Seek & Save

1280px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_ProjectLuke 19:10… “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Picture yourself for a moment in New York city at the Museum of Modern Art. You are sitting in front of one of the most recognized paintings in the history of western culture, “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh. Something draws you into the skillfully crafted painting. Is it the texture in the colors of oil paint brushed on the canvas or the sensation of wave like motion from the swirling patterns formed in the sky or is it the circles of white and yellow light that surround the moon and stars?

Reading through the book of Luke I was stopped for more than just the momentary pause the punctuation calls for the end of verse 10 in chapter 19. There was something there that captured my attention; my mind was trying to wrap around the implications of the words “seek” and “save”. As I considered these words within the context of this verse my eye was drawn to the cross reference marker that directed me to a couple of helpful verses.

(Seek) “As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” (Ezekiel 34:12)

(Save) “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

The Gospel of Luke is used to communicate the great love that the Lord has for us. Each carefully chosen word, phrase and story leads us to the shepherd who is always seeking us out. The shepherd, The Son of Man, Jesus Christ is our salvation. Knowing that we are actively being pursued still today and looked after by our God is an incredible comfort (at least for me). Through Him, that is Christ, we can be saved. This is the message that Luke so carefully investigated for us as he looked at the events of Jesus’ life and at the lives of those who came before him. It is recorded here so that we could gain confidence in our faith, deepen our relationship with God and learn to share the good news with others.

The Investigator…

magnifying-glassI quite enjoy watching investigative television shows or movies. There are some very well researched and incredibly well written scripts that have captured my imagination. The writers spend hours of time researching the intended subject and pour over the details with a fine tooth comb as they write the final script. The more research and investigating they do the more authentic and real the story becomes.

I was intrigued by the opening verses of the Gospel of Luke, specifically how he tells us that he himself has “carefully investigated everything from the beginning”. I imagine that this would have taken a great amount of time considering the investigative tools he would have had access to. Luke really does his homework; he sets the stage by reminding us of prophecies that have been fulfilled from the accounts of those who came before him, he also includes details of an extensive genealogy of the line of Jesus. Luke knew that there was an important message that needed to be communicated through his research and writing, he didn’t want to miss anything.

I like to know as much as I can before I jump into doing something. Today we have an incredible amount of information available to us through the internet and other online resources. When it comes to sharing the Gospel message we have the incredible resource of the written words in the Bible. Men like Luke have done the homework for us. What we need to do is resist the urge to google “sharing the gospel” and sit down and read the Bible, it’s all there, the whole story in one book. I don’t want to discount the work of the many who have devoted their lives to the study of scripture and the message of the Gospel, I believe that the place we need to start is in scripture experiencing first hand the words for ourselves. God has used these words to change lives.

Immediately: im·me·di·ate·ly /iˈmēdēətlē/.

timeWe all have an expectation when it comes to time. There are many things in life that we have come to expect with a sense of immediacy. For example, if your waiting more than a second or two for your webpage to load or your search results to return you might be prone to wonder if there is something wrong. What about instant messaging? We send a message, we can see that it was delivered (sometime we can even see when it was read) and for whatever reason we expect a message to come back right away, after all it is supposed to be instant.

The one part of the story of Mark that continues to astound me is when Jesus calls his disciples, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him”. The “at once” can also be translated immediately. Simon and Andrew are two fishermen who dropped their nets and followed Jesus, just like that. We see it again when he calls James and John, “without delay” … these guys left their dad in the boat and followed Him. When I consider these accounts of obedience in God’s call on their lives and their immediate response I think about the significance and priority of the message they were called to teach and preach.

Jesus goes from place to place calling people to follow Him, He displays his majesty and power so that people will believe in Him. He has the power to change peoples lives on the spot. The question I ask myself is is this: how am I living out my calling today? Do I do things for the Lord without delay or at once? These are difficult questions and honestly I think I can do better at listening to what the Lord is calling me to do and follow through on it sooner. Sometimes we really wish that our efforts would produce results in an instant, we can all think of that “lost” person who if they only found Jesus right now would be so much better off. God’s timing in all of life can’t be forgotten; we work in different realities of time and through His leading and in His time He will use us to accomplish His will.

Preview: The Gospel of Mark

previewI like watching movie trailers. Depending on the genre of the movie they usually highlight some of the main action scenes like a clip from a fast paced car chase, a skillfully choreographed fight or a particularly funny part of the movie. Carefully chosen, these short clips are pieced together to draw us into wanting more, without spoiling the main plot of the story.

Ninety-nine percent of the time when I study the Bible I read from the New International Version. Recently as I worked my way through the book of Mark I was thinking about all the different sections or headings found between the chapters. These sections read like a movie trailer, they highlight the action and essence of the story within the text. Consider these titles: “Jesus Calms to Storm”, “Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man”, “John the Baptist Beheaded”, “Jesus Walks on Water” or “Jesus Predicts His Death”. Each of these titles have the potential to draw us into the larger narrative.

The Gospel of Mark is “divided” into 73 sections, 43 of those section titles include the name of Jesus, each pointing us to the the main focus of Mark’s writing. The focus is all about Jesus. Even though Mark doesn’t focus on the birth of Jesus he walks us through His life, he concentrates his message around the power and majesty of a sovereign God who came to walk with us and be like us. The life and actions of Jesus in that time and for today were to establish His presence and power so that people would believe in Him.  There is an incredible amount of detail and instruction found throughout the book of Mark; in the day it was written people witnessed first hand the power and majesty of Jesus. Today we have the “movie” or narrative that communicates the very same message, a message of hope, a message of power and a message of good news.