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Friday, January 29, 2016, 4:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Give Me Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Mark 1:35-2:17 (Select vv. NASB).

He Preached (Mk. 1:35-39)

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - left his throne in heaven, came to earth, took on human form, and walked this earth as fully God yet fully man. He suffered like we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. When he began his earthly ministry, he preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God in heaven. He confronted sin in sinful human beings, warned of judgment to come, called people to repentance and to faith in him, and promised eternal life with God in heaven for all who repent and believe.

Jesus said this was the reason he came, to preach. So, what did he preach? He preached that we are blessed if we are humble, repentant, merciful and pure in heart; when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; and when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. He preached against such sins as murder, adultery, divorce (except for marital unfaithfulness), revenge and hate. He encouraged compassion, forgiveness, mercy and generosity. He taught his followers how to pray, and he warned against religious hypocrisy. As well, he taught that we should not worry, but that we should trust in him to supply all we need. He counseled his followers against hypocritical judging, and encouraged praying in faith. And, he continually preached the gospel of our salvation and so much more (See: Matt. 5-7).

So, what was the gospel he taught? He said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said that the path which leads to life (in him) is narrow and few find it. As well, he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” And, he taught that not only must we hear his words, but we must put them into practice, for then we are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, and when the storm came, his house did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock (See: Matt. 7; Lu. 9).

In other words, the gospel Jesus taught was one of death to sin and self, following him in obedience and full surrender, and putting into practice what the Word says, doing God’s will. The NT apostles preached the same message for salvation. Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is the essence of the gospel.

He Has Compassion (Mk. 1:40-42)

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Not only did Jesus preach the gospel of our salvation from sin, but he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, delivered from demons, comforted the sorrowful, and he encouraged the weak and the timid. Jesus Christ is God, full of compassion, mercy, tenderness, and kindness. He cares about our needs and our hurts. He is our healer and our comforter, if we call on him in faith. He encourages us when we are down, or when we are lacking in strength or courage. He then lifts us up by speaking truth into our hearts. He calms our fears, fills us with his peace, and he heals our hurts. He is the one who made us, so he knows all about us. Nothing that goes on in our lives escapes his notice. We are not forgotten by God, no matter what we are going through. He loves and he cares about us.

He Forgives Sins (Mk. 2:9-12)

“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

Jesus Christ, when he died on the cross for our sins, took upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died, our sins died with him and were buried with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. By his grace, through faith in him, we can be forgiven our sins, delivered both from the penalty of sin (eternal damnation) and from slavery to sin, and be set free to now come under the control of his righteousness, and to have the promise of eternal life with God. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Co. 5:21). By his stripes we are healed.

Jesus Christ cleanses our hearts from sin when we respond to the gospel in faith, and in the power of the Spirit working within us in spiritual transformation we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not an intellectual assent to what he did for us in dying for our sins. It is not an emotional decision we make at an altar to invite Christ into our hearts. Jesus said we must be “born again,” or “born from above.” In other words, becoming a Christian is like going from a caterpillar to a butterfly. It is a metamorphosis. We no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live.

He Calls Sinners (Mk. 2:15-17)

And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus does not accept us because of our own righteousness. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. No amount of good works we might do can get us into heaven. Our good will never outweigh our bad. When we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, destined for hell, without God and without hope. We do not have the ability to affect our own salvation. Only by God’s grace, because of Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sins, can we be forgiven our sin, be set free from slavery to sin, and be given new lives in Christ to be lived in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

Yet, we must believe in him in order to be saved. Only those who acknowledge that they are sinners and that they need a Savior are in the right frame of mind and heart to receive God’s free gift of salvation. If we are filled with self-righteousness, we will never see our need of Christ and of his salvation. We must humble ourselves before God, repent of our sins, believe in what he did for us on the cross in dying for our sin, and turn to follow him with our lives in obedience to his Word and to his will for our lives. This is why Jesus died, not just to deliver us out of hell and to promise us heaven when we die, but to set us free from our slavery to sin and the control of Satan over our lives, and to put within us the life of himself that we might now come under the control of his righteousness and walk in his Spirit the rest of our days, not in absolute sinless perfection, but daily walking in his grace and mercy, putting off the “old man,” and daily putting on Christ and his holiness.

Give Me Jesus
Oh, What Gladness!

An Original Work / December 2, 2013

Give me Jesus. He’s my Savior.
I’ll walk with Him in His favor.
I’ll abide in His love always;
Follow His ways to the end.

Jesus is the Son of God.
He died upon a cruel cross.
He’s forgiven all my failures
By His mercy and His love.

Give me Jesus – His compassion,
And His mercy; loving kindness.
Let Him teach me how to love Him,
And to please Him. He’s my friend.

Jesus died for all our sin
So we could have eternal life.
He will free you from your bondage
If you trust Him with your life.

Give me Jesus. Let me trust Him.
May I listen to His teachings.
May I follow where He leads me
In His service. He’s my Lord.

Jesus Christ will come again
To take His bride to be with Him.
Oh, what gladness; free from sadness
When I meet Him in the air.