“Come To Seek and Save” ( Luke 19: 10, KNOX ) by Carley Evans

English: Young Christ as the good shepherd
English: Young Christ as the good shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always loved the image of Jesus as shepherd, carrying the lamb on His shoulders. He’s also the shepherd who puts that lamb in with the others of the flock, then turns to search far and wide for the sheep that wander, the sheep that are lost in a ravine, in a flood, in a deep hole, amongst wolves.

That is what the Son of Man has come for, to search out and to save what was lost.

“Deny And Take Up” ( Luke 9:23-24, KJV ) by Carley Evans

Jesus gives up His rights — His rights to glory, His rights to being worshiped, His rights to His full power. Simultaneously He takes up human flesh with its physical weaknesses — with functions we never mention when we speak of Jesus perhaps because we can’t quite wrap our minds around those functions in regards to God. Eventually, Jesus literally takes up the cross to die a horrific death on our behalf.

“And [Jesus] says to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

Tough to relinquish rights, isn’t it? From early childhood, we learn “that’s mine!” and “No, I won’t!” or “You can’t make me!” Denying what’s ours and giving up what we want do not come naturally to us. We desperately want to save ourselves. We don’t want to follow along after someone else.

Jesus says, “Don’t struggle to save yourself. Put all that outer stuff down. Each day, pick up and deal with what comes. And follow Me. Otherwise, in your self-absorption you’ll lose Me and your life.”

“Being Full Of, Is Led By” ( Luke 4: 1, KJV ) by Carley Evans

God, the Holy Spirit, descends upon Mary to produce the infant God, Jesus in her womb — so, does God the Holy Spirit enter Mary? Or does He plant His seed within her? Is this one and the same? Does it matter? Luke, the physician, records the event. The angel tells Mary, “thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His Name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father, David. The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:31-32,35)

Elizabeth’s child, John — while still in her womb — leaps with joy when Mary comes close, literally recognizing Jesus, the Son of God who resides in Mary.

Much later, God the Holy Spirit descends from the clouds on the day Jesus is baptized by John in the river Jordan. God the Father speaks, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I Am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) “And Jesus, being full of the Holy Spirit, returns from the Jordan, and is led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1) Here Jesus is tested by the devil for forty days and nights.

No time exists in Jesus’ earthly life when He is separate from God the Holy Spirit. Being full of God the Holy Spirit, He is led by God the Holy Spirit.

“Catching People” ( Luke 4: 42, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

Presumably at daybreak, Jesus is trying to find a deserted place. But people — actually crowds — “are searching for Him. They come to Him and try to keep Him from leaving them.” These crowds want Him to remain with them, at their beck and call, at their command. And, it is not as if Jesus does not love them or want to meet their needs. Rather, He says to them, “I must proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I am sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)

The night before, Jesus rebukes demons that shout out His true identity. He commands them not to speak “because they know He is the Messiah.” (Luke 4:41) So, on the one hand, Jesus proclaims “the kingdom of God is near” while on the other hand He silences those who know He is “the Son of God!” (Luke 4:41)

Jesus preaches of loving God above all, of having faith, of avoiding sin, of forgiving enemies, of setting aside self, of giving, of acceptance of others, of freedom from worry and oppression, of God’s favor. Simultaneously, Jesus forgives and heals. Jesus does not preach of Himself; rather He points people to the kingdom of God. He proclaims, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Luke 4:8) And, He reminds, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all things are provided for you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus preaches the Word of God to the crowds pressing in to hear. Later, with a huge catch of fish amazing Simon Peter so that he falls at the Lord’s feet, Jesus tells him, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching people!” (Luke 5:10)

Jesus catches people for the kingdom of God. For this purpose, He comes to earth.

“No One Will Say” ( Luke 17: 20-21, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

The Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God is going to appear. Jesus tells them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable.”

“The kingdom of God is not coming with something observable” — really?

So many people today talk about Jesus’ return, of His appearing in the clouds, of the disappearance of presumably millions of Christians in an instant flash. Sounds observable to me! Sounds like people are going to say, “‘Look here!’ or ‘there!'”

But Jesus says, “You see, the kingdom of God is among you.”

The Pharisees do not see, but think they do. Therefore, they remain blind. The disciples listen. Jesus tells them they are going to “long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but won’t see it.” (Luke 17:22) He warns them not “to follow or run after” false messiahs just because people get excited and say, “Look here!” (Luke 17:23) Rather, the kingdom of God is within them, and within us.

Jesus says, “The man in the field must not turn back.” (Luke 17:31)

“We’re Going To Die!” ( Luke 8: 24, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

Jesus sleeps through a windstorm, even one in which the waves threaten to swamp the boat. Both Jesus and His disciples are in real danger of drowning in the lake. In panic, Jesus’ disciples wake Him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to die!” (Luke 8:24, HCSB)

Jesus stands up, “rebukes the wind and the raging waves” so that a calm falls over the lake. (Luke 8:24) Jesus turns, looking at the disciples, wet and sheepish I am certain. He says to them, “Where is your faith?” They don’t know who He is which is why “they are fearful and amazed.” (Luke 8:25)

Jesus, in complete trust in His Father, sleeps during the storm. The disciples, not recognizing the Son of God who sleeps in the boat with them, are terrified, certain of their impending deaths. Jesus is simply resting after a long day with the crowds; He is crossing to the other side of the lake. The disciples are simply afraid. “We’re going to die!” they say to the Son of God. And He asks, “Where is your faith?”

Our faith, even faith as tiny as a mustard seed, is enough that we also can rest through the windstorm and the raging waves; even enough that we can calm them with a word.

“Because They Suffer” ( Luke 13: 2, ESV ) by Carley Evans

Jesus warns that those who suffer are not worse sinners than others. He uses the example of eighteen who are killed when the tower in Siloam falls on them. He says these are not “worse offenders than all the others who live in Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:4) Then Jesus twice tells us that “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)

Sin is sin, says Jesus. We all alike are sheep gone astray, and unless we repent and rely upon the sacrifice of Jesus, we die in our sin.

A woman is caught in adultery, and the Pharisees bring her to Jesus for judgment. The Pharisees challenge the Lord to follow the Law of Moses, which calls for the woman to be stoned to death. They rhetorically ask,”So what do You say?” (John 8:5) Jesus writes in the dirt. When He stands, He says to the Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) He writes in the dirt again. One by one, the Pharisees walk away, “beginning with the older ones” until Jesus and the woman are alone. (John 8:9) Jesus stands up, looks at the woman and asks her where her accusers have gone. He wants to know if anyone is left to accuse her. And she says, “No one, Lord.” (John 8:11)

Jesus tells her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)

Repent, or perish; sin is sin; all alike are gone astray. And, Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.” I can hear Him say, “Why would I condemn you? I came here to earth to save you, not to judge you. My blood covers your sin. You suffer, but not any more than anyone else. Come; turn and follow Me.”

“What Credit Is That To You?” ( Luke 6: 33, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Often I think the Christian walk requires us to have a willingness to be taken advantage of by others — a meekness that would give the thief our shoes as well as the cloak he has stolen from us; a gentleness that would allow the bully to strike us a second time rather than hit him back.

Jesus is the Lamb of God quietly taken to slaughter — a slaughter resulting in our redemption. Jesus definitely allows Himself to be taken advantage of by others.

Jesus tells us, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them, without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” (Luke 6:35)

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.” (Luke 6:32) Rather, “be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

We are called to be merciful to those who do not deserve our mercy, just as God is merciful to us — we who do not deserve His mercy. “For if [we] forgive men when they sin against [us], [our] Heavenly Father will also forgive [us]. But if [we] do not forgive men their sins, [our] Father will not forgive [our] sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)

“Mary’s Praise” ( Luke 1: 46, HCSB ) by Carley Evans

Mary, the mother of Jesus, says: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” In her praise of God, Mary mentions or references the Lord a total of seventeen times. She mentions or references herself only six times. In the mention of herself, she speaks of her “soul” and her “spirit,” her “humble condition;” and that “from now on” she will be called “blessed” by “all generations.” (Luke 1:46,47,48) She also refers to herself as “[God’s] slave.”

In speaking of God, Mary refers to her Lord as “great,” “Mighty,” “holy.” She delineates God’s accomplishments: “He has looked with favor” on her. He “has done great things for” her. He has been merciful “from generation to generation.” “He has scattered the proud” and “toppled the mighty” while “exalting the lowly.” “He has satisfied the hungry with good things.” “He has helped.” (Luke 1: 48-54)

Of herself, Mary only acknowledges that she is God’s slave; and that because of His favor and mercy, she will be called blessed. Mary takes no credit for this, giving all the glory back to God — the only One to whom it belongs.

“I Do Believe; Help Me Overcome My Unbelief!” ( Mark 9: 24, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 7:22pm

Jesus’ disciples are unable to heal a boy “who is possessed by a spirit that robs him of speech,” throwing him on the ground, rigid and foaming at the mouth. (Mark 9:17) Jesus is perturbed at His disciples and at the present “unbelieving generation.” (Mark 9:19) He says, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Mark 9:19)


The boy’s father says to Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22)


Jesus repeats the man’s words, ” ‘If you can’? ” Then tells him, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)


The boy’s father does not hesitate, but exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


Jesus immediately commands the “deaf and mute spirit” to come out of the boy; it does. (Mark 9:25)


Look to Jesus for help, help even with your unbelief, your doubts, fears, worries. For “everything is possible” with God. Jesus says it Himself. There is no question Jesus can do something, can help. He is able to help the man overcome disbelief. He is able to drive out our doubt. We need only ask.