He Walks Among His Lampstands – Part 2
(Luke 4:14-30, 7:36-50, 11:37-53, Luke 14:1-14, Eph. 2:21-22)
We began to discuss the Lord visiting and speaking to His churches with reference to the visions of John’s Revelation. However as He walked this earth as the son of man, we can also see how He comes to speak to us in our gatherings, even in our houses.
The Gospels record that it was Jesus’ habit to go into the synagogues on the Sabbath. Following the time of the law and prophets, local synagogues were the places those who were descended from Israel would gather to be taught. The trained teachers would read and expound upon the scriptures. In keeping with their understanding, a naturally mature man (30 years old) having been taught, could go to the front, to the place of authority, and expound on a passage from the law and prophets (Old Testament). The day came in Nazareth when Jesus opened to Isaiah and read that passage which begins, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. . . “. He declared His mission to set many free. He then rebuked them as a prophet would and they all, who had previously been in awe and accepting, were angry with Him and wanted to kill Him. It was not His time to die. Read Luke 4:14 and following.
I have heard some compare our local weekly gathering, typically the Sunday service, as like the synagogue. I understand that comparison. Jesus continued to move through the land of Israel and preach and teach in their synagogues. Initially, many were receiving Him and following. He was healing the sick as He came out of His place of testing in the power of the Spirit. At first they were open to His words. He had their focused attention and when He finished they wanted to kill Him. Why? As we ponder these passages we see He was saying He did not belong to them as something to be used. He spoke as a prophet.
We know the stories of resistance in other synagogue situations as the Lord Jesus moved through His ministry. I see His purpose was to expose men’s hearts so they might repent. Surely this is critical for each of us today. The cross of Christ is the place, the very the moment in human history, where God crushed the serpent’s head and offered man a way to escape the fear of death. (Heb. 2:15). We must receive His resurrected life to walk and grow in that gift of submissive, obedient life that is Christ’s. We must allow the process of His exposure of our hearts. It is ugly every time and I don’t like it but I know I cannot live without it. He loves us and is relentless to rid us of those attitudes and self-love that hinder the flow of His life.
Clearly He brought a sword to His own hometown. From there He moved on and continued teaching in the synagogues. As time went on the envy of the Pharisees increased. It was evident that their religious class had become the gatekeepers of the synagogues. Jesus was so stirring the status quo that envy and hatred and murder were being stirred wherever He went. Healing on the Sabbath, not washing before eating, and other acts of His frustrated the religious. He confronted and exposed all the ceremonial, dead requirements that the Pharisees had added to the law.
We also read of His visits to Pharisees homes. He was invited to come for a meal and entered the home. Before He left He would address the most important issues of the heart. Judging by reactions in other situations, His words were not always well received. We all need to ask for grace and a willing, open spirit, to receive the corrections He would bring. May I share what I consider a few powerful, personal prayers:
- Search me and know me. Expose any wrong way within me.
- Speak to me what I need to hear, whether encouragement or correction.
- I invite you in to clean my heart so it is a fit and welcome place for you.
We have written much about correction, about the Lord Jesus addressing those religious ways among His people. Not every situation was so. Bright spots are recorded and we think the brightest was Bethany. The home of Mary, Martha , and Lazarus was a welcome place for Him. They loved His visits and He loved them. I love them that love me is written for us to consider. We often consider the story of Martha’s complaint as Mary sat listening to the Teacher. Even here was some measure of conflict which the Lord quickly resolved. Wouldn’t that be wonderful within our churches and fellowships today? Martha did not go on and on complaining. She heard what He said and went back to what she was doing. Submissive, humble people maintain the unity of the Spirit. That is most important for us but also look at the larger picture. Their house was a place where He returned. He was welcome and wanted to spend time with them.
In this same way, He is working in us to build us together into a dwelling place for God by His Spirit. As we honor one another as ones belonging to Him, and as we learn to prefer one another, we live in true peace and righteousness. We become a place He not only visits, but remains. We become a people where His glory is seen. Let us have this mind in us that we exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and so honor Him that we become such a people. It is my prayer and desire for a place He would dwell in, remain and then work to express His fulness. Then the Lamb of God will receive the reward of His suffering and be satisfied.