Matthew writes to his fellow Jews about King Jesus. This lesson focuses on the temptations Christ endured and how He overcame them for our sakes. Many of the temptations He faced are common to man: materialism, pride, selfishness, laziness, anger, bitterness, lust, and more. Our most effective weapon against temptation is our humble reliance upon Christ, the Overcomer. Mark’s Gospel is short on words and packed with action. In summary: We must become like Christ, a servant. We learn of the life of John Mark, who himself reached out, appreciated diversity within the Body of Christ, empathized with others, and persevered despite great hardships. Mark’s Gospel shows us how servant traits display true greatness. In this historic Gospel filled with details by a physician, we see Christ as the true human. Here we find healing in the portrait of the Christ who suffered. Jesus makes our salvation accessible, and His Spirit is available. Luke shows us Jesus as “the Son of man.” How did John see Jesus? Creator? Redeemer? Teacher? Son of God? Yes, he saw Him as all of these, and more. John writes as the Lord’s beloved disciple to make a simple and profound point: We must move past our emotions and human reasoning toward a deeper relationship with the Lord. The story of His resurrection is given to help us to believe and draw near to God.
If we are to be witnesses for God, we must be rightly related to the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit of God is given as our power source. Therefore, when we seem to lack strength and energy to serve God, might it be that we are not plugged in? In the first half of the book of Acts, we learn from the early disciples how to draw from heaven’s power to make a greater impact for our Lord on earth. Are you running effectively for Christ as His witness? If not, do you need to improve your pace? Or perhaps you need to fine-tune your technique. And beyond all of this, are you prepared to face the hurdles set before you? These and other questions will help us appreciate the second half of Acts, where we can learn from the first believers how to run the race before us with confidence, conviction, and clarity.