30 Seconds On the Kingdom


And he said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’ And he said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’ And he said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’ With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything

Mark 4:21-34

Let the Word examine your heart, here, and bring you to repentance if you need be.  And show you what to repent of.  What’s your attitude about the Kingdom?  When you see lost people doing what lost people do, how does your heart respond?  When you see the church, with all her imperfections and all her beauties, what is your first reaction?  Does your heart beat in time with Jesus’?  Do you want to see the Kingdom grow out and grow up?  Do you love the lost enough to suffer for them and enough to serve her?

Pray for laborers, He said.  “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

May I be on both ends of that prayer:  The one who asks and the answer to it.  

Advertisements

A Catechism for Our Day


The Word of God is always relevant.  And our hearts will be healthier when they are brought under it.

A Christian who brings Scripture and the God of Scripture to bear on his thoughts, emotions, choices, philosophy, theology, self-talk, vocation, family dynamic, behaviors, hobbies, and habits will be a Christian whose spiritual muscles and bones and organs are working properly.  This is one of the reasons Christians have historically written catechisms.  We need to know the Word and we also need to know how to apply it.

So with that in mind, let’s bring the Word to answer some questions for our day.

Q:  How should I approach and think about racial strife and protests?

A:  “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

Q:  What if I think our President is a terrible one?

A:  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Q:  How do I live out my Christian faith at my job?

A:  “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

Q:  What does it mean to be a man or to be a woman?

A:  “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:8-12).

Q:  What is marriage?

A:  “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:18-25).

Q:  What is the point of life?”

A:  “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

He Loves Kids, So Should We


One of the indicators of how much you love God is how much you love what God loves.

And God loves children.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’

Genesis 1:28

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’

Luke 18:15-17

Much of our culture seems to view children as a nuisance.  Where C.S. Lewis could once say that he didn’t much care for the company of children but saw that as a defect in himself, our day and place seems to see the presence of children (and especially of a lot of children) as itself a defect.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a premium placed on childbearing.  Children don’t seem to be viewed as a blessing.  A husband and wife having more than a kid or two is usually seen as a weird thing.

Our culture doesn’t appear to value this valuable thing.

I say this with three kids being bad in the other room and just after a shift of nursery work this morning at our church’s service that was a touch exhausting.

Childbirth was God’s creation.  And God is the author, the pleased author, of each human soul.  So to despise children is to despise the creation of God.  And there is no way to hate what God creates and at the same time have a healthy relationship with Him.  

I know kids can be loud and annoying.  But I don’t think that’s the root of our culture’s disdain for them (however widespread it is).  Instead, I think we have a particularly self-absorbed spirit in this generation.  I think we don’t like being inconvenienced.  I think we don’t like sacrifice-on-demand.  I think we want to give of ourselves, if we want to do it at all, on our schedule.  The work of disciplining and teaching and hugging and joking and answering the questions of and feeding and providing and bathing some little person when and how he needs it, not when and how we’re ready to do it, is repulsive to a self-centered heart.  This is why parenting has been so instructional for me.  It has forced me to love God more and rely on Him more.  The reality is that I’m a selfish jerk apart from Christ, and through parenting and being around other people’s kids via the church, God has forced me to be more like His Son.

God has forced me to love Him and other living human beings more through parenting.

The more you love God, the more you’ll love what He loves.  If our churches don’t value kids, if we don’t value kids, we may need to perform a little self-examination on our faith.  And if you agree with me that our culture doesn’t have a good appreciation of children, childbearing, and child rearing, then we have an even greater responsibility, as Christians, to get our hearts in line with His.

A watching world needs to see what a healthy love of kids looks like.

Comfort In the Chasm


I’m a lay elder in a rough neighborhood.

Along with two other men (so far), I pastor some people with some deep, deep wounds from broken families and from awful or absent fathers.  And today, after being shaken by one of those stories, a comfort the Lord brought to my mind from Scripture is this:  The chasm between Hell and Heaven.

It’s a great hope.

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table.  Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.  The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.  The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 

Luke 16:19-26

How is that a hope to me right now, as I’m grieving the past and present pain of my brother in Christ?

Because once my friend is with his Savior face to face, his unrepentant father will have no more wounds to inflict.

The final coming chasm between Hell and God’s people is one way of God telling every unrepentant belligerent, every drunken and abusive dad, every nasty and violent parent or relative who refuses, to the end, to repent and bend their knees to King Jesus:  “Once I have brought my busted saint home, you will have inflicted your last damage.”

When you have an unrepentant drunk who takes his bitterness and his selfishness out on little kids, kids who end up believing in Jesus, or when you have this rich man who viewed Lazarus the way you or I would view a weed, one of the justices of Hell is that the person who ends up there can’t sting the saint anymore.

Their hate cannot cross over.

That hateful father’s sin can cry out from an echo chamber, but it will not deafen his little boy’s ears ever again.  He is hearing a different voice, now.  Different altogether.

And to the unrepentant dad on the other side of that chasm, that voice says something he may have never expected.

“There is a great chasm, here. You cannot hurt him anymore. You cannot wound him. All that is over.  Look around you at where you are.  Your power is gone.  

“And his power is me.”

For 3:  Books For the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

On October 31, 1517, a former Catholic monk and priest named Martin Luther nailed 95 statements to the door of a Wittenberg church building (or at the very least made them public).  They were short statements against, among other things, what he saw as a sinful application of “indulgences” by the church under the leadership of the Pope.  

In celebration of the 500th anniversary of a season when God brought great revival and great remembrance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, here are 3 books you might enjoy checking out.

1) Luther the Reformer by James M. Kittelson 

This is a readable, succinct biography of the man as well as an explanation of what he believed and taught.  Very helpful.  And at 300 pages of good-sized print, it’s not overly intimidating.  

2) Freedom of a Christian by Martin Luther


From the man himself.  This is a tract on the Christian life that is moving, enlightening, and written in a vocabulary (at least in my translation) that a 12-year-old could understand.  Which, by the way, is one of Luther’s great gifts.  

He dedicated it to the Pope.

3) Portrait of Calvin by T.H.L. Parker

A free book!  That’s right, this short biography is free for download at the Desiring God web site.  Calvin was, in my opinion, the second most influential Reformer, and is in our day a grossly misunderstood man.  He loved Jesus, loved the church, loved people, and loved the truth.  This is an encouraging, free book.  Digital book, anyway.  

Strange for a movement that was blessed by the printing industry, huh?

Happy (early) Reformation Day! 

60 Seconds On Men


We live in a culture that is desperately confused on what manhood is and on what to do with men.  “Here are these creatures designed with a modicum of strength and resolve, designed to generally need a helpmate to support them, a helpmate for them to sacrifice for and lead…  Hmm…  Well, we can’t accept that…”

I do not think our culture has a sufficient, coherent answer to the question “What should a man be?” or to the question “What should our men do?”  

What behaviors should it commend in men?  What sorts of men should be praised?  Should our culture exalt braggadocious men like Conor McGregor?  Abusive ones like Floyd Mayweather?  Should it exalt ones who seek to be women?  Should it tell men to stand up for their loved ones, or tell them to let women do the standing up?  And why?  Says who?  

May call in with a question, 2017 America?  

Thank you.  

Ahem.  Where are you getting your standard?

I can take your answer off the air.  

Which men should be jokes and which men should be praised?  What should our sons use their muscles and their desires and their fight for?  What is a man?  And please, oh please, oh please tell me, again:  Says who?  Where are you getting your standard?

I think our culture is standing on some mighty soggy ground, here.  

Proposal:  I think our culture produces Floyd Mayweathers because it exalts Floyd Mayweathers, and I think it exalts Floyd Mayweathers because it doesn’t exalt men rightly using their manhood.  

2nd Proposal:  A culture that says it is bad for a man to use his strength to self-sacrificially lead his wife and children will begin to find more men using their strength for evil things.  

Listen, where God and nature have clear enough presentations on what men are and what men should do, our culture is temporarily lost on the topic.  

The happy news?  That means the church is in a unique position to do some real good.  

I mean it.  There is some mighty good work to be done.  There is a generation of boys among us right now who need to know what being a good man really involves, and the church may just have a monopoly on that message here on the American landscape.  We have a grounded, coherent answer as to what men are and what they should do.  We can help.  

There is good work to be done here.

I trust Christ can use us to accomplish it.  

A Calling, Teaching, Caring Messiah

God’s people were waiting for the χριστος.  The Christ.  The Messiah.  

So picture yourself as a God-fearing Jew at the beginning of the first century (the time when Jesus came and the New Testament starts).   You know the story of the universe.   You would know that a good God, the only God, made the world, that humans turned against Him in sin, and that He had chosen a people for Himself out of all the earth (Israel).   You’d know that He had promised to make everything right, and to begin that by sending a Messiah, a χριστος. And now, as you wait for that part of His story to start, with you and your family and all your people stuck under the boot of a pagan (Roman) empire, here comes a young man from a tiny rural, out-of-the-way town called “Nazareth.”  He’s the supposed son of a carpenter.  And He’s called a few fishermen from the lake to join Him.  And now someone rushes to tell you that this man, making a little bit of a stir out here in Galilee, is the long-awaited Prince of God, the Messiah come to make the world right. 

Hmm…

We’re preaching through the Gospel According to Mark, the second book in the New Testament, as Velocity Church, and we’re in Mark 1.  

You see at least three strands of the relationship between Jesus, this Messiah, and people in Mark 1.  Three steps Jesus takes towards human beings.  

  • He calls people. 

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.  And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Mark 1:16-20

Jesus came to Earth to call individuals to Himself, to change each of them, and to make out of them a new family and Kingdom.  This man did not come merely come to teach religion classes in a room at an expensive school. And He did not come just to start a new country. And He did not come merely to write books or give speeches.  This is not Muhammad or Buddha or George Washington or Gandhi or Socrates or Oprah.  Jesus Christ came to save individual men and women from their sins.  This man came to call, spill His blood for, remake, and resurrect human souls. He came to do what only a God can do. 

And He does it out of grace.  

If you claim Christ and yet think there is something in you that made Jesus choose you, you don’t yet understand (or perhaps believe) the Gospel. 

Simon Peter was not called by Jesus because of his abilities.  James and John were not told to leave their nets and the hired hands and their father because Jesus looked into their hearts and saw something worthy.  There is nothing in any of us that is worthy!  Hear me:  There is nothing in you that is worthy!   The ultimate reason any of us were called and brought into this Kingdom is the sheer, unfathomable grace of God. 

What does this mean for your own self-understanding?  Christianare not treasured because of what you are or what you chose or what you perform or what you bring to the team.  You are treasured because God has set His love on you in Christ (see:  Deuteronomy 7:6-8, Deuteronomy 10:12-15, or Ephesians 2:8-10)
What does this mean for your evangelism?  Don’t try to get someone to manifest some quality or to start doing some thing in order to get him ready to become a Christian.   Proclaim Jesus to him!   There is no quality that you can get a person to manifest that will make them attractive to God so that He’ll then save him.  Preach Christ crucified to him, and plead with him to repent and believe the Gospel.

God’s called hookers and blasphemers and murderers and dirty, rotten thieves.  One of the most surprising things Jesus does is shut the mouth of every drug dealer and adulterer and scoundrel who would say, “He can’t change someone like me.”  And just as fast He’ll stop the tongues of the proud people who shake their heads and think, “He won’t save someone like that. Not someone like that.”  This Jesus can hold up prostitutes like Rahab and murderers like David and blasphemers like Paul and say, “No? Watch me.”

Also, see that Jesus is the One who makes these brothers fishers of men.  They do not do it by their own wills or strength (John 1:10-13).  Jesus is saying, “Follow me, and I will make you what you could never make yourself.  I will be what you could never be.”  You cannot make yourself a fisher of men.  You cannot make yourself a Christian.  These men did not call themselves and they did not cause themselves to be born again.  This God offers to do what we can’t, what we never could.  He does not offer to help hurt men heal themselves.  He offers to bring dead men to life.

When we talk about God making people fishers of men or God using each of us, some of you who are Christians probably think “How could He use me?”  And others of you might think, “How couldn’t He use me?”  And both of you need to be reminded of the same thing:   You were brought into this family because of His love for you, not because of your love for Him.  You were brought into this Kingdom because of His goodness, not because of your skills.  He did not call you because of who you are and what you’ve done.   He called you despite who you are and what you’ve done. 

And let’s think about this:  Jesus told them to follow.  He didn’t make a suggestion.

Jesus is not merely our buddy.   He’s our Lord.  He told these guys to leave their livelihoods. 

And Jesus is better than whatever He costs you. 

 These guys obeyed Jesus.  They saw enough in Jesus that they left at a word.  They left their jobs. Jesus Is worth leaving anything this world has to offer.   A life of being poor or disgraced for Jesus is better than a life of awards or accolades without Jesus.   It’d be better for me to be a poor old fisherman for Christ than to be a world’s king without Him.  John the Baptist had his head chopped off and put on a plate as a joke at a king’s party for a bunch of drunken unbelievers.  That’s how John’s life of living for God ended.   But here’s the thing:   John’s resurrected body will be enjoying Jesus on the new earth a billion years after every one of that wicked king’s palaces and crowns and achievements are nothing more than dead dust and old memories.  Nobody at that party knew it at the time, but John had chosen the better life.  It is better to be a nothing for Jesus and forgotten by men and then to be everything to men and unknown by Jesus. 

Think about what it means to be owned by Jesus.  To be redefined by Jesus.  To be totally governed by Him.  To have all your life’s meaning rooted in Him.  That is what being a disciple of Jesus is.   You are no longer your own.  You are no longer primarily an American or an IT guy or a Thomas or a Democrat or a Republican or a Bengals fan or a high school dropout or a winner or a loser or a salesman or a mom. You are primarily His.  

God calls us as disciples of Christ to do things. One of them seen here:  To send us out to make more disciples. 

We are not called merely for our own sake. We are called to make more disciples. 

How beautiful is this, that God would use us?   Shallow, tired, weak, petty, lonely, fake, angry, scared, scarred people like us?  That He would call us to so miraculous a thing as making more sons and daughters through His blood-bought grace?  We who’ve been truly saved are called to go and preach and watch the grace and Spirit of God use us to make more sons and daughters of God.

  •  He teaches people.   

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel…’. And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 

Mark 1:14-15, 2 

This Jesus came to teach people who God was, what He was doing, how He was going to do it, and why.  We all believe in something.  Humans are designed to act on belief.  We don’t know everything and so we have to act on belief.  And since Romans 1 says we all know God is there, we all also have theologies.  

We all believe and we all have specific beliefs about God.  Every human being, whether they recognize it or not, has a philosophy about how the world works and how to get what he wants and what God is like.  And Jesus came to undermine all of our false ways of thinking and to teach people the true story of the universe:  That the Father, Son, and Spirit who made all things are totally good, are going to make things right, and are bringing men and women into the Kingdom of God by grace through faith in Jesus. 

Right belief leads to right behavior.  This is why teaching is made out to be so essential in your New Testament.  Jesus absolutely prioritized teaching people about who God was, what He was doing, how He was doing it, and why. 

We are always learning and internalizing something.  We are always becoming more of something.  Like plants, we are always growing in the direction of something.  Even if we are just watching videos on a Smart Phone, we are always, always teaching our hearts to love something, treasure something, enjoy something, hate something, fear something.   We are always training our minds and our hearts to navigate the world in some way.  

An addict may teach his heart to run from pain by getting high.  A workaholic may teach himself to find worth in what he can achieve in his career.  A woman living in sexual immorality may teach herself to find value in the attention of a man she isn’t married to.   A lazy man may teach himself that life gets no better than a screen making him giggle.  We are always being taught and teaching ourselves.  And so even a Christian’s heart and mind must be constantly retaught to think and to feel rightly.   

And in the middle of a world with people believing false things, here comes Jesus.  “You think life is no more than food and fighting and family and a job and gossip and pleasure and a little power over other people and money and games…  That’s not life. You are missing the truest treasure.  Let me show you where life really is.”  And that is Christian teaching!  That is Bible teaching.  This is what true theology is!   It isn’t cold, sterile, religious math equations.  It’s teaching your heart where life is, and then teaching other hearts where you found it. 

So this Jesus is teaching because He wants people brought into relationship with God, and by God’s design this involves faith in a God people must know and know about.  This reconciliation to God involves trusting Him.  And you cannot trust a God you have not been taught about. You cannot believe a message you have not heard.  You cannot live out a totally uninformed faith. 

And it is Jesus teaching this.  The messenger delivering this Message is God and the Son of God.

Jesus has the authority to declare absolute truth (1:22).

And this is what astonished these people.  Mark tells us things like, “For He taught as one who had authority, and not as the scribes…”  The religiosity scribes may have had a measure of power, but they didn’t have this.  

Imagine being this demon-infested man, or one of the lepers who comes running to Jesus later; the last thing you’d need was one more hypocrite scribe…  “I look around the synagogues, I’m seeing scribes who take advantage of the weak and the unaware, and I just need someone with the authority to really do good and to speak the truth.  I need someone who can do what he says. I don’t need another pretender.  And I don’t need any more opinions. I need someone who’s been sent by God.”  Well that’s who was in this synagogue.

Everyone is making truth claims and value claims, even those who say there is no absolute truth or no objective values.  One way or another, every person on earth is living out a system of what they believe is true and good.  While every human has opinions on it they live out, Jesus knows.  He reveals what He has seen from the Father.   His statements on what is true and what is good are not opinions. 

  • He cares about people.  

And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. 

Mark 1:31-34

You can see up close in Jesus the compassion of God.  This Jesus is proof positive of God’s posture towards sinful, rebellious humanity. God has chosen to bless them, and to die to ransom those who will believe in His Son.  That’s how this God treats those who spit in His face.  He gets tortured and dies in shame to bless them.  This God is more merciful, more charitable, more good than any of us can ever even begin to really understand.

This is a God with an outstretched hand.  

In the Old Covenant, you could not come into God’s presence when you were ritually impure.  But here, God is Himself touching the ritually impure. 

Jesus is Good News for the unclean, the destitute, the beaten down, the lost.  The lepers who are going to come to Jesus are forgotten men, flicked out of society because of their ugly disease and their uncleanness.  They’re gross and have sores people don’t want to see or catch and nobody wants to go near them.  They aren’t allowed in the pretty or happy places, where people laugh with each other and share meals together and give hugs and talk about the good times.  They don’t have any good times to talk about.  They don’t remember what a touch feels like, or what it’s like to be looked at without disgust.  And so their whole, painful lives they can just ask, over and over, “Where do we go?”  And then, crazy thing, here comes this carpenter’s son who also happens to be the King of the world.  And this man will speak to their wounded hearts an answer they never expected to hear, not in a million years:  “To me.”  And one of them might say, “No, you don’t understand.  No one wants me. No one. I’m sick.”  And this Jesus can look him right in the eyes, right into his heart and say, “That’s exactly who I came for” (see:  Mark 1:40-41).  

This Jesus stays up late into the Sabbath night healing these people of Capernaum.  

Jesus cares about individual people.  About their pain and their agony and their discomfort and their anxiety and their hopelessness and their sin.  This a very intimate God we worship. 

And this Jesus’ hand is outstretched toward you

And He is the victor over everything that assaults us.  

Jesus does not ask permission to raise little girls from the dead or turn back the skin diseases of outcasts or send demons over a cliff in the bodies of pigs.  He will not have to take a vote when He comes back and throws Satan into a Lake of unending fire with death hot on his tail.   This is no well-meaning counselor.  The King has come. 

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.  And he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’  And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him.  And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this?  A new teaching with authority!  He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ Mark 1:23-27

“Have you come to destroy us?”  The demons know what should give us hope:  That Jesus Christ is going to destroy every last one of sin’s shadows:  Death, pain, worship of false gods, violence, deceit, pride, poverty, all of it.  “Are you going to destroy us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to put a stop to all the things Hell loves?  Hunger and bitterness and faithlessness and fatherlessness and rape and anger and broken families and bitterness and disease?   Have you?   I know who you are, Jesus of Nazareth, so just tell me:  Have you come to destroy us!”  And I praise God Most High that ultimately Jesus’ answer to this demon who’d tried to destroy this man for so many years is, “Yes. Yes, I have.”  

“Holy One of God!   Tell me:   Have you come to crush Hell’s twisted hopes?” 

“Yes.  And in a way you could never, ever imagine.  I am going to use your own worst weapon against you.  From sin came death, and I will use death to slay sin.”  

This compassionate Jesus is the victor over sin, demons, death, and Hell. 

So, to the Christian:   You have been called. You are being taught, by the Spirit, the Word, and the Church.  You are cared about.
And to the unbeliever:  This is the only Messiah.  This is the only hope.  Don’t exhaust yourself looking elsewhere.  Come to Jesus in faith and all He is will be yours.

Jesus asks a wonderful question to Andrew the first time they meet.  Andrew is following Him, wondering if this is truly the Messiah.  If this is truly the One come to set all to rights.  If this is truly someone worth living and dying for.  

Jesus turns around and asks a short, simple question. 

τι ζητειτε

If you have not called on Christ, it’s my question to you.  

What are you seeking?