Nameless: 4 Friends on a Roof

Jesus’ reputation was getting huge! He’d grown too large for the coffee shop scene and even the small venue circuit (Mark 1:45). He needed arenas for His teaching and healing times, but you don’t see many of those in first-century backwaters of the Roman Empire—especially not ones available to an itinerant Jewish teacher. Sometimes word got out that Jesus was in someone’s home. These unintentional public appearances always overflowed their spaces. People crowded into the main room, leaned in the windows, and blocked the doors—all just to get close to Jesus.

That’s the situation four friends found when they brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Continue reading

Peter’s Bad Aim

Peter was a fisherman, not a swordsman. I’m sure Malchus, servant of the High Priest, was glad about that fact when Peter’s sword swung toward his head. Or maybe later, when his ear was healed, and he’d had time to think about it, he realized Peter probably wasn’t actually aiming for his ear.

John 18:1-14. Continue reading

Who God Shows Up For

A Canaanite woman came to Jesus, asking that her daughter be healed. After a somewhat peculiar exchange of words, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment” (Matthew 15:28).

This Canaanite woman had great faith.

An influential Roman centurion in Capernaum requested that Jesus heal his beloved servant, but he knew Jesus didn’t have to be present to do a miracle. “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel’” (Luke 7:9). The servant was healed by the time the centurion’s representatives got home.

This Roman centurion had amazing faith.

And yet Peter—oh, Peter—who witnessed these and many other exchanges between Jesus and various Gentiles, didn’t catch that Jesus came for all peoples. He was so acclimated to his privilege (as one of God’s chosen people) that he couldn’t move beyond it without a specific, individualized vision from the Lord. Continue reading

The Ten Days Between: Betrayal and Belonging

The remaining eleven must have felt betrayed. Judas had walked alongside the disciples, slept on the ground near them, shared big bowls of soup with them, and so much more. Then he turned his back on them—not just on Jesus and the other eleven, but on the 120 who had followed Jesus for most of the last three years. He betrayed them all.

How long had Judas deceived them? How long had he plotted, snuck off, smiled through his hate? (That scene where Mary anoints Jesus’ feet comes to mind.) Not only was Jesus gone, but this band of brothers had a missing link…a powder keg in their midst that had exploded, almost destroying them all. Continue reading

Not Your Dad’s Fishing Trip

Jesus had told them to go to Galilee. Just after He rose from the tomb, Jesus instructed the faithful women, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10). It took them awhile to get there. Even a week later, they were still meeting in the house where He had first appeared (John 20:26).

Eventually, the disciples trekked to Galilee, just as Jesus had told them to do. But Jesus didn’t tell them what to do when they got there.

John 21:1-14. Continue reading

Juxtaposition

A wealthy, powerful Roman military man in a large city (Capernaum) and a poor, helpless Jewish widow outside a small town (Nain). What could these two have in common? Luke 7

An influential synagogue leader with everything to lose and a broken woman who had already lost everything. How could they share a story? Luke 8

A ritually pure home where Pharisees gathered and the home of a wealthy but despised tax collector where prostitutes and other sinners found a seat. How could the same man be comfortable in both? Luke 5 Continue reading

Summer Review: Peter

We’re moving this week, and I just can’t settle my mind enough to write. I keep thinking of what to pack next or what needs cleaned at our new place. Plus, last week’s post about Peter is still on my mind. So I’ve gone back in the archives and cleaned up a few other posts about Peter to share with you today. I hope you find something you haven’t read previously or something the Lord wants to use in your life right now. Choose one–or all!–to read. Continue reading

Fishers of Men: The Story Behind the Story

We open the New Testament and start reading in Matthew. Okay, we skip the geneaology (but we shouldn’t!) After everything surrounding Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1-2), He’s suddenly a grown-up, and His cousin John is out in the wilderness preaching (Matthew 3). Jesus gets baptized by John, then He’s tested by Satan. Right after the testing, he starts preaching, and then, toward the end of Matthew 4, Jesus calls Simon (a.k.a. Peter), Andrew, James, and John to leave their fishing nets and follow Him (Matthew 4:18-22).

Pastors love this story. It looks like these two sets of brothers meet Jesus and just turn their lives upside down without a second thought, walking away like something from the Pied Piper. But that’s not the case. In fact, they had known Jesus for at least a few months. They had already seen Him in action and even talked to Him. Walk through this with me… Continue reading