Jesus was performing amazing miracles! He cast out a legion of demons from a demoniac; a woman was instantly healed of a hemorrhage that had plagued her for years; a twelve-year-old girl, the daughter of a Jewish ruler, was raised from the dead. Whenever Jesus performed such mighty works, he told those he delivered, “Your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 7:50; 8:48; 17:19; and 18:42).
Jesus had lived for the first thirty years of his life in Nazareth and he went back to be among his own people. But in his hometown, he was met with the worst kind of unbelief. They all knew of Jesus’ great works, yet to them, such things happened elsewhere —in other cities, other places, other communities — not in Nazareth.
Elsewhere, people were rejoicing because of Jesus’ wonder-working power and there was great excitement. But the people of Nazareth could not receive for themselves. Why? Because they were spiritually dead. True, they were sincerely religious, and they knew Jesus and his family as good people. But they would not acknowledge Christ as God in flesh.
Beloved, this is the tragedy of many Christians today, as well as many churches. They hear of great moves of God elsewhere, with many mighty works being done and multitudes experiencing deliverance. But no one asks, “Why not here? Why not now?”
An entire generation of evangelicals has grown up acknowledging Jesus the man but they don’t acknowledge Christ as God here, God now in their own lives. Scripture tells us the Lord is no respecter of persons and he desires to do for anyone the same great works he does “elsewhere.” Yet, wherever faith wavers, God’s hands are tied: “[Jesus] could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:5).
Make no mistake: God’s power was readily available in Nazareth. Jesus stood in their midst, full of might and power, wanting to deliver, heal, revive and do mighty works. But, he declared, “I can’t work here.” Why? Because of their unbelief (see 6:6). Jesus was shocked at his own people, but he moved on.
The Lord chooses not to respond to unbelief. But the Lord is loving, full of mercy, and anxious to help you in your time of need. So just say to him, “Lord, I see what you have done in the lives of others so do it here also, not just elsewhere.”
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (145:8-9).
If asked if you are a merciful person, you would probably answer, “I think I am merciful. To the best of my ability, I sympathize with those who suffer. I try to help others and when people hurt me, I forgive them and don’t hold a grudge.”
All true Christians have a good measure of mercy for the lost and hurting, certainly, and that’s something to be thankful for. But the sad truth is, there are biases in our hearts running like deep rivers, and over the years they have carved out borders of prejudice.
From what Scripture says, we know that our Savior would never turn down the desperate cry of a prostitute, a homosexual, a drug addict or an alcoholic who has hit rock bottom. Christ’s mercies are unlimited: there is no end to them. Therefore, as his church — Christ’s representative body on the earth — we cannot cut off anyone who cries out for mercy and deliverance.
All over the world, God’s people are experiencing suffering, afflictions and torture more than ever in their lifetime. And there is a divine, eternal purpose in the intensity of these spiritual and physical battles now being endured in the true body of Christ. “His tender mercies over all His works.”
Jesus never established vengeful, hate-filled armies; he used no carnal weapons. Instead, he pulled down strongholds by his mighty lovingkindness. Our Lord has but one battle plan: tender, merciful love. Indeed, love drives all his works on earth. He is the full expression of God’s love: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
The darker the days become, the more the world is going to need consolation, hope and love. People will need to see that others have been in the battle of their lives and were brought through. We need to be able to say, “I have proven the Christ I serve to be merciful and kind. He has loved me through everything, and his love and mercy can be yours, as well.”
No matter how hopeless things seem, he has tender mercies for you, to bring you through.
“The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).
The queen of Sheba was greatly troubled in her soul by all the big questions of life — about God, the future, death — and she longed for answers. Yet no amount of wealth, fame or counsel could answer her soul’s cries. And then she heard of King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived.
“Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions … she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her” (1 Kings 10:1).
Getting to Solomon was not an easy task for the queen, as she and her caravan traveled through a hot desert for up to seventy-five days to reach him — a long, difficult journey. Yet nothing could stop the queen from gaining an audience with Solomon. And she was not disappointed! Solomon answered her questions with awesome, illuminating truths.
Here in Matthew the Lord is saying to us, “If you profess to be a follower of mine, do you seek for wisdom as passionately as the queen sought Solomon’s wisdom? I am right here with you to answer all your questions and fulfill all your longings!”
The queen might say to us, “I saw and heard the wisdom of a man who lived in my time and his words changed my life. But the time came when I had to leave his presence. But not for you! You have One who lives in your midst who is infinitely greater than Solomon. You have access to all his wisdom, his righteousness and holiness.”
When was the last time you had an awe-inspiring experience with Jesus? When were you so enthralled by his peace-giving wisdom that it took your breath away? When did you last say, “Nothing I’ve been taught about Christ prepared me for this experience with him. He has solved my doubts and brought me utter joy”?
Christ wants to reveal himself to those who pursue him at any cost and hunger for God’s Word.
In John 14, Jesus tells us it is time for us to know our heavenly position in him. He explained to the disciples, “Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father; and you are in Me, and I in you” (John 14:29-20). We are now living in “that day” Jesus speaks of. In short, we are to understand our heavenly position in Christ.
Most of us do know our position in Christ — that we are seated with him in heavenly places — but only as a theological fact. We don’t know it in experience. What do I mean by this expression, “our position in Christ”? Very simply, position is “where one is placed, where one is.” God has placed us where we are, which is in Christ.
In turn, Christ is in the Father, seated at his right hand. Therefore, if we’re in Christ, then we’re actually seated with Jesus in the throne room, where he is. That means we’re sitting in the presence of the Almighty. This is what Paul refers to when he says we’re made to “sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).
The moment you place your trust in Christ, you’re taken into him by faith. God acknowledges you in his Son, seating you with him in the heavenlies. This is not merely some theological point, but a factual position. So now, as you surrender your will to the Lord’s, you are able to claim all the spiritual blessings that come with your position.
Of course, being “in Christ” doesn’t mean you leave this earth. You can’t manufacture some emotion or feel that takes you up into a literal heaven. No, heaven has come down to you. Christ the Son and God the Father came into your heart and made their abode there: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).
Leave your sins and worldly pursuits behind and “lay aside every fleshly weight that so easily besets you.” Go inside and take your position in Christ. He has called you to enter into the joy of your acceptance. So, when you wake up tomorrow, shout, “Hallelujah! I’m accepted by God and my heart abounds with thanksgiving and joy.”
Although we can be free from condemnation, we will never be totally free from mental battles. As Paul points out, this is just the nature of the spiritual world we move in. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
As we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, eventually his promises become stronger in our minds than any message the enemy sends. His authoritative Word breaks the chains of fear, doubt, and unbelief that hinder us. “For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Here is yet another aspect of God’s presence in us: having the mind of Christ. No matter what mental battles we face, our stance is always one of victory, because we live and move in God’s presence. Even on our worst days we are held together, propped up, and put at peace by the life and mind of Christ within us. Yet breaking chains is only the beginning of Jesus’ work in us. The more time we spend with him, the more he prepares us to do his works: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
To do the works of Jesus, we have to live the life of Jesus. That may sound like heresy to you, but as John instructs, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). If we don’t carry Christ’s presence in our daily lives, we simply don’t have the right to do his works. Why? Because those works are born in his presence. Jesus said even of himself, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do” (John 5:19).
Intimacy with him is the beginning of our empowerment to do his works on earth. We simply cannot move forward in those works without it. I urge you to meet your Savior in prayer. Remind yourself of his amazing promises through his Word and know that he is faithful to guide you by his Spirit’s presence. Make that your first step in doing the works of Jesus: to know him intimately. It’s a work you can start today!