God as #1, and His better plan, that I can overcome my own selfish ambitions. If Jonathan held onto what was “rightfully his” – he would not have been blessed with such a wonderful friendship.

Jonathan…..Maintained Friendship
Jonathan and David didn’t just befriends, they talked about being friends. They “defined the relationship” – making their intentions known to each other. Not once, but several times did they renew their covenant and vows to one another. If I had a friendship so good, I would cling to it. Yet when they needed to depart, Jonathan and David couldlet go. Together, even when apart – I’m sure they remained in the thoughts and prayers of each other. Jonathan just had to see his friend again, and looked for David in the wilderness.

Jonathan…..Was just and Impartial
Jonathan was a risk taker, not only in fighting Philistines, but also confronting his father – who was the king of Israel. Twice it is recorded that Jonathan became aware of his fathers intention to kill David, and both times he came to David’s defense. He also took the risk of being with David, and going out to find David when Saul was seeking to kill him. Sometimes doing what’s right involves facing our fears and moving ahead despite them. I know I have trouble taking risks like that.

Jonathan…..Was concerned for his family
Jonathan maintained concern for his family – it was even part of his pact with David
(1Sam. 20:15).

Jonathan…..Was wise
Jonathan did not just go along with whatever his friend said. When Saul sought to kill David, Jonathan was determined to find out for himself if it could be true. Jonathan did not die defending David, but defending Israel from the Philistines alongside his father. Despite all the evil Saul had done, Jonathan continued to honour his father. But I can’t understand why Jonathan stayed by his father instead of joining David’s men – other than to say that loving our parents is as important to God as loving our neighbor. (Exodus 20:12)

Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 29, 2011

Zacchaues

The Gospel : The Lord teaches Zacchaues

We are learning what Lord Jesus taught individual people in His earthly ministry. We have already seen Jesus teach,
a) Nicodemus – to be born again
b) Samaritan woman – to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth
c) The Rich Young Ruler                                                                                                              d) Martha

Today we will be enriching ourselves with the lesson that Lord Jesus gave to Zacchaues.

Luke 19: 1- 10
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Explanation :

verse 1-4. Lord Jesus is passing through the city of Jericho. Jericho can be seen in the map of our age Israel. It lies just to the north of dead sea and NE of Jerusalem. Jesus has been ministering now for more than 3 years and naturally His Name and fame was reaching everywhere. More and more people were crowding just to have a glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaues also wanted to see who Jesus is. He was the chief tax collector, rich, Jew. Zacchaues was short in height. And due to the crowd, he could not see Jesus. But, it seems he had come with a committment to see Jesus.Realizing that he won’t be able to see Jesus from normal level, he comes up with a plan. HE takes stocks of the situation as to where Jesus is going and how he can see Him. He rans towards the place where Jesus will be appearing, finds a tree, climbs it and sits there, waiting for Jesus. He positioned himself for the clear view of Lord Jesus. He had made an effort to see Lord Jesus without any hindrance.Seeing a short man climbing a tree, people- old and young all alike must have laughed at him, ridiculed him. But he just ignored all the mockery, because he had resolved to see Lord Jesus. He was very desperate to se Lord Jesus.

Verse 5-7: Lord Jesus reaches where Zacchaues was. HE stops, looks up at Zacchaues and calls him by name. Lord Jesus expresses His willingness to be his guest!
Zacchaues never met Lord Jesus. His effort to see Lord Jesus proves this. Lord Jesus, God in human form knows each and everyone of us by name .You may not know Lord Jesus but He knows you.
Do you think Zacchaues would thought that Lord Jesus talk to him leave apart visiting his house and be his guest. No way. His reaction shows he was surprised by Lord Jesus’ wish. He was very much eager to have Lord Jesus into his house. He immediately climbs down and accepts Lord Jesus gladly.
So many people were there. Many succeeded to see Lord Jesus without taking any extra effort. There approach was casual. Even though Zacchaues was handicapped, he overcame it. If he had not made that extra effort, think what he may have let go! The blessing of having Lord Jesus in his home. Lord Jesus searches those who really long to have Him. If our desire to see Lord Jesus is genuine, if we take all the effort to see Him, He not only reveals Himself to us, but also blesses us with the desire of our heart which we may not be anticipating.

The reason why Zacchaues thought Lord Jesus might not come into his house is expressively stated in the grumbling of all the people. Zacchaues was a tax collector and he made money by cheating the people. He himself knew ‘he was’ what the people were murmuring he was- a sinner. But, Lord Jesus could see what others can’t. The willingness to change, to transform, to undergo new birth.
Even we think similarly. Ah, I am a big sinner, I am a cheater, lier, adulterer or alchoholic. The people may be making fun of you, talking all sorts of unpleasant truths. Relax. No matter what people say or you think, the truth is Lord Jesus loves you as you are and He is willing to come and dine with you. The reason Lord Jesus came is to save the sinners. So, if any sin, how big or serious it may be in your view, is keeping you from approaching Lord Jesus, be encouraged to come to Him. He is ever ready to accept you.

verse 8-10 : Total transformation.
As soon as Zacchaues accepted Lord Jesus’ invitation (yes Z’ played host, but it was Lord Jesus who invited Z first), we see a tremendous change in him. The man who was so much possessed with wealth, the man who valued wealth so dearly, the man who cheated others to get wealth was now freed from the love of money. He accepted his wrong doings. As per the law of Moses, he could have given four times the amount he cheated and that would have been enough. But, we see, he first of all willingly gives away to the poor half of his all possession! Now, that must have been a lot of money! And from the remaining he pays as per the laws requirement. This shows he broke away from the bond of legalism. The man who was cheating was distributing it freely. He had become, loving, joyful and generous. And did you notice, Lord Jesus did not tell him to do what he did, It came so naturally from the change of heart.

What did Zacchaues gain: He was a new born man, rich with the fellowship of The Lord Jesus. His heart over flowed with joy and happiness. His heart was bubbling with gladness like a new bride meeting her groom for the first trime. And he became a witness of Lord Jesus declaring His unique mission of coming into the world “To seek and to save”
Zacchaeus was saved by his faith in Jesus Christ, just as Abraham. (Romans 4:13, Romans 5:1)
Jesus proclaimed his mission on the earth, “To Seek and Save the lost.”

Bible Study :
1) Only here, the term ‘Chief tax collector’ occurs.
2) Zacchaeus is a Greek name from the Hebrew, pronounced zakkay, meaning pure.
3) Why people considered tax collectors as sinners?
The tax collectors were local jews, employed by the Roman government to collect taxes for them. As they worked for Rome and moreover demanded exorbitant payment, they were generally hated and considered as traitors. They were regarded as outcasts. They could not serve as witnesses, judges and were expelled from the synagogue (the place of religious teaching). They along with their families were considered as sinners. They were equated with adulterers, robbers, evil doers. (Luke 18:11).
4) The episode of Z is one of the most narrated and loved one. Much is told of of his short height and his climbing up the tree. But the central theme of over coming his weakness, his extra effort, his childish act ignoring the peoples mockery are often left out. He made every possible effort to enter the narrow gate. (Luke 13:24) and he succeeded.

Conclusion : Are you looking out for your saviour Jesus Christ? Are you wheighed down by yuour sins? Do people look down on you as sinner? Do people hate you? Don’t worry. Lord Jesus loves you. He is ever ready to accept you AS YOU ARE. Lord Jesus did not say to Z that he first atone for his wrong doings, then He will come into his house. No. He accepted him as he was. Some people are of this view that they will first do some work of righteousness, meaning make themselves pure and then they will approach Lord Jesus. IF one can purify oneself, then there was no need of a saviour. Today you can call unto Him, confess your sins to Him. He will bless you with His peace

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Lord Jesus in Revelation 3:19-20

Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 29, 2011

Nicodemus

The Gospel : Lord Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

Lord Jesus, after His baptism by John, was led into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil. After overcoming the Satan and his temptations, the Angels of The Lord attended to His needs and strengthened Him. He was now ready to begin His earthly ministry.
Jesus Christ taught and preached for about 3 ½ years before He was crucified on the cross. During these time, He taught individual, gathering, privately, publicly, but applicable to all and one equally.

To begin with, we shall learn what He taught some of the individual people, who, in due course of time, became very close to Jesus and developed very intimate relation with HIM. One of the first person who was fascinated by Jesus’ teaching was Nicodemus.

Jesus Christ healed the sick, performed miraculous signs and wonders for the benefit of the people, both physical and spiritual. Once He turned water into wine as the wedding host ran out of wine with much guest still to be served. Jesus gained respect and love and popularity as days passed. Like most people, Nicodemus was very eager to meet This Good Teacher.

Nicodemus was a member of Jewish ruling council and a Pharisee. The Pharisees were hard-line Jewish sect who believed in strict observation of the religious laws and commands, and rituals as handed down by their ancestors. They often taught which were not at all found in their Holy Scripture, The Tanakh. They favoured the rich and despised the poor. Jesus did not made any difference between the rich and the poor. Jesus often argued with the Pharisees and corrected and rebuked them. These, they did not liked. They hated Jesus and all those who were associated with Jesus. So, even though Nicodemus believed Jesus to be from GOD, yet he feared the Pharisees. He feared that, should the other councilors comes to know of his rendezvous with Jesus, they might rusticate him from the honourable councilors post. So, he decides to meet Jesus secretly during one night.

John Chapter 3
Verse 1-15 : Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Explanation
Verse 2: Nicodemus praises Jesus calling Him as Rabbi and telling Him that HE is from God. HE believed, no one can perform wonders without God’s divine intervention. Rabbi means teacher in Hebrew.
Verse3: A man of high reputation praises Jesus but He ignores his praiseworthy words. He takes no prode at it, but makes a statement of confidence straight away that without being born again, NO ONE can see the Kingdom of God, that is enter the heaven.
Verse4: Well, anyone would respond the way Nicodemus responded. Still, people respond the same way. To be born, one has to to be in womb! But when old, grown, how can one enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!?
Verse 5-8 : Now, Jesus explains. He that born again means the birth of spirit, the spiritual life. The way flesh or the physical body, gives birth to physical body, off spring, similarly, The Holy Spirit gives birth ot Spiritual life. The still spirit is enlivened and starts functioning, it becomes sensitive.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, Galatians 5:19-21. A man with a dead spirit lives in this fashion. He will not be moved in his heart against doing these things. He will be insensitive while doing these things. He will love to do these. But, a man whose spirit lives, he will hate such immoral things. He himself will not do these nor will he encourage others to do.
How does this effect take place, how the change, the new birth is effected? No one can see or say anything about air as to from where it comes and to where it goes. Similarly, the spiritual birth is invisible to our eyes, but the birth can be easily felt by the change in the behavior of a new born person. The new born person will be loving and caring to the needy. Will be kind and show tolerance, forbearance, will be willing to help, will be honest and faithful.
Verse 9:  Still, Nicodemus is unable to understand. But he is eager and interested to know it. He is not one of those who easily give up. And Jesus is always ready to dispense away every misunderstanding when we approach HIM as Nicodemus does.
Verse 10-15: Jesus explains that no one has ever come to earth from heaven except Himself. So, it is natural no one could have ever heard of such thing as spiritual. But now, that The One who has seen and testified spiritual reality, facts, HE need to be believed with faith. For He speaks only The Truth. Lord Jesus tells Nicodemus that even though he might have never heard of things which Jesus says, but what He says is the Truth. Jesus tells Nicodemus to believes what He says, to trust Him.
Now, what does Jesus wants Nicodemus to believe? Do we need Someone else help to believe ‘whatever’ Lord Jesus want Nicodemus to believe? What are the benefits in believing in ‘that’?  Get in touch if you are still not sure of what Jesus want Nicodemus and us to believe in.

Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 29, 2011

Samaritan Woman

The Gospel : Lord teaches Samaritan woman

Key text:  “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).

Lesson objective:  To understand that Jesus freely offers the gift of salvation to whoever confesses their sins and acknowledges him as Lord and Savior; his gift is universal and transcends racial, cultural and social barriers.

Introduction
In the time of Jesus, Jews and Samaritans were as divided as any two peoples could possibly be. The division was deeply embedded by a history of conflict, hatred and prejudice. More than half a millennium earlier, the Babylonians had conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah and taken many of the people into captivity (605-586 BC). As was the custom of those nations, Babylon transported masses of Jews from Judea and the surrounding areas, and settled them in the kingdom of Babylon. However, Israel was not left completely desolate; the poor people of the land were left to work the land (2 Kings 24:14; 25:12).

Even earlier, the same thing had happened with Israel’s Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and the Assyrians brought other people in to repopulate the land (2 Kings 17:24-29; 2 Chronicles 30:1-10). While the Jews were exiled in Babylonia, the people left in the land—Israelites and Gentiles—intermarried, and that created the Samaritan people. They were partly Jewish but partly not.
After the Persians conquered Babylon, they allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. However, Nehemiah refused to allow the mixed people of the land to have any part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:20). Also, the returning Jews denied them any part in the rebuilding of the temple. This deepened the animosity between them (Ezra 4:1-5).
As a result, the Samaritans eventually found another place of worship. Their beliefs came to include monotheism, the Law of Moses (they accepted the Pentateuch but not any other books), and they built a temple at Mt. Gerizim as the one appointed place of sacrifice and worship. However, the Jews destroyed the Mt. Gerizim temple in 128 B.C., adding more bitterness to the already strained rivalry. Strict orthodox Jews would rather travel to Galilee from Judea by crossing the Jordan River and circling around Samaria rather than pollute themselves with Samaritan dust, even though this would add days in contrast to the more direct route straight through Samaria.

Verse 1-8
The Pharisees were the most orthodox jews who believed in strict observance of the laws. Apart from the scripture, they followed traditions handed down to them by their ancestors. Now, they did not acccept the message of John the baptist at all and were not in agreement with the preaching of Jesus. They hated both John as well as Jesus alike, just because they spoke the Truth. They came to know that Jesus was becoming more popular than even John.
When Jesus came to know of this, He left for Galilee. ( If you have any question, please ask your Bible teacher or you may write to me. Thank you)
He went through the convinient Samaria, which was not the practice of the jews. Upon coming to a small town Sychar, He felt thirsty and so was tired of the long journey, for He has been travelling on foot. He sat beside a well. A Samaritan woman came there to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink of water.

Verse 9.
By asking the woman for a drink, Jesus broke few well observed traditions. This surprised the woman very much.
a) She is a woman. In the ancient world women were an oppressed group. It was deemed inappropriate for a man to converse with a woman in public, even with his wife, let alone a stranger!
b) The jews never asked for any favour from the Samaritans, let alone woman.
c) She was of a particularly despised race. In racism no words need be exchanged—
d) She was a social outcast, even from among her own people. Her reputation breathed adultery and fornication with each step she took. And, here, Jesus was conversing with her!
Many would venture to say there is no hope for this woman. She was dealt a bad hand at birth and she had only managed to compound her utter destruction. Thank God for Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation that he brings to whoever believes! This is a story of hope for every “hopeless”.

Verse 10
Jesus tells her that she is failing to see the Gift that God has given to her. Only if she could understand The Gift, The Saviour, she would have known the ability and power of Him, And would have certainly asked for the Living water and He would have granted her wish.

Verse 11-12
Jesus was speaking about the spiritual Truth and the woman took it literally. Hence, she points out the absence of materials to draw water from deep well. Also, since all the people, including her, were well acquainted with the available sources of potable water of that region, she questions, if He was greater than Jacob, who had dug the well from which she and all her ancestors upto Jacob drank from it. Whether he was able to provide a better source of water?

Verse 13-14
Jesus explains her that He indeed is greater than Jacob. for the water from Jacobs well will not quench thirst eternally, but the water that He will provide will not make a man thirst again.
The love of God satisfies all who thirst to drink from the spiritual well of Jesus and never thirst again. The one who believes on Lord Jesus and accepts Him as Saviour will not need any physical food or drinks to live. They will live forever. This was what Jesus was trying to explain to her.

Verse 15
The woman still fails to understand the spiritual meaning of Jesus offer of living water. She misunderstands that Jesus would give her some kind of water which would relieve of her everyday water drawing hardships. And of course Jesus did offered that same kind of water, albeit spiritual, for soul satisfaction. But one thing is clear, that the woman, to some extent, believes Jesus could give her some special kind of water.

Verse 16-18
Seeing that the woman is convinced, why Lord Jesus asks the woman to call her husband? Is this not the ultimatum of His desire that the woman buy His offer? Or He is deviating from the subject? No. By asking the woman to call her husband, Jesus wants to show her the pitiful condition of her life, the sinful life that she is living, the immoral filth in her life.
The woman answers Him that she has no husband, And Jesus agrees with her reply. He also reveals her past life.
We may live our life as we want, as we wish. But, Lord knows our every action, every deeds, every thoughts, whether good or bad.
Also, an evangelist many a times thinks by convincing a person to believe in Jesus for the sake of some benefits, the worldly benefits, that person is salvaged from sin. No. Unless the person, confess their sins, accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour, no one is salvaged from the cluthches of sin.Verse 19-20. The purpose of Lord Jesus’ appearence was not primarily to provide worldly needs but eternal life, And no doubt, those who hold on to faith in Jesus Christ shall be richly provided with all the needs.

Verse 19-20
The woman must have been taken aback, surprised, but she was fully convinced that He was no smaller than a prophet . Likewise, she confesses and she puts forth a question beyond her understanding. She was a victim of heresy as regards to worshippping God. Some were of the view that the temple of Jerusalem was the place to worship and other held that the place her forefathers worshipped, i.e. Mt. Gerizim was the place of worship. Now, do we think that the woman is deviating from the point of conversation?
Certainly not. The woman we see was open to discussion and ready to accept the Truth from a man of authority. Seeing that Jesus was atleast a prophet, she tries to seek knowledge of true worship of God. And upon knowing, maybe she would confess her sins to God, seek forgiveness, for God alone can forgive sins. Though ignorant, she knew one thing that it is useless to worship an object who have no power or authority.

Verse 21-24
Jesus address the woman in a very respectful and compassionate manner. He address her as ‘Woman’, the way He addressed Mary. He tells her that indeed the jews are right as far as place of worship was concerned till that time, but hence forth, with the appearance of Jesus, it did not matter where we worship. As God is Spirit, He should be worshipped in the Spirit and in Truth. God seeks and approves only those who worship Him in the Spirit and Truth.

Verse 25-26
Having heard of three different versions of explanation of worshipping God, the woman is somewhat hesitant to believe what Jesus is saying. She is not ready to buy to Jesus’ explanations. But, she would believe what The Messiah would say. She is waiting for the appearence of The Messiah. Jesus makes the great revelation to her that He, who is speaking to her IS The Messiah she is expecting!
As she said, did she really believed on Jesus after knowing that Jesus Is The Messiah? The scripture doesn’t say anything about her transformation but do say of her action. And her action loudly say that she fully believed on what Jesus said. She accepted Jesus as her Saviour. Not only she, most of those to whom she evangelised also accepted Jesus as their Saviour. Glory to God in the highest.

Conclusion.
The current passage is most loved by the evangelism teachers as it is rich in teaching an ignorant, illiterate, despised, ill treated, out caste, the way of approaching the sinner with the gospel. But at most times, the evangelical students forgets one most important thing. These students often present Christ primarily as provider of needs, or healer of ailingness or as solution to problems in life. Indeed Jesus has the power over all of these, but before laying claim for His blessings, one need to take stock of ones own life as Jesus pointed out the condition of the womans life, seek The Living LORD, confess the sins, worship HIM and accept Jesus as Saviour. Jesus did not came to ‘ relieve the hardship of everyday’ of the woman, but to fill her life with love and joy and hope.
Also, however great a sin may seem, when one surrender to Jesus and seek forgiveness, He forgives us and accepts us, because He is compassionate ans His mercy and love endures forever. Amen.
If you have still not accepted Jesus as your Saviour, Now is the time. Open your heart to Him and He will lead you to joy everlasting.


Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 15, 2011

The Lord Teaches Martha

The Gospel :Jesus Teaches Martha

In this series, we are taking lessons sitting by His feet as He teaches some people individually, personally. Today we are going to see what He taught Martha, a simple lady who was making every effort to treat her Lord with all the hospitality that she could. This event in found in The gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verse 39 to 42. Lets go through it.
39As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

Explanation : Here, we read that Jesus along with His disciples are going through a certain village, which we do not know. A certain lady called Martha invites them to her house. Her intension is very clear with the way she employs herself to the task of preparing foods for her Lord and His disciples. She must have been preparing the best choice foods and dishes. When she realizes that she won’t be able to do all things by herself or in just time, she feels if someone could help her in her preparations. She has a sister, Mary. She is furious to see Mary sitting ‘idle’ listening to Jesus. Finally, when she could not bear any more frustrations, she comes and tells Jesus to tell Mary to help in her preparations.
Well, we could easily understand the positions of Martha. Utterly helpless, with lots of things to do. The Guest whom she loves and reveres is already in and she is not in a position to prepare the meals in time and at the same time her sister who can be of help is not helping her. The reason she asks Jesus to interfere could be, she thought Mary will certainly respond to Him. Maybe, Martha must have asked her in between to help her, but Mary must have totally ignored her orders.
Now, Martha’s tone speaks of her frustrations. She, instead of requesting Jesus, she almost rebukes Jesus! “Don’t you care”, She commands Jesus, “Tell her to help me” Her anger and frustration have taken over. She is rude to her honored guest.
Now, just imagine you yourself invite one of honoured guest and finds yourself in situation like this of Martha. And you say the same thing to your guest what Martha told. What will be the reaction of the guest, especialy the religious teacher. You may expect some, really unpleasant reaction. For, this was insulting to the guest!. But we see Jesus calm and compassionate. How soothing it must have been to Martha to hear her Lord calling her, “Martha, Martha”. Further, He comforts her that she should not be worried of so many things when only one thing is needed, that of listening to Jesus. Mary is exactly doing that. He also tells her plainly that He will not take that away from Mary.

Gospel : The message is simple. We are not to be engrossed in our day today activity so much that we ignore the teaching of Jesus. We see that these days, people are not very serious towards learning what Jesus wants us to teach. People are very much busy and engrossed with their routine life. Bible Study is where we come to know the will and wish of Jesus, the ways and means of pleasing Jesus, the duties and responsibilities of us. We cannot sacrifice Bible Study for other things. We need to give PRIORITY to Jesus teaching. Unless we learn, how are we going to teach others, our children? Listening to what Jesus is teaching is the highest way to show him honor, and preferable to any human way we seek to honor him. We must be willing to shift our priorities in order to follow Jesus.
The fact that she was upset with Mary and the fact that she was too busy to come sit at Jesus’ feet and take the position of a learner stood as dual witnesses to the truth that Martha had either forgotten or had yet to find the real reason for her discipleship. Only when we are truly devoted to sitting at the feet of Jesus and having a relationship with him can we really serve with a heart of compassion that pleases God. Jesus didn’t denounce Martha for her heart to serve. Whatever we try to do to please God, should be done without expecting anyone else to help us. Our service should be whole heartedly. Many a times, we embark on a certain mission of serving the Lord without depending on anyone else, but later expect help from others. When we fail in this expectation, we unconcsiously drift away from the mission of serving . At all times, our focus should be on Jesus, on His teaching.

Bible Study :
1) Here, we read that Jesus along with His disciples are on their way.
Where? For answer to this, we find it in Luke 9:51. He is on way to Jerusalem.
2) To which city they come, we are not told but most probably, they are in Bethany (John 11:1) or very near to it. She invites Jesus to stay in her home. It is spoken of as “her home.” She isn’t keeping house for her brother, who probably lives nearby in Bethany. It is her house. Since we don’t hear of her husband, she may have been widowed. It wouldn’t surprise me if her sister Mary lived with her, though we aren’t told.. I believe that Jesus’ friendship with Lazarus was the primary one, since he was a man, and that Lazarus had introduced Jesus to his sisters Martha and Mary (John 11:3).
3) Sometimes we get the impression that Mary is the spiritual one, while Martha is not. But Martha’s invitation indicates her openness to spiritual things. She, too, longs to be a disciple, and wants to honor Jesus by inviting him to her home. Martha’s name in Hebrew, incidentally, means “lady” or “mistress (of the house).”
4) In Jesus’ time and in our culture too, womens are expected to engage themselves with the kitchen affairs, cook food, serve the guests and not mingle with the men or with teaching and learning. This was considered to be exclusively the responsibility of the men. It is really remarkable that Jesus DOESN’T encourage Mary to help Martha. This isn’t the first time that Jesus has cut across his culture’s expectations about familial responsibility in order to make a point that will be remembered. Even though it cuts across the grain of societal expectations, even though it means neglecting her regular duties, Jesus approves, Mary has correctly discerned that listening to Jesus and learning his ways is more important than anything — anything else she can choose. And no one can rip this precious spiritual food away from her.

Conclusions :God has preferences on the way people respond to him and worship him. All forms of worship are NOT equal in God’s eyes. In the case of Jesus, putting on a great dinner for the Master doesn’t compare to listening to him and obeying him.
I don’t want to be too hard on Martha, Jesus certainly wasn’t. But he tried very gently to explain how Mary’s choice was better, and that she shouldn’t be deprived of it by having to be marched off to the kitchen .
What is it that you are trying to offer Jesus? Your talents and abilities? The open doors and opportunities afforded by your position in the community? Faithful service as a Sunday school teacher even though you might prefer to do something else? All these can be good. And I am sure that Jesus wants each of these from you in their own time.
But the one thing that Jesus seeks above all else is time that you spend time listening to him, “sitting at his feet,” as it were. That needs to come first, before all these other things. That is where peace is found. That is the only place of spiritual rest.
“Martha, why don’t you take off your apron and sit down for a few minutes. Dinner can wait. There’s something very dear to my heart that I’d like to share with you — you personally. Do you have some time right now?”

Questions :

1) Martha was a host to Lord Jesus atleast once elsewhere. Can you recollect when?

2) Like Martha Martha, whom did Lord call repeatedly?

Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 14, 2011

The Lord Teaches Rich Young Ruler

The Gospel :Jesus Teaches Rich Young Ruler
In this series, we are taking lessons sitting by His feet as He teaches some people individually, personally. Today we are going to see what He taught an unnamed young ruler, who was very rich. He himself came seeking Lord Jesus with a question. This event in found in The gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verse 18 to 25. Lets go through it.

The Passage : 18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” 21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” . Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” 27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” 28 Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Luke 18:18-28

The Explanation : On the face, the passage is rather very simple to understand. But the truth is, it is not.  A certain ruler approaches Jesus for guidance to inherit eternal life. He address  Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’ and asks Jesus as to ‘what he need to do’  so that he can inherit eternal life.Jesus counter questions him as to why he calls Him as ‘Good Teacher’  without expecting answer from him. He goes on to add that ‘God alone is good’. By this, Jesus stresses that since he clearly accepted Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’ and that only God is good, Jesus is God.The character of the rich young ruler. From his question we come to know of his character. He is religious and leads a righteous life. Since childhood, he has been faithful in keeping all the commands that Moses had given. He fear and revered God. He has deep respect for the saints of God and here we see his reverence for Jesus in his address. MAybe, because of his wealth combined with his righteous character, the authority must have put him in charge of certain city or town as ruler or governor.  Probably, he must have knelt before Jesus while talking to Him. He has knowledge of ‘eternal life’.  For, unless he knew about that, how will he question regarding it? He knows the importance of it. He knows money can’t buy it for him. He knows his righteous life can’t earn it for him. Otherwise, he would not have approached Jesus for guidance.Jesus tells him to sell off his wealth and distribute it among the needy poor. In this way, he will have treasure in heaven and then to follow Him. We see the ruler was pained to hear this. He must have had so much wealth, that he just was not willing to part away with it. Even though he wanted to inherit eternal life, he was not prepare to ‘pay’ for it. Yes, in the first place, we have to give up ‘something’ for it. And finally as a ‘continues process’, we are to follow Jesus.Seeing the sulken face of the rich man, Jesus bares the fact and reality of the rich people. The rich people cannot easily enter the Kingdom of God or rather ‘inherit eternal life’. It is very hard, as hard as if a camel going through the eye of a needle!If the advice to sell off the riches was a blow to the rich man, the proverb that Jesus quoted  of the camel passing through the eye of the needle to stress the difficulty of entering the Kingdom of God was even more baffling to the bystanders including His disciples.They argue that if such is the condition and requirement to enter the Kingdom of God, it is just impossible for anyone to enter it!Jesus says, but with God, it is not impossible.

The Gospel : What the young man believed is what the  common man or woman in most community  believe,  You go to heaven if you do good. You go to hell if you do bad things. Well, only VERY bad things. Eternal life is a reward for what you do on earth. That’s what people tell you.But Jesus says, that is not the right way. He tells us free our life from the love and bond of money. It is not only a question of selling off the wealth. By giving up the wealth, it also means giving up status in society, becoming one of the common man. Leading a humble life, a life of contentment.Selling  wealth could pose him opposition from his family members, his parents or wife. He must be ready to face it. Giving up wealth is not easy.  Giving up wealth doesn’t mean you have to sell all your property one fine night and distribute it among th e poor. It means you should share your wealth with the needy thats all. Jesus doesn’t say to give the proceeds from sale to some ‘Jesus Christ fellowship church or Jesus Christ trust, or Jesus Christ Foundation. No. He says we need to look after the needy and the widows and those who are in distress. He tells us to be compassionate to the people in need. Jesus says that those who love money cannot in anyway be loving and merciful and compassionate towards the needy and the poor. Nor does Jesus says only by giving up the money could earn him a place in heaven. Even as we treat the needy with love, we should be following Jesus. We should be obedient to Him. Charity alone will not earn an entry to heaven. Are you ready to free your life from the bondage of wealth and care for the needy?He concludes with two commands. “Come”  & “ follow”He is inviting the rich young man to join him on his journeys, to become one of the disciples  to spend time with Jesus and learn from him on a day-by-day basis. What a wonderful invitation!We, too, are invited to come to Jesus, and then to follow him on a spiritual life journey. To enjoy his company, his presence. To be taught along the way by his Word and Spirit. To become part of his great extended family, the Body of Christ throughout the world. And to be filled with hope in the closing days of our journey as we know his promises and feel his comfort with us.”Come, follow me,” is the invitation Jesus extends to you and me. Are you rady to follow Jesus?To inherit ‘Eternal Life’, we have to be sensitive towards the needy people. We need to act justly and to love mercy   and to walk humbly  with our God. We cannot earn it by any ceremonial or religious rituals, b y keeing commands of the law of Moses (given through The Lord), or by offering sacrifices, or by fasting, or by just feeding the poor, or by going on a pilgrimage. Only God in His mercy can gift it to us. And He is very gracious. He offers it to those who pleases Him.

The Bible Study:

1)The word ‘ Good Teacher’ appears nowhere in the Holy scripture than here and in Mark 10:17.

2) Salvation  is spoken of in  various terms ,  “eternal life” (18, 30), “treasure in heaven” (22), “entering the Kingdom of God” (24, 29), and “being saved” (26).

3) No One Is Good — Except God Alone (18:19)Some have felt that, by these words, Jesus is somehow denying his divinity. If Jesus had meant to do so he would have replied simply that he was a sinner. But Jesus’ divinity isn’t the issue. Jesus is calling the young man to reflect on his words. Jesus is trying to teach him. Perhaps Jesus is trying to prompt him to reflect on who Jesus is, too.

4) Why Jesus asked him of the commandments when He knew what the ruler was lacking?This was to explain to His followers that following or observing the law alone will not land us in the Kingdom of Heaven. This was mostly probably understandable to the rich man. If not, then he would not have come to Jesus for guidance. For according to his knowledge, he was indeed observing the law since his childhood.

5) Did he really keep the commands?In a very real sense he has broken the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).  We are called upon to, Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  (Deut.  6:4).Jesus  has proved to him, and  us that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”(Luke 16:13). The challenge for disciples remains. My dear friend, is there anything, any hindrance, that you are unwilling to give up to follow Jesus? You may not be wealthy, but if there is something you possess, or that possesses you, laying it down is a vital part of following the Master. He must have your all. And he calls gently to you: “Come, follow me.” May The Loving God work in your heart, grant you the willingness to follow Him, that we may meet in Heaven to Praise and worship The Lord and remain with Him for eternity. Amen.

Lets Grow-Up:Daily In Christ- January 2010

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