Today’s message summary of December 31, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:
There are periods when Jesus spent time with his apostles to train them for what was to come after He turned over His ministry to them.
How much do you like criticism? Many of us don’t, but there are times when criticism is necessary. For those of us at the forefront of ministry, this criticism is indeed constructive and beneficial. The apostles had to receive instruction in this way in order to make sure that (1) they were living in the right way, and (2) to demonstrate before others a life of service in Jesus Christ.
We are to respect those who criticize us, because they are ultimately watching us. It is the act of analysis or of the qualities as an evaluation in comparison to others. There may be a finding of fault or even disapproval of what is being done, but it is in the spirit of correction. (We are often not as critical of ourselves as we should be.)
Being a Christian is not easy. It starts with obedience to Him, and it involves a surrendering to the Holy Spirit, who is developing you into the person that will serve Jesus. This is how you can experience success–in spite of the flesh.
If you were to pick twelve people to do a task, and only one of the twelve failed, how would you grade yourself? This was the result of Jesus’ training of his apostles.
There is a historical contrast between Jesus, the Jewish leaders, and John the Baptist.
The Jewish teachers and John the Baptist didn’t choose their disciples. Their disciples chose them. Jesus, in contrast, hand picked each of His disciples in order that they would become His apostles.
They were not self-made. They had to stay chose to Jesus in order to continue to develop, learn and grow.
You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.
This was a change from what was the religious norm of the time (instead of what happened with John and the Jewish leaders). Jesus wanted the apostles and appointed them. He wanted them to be with Him. He would sent them out to preach, and gave them authority to drive out demons.
The real wonder of the apostles lies in the making and development of the men for their ministry.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
The real wonder of a Christian is their growth and development. Jesus wants to not just give salvation, but He wants to be with the believer to help him grow. Where the old has left, the new has come.
The apostles reveal what is going to happen in the life of those who will accept Jesus as Savior. The old has gone, and the new has come.
They had to learn to take criticism from other religious people. There were many (Jews and Pharisees) who were watching them.
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?”
He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me.
They worship me in vain,
teaching as doctrines human commands.
Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition.” He also said to them, “You have a fine way of invalidating God’s command in order to set up your tradition! For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’” (that is, an offering devoted to God), “you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.”
“Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?” (from Mark 7:5)
Jesus reminded the critics of the words of Scripture in defense of the disciples and noted that those who professed to follow the Lord had hearts that were not following Him. He teaches the critics with the words of Isaiah.
The Lord said:
These people approach me with their speeches
to honor me with lip-service—
yet their hearts are far from me,
and human rules direct their worship of me.
Therefore, I will again confound these people
with wonder after wonder.
The wisdom of their wise will vanish,
and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden.
Woe to those who go to great lengths
to hide their plans from the Lord.
They do their works in the dark,
and say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?”
You have turned things around,
as if the potter were the same as the clay.
How can what is made say about its maker,
“He didn’t make me”?
How can what is formed
say about the one who formed it,
“He doesn’t understand what he’s doing”?
Isn’t it true that in just a little while
Lebanon will become an orchard,
and the orchard will seem like a forest?
On that day the deaf will hear
the words of a document,
and out of a deep darkness
the eyes of the blind will see.
The humble will have joy
after joy in the Lord,
and the poor people will rejoice
in the Holy One of Israel.
The disciples were observant of the dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees, but they were observing and learning from the exchange.
They learned how to move from answering their question to stating a fact about the accusers (Mark 7:9-13).
Now Jesus takes the question from the Pharisees to the multitude of people and His disciples–a much larger group. He turns the question into a teachable moment for all who are listening.
Summoning the crowd again, he told them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”
When he went into the house away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, “Are you also as lacking in understanding? Don’t you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated” (thus he declared all foods clean).
Remember that his disciples–soon to be apostles–were raised in Jewish tradition. They had to see how these traditions were not nearly as important as the heart of the person. The heart is to lead all of the actions for the glory of God. Are things being done out of tradition, or are they being done out of a love and obedience for God?
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.”
Jesus brings all of the observers into the discussion and shares this important truth.
Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should always be mindful of where their hearts are and remain obedient to the Lord–and not grieve the Holy Spirit.