A Heart Set On Fire By the Witness of Jesus

Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-five verses of the first chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the beginning of a second account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ written and recorded by one who did not walk with Jesus while He was on the earth. The previous gospel which was written by John Mark was the first gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ which was written by one who did not physically walk with Jesus the Christ. When you read and study the New Testament gospels of Luke and Mark you will find that not only did they not physically walk with Jesus the Christ, but they were also both Gentiles. Please note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Gentile and writing a gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, for it directly speaks to the awesome and tremendous reality of the spread of Christianity and the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ beyond Jerusalem and Judaea. I have to admit that I absolutely love the fact that Luke set forth to write a gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ for it wonderfully and powerfully demonstrated the wonderful and amazing spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the apostles of Christ, as well as the church of Jesus Christ which spread beyond the borders and boundaries of Jerusalem and Judaea. What’s more, is that Luke didn’t merely write one treatise and one account within the New Testament, for as you continue reading the New Testament you will find that he also wrote the book of Acts. This is actually quite interesting and intriguing for on the one hand Luke set forth to write an account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, while on the other hand he set out to write an account of the life and ministry of the church. On the one hand we find Luke setting forth to write an account of the ministry of the physical Christ while He walked upon the earth, but on the other hand you will find him writing an account of the ministry of the spiritual body of Christ as it was present and manifested upon the earth after He ascended unto the right hand of the Father.

As you read this New Testament gospel you will find that Luke set forth to write a thorough and detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and only the gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew was longer. This New Testament gospel and treatise of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is a full twenty-four chapters compared to twenty-eight chapters in the gospel written by Matthew and the twenty-one chapters which were found in the gospel of John. What is so incredibly interesting and intriguing about this gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that it was written based on several eyewitness accounts of those who walked with Jesus, as well as those who heard and beheld Him. Perhaps one of the most challenging concepts which I find surrounding setting forth to write a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is what it was like to write about such a life. What was it like to write about such a man and such a ministry? What was it like to sit and listen to others as they described their encounter with Jesus the Christ as He walked upon the earth? What was it like to walk with those who not only experienced the ministry of Jesus the Christ, but were actually healed by Him when He walked among them in the flesh? What was it like to hear testimony after testimony concerning Jesus the Christ knowing that you personally did not walk with Him, not experience Him when He walked upon the earth? What was it like to sit and listen to others as they recounted their experience with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—some with great joy and excitement in their hearts and souls, and others with tears streaming down their face? I can’t help but wonder what it was like for this beloved physician to interact with a number of men and women who themselves had experienced and encountered the person of Jesus the Christ. I can’t help but wonder what it was like to listen as others described how their lives were dramatically changed and altered by the living Christ as He walked and dwelt among them in the flesh. How absolutely incredibly intriguing and captivating it must have been to listen to the stories of those who not only encountered Jesus the Christ, but also as their lives were dramatically changed, altered and transformed by the power of one life which walked in complete obedience to the will of the Father. How absolutely incredible it must have been for Luke to sit and listen to the encounters others had with Jesus and to record their stories upon parchment in order to get a better understanding of just who this Jesus Christ truly was.

The more I sit here and consider the account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke I can’t help but be reminded of the words which were written by the apostle John in the first epistle which he wrote unto the church at Ephesus, as well as the words which were written by the apostle Peter in the second epistle which was written unto those who were scattered abroad throughout the earth. Both passages and both accounts bring us face to face with the tremendous reality of testimony and witness as both men spoke from a place of personal experience, from a place of personal revelation, and from a place of personal manifestation. Both men wrote in great detail concerning their account with Jesus the Christ, as they personally walked with and followed Jesus for three and a half years. I have to admit that I absolutely love the accounts of these two men, for they were written not as some bystander, but as an account of one who actually walked with and one who actually talked with Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which are found within these two passages, which are found in the first chapter of both New Testament epistles:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard and declare we unto you, that ye may also have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:1-4).

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I t hint it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We also have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:12-21).

Each of these passages brings us face to face with one incredible truth and one incredible reality—namely, the power of experience with Jesus the Christ, and the power of of one who actually walked with Jesus the Christ as He Himself walked upon the earth. WALKING WITH JESUS THE CHRIST AS HE HIMSELF WALKED UPON THE EARTH! Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous reality of walking with Jesus the Christ as He Himself walked upon the earth, and let it wash over you from the rope of your head to the soles of your feet. Allow the reality of walking with Jesus as He walked upon the earth completely consume your heart, your soul and your senses, for it gives the tremendous sense of not walking where you want to walk, or even moving where you want to move, but moving with the Lamb and going wherever the Lamb desired. One thing we must learn when considering walking with the Lamb is that when we choose to walk with the Lamb, we relinquish any and all rights to walk according to our own way and to chart our own path. If and should we may the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with Jesus the Christ we give up any and every right to determine where we walk and where we go, for we move solely and completely with the Lamb. To walk with the Lamb is to give up any and all rights to chart our own path and chart our own course and walk where we desire and where we see fit, for such is no longer an option when we walk with Jesus. There would be those who would think about and consider that when they make the decision to walk with Jesus they can still determine and chart their own course and their own path, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. If and when we make the conscious decision to walk with Jesus the Christ we give up all rights to have any say and any influence on where we walk, for we must always follow His leading, and move wherever He desires and wishes. What’s more, is that if you study the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that He never moved or operated outside the divine will and plan of the Father, and He routinely and regularly declared that He could say nothing apart from and without the Father, and that He could do nothing without and apart from the Father. This is actually quite intriguing when you think about and consider it, for when we make the decision to walk with the Lamb we are doing more than walking with the Lamb, for we are actually walking in and according to the divine will, purpose and plan of the Father. When we make the conscious decision to walk with the Lamb, we give up any and every right to walk where we would want to walk, and go where we would want to go. To walk with the Lamb literally and actually means that we give up control to chart a course and chart a path of our own choosing and making in order that we might walk with and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

Oh I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus Himself spoke concerning the Spirit when He spoke to Nicodemus by night when this Pharisee came unto him to hear and listen to Him teach and speak. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ which was written by the apostle John, for within the words of Jesus we find something incredibly unique and powerful about the Spirit, and the connection between the Spirit and the wind. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the third chapter of the New Testament gospel of John beginning to read with and from the third verse of the chapter:

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8).

These words not only point to the reality of the movement and operation of the wind which we can hear and see the effects of, but also of the Spirit and those who are born of the Spirit. Jesus spoke of the wind and it blows wherever it must, and how we hear the sound of the wind, but cannot tell where it comes and where it goes. With these words Jesus is setting forth a strong comparison between the wind and the movement of the Spirit, for the Spirit moves wherever the Spirit desires, and while we cannot see the Spirit in physical and bodily form, we see the effects of the Spirit within and upon the earth. I am completely and utterly convinced that it is necessary for us to understand the movement of the Spirit, for when we make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with Jesus the Christ we make the decision to move wherever He desires, and wherever He is compelled to go. Perhaps one of the greatest witnesses found within the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that the disciples never told Jesus where they wanted to go, nor did the disciples ever suggest places where they felt they should go. If you read the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will not find a single account of the disciples speaking unto Jesus and disagreeing with Him concerning where they thought and where they felt they should go. We never find, nor do we read any account of the disciples believing within their own hearts that where they wanted to go was more important than where He knew and understood they should go. There is not a single account of the disciples ever questioning Jesus’ decision on where they should go next, nor do you ever find them proposing an alternative route, or an alternative path, or an alternative destination. You can read, you can study, and you can search the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ over and over again, and you will not find a single account where the disciples ever attempt to suggest to Jesus where they should go next, or what they should do next. In fact, when you read the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, you will find Jesus being the one to suggest where they should go next, and even instructing them where they should go, and/or what they should do next. It was Jesus who instructed them to get into the boat while He sent the crowds away only for the disciples to find that obeying the command and instruction of Jesus the Christ would thrust them into the midst of a storm. It was Jesus the Christ who suggested unto the disciples that they cross over to the other side of the lake only to find themselves experiencing and encountering a storm on this particular occasion. It was Jesus Himself who instructed two of his disciples to go and find the colt which would be used for His triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, and it would be Jesus the Christ who would instruct two of His disciples to go into the city and follow a man carrying a water jar in order that they might find the place where they would partake of the Passover meal.

I absolutely love the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ which was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke, for it was written—not from a place of personal experience with Jesus the Christ, but from a place of hearing and understanding the eyewitness accounts and testimonies concerning Jesus the Christ from those who experienced Him firsthand. Perhaps one of the greatest things I can’t help but think about and consider when considering the New Testament gospel of Luke is what it must have been like to hear men and women tell their story of how they encountered Jesus the Christ within their own hearts and lives. I can’t help but wonder if Luke’s heart did not burn within him as he heard and listened to account after account of the interactions those men and women had with Jesus the Christ. Towards the end of this New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find the account of two men who were leaving Jerusalem and heading south toward the town of Emmaus after the death and burial of Jesus the Christ. Within this account you will find how Jesus met these men as they walked along the way to Emmaus, and how He concealed his person and His identity from before them. During this conversation and during this interaction we find Jesus beginning to speak with them from Moses and the prophets the things concerning Himself and how He must needs suffer, and be crucified, and even be buried in the earth, but rise again on the third day. As these three men approached the town of Emmaus Jesus would make as though he would continue walking, however, they compelled and entreated Him to tarry with them the night. It was while they sat down to meat and as they sat down to fellowship with each other over a meal that He took the bread, blessed it and broke it, and in that moment their eyes were opened. Luke records the reaction and response of these two men and how they emphatically declared how their hearts burned within them as fire when He walked with them along the way, and as He talked and spoke with them. I reference this particular account because I can’t help but wonder if Luke’s heart did not burn as fire within him as he heard and listened to the testimonies, the accounts, and the stories of encounters men and women had with Jesus the Christ. There is something about sitting and listening to the encounters others had with Jesus the Christ that has the tendency to stir something deep within the hearts and souls of those who set out to understand Christ themselves, and even describe Jesus. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Luke set forth to write this gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ he was already a believer and was already one who had made the decision to follow Jesus the Christ as the apostles and the early church did. With that being said, I can’t help but but think about and consider the fact that when Luke sat and listened to men and women as they described their personal encounters with Jesus the Christ, his own heart and soul burned within him. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Luke walked with these men and women and heard their stories, his heart was ignited and set on fire at the very core, and set forth a raging inferno of faith, and awe and wonder as he pondered and thought about Jesus the Christ.

The New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ was indeed a detailed description of Jesus’ life as told, explained and expounded upon by those who did in fact walk with Jesus, and by those who themselves had a personal encounter with Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that within the first four verses of the first chapter we find Luke writing how many sought to set forth an account and declaration of those things which were surely believed among them—those things which were delivered unto them from the beginning from those who were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. It is worth noting and paying attention to the fact that Luke mentions eyewitnesses, as well as ministers of the word when opening this account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, for it sets the foundation for his own gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus as being a compilation of eyewitness accounts of those who walked with Jesus, and those who experienced the personal ministry of Jesus the Christ. With that being said, there is not a doubt in my mind that when Luke sat down with such individuals and heard and listened to their stories and their experiences—their testimonies if you will—his heard burned more fervently and more vehemently within him. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Luke set forth to hear and listen to these various eyewitness accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ he experienced a wonderful and marvelous infusion of faith and confidence in the person of Jesus the Christ, for you cannot truly hear and listen to genuine and authentic accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and His influence and impact on the lives of others, and your heart not be stirred and compelled within you. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Luke set forth to write a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, he did not experience a deep and inner burning within his own heart as he heard and listened to the accounts of others who had experienced Jesus the Christ within their own hearts and lives. In setting forth to write a detailed description and compilation of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, Luke experienced his own heart burning as a fire within him, for the stories which others spoke unto and told him concerning Jesus the Christ within their lives greatly influence and greatly impacted him. Perhaps in attempting to strengthen his own faith he set forth to speak to others about their own personal experiences with Jesus, and in the process of speaking with others concerning their experiences and encounters with Jesus, he felt compelled and led by the Spirit to write his own treatise of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. After hearing more and more about the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ from eyewitnesses who experienced Him when He walked upon the earth, Luke felt compelled and felt the strong urge to write a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ in order that others might have a clearer picture and a clearer understanding of Jesus the Christ.

What I so love about the New Testament is that the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of the living God—saw fit to include not one, not two, not even three accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, but four accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. When you come to the New Testament you won’t merely find one written account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, but you will indeed find four gospel accounts—each written from a unique perspective of those who set forth to write concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. Two were written by those who actually walked with Jesus the Christ for three and a half years, one was written by a physician who spoke with various eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, and another who set out to write his own gospel account of the life of Jesus. What’s more is that two of these gospel accounts were written by those who actually walked with Jesus the Christ and were Jews by heritage and nature, while the other two were written by those who did not physically walk with Jesus, and those who were Gentiles by nature. I happen to find this absolutely and incredibly significant, for it is one thing to have gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ from and by those who walked with and followed Jesus, however, it is something else altogether to find and read two gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ from those who not only were Gentiles, but also those who were influenced and impacted by the spread of the gospel during the days following the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the Christ. It is something absolutely remarkable and incredible to find within the New Testament two of the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as being written and recorded by men who never personally walked with Jesus the Christ, but who were directly influenced by the impact of His life through the testimonies and accounts of others. There is not a doubt in my mind that Luke and Mark were influenced by the spread of the gospel of Jesus the Christ, and were even influenced and impacted by the preaching of the apostle Paul who himself never personally walked with Jesus the Christ, but who experienced him as he traveled on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus, and then again when he went into the desert of Arabia for three years. Though the apostle Paul never personally walked with Jesus the Christ, He nonetheless experienced him as he traveled along the road to Damascus, and even experienced him when he journeyed into the wilderness of Arabia and spent three years there in the wilderness. It’s worth noting that these two men—Luke and John Mark—did at one point accompany Paul as he traveled among the Gentiles preaching and teaching concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. This gospel which Luke wrote in the New Testament would be one of four gospel accounts written in order that a more complete picture might be written and presented concerning Jesus the Christ—one that did not even begin with Jesus the Christ Himself.

As you read the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find that it didn’t even begin with anything concerning Jesus the Christ, but rather with a written account of a certain couple within Judaea at the time prior to Christ being born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem. It’s worth noting that the New Testament gospel of Luke doesn’t immediately begin with an account of Mary and Joseph, and the angel appearing unto Mary as he declared unto her that she would bear a son and give birth to that son and call Him Jesus. When you read the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find that the story and account of Jesus the Christ begins with the account of Zacharias and Elizabeth—Zechariah’s who was of the course of Abia, and Elizabeth who was of the daughters of Aaron. What I find to be so absolutely incredible concerning this couple was that Luke writes and records how they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Now, it would be one thing to stop there and not move forward, however, that is only part of the reality and part of the story concerning this couple. Within the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke we not only find that this couple was righteous before God, and walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, but that they had no child because Elizabeth was barren. RIGHTEOUS, YET BARREN! BLAMELESS, YET BARREN! OBEDIENT, YET BARREN! What is so intriguing about this couple is that while it was true that they were righteous before the Lord, and while it was true that they were obedient to all the commands of the Lord, they had no child, for Elizabeth was barren. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the only account within Scripture concerning one who was barren, for in the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find three distinct women who themselves were barren and unable to initially bear children. IN the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that Sarah the wife of Abraham was not only barren, but was also stricken and advanced in years. In the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that Rebekah, the wife of Isaac was also barren and unable to initially bear children. The same reality was true of Rachel, the wife of Jacob, for she herself was unable to initially bear children. If you continue reading the Old Testament you will find two more women who themselves were initially barren and unable to bear children—Hannah who would give birth to Samuel, and the wife of Manoah who was herself barren and would give birth to Samson. Within the first nine books of the Old Testament we find five different accounts of women who were barren and who themselves could not have children—at least initially. This isn’t even including Elizabeth the wife of Zacharias who herself was barren and could not have children.

As I close out this particular writing I find a great need to write concerning the reality of being righteous and yet being barren—righteous yet being unable to bear and bring forth that which others are able to bring forth, and perhaps even that which you desire to bring forth. I can’t help but be compelled to write concerning the possibility of being obedient and blameless before the Lord, and yet being barren within your life—completely unable to bear and bring forth that which you watch and witness others bear and bring forth in the earth. There is something to be said about this elderly couple who although they were barren continued to faithfully serve the Lord in obedience and righteousness throughout their days and throughout their years. There is something to be said about this couple who continued to walk in all the commandments of the Lord, and even Zacharias who continued to serve in his role as a priest among the people within the land of Judaea. There is something to be said about a continued faithfulness and obedience to the living God—despite the fact that we are somehow unable to conceive, carry and bring forth that which we watch others bring forth. Despite the fact that Elizabeth was barren, and despite the fact that she could not bring forth a child, both her and her husband continued to walk in all the commandments of the Lord blameless, and Zacharias continued to serve the Lord faithfully as a priest around the altar and in the house of the Lord. The question we must ask ourselves when we read such a passage is whether or not we can and whether or not we will continue to remain faithful and walk in obedience to the commands and instruction of the Lord. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we can continue to walk in obedience to the commands of the Lord, and not only walk in obedience to the commands of the Lord, but walk in obedience to all the commands of the Lord. The question we must allow ourselves to be confronted with is whether or not we can and will continue to walk in faithfulness and obedience to the Lord—even when it might hurt, and even when our hearts ache within us because we are missing that which we desire the most. One thing we must recognize from this passage is that when Gabriel appeared unto Zacharias, he spoke unto him concerning his prayer being heard—a clear indicator that in addition to their walking in obedience to all the commands of the Lord, they continued to pray and entreat the Lord for something that was missing within and from their lives. What we learn from this passage is not only that they were obedient to the commands of the Lord, but also that they continued to pray and believe for something that seemed far beyond their reach and far beyond their grasp. Oh that we would not only be a people who continue to remain faithful to the commands of the Lord, but also that we would be a people who continue to pray—despite the fact that we don’t see the manifestation of that which we have been praying for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s