After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to the disciples and other people several times before He ascended to heaven. On the occasion described in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, Peter and several of the disciples had returned to Galilee and were taking up their old occupation of fishing, and apparently, not being very successful at it.
All right, you’re a Christian. Maybe you have been a Christian for all or most of your life or maybe just for a short time.
Either way, the same nagging question always lingers in the back of your mind: “Lord, what am I supposed to do with my life and with my salvation?”
“But Jesus responded to them, ‘My Father is still working, and I am working also’ … ‘I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way” ( John 5:17, 19, HCSB).
This somewhat cryptic response to the Jewish religious leaders was given by Jesus as a defense for healing a man on the Sabbath who had been sick for 38 years.
So why did Jesus answer their accusations in this way?
The word of the Lord first came to Ezekiel while he was living with the Judean exiles in Babylon.
Ezekiel was a priest by descent and, as such, his primary ministry was offering sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem. As one of the exiled Jews, Ezekiel was unable to serve as a priest in the usual ways.
“The Angel of the Lord came, and He sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite. His son Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine vat in order to hide it from the Midianites. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior'” (Judges 6:11-12, HCSB).
God sent His personal representative, the Angel of the Lord, to Gideon at Ophrah. Because He was the Angel of the Lord, He spoke with God’s full authority.
Slavery in the first century Roman world was much different from slavery in early American history. Roman slaves were either taken as the spoils of war or were slaves because they sold themselves into slavery, called bond-servants.
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36, ESV).
Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies, do good and pray for those who hate and mistreat them, and give without expecting anything in return, even if someone is stealing from them.
Seems pretty radical doesn’t it?
“I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching it to you in public and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God” (Acts 20:20-21, 27, HCSB).
These declarations are from the Apostle Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus (vs. 17-38).
“He said, ‘I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion'” (Exodus 33:19, HCSB).
God spoke these words to Moses in response to his request that God show Himself–His glory–to Moses. Moses made this request because he was concerned that Israel’s standing with God was in question.
This is one of those days when I get to the end of the day and find myself really weary. Some would say “weary from well-doing,” though I question how much “well” I’m really “doing.”
I’ll spare you the details of all my troubles because as hard as I think I have it, my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 and 14, who were undertaking the task God had assigned them.
In Acts 13:2 God sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey: “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.'”