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Worship Message - "Conversations With Jesus #1"

​Conversations With Jesus - #1

In a recent Bible study, I was reminded of the number of conversations Jesus had during His ministry. For the next few weeks, beginning today, we will be considering some of those conversations, in which Jesus’ power, love, and compassion are displayed. And, in the first of five conversations to be highlighted in this message, a display of Jesus’ awareness of who He was - and is - along with His devotion to His role or purpose.

There are five conversations for today. Four of them happened during the first part of Jesus’ ministry, but the first one for today comes from 18 years before His ministry began. A conversation between Jesus and Mary and Joseph when Jesus was 12 years old.

To set the stage for today’s first conversation, remember that when Jesus was two years old, Joseph took Him from Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born, to Egypt, that being done to protect Jesus from a murder spree ordered by King Herod. Herod wanted to kill Jesus, identified as a rival to Herod’s authority. God had told Joseph to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt so Jesus would be safe.

Sometime after arriving in Egypt, God told Joseph it was OK for him and his family to return to the land of the Jews, but to go back to where he had been before Jesus’ birth. To the northern town of Nazareth. It was in Nazareth Jesus grew up.

According to Luke 2:40, as Jesus grew, He became strong, both physically and in wisdom, and the favor of God was upon Him.

Then, at the age of 12, Jesus did what was common for boys of that age to do, which was to travel with His family to the capital city of Jerusalem to celebrate the religious holiday of Passover. Mary and Joseph had been going for the celebration every year. At age 12, it was Jesus’ time to join them in the journey to Jerusalem.

The celebration was a week-long affair. At the end of the week, it was time for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph to make their way back to Nazareth, which Mary and Joseph and others heading north from Jerusalem did.

It was common for the women to leave first each day, going to where the night’s stop was to be. They left first because they usually traveled slower than the men, part of that caused by some child care needing to be done along the way.
    
The men started later, them joining the women and the children at the end of each day.

The problem that came about centered on Jesus’ age. Since He was 12, He could have walked with the men, which I am sure most 12-year-old boys would have wanted to do. However, it was allowable for 12-year-old boys to still travel with their mothers.

So it was that Mary was not concerned when she did not see Jesus in her crowd. She thought her son must have chosen to be with the men. And when Joseph did not see Jesus, he gave no thought to Jesus’ absence. He thought Jesus must have opted to leave earlier with Mary.
    
Neither Joseph nor Mary were concerned until the first evening, when the men’s group joined the women’s group. It was then they noticed Jesus was not with either of them. “I thought He was with you.” “I thought He was with you.”
    
Joseph and Mary started checking around the total group of travelers. They did not find Jesus. No one seemed to know anything about Him. Jesus was gone. He was missing.

Can we imagine the terror in the hearts of Mary and Joseph? Having a missing child is terrifying to begin with, but remember Mary and Joseph both knew who Jesus was - the Son of the Most High, the Savior, the Christ, the Lord. They had been given the responsibility of caring for and raising the Messiah - God had given them that responsibility - and Jesus was missing.

In their great concern, Joseph and Mary retraced their steps. They returned to Jerusalem.

They no doubt looked for Jesus along the way. At least for some trace of Him in case He had been attacked by a wild animal. No luck along the way.

Then, back in Jerusalem, they continued their search, looking around and asking questions, trying to get some information about where Jesus might be.

For three days their search continued. For three days they worried that Jesus might have been kidnapped for some reason or that somehow the order a decade earlier from King Herod to kill Jesus had finally been carried out.

Mary and Joseph searched, but for three days, there were no signs of Jesus. Then, at the end of the third day, there He was. In the Temple. Sitting among the religious teachers. Listening to the teachers. And what was it Mary and Joseph were hearing? He was asking them questions. And He was answering their questions.
    
And what else did Mary and Joseph see? All the people - teachers and learners alike - were visibly amazed at Jesus’ spiritual understanding and His answers.

Upon seeing Mary and Joseph, Jesus left the teaching session. He talked to Mary and Joseph.

Actually, it was Mary who started the conversation, kind of chiding Jesus, with a mix of relief and correction. “Son, why have you treated us so?” Mary asked. “Behold, Your father and I have been scared as we have searched for You. Why did You do what You did in not being with us?”

Jesus’ response? His part of the first conversation to be discussed today? “How is it that you sought Me? Why did you need to search?” Jesus asked. “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?”

That was a very short conversation, but one with lots of meaning. The meaning being that Jesus knew who He was. That He had been sent by God to be the Savior, the Christ, the Lord.
 
Of course He had feelings for Mary and Joseph. Being a good, loving son was part of His being filled with wisdom.

That good, respectful behavior was going to continue, but He had a greater purpose. A greater responsibility. Which was to do His Heavenly Father’s work. God’s work. That day, Jesus needed to be in the Temple. That is where He was, probably for all the days of the search for Him. His main goal was to do the work of God. That is what Jesus’ conversation with Mary and Joseph pointed out.

I am intrigued by the report that Mary and Joseph did not understand what Jesus said. That is intriguing because they both did know who He was spiritually. They had been told that information by angels and shepherds before and right after Jesus’ birth. They had been told that by Wise Men who had visited when Jesus was two years old. Between those times, a religious leader and a devout woman had each confirmed who Jesus is and what His purpose was.

Mary and Joseph should have understood Jesus’ words. But maybe they were just so relieved they did not make the effort to understand.

Then, Jesus went with Mary and Joseph from the Temple back to Nazareth. Throughout the rest of His growing up years, He was obedient to Mary and Joseph. Through those years Jesus increased in stature and in favor with God and with people.

Then, at age 30, Jesus’ ministry began.  

We know that started with Him being baptized, after which He was led by the Holy Spirit into a wilderness, in which He fasted for 40 days before being tempted by Satan three times. Each of those times, Jesus survived, once again proving His devotion to doing the work of His Heavenly Father.

It was shortly after that Jesus began to select disciples, which was a process that features four conversations for today.

Matthew 4:18-20. Shortly after the time in the wilderness - shortly after Jesus began preaching - He one day walked along the Sea of Galilee. As He walked that day, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and Andrew. They were fishermen. As Jesus walked by, they were casting a net into the the Sea. Jesus stopped and said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

That was also a pretty short conversation. In fact, it may have been a one-sided conversation. At least there is no record of any verbal response from Peter and Andrew. No questions like, “You talking to us?” or “Follow You where?” or “Fishers of men, what is that supposed to mean?”

Peter and Andrew may not have answered verbally, but they answered by their actions. Immediately they left their nets and followed Jesus.

Remember the comment earlier that some of the conversations we will be considering will display Jesus’ power? Here is an example of that.Jesus spoke, and immediately the first two of Jesus’ disciples answered His call to join Him. They did not take time to take care of any fish caught in the net. They did not take time to secure the net for possible use later. They apparently gave no thought to being concerned about walking away from their livelihood. They immediately left their nets and went with Jesus.

What power Jesus had, even in His call to join Him. Power shown again in verses 20 and 21.

Going on from where Peter and Andrew joined Him, Jesus saw two other brothers, James and John. They were with their father in the family fishing boat. The three were mending their nets when Jesus also called them to follow Him.

Immediately, James and John left. They left the boat and their father, again with apparently no questions like, “You talking to us?” or “Follow You where?” No questions like, “Should we ask our father first?” or “How we are supposed to make a living if we leave?”

Immediately,  James and John  made the decision to join Peter and Andrew in following Jesus. They left the boat and their father and followed Jesus. Again, what power was evident in Jesus’ conversations with the first of His disciples.

Then there was a conversation with another who would become a disciple, that one named Nathanael, who is told about in chapter 1 of John, beginning with verse 45.

Right before this conversation, a man named Philip, who was from the same town as Peter and Andrew, was met by Jesus. Jesus also called him to follow, which Philip decided to do.

The first thing Philip did was find Nathanael, I assume a friend, who was sitting under a fig tree, and announce to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote. We have found Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. The one about whom it has been declared has come to be the Savior.”

Nathanael’s response is interesting. He said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Such a question makes sense. Nazareth was a small town in the disrespected northern part of the Jewish homeland. What Nathanael asked was the common feeling throughout the land.

But listen to Philip’s challenge. “Come and see.” What an interesting challenge. Not a demand that Nathanael believe in Jesus. More a suggestion. “Come and see. If you disagree with my assessment, fine, but if you agree, great. Just come and see for yourself.”

Nathanael went with Philip. As they drew near to Jesus, Jesus said of Nathanael, loudly enough for Nathanael to hear, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”

I am sure Nathanael agreed with Jesus’ assessment. Guile means crafty deception, trickery, fraud. At the least, Nathanael no doubt tried to avoid guile. He might have felt good being described has having no guile in him.

But wait. “How do You know me?” he asked. “Jesus, have we ever met? If so, I don’t remember. If not, how do You know anything about me?”

Jesus responded with these words. “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”

What does that mean?

It could mean Jesus saw Nathanael before Nathanael saw Him, which might be evidence of Jesus being able to see everything and everyone.
    
But being under fig trees was a sign back then of peace. Of peaceful times of prayer and meditation. Times when people often looked forward to the coming Messiah.

Jesus’ words might have been a claim of not only knowing where Nathanael was and what he prayed about, but that He - Jesus - was the answer to prayers for the Messiah.

Jesus let Nathanael know He knew him. That He knew where Nathanael was and what Nathanael’s prayers were. That part of the conversation was for the purpose of inviting Nathanael to also follow Jesus.

Which Nathanael did, the first part of which was him proclaiming who he knew Jesus to be, Nathanael called Jesus “Rabbi.” That was a title of respect given to great teachers, which was quite a statement since Nathanael had not yet heard Jesus teach. Apparently he just knew Jesus was worthy of being called Rabbi. He identified Jesus as the Son of God and as the King of Israel, that last part meaning Jesus was the Messiah for whom Nathanael had just been praying.

One more part of this conversation. Jesus asked, “Do you believe just because I said I saw you under the fig tree? I tell you what. You shall see even greater things as you follow Me.”

That, too, did happen for Nathanael and the other disciples of Jesus. Greater things like healings and other miracles. Greater things like presenting challenging teachings and giving good answers to difficult questions. Greater things like Him dying for our sins, then being resurrected, then returning to Heaven.

*       *       *

Jesus knew His purpose, which was to do the work of God. That was clear in His conversation with Mary and Joseph when Jesus was 12 years old.

Eighteen years later, Jesus had conversations with Peter and Andrew and James and John. Powerful conversations in which He simply called them to follow Him, and they did, doing so immediately, giving up their livelihoods.

Jesus then had a conversation with Nathanael, in which He proved His knowledge of people, including where they are and what we think about. The result of that conversation was another disciple. For Nathanael, the result was the opportunity to see the greatness of Jesus over and over and over again.

Concerning becoming a follower of Jesus, one more conversation for today, this one in Luke 7, beginning with verse 18, where John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus with an interesting question. Was Jesus the predicted Savior, or should the wait for that one continue?

I find it interesting that John wondered about that. I mean, just before this - just before Jesus began His ministry - John had been announcing the coming of the Savior. Then John was asked to baptize Jesus. At that moment, John recognized Jesus as divine. Right after the baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. John had to have seen that.
    
Why did John not know Jesus was the Savior? He seemed to have known that before.

Maybe it was that Jesus had not yet made much of a public, verbal claim to be the Savior. Maybe John simply wanted some confirmation of who Jesus was.

The two disciples of John went to Jesus. How did Jesus respond to John’s question? Not by making a public, verbal claim of His power, but rather by pointing to the things He had already done in His ministry.

Jesus would do much more of each of these things, which would continue to prove His power, love, compassion, and dedication to His purpose, but Jesus said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard. The blind receive their sight. The lame walk. Lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised up. The poor have good news preached to them.”

*       *       *

For today, five conversations Jesus had with people. As we will also do at least most of the next few weeks, let’s think what we can learn from those conversations.

From the one Jesus had with Mary and Joseph, we can know Jesus was aware of who He was and is, and that He was and is determined to follow His purpose, which was and is to do the will of God. That is how steady Jesus was and is. Which means we can rely on Him, no matter what. Will we rely on Him?

From the conversations with His first four disciples, we can see the proper response to Jesus when He calls people to follow Him, which is to obey Him, doing so right away. I am struck that the first four disciples apparently gave no thought to how they were to support themselves. They must have trusted Jesus for that. The result? They became fishers of men. They had opportunities to attract others to the Lord. Will I follow Jesus that way? Will we? If we will obey Him, think of the opportunities we will have.

From the conversation with Nathanael, we can learn that Jesus knows people very well, including where we are and our thoughts and our prayers. What proof that He is the greatest teacher, the Son of God, the king we need.

And from the conversation with the disciples of John, we can be reminded of Jesus’ miracles, including His healing power and His great preaching. What more proof would anyone need that Jesus is God? That He is the Savior? What more do we need to say about Him to others?

*       *       *

Conversations with Jesus. As we converse with Him this week, may we proclaim to Him who He is. If we are His followers, may we thank Him for His call to us and thank Him for leading us to accepting Him as our Savior. May we admire Him for knowing us so well. May we ask for His strength and courage to tell others about His miracles. Let’s have wonderful conversations with Jesus.

Today’s closing song is a reading based on the hymn Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult.

Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea.
Day by day we hear Him saying, “Christian, come and follow Me.”

As, of old, the disciples heard it by the Galilean lake,
turned from home and work and leisure, leaving all for His dear sake.

In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil and hours of ease,
still He calls us in our cares and pleasures, “Christian, love Me more than these.”

Jesus, You call us. By Your mercies, may we hear You.
And not only hear. May we give our hearts to answer You and obey You.
May we serve You and love You best of all.

Lord, please help us to proclaim who You are. Help us to thank You for who You are. Thank You for knowing us and calling us. Help us to serve You and love You in ways that will honor You. Amen.

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