Who Is Really In God’s Family?

We all claim to be God’s child, but are we really?

My family rarely does family reunions but my wife’s family has one every year. I’m not a fan. Not because I don’t like the people, but because there are always many there I don’t know. So I become self conscious. 

Sometimes when we have family reunions we have to ask, “who is that? I didn’t know they were in our family?” Or, we have to get the rundown on how so and so married in, had kids, been living so and so place, and this is how they came to be. And sometimes we have that annoying, or different family member that no one understands or wants to be seen with right?

In today’s Words from Jesus, He has been teaching, as we are stilling looking at Matthew 12, where He’s been responding to the Pharisees and religious leaders about His power to heal, and their hard hearts.

As He is nearing the end of His teaching, word comes to Him that His mother and brothers want to see Him and talk to Him but they can’t get to Him. And He poses an astonishing question, and comments about His family that we’re going to dive into.

Matthew 12:46–50 ESV

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

In Mark 3, prior to this Scripture, we see where it is possible that His mother and brothers were concerned for His well being.

Mark 3:20-21 ESV

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

Do you think this idea played a role in His family trying to get to Him?

It does sounds as if His family was just concerned for Him. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I would think that if my mother and brothers couldn’t get to me because of people I don’t know listening to me, I’d probably make a way for them to get closer, or at least send a proper message to them. But Jesus doesn’t.

Jesus responds as if they aren’t even His family, saying, “Who is my mother and brothers?”

Did Jesus just disown His mother? I mean I can see maybe disowning His brothers as they never did really seem to see what the fuss was all about surrounding Him. They hadn’t believed He was the Messiah to come at this point. But His mom? Remember it was her who nudged Him to miraculously fix the wine at the wedding situation, where He turned 6 stone barrels of water to 300 gallons of the best wine the party had ever tasted.

I don’t believe believe Jesus disowned His mother of course. But He did use the opportunity to speak about the family of God. And I believe He was making a point that being bound by our faith in Him was more important than any human relationship…even including the parental relationship.

The Important Concern

Look, we can all understand Mary’s concern for Jesus. Even though she knew who He was, as she was the one it was revealed to at her conception by the Angel, she was still concerned for His well being. A mother’s love knows no bounds right? 

Was it her concern for Him not eating? How many mothers and wives out there worry that their spouse or son isn’t eating or drinking enough when the demands of work continue to pile on them? I joked with my mother-in-law Tuesday night because of the many times I’ve seen her continue to remind her husband to eat or drink while he’s out working in the garage on whatever project has been keeping him busy.

As for the brothers? I think they were just supporting mom! But maybe their brotherly love was their concern as well.

It was a messenger that told Jesus His family was outside wanting Him. So, He didn’t tell His family face to face to leave Him alone. But He took the opportunity to teach the messenger and those in His hearing, that what He was teaching in the moment was more important than His family’s concern for Him.


In this moment, the family’s concern was an interruption for Jesus. He was busy teaching God’s principles, and God’s truths, and instead of His family listening to His Words, they were more concerned about their own earthly concerns.

I’m reminded of His Words to His mother and father when they lost Him in Jerusalem when He was twelve and His family had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. They lost Him for three days! And when they finally found Him, I’m sure His mother was beside herself asking where He’d been. His response then was just as astounding as it is here.

Luke 2:49 

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

I can only imagine what my mom would have said, or done to me, if I disappeared for three days and responded like this when she finally found me. But for Jesus, He mission one was doing the Father’s will!

And here again, it’s almost as if His family had forgotten the importance of Jesus’s mission here on earth. He came to seek and save the lost. He brought God’s Kingdom to earth, the grace of God in this moment to people most in need of His grace and truth.

No one will thwart the mission of God, including Jesus’s mother or brothers.

The Family

After His questioning about who is His family, He turns…

Matthew 12:49-50

And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Woah, wait a minute! Here are His mother and brothers?

He points to the crowd and says, “You are my family…” But we can insert an IF in that sentence. Because it is an “IF” you do the will of His Father, then you are His family.

Remember the context of His teaching here. He was being denied by the Pharisees and religious leaders. They weren’t going to accept Him as the Messiah, much less the Son of God, though He’d been clear in showing and teaching this was the case. 

But, they thought presumptuously that because they were Jews, they were already God’s family. They were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (later renamed Israel). They were God’s family through blood right? 

How many people today walk around saying they are God’s child, yet they never obey a Word He has said. Much less their acceptance of Jesus as His Son, they don’t even believe the Bible, God’s Word. We’re all God’s children right? Well, I got news for you.

We’re Not

We’re not all God’s children. 

Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus is very clear when He tells the religious leaders:

John 8:42,47

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

This was the claim of the Pharisees, “Abraham is our father.” This is their great ancestor whom God made a covenant with to bless him and make from him a great nation of peoples.

Notice Jesus says, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did.” Abraham was obedient to God. These Pharisees are not. They are all about themselves, about looking good on the outside while inside they were evil. Jesus had pointed this out many times.

Their actions prove who their father is, and Jesus lays it out clear for them:

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

Created But Not His

I know some wrestle with this idea, because we are “created in His likeness” right? That’s what the bible teaches. But being created in His image does not mean that we are His children. I can hear you gasp at that comment. Let me explain.

Look at your life. Are you obeying God as your Father, or is He simply that “big man in the sky” that is there to make you have a good life? Is He the Father loves you, or is He the one you say, “sends people to hell”,” so you want nothing to do with Him.

You see, He created you and gave you a choice. And when sin has taken hold of our lives, we choose to deny Him as our Father. It isn’t He that divorces us, it is we that divorce Him. It is we that choose this life over an eternal life with Him because we’d rather live our best life now.

Listen to these words for the letter of 1 John.

1 John 3:8-10

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

We’ve talked a lot about the fruit of our heart, that is our words and our deeds. Here Scripture says that if our fruit is the practice, the continued sin, then we are of the devil. We act just like him. If we are God’s children then God’s seed, His Holy Spirit abides in us, and we cannot keep sinning because we have been born of God. 

Go all the way back to when we talked about the Pharisee Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night and Jesus telling Him, “You must be born again, you must be born from above.” That is we must be born again of God, regenerated you might hear it said. This is done by us trusting in and believing Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God, and asking Him to be the Lord of our lives. And when He is the Lord of our life, we will seek to obey Him and the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit within us. 

But you have to hear these words! That’s the problem the Pharisees and religious leaders had in Matthew 12, they didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t want to receive it. So Jesus says this:

John 8:47

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

If you are of God, you will hear and heed His Words. But if not, then you prove you are not a child of God.

Faith and Blood

So Jesus waves His hand over the crowd in front of Him and says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

He’s saying, “look my mom and my brothers are family by blood here on the earth, but you have the choice to be my mother and brothers if you will obey my Father as I have.”

You want to know God’s will for you?

Believe on the One He has sent.

How do we obey God? By placing our faith in Jesus His Son.

What made Abraham so great to God that He made a covenant with Him? Abraham believed God. He heard His Word, He trusted His Word, and He obeyed God because He believed.

We’re not part of God’s family by our fleshly blood. We are part of His family because we choose to be, by placing our faith in Jesus. Faith over blood you might say.

Romans 8:9 says, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” 

Romans 8:11 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Who Is Your Father

The question we have to ask ourselves is “who is my Father?” Look at your life and see the fruit of your own heart. Are you hearing God, listening to Him, obeying Him? Have you placed all your faith and hope in Christ?

If you’ve heard and believed then praise God because He has adopted you into His family.

Romans 8:15b

but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Your Extended Family

So here’s the other great lesson in this Scripture. One day we’re going to have that great reunion in eternity. And in this reunion you’re going to get to see many who are in your family that you had no clue about.

My hope is that you already know many who are in your spiritual family. And that you treat them as brothers and sisters, and mothers and fathers. With love, dignity, and respect. 

If you are in Christ, then you are one of a large family of believers. You’ve got brothers and sisters you don’t even know yet. But I tell you, we welcome you as family. We want you as family. You belong in God’s family with us. Your faith in Christ, makes you my brother, my sister, my mother, my father, by faith, by Jesus’s blood.

I taught this message Sunday August 7, 2022. You can find the video here on YouTube.

3 Ways to Stay Full

Sermon notes based on Mathew 12:43-45.

Idea: It takes more than a prayer to keep the house cared for.


I don’t like to go on vacation much. It is stressful for me, and I find myself looking forward to being back home, in familiar surroundings…specifically my own bed.

I believe one of the common things to do before going away on vacation is to clean the house. Because who wants to come back to a dirty house right? When we return we’ve then already gotta unpack and put away all the dirty clothes, which just makes for more work for us.

And when we leave, we usually lock the doors, turn on the alarm, have the mail picked up or stopped, and many of us will leave a light on. 

That light is left on so that someone thinks you are home right? Because a robber won’t typically break into an occupied home. And that gives us a little comfort.

When a home is occupied, no one else can move in either.

A Strong Man’s House

A few weeks back, when we first began looking at this interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees, Jesus said:

Matthew 12:29 ESV

Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

Today He tells a story about a demon returning to an empty house. 

Jesus is telling this parable to teach about the condition of the Pharisees and religious leaders, and those that did not follow His teaching.

This Scripture has caused concern and fear for many of us because it is difficult to discern the meaning of. So we’re going to try and give some insight to this and make an application of it in our own lives.


Matthew 12:43–45 ESV

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Jesus tells this parable in light of the fact He had just banished a demon from a young man’s life. At that healing the Pharisees made the claim that He did so by the power of Satan. To which Jesus gives the response of entering the strong man’s house to plunder.

What He is saying there is that He, in God’s power, while here on earth, Satan, the strong man, was bound. And He had plundered, stolen from Satan this young man He’d healed, cast the demon out of.

But it wasn’t limited to just this one instance with this one man. Jesus was here, on the earth, rescuing many from Satan’s hold. And he is still doing so today.

So in essence, Satan was at that time, “cast out.” The Kingdom of God was at hand in Jesus’s presence, giving rest to the people that accepted Him as the Messiah.

When He was gone, those who remained in unbelief, would face a worse state. And this truly happened.

Between the ascension to Heaven after his resurrection and the fall of Jerusalem to Romans, the Jews had truly fallen into a worse state than prior to Jesus’s coming the first time. And for many, their rejection remains, hence their “unforgivable sin” of remaining opposed to Christ as their Lord and Savior as we discussed a few weeks back with that other fear producing Scripture.


So that’s a brief explanation of the text, as we broke it down even further Tuesday night, but what about now? What can we learn?

I want to give you three applications of this text today.

The Prayer

Many of us became Christians by saying what is known as the sinner’s prayer. Classically it goes like this: Confess I’m a sinner, I agree to repent from my life of sin, and I trust in Jesus’s death on the cross, and ask Jesus to live inside my heart. 

If you pray this then we say you are saved.

The truth is, this prayer isn’t actually in the bible. There are some Scriptures that point to such a prayer such as…

Romans 10:9 ESV

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The idea being the same, confess, and believe. And you can find many other Scriptures about confessing our sins, believing the death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit living within us afterward.

Yet, many of us know someone that has told us they prayed the prayer, and for a while they lived a better life, only to at some point fall away from belief altogether. 

What about them? What happened?

I believe this is such a case as Jesus speaks of here in this parable.

The person lives for themselves, then at some point comes to Christ praying a prayer, they clean up their life, but then later on find themselves in a worse state of affairs.

Seed Planting

What I believe often happens is similar to Jesus’s parable of the farmer planting seed. One part of the parable speaks of seed that fail on rocky ground, it sprang up quickly but the soil was shallow and had no root, and withered away.

Sometimes we pastors make it too easy on our listeners. We want you saved. And that is why this little rote prayer came about.


So we have convinced people to say a prayer and they walk away believing they are saved in that moment. But so much can go wrong with this.

Was the confessing and believing truly from the heart of the person? Was their heart true? Was their believing true and lasting?

We don’t know the heart of a person. We can only see and know the fruit. And for many, they say the prayer and then try and clean up their lives on their own and fail. Because their faith wasn’t truly real, they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit. So they try to become something they aren’t, a regenerated soul.

Jesus said, the house was emptied and cleaned up. Maybe they had a reprieve from sin for a while, but they still had an empty house. It didn’t have the Holy Spirit’s presence in it to keep it filled.

This is why the truly saved, the truly born again, do not need to fear this verse. Your house, the temple, is full of the presence of God.

A Return to the Old

The other example is of that person that said the prayer, but when they went home they didn’t truly leave their old life.

It’s like being an alcoholic, and God giving you relief from that addiction, yet you’ve never cleaned out the cupboards of the house of all the alcohol you’ve stored up. So for a time, you thought the house was empty, but then you open that cabinet of temptation and fall right back into an even worse state than before.

Again, you wanted to be saved, but you just weren’t quite ready to give up all that you were…the old life. So you return to who you were before, and man is it harder to come back into the light after returning to the dark.

This is one way our prayer system fails.

Jesus never taught His followers to say a prayer. He told them, “follow me.” He told them to pick up their cross and follow Him. He told them to leave their riches behind, even when it came to mother and father, He is to be the most important to us.

But many of us say the prayer, but don’t give Him our lives. Our hearts are still far from Him.

When we truly want to be saved, and our hearts are truly ready, we will give Him all of us. We will leave all behind to follow Him. We will obey, glorify, live for Him daily. We will lose this life to gain His.

Filling the House

This third application goes along with the second. When you leave the old life, when you empty yourself of those old desires, what do you fill your house with? We already mentioned the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit needs to be fed. It too needs to be kept full. It needs to abide in the source of life, Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the vine, and…”

John 15:4–6 ESV

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

To abide, we must keep building on that relationship with Christ, and God the Father. We do this by remaining in His Word. His Word helps us to get to know Him better. It keeps that connection up between the Holy Spirit in us and the Father. It feeds the soul, it fills the house.

When we aren’t in His Word, when we aren’t spending time soaking up the Father, we can grow cold. Our house may have the Holy Spirit in it, but we’ve cut it off from the source of life…the Vine. We become weaker, unable to resist the temptation to go back to the old ways of life. I’m not saying we lose our salvation, but I am saying we can find ourselves in a position we don’t want to be in for sure. We can still face dire consequences for our wrong actions in this life even if we gain eternity in Heaven afterward.

God’s Word builds up the soil and nourishment for the seed that is planted within us to grow and produce fruit.

Along with keeping in God’s word, our lives need to be filled with prayers between us and the Father. Communication is foundational to any relationship. The Father wants us to communicate with Him, and He will with us. This too is abiding in the Christ, because Christ Himself spent much time with the Father in prayer.

That Fruit

That fruit He mentions is a life filled with Godliness. It is the result of our abiding in Him. It is the fruit of a truly changed life, redeemed, regenerated, born again by the Holy Spirit.

We don’t act all holy because we fear hell once we’ve been truly saved, we obey God and his Law because we are saved. Because He says for us to obey His Word. If we love Him, we will do what He commands.

John 14:15 ESV

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Protecting the Home

I want to leave you with one more idea…that is protecting the home.

Just like when you leave your house for vacation, you arm the alarm. For some us, we keep ourselves armed in the home just in case.

We have to treat our lives the same way. Scripture tells us here, the demon came back. In the story, he came back with a vengeance (7 is complete). Scripture tells us that Satan prowls like a lion seeking our ruin. So he will attack, he will try to find an open door or open window. so we must arm ourselves against him.

How do we arm ourselves?

Ephesians 6:10–18 ESV

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,


Trust in the Lord, place all your faith in Him and abide in Him the rest of the days of your life.

Look, if you’re going to confess Christ as your Savior, then you’d better mean it. You’d better take into account all that is required to do so. It is more than a prayer, it is your word, and it is your heart. Don’t come to him half hearted, Scripture says He’ll spit you out. He wants all of you. The question is, do you want all of Him and will you give Him all of you.

If you’re going to have an empty house, you’ll need to fill it with the right thing. Feel it with Jesus. Fill it with the Holy Spirit of God the Father. And then abide in Him every single day.

John 14:23 ESV

Jesus answered him, “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.

Find Belonging in a Digital Church

For many of us, our fondest memories of the church experience, at least here in the states, are filled with being together physically in a space, usually in a building called, “the church.” When I first began to envision starting a new church in my own community, that is exactly what I pictured we would become as well.

Bring on Covid in early 2020, and everything changed. Most churches went digital. I at first resisted, until Easter 2020 when I began doing recorded messages. We didn’t really have a “congregation” at the time, but this was a way for us to minister to folks at home. Fast forward two years later, and while most churches have decided to no longer focus on digital but instead put most of their effort on those physically present, we have remained, and even expanded, our digital only focus. God opened my eyes to a need for those that cannot or do not choose to attend physically.

The truth is, there is a prevailing attitude among many Christians that if you aren’t physically in the building then you are not part of the Church (Big C). I’d never personally thought that, but my eyes were awakened to it for sure especially since all the arguing around Covid and “closing the doors” to now receiving messages about us not being a church because we are digital only. My wife has severe anxiety issues, and with Covid, a heightened sensitivity and fear of contracting the virus. She’s not the only one, there are many others out there still not comfortable, or due to health reasons, can’t gather physically. And that is okay. You still need a church community, a family, a place to belong to, to encourage you, to help build you up in the faith, to pray for you, to include you in the life of the Church.

So to you that cannot, or maybe choose not to, attend a physical gathering for a church community. We want to say, you still have a place of belonging with many digital churches out there. You are still part of the body of Christ! We, Innovate Christian Community Church, apologize for those that have demeaned you for not attending. We recognize there are many physical and mental barriers for some that keep them from physically gathering. And we’re here to tell you, “that’s okay.” Our hope is that you would find a community, digitally, to belong to even if it isn’t ours.

The truth is that most of us enjoy gathering together, as those are our fondest of memories of the church experience. Maybe you can’t right now. Maybe not ever with a large group. You can still gather digitally and make new memories of belonging, family, and be included.

I still get questioned, “when are you going to open your doors,” i.e. gather physically, become a physical church, etc. The truth is, we aren’t! I am thankful to God that He has opened my eyes to this need and thankful for every person He has brought our way to minister to…and with! The “with” is the other part of this. You have gifts, talents, abilities, and a calling (purpose) God has given you. We want to encourage, empower, and equip you to make use of these gifts for the Lord’s glory.

I don’t want this to be a sales pitch for us, but an encouragement to you if you’ve been made to feel there is no place to belong in the Church for you, there is. There are many churches, digitally focused on including you, and welcoming you into their family. We are just one of them! It is important to me to let you know, you have a place of belonging and are not to be left behind just because you don’t gather in a church building.

Innovate Church includes the homebound, the anxious, the depressed, the lonely, and the forgotten, in a caring community for the purpose of building God’s Kingdom together with Him.

Canceled Debt

Sermon Notes/Deeper Study

Contained below are the notes and some of the research found for my recent sermon on Luke 7:36-50. This Scripture contains Jesus’s interaction with a Pharisee named Simon that invited him to his home for a meal. While there a woman of ill repute comes in and washes Jesus’s feet with her own tears and then dries them with her hair and anoints them with perfume. This was her display of faith and love for Him. Simon protests that Jesus shouldn’t have let “such a woman” to touch Him. To this Jesus responds with a parable about two men that owed a debt each to a certain moneylender they could not repay. Still, this moneylender forgives their debt.

Luke 7:36-50

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”


This section of Scripture follows Jesus’s speaking of how the commoners and tax collectors accepted John’s words and baptism, but the Pharisees did not.

Today’s story illustrates just that fact.


We begin today’s study looking at an invitation for Jesus to come and dine with a Pharisee.

It was the custom when inviting a guest, especially a special guest, you would have made ready a wash basin for the guest’s feet before entering the home. The person would likely be greeted with a kiss as many still do today, and due to the dry dusty, windy air, oil would be offered for one to fix their hair.

Though invited, the Pharisee did none of this for Jesus.

We have a woman that shows up to the meal…uninvited.

There were others there that were not invited guests but had only come to likely listen in on the conversation. It was customary to leave the front door open for others to come in and take seats by the wall.

What is it that makes this woman special?

The Sinner

Luke calls her a “woman of the city, who was a sinner.” Most believe her to have likely been a prostitute, or at the least a woman of no good reputation.

But what Luke tells us about her is her actions towards Jesus when she hears that He is there at Simon’s.

She stands behind Jesus’s feet weeping, and she begins to cleanse his feet with her tears and her hair.

Ancient Seating and Eating

For most of us here in the west we picture eating being done at a table with everyone sitting upright and knees/feet pointing inward under the table.

Think about the picture of the Last Supper. That is a completely western view of the event.

But this is not how the ancient Jew or Greek would have done so at this time.

As we note the text says Jesus was reclining and His feet were behind Him.

Here we can see how they would have been seated and how she would have accessed His feet.

Her Humility

After weeping and cleansing His feet, she lets down her hair to dry them.

It was considered a disgrace for a woman to let her hair down in public.

She then proceeds to kiss His feet.

Kissing the feet is said to have been a sign of utter humiliation and servitude before the feet of a rabbi.

While kissing His feet, she anoints them with the perfume she brought in with her. (In later stories of Jesus being anointed, it is said the cost of the perfume was possibly 300 denarii).

It was customary to anoint the head of the guest. But she, being so humble, could only anoint His feet.

Nothing mattered to her in that moment but Christ.

All the Pharisee could see and think was how sinful a woman she was and his unbelief that Jesus, a supposed prophet, would let her touch Him.

The Debtors

Instead of seeing the good and humbleness of the woman, Simon, the religious Pharisee, only sees her past misdeeds. And he questions how Jesus could let such a woman touch Him.

Simon’s heart was hard towards this sinner…and probably all sinners.

How often we might find ourselves hardheartedly judging someone whom we know there history.

How often we might play the same comparison game Simon has in his own head that we see Jesus draw out using the parable of the debtors.

Jesus knew Simon’s question, and He goes right to the cause of the question…Simon’s thinking he is better than she is.

The debts mentioned are 50 and 500 denarii. Basically two month’s wages versus two years of wages.

No matter the debt, both debtors were in the same situation, they couldn’t pay. 

By the grace of the moneylender though, they are both forgiven.

How would you respond? If you only owed 2 month’s worth of your salary or two years worth? How much would your debt affect your gratitude towards having it wiped off the books?

Debt Forgiven

Simon was comparing himself to her and thinking he was better than her because he wasn’t as bad as her. Jesus asks him the question, which person in the parable loved the moneylender more?

Through pursed lips you might imagine, Simon recognizes it is the one with more debt.

Just like the two debtors in the parable, you cannot repay God for the debt you owe Him. You must be forgiven.

The point wasn’t about which one loved Jesus more as much as it was about how you may compare yourself to another thinking, “at least I’m not as bad as that guy.” Neither could pay their debt. Both are sinners in need of forgiveness.

Faith in Love

Jesus then points to the sinner woman, and says to Simon, “look at her…”

“You judged her a sinner, and that is true, but she has recognized her sin and the debt she owed. Here’s how I know…”

Through her actions, she proved her faith in Jesus.

Through her actions, she showed her love for Jesus.

James is famous for pointing out that faith without actions is dead. Well here you have the opposite that is also true.

As Paul says in Gal 5.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:6 ESV

Jesus doesn’t question that she is a sinner. However, He recognizes her sins are forgiven because of how she displays her love to Him. To which He then says to Simon…

“Her sins are many, but they are forgiven, and she has shown this through her love for me.”

And He flips the tables on Simon telling Him, in my words here:

“You don’t love me as she loves me because you don’t think you need forgiveness. You believe you’ve sinned only a little.”

Jesus Forgives

Jesus then tells her those words that we should all desire to hear: “Your sins are forgiven.”

And this blows the mind of all the others that were in that room watching this interaction play out between Jesus, Simon, and the woman.

It was just one of many things, many sayings that Jesus did that showed who He was. For He was God in the flesh, and His claim to forgive sins proved this, and angered the Jews. They knew that only God could forgive sin, and as Luke reports of their questioning of Jesus’s forgiving sin elsewhere in his gospel, it was blasphemy for a man to claim to forgive sin, or do anything else only God could do.

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Luke 5:21 ESV

Nonetheless, the woman recognized her need for forgiveness and sought out Jesus, but the Pharisee did not believe himself to be such a sinner in need as she.

Saved by Faith

Notice, Jesus tells her in verse 50, it is her faith that has saved her.

It wasn’t her cleansing of His feet. It wasn’t even her love for Him…though I dare say you can’t love Christ and not be forgiven. But it is her faith that saved her.

By faith alone are we saved, and our reaction, or fruit, of being saved is the same love and devotion as she has displayed here. Jesus shall be our everything, our master, our husband, and Lord. And if He is then we are indebted to show Him our love and devotion.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 ESV

Salvation is Free

Like the men in the parable, Simon, and this woman, you owe a debt to God. We all do. But it is a debt you and I cannot pay. In truth, some of us may owe more or a little less than others, but it isn’t the amount that matters.

The truth is, we are all in debt.

But God’s forgiveness is offered. He gave Jesus Christ to cancel that debt. The debt wasn’t forgiven, it was paid for by His only Son on the Cross.

Our payment was written in red on the check that is Christ’s body on the Cross. And we know the check was cashed when God raised Him from the grave three days later.

But you have to accept the gift, by faith. But you can reject it and it will be of no good to you.

Listen to this parable…because God’s forgiveness is free, but it isn’t automatic.

we can reject His grace if we will. In 1830, a man named George Wilson was arrested for mail theft, the penalty for which was hanging. After a time, President Andrew Jackson gave Wilson a pardon but he refused to accept it! The authorities were puzzled: should Wilson be freed or hanged? They consulted Chief Justice John Marshall, who handed down this decision: “A pardon is a slip of paper, the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.”

 The Bible Exposition Commentary (Chapter Six: Compassion in Action (Luke 7))

Discussion Question

Can you love Jesus and not have faith in Him?

Extra Notes

The posture at meals was a reclined one with the feet out behind.

Her sins were ten times those of Simon…at least in Simon’s mind.

The woman didn’t come to dine. She came to show her love to Jesus.

She anointed his feet with perfume, not just oil. Possibly 300 denarii worth…a year’s wages. Mark 14:5 

Two years’ wages for one and two months for the other…neither could repay. Denarius was one day’s pay.

There was contempt in Simon’s “this man” comment.

Jesus knows the sinful condition of both the woman and Simon.

Jewish rabbis did not speak to nor eat with women in public.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 1:47 PM July 3, 2022.


Most of us really despise waiting. In today’s society we don’t have to wait for many things we want. I mean, who doesn’t love Amazon Prime and same day receiving when you can get it? Waiting stinks! I want it now!


If you’ve been a gardener or even just planted a flower bulb then you know what it’s like to wait. To wait for the fruit of the plant to show. How much more of a wait it is to enjoy the fruit of the garden. A good ripe tomato, the first of the growing season, oh yeah! But it takes about 90 days for that tomato to show itself. And some flowers? They take a year after planting the bulb. For the right fruit, we have to wait.


Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. The Christian Church recognizes this day as the day the apostles, (the twelve disciples), received the Holy Spirit. But it has Old Testament roots found in what is also known as, “The Feast of Weeks.”

The Feast of Weeks was to occur for the Israelites, the Jewish people, in the Old Testament, seven Sundays after the Passover. (If you don’t know what Passover is, read this article). The following day, if you’re good at math you know is the fiftieth day…Pentecost Sunday. The Israelites were to collect grain from their harvest and make various offerings to God of their “first fruits” to consecrate or dedicate the harvest to the Lord in thanksgiving to Him.

“You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord." - Leviticus 23:15–16 ESV

For the apostles, they too had to wait for Pentecost. But on this day, instead of making an offering to the Lord, they received the Holy Spirit from the Lord! It wasn’t about giving to Him as it was receiving from Him. But, they didn’t know it was going to happen this day. All they knew was:

He (Jesus) presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” - Acts 1:3–5 ESV

Again for the math nerds, Jesus taught them for 40 days after His Resurrection, and then He ascended into Heaven telling them He’d send them the Holy Spirit “days from now.” It just so happened, the “many days” ended up being, ten days…

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. - Acts 2:1-4 ESV


For ten days after Jesus ascended to Heaven, the disciples had no clue what to do other than wait. During that time all we know from Scripture is that they remained in the “Upper Room”, were altogether with the women, (including Mary), in one accord and were devoting themselves to prayer. They waited on the Holy Spirit in prayer. Other than selecting a replacement apostle, they prayed. They didn’t take it upon themselves to go out and begin preaching, trying to perform miracles of healing or anything. They waited.

How about you? Do you find that you tend to move in your own time and speed to get things done instead of waiting on the Holy Spirit’s guidance? I know I do often. I am impatient on one hand. On the other hand I fear “not doing anything” is lazy and disobedient to God. Yet the truth is, many times, we need to wait. I know there are many cases where if I’d waited before making a decision I would have saved myself some trouble. If I’d have prayed, and waited, I would have definitely been better off.


Whose fruit do you want to enjoy? Your own, from your own garden, or that of God and what He has planned for you? We all grow restless when waiting. I’m sure it was difficult for those first disciples to wait after they’d spent 3 years with the Master seeing all the works He’d done and then now He was gone from them. He said to wait. But…why? Because He was planning a huge harvest this Pentecost Sunday that they had no idea was coming.

So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. - Acts 2:41 ESV

Once the Spirit came upon Peter he was empowered and emboldened to get up and preach one of the most convicting sermons ever taught…to the very ones that had weeks before cried “Crucify Him” to Pontius Pilate. These were the people responsible for the death of Jesus on a Cross. Yet, Peter tells them face to face with the power of the Holy Spirit speaking through him…

this Jesus... you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. - Acts 2:23-24

Peter preached the Gospel of Jesus before the very ones that had Him crucified. I can imagine him pointing the finger and saying, “YOU DID THIS!” Bold! But in being so bold, the power of the Holy Spirit also brought about the salvation of some three thousand that day. The birth of the Christian Church had begun on the day of Pentecost.

It takes time for fruit to be produced. Our prayers are the seeds of future desired fruit.

Sometimes we’ll see fruit in an instant, but more commonly it means waiting. Waiting on the fruit of our prayers, our hopes, our dreams, our healing, the Lord’s will to come about. To that I encourage you, keep waiting, and in time you will receive the fruit the Lord has planned for you. Be at peace knowing that He has said…

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. - John 15:8

What Are You Waiting For?

You cannot produce fruit on your own. You need the Holy Spirit to produce fruit. So what are you waiting for?

the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:4-5 ESV

Jesus is the vine spoken of in these verses. Without Him, you cannot bear fruit. This fruit is only produced by the work of the Holy Spirit within us. So, you have to know for yourself; have you repented from unbelief and sin, and do you trust that Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty you deserve for your unbelief and sinfulness? If you can say “yes,” then Scripture says you are saved. You are made new and have received the Holy Spirit. And the proof of the Holy Spirit, or the fruit, is found in this…

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Thanks for reading! I did a 10 minute teaching on Pentecost if you’d like to learn a little more.

Connect with me and our church, Innovate Church if you enjoy my blogs!

A One Man Mission

Is it possible to be on mission alone?

This was the question we posed and wrestled with during our Tuesday night study session of “Find Your People.”

You may be a one person band trying to follow God as best you can. I’ve been there, and in some ways, am there now trying to lead our church community. As always we need to look to Christ for these answers. If we are to model, follow, how He lived then let’s do so.

Individual Purpose

Every one of us has an individual mission. Something tugs at your heart and you respond, “I want to make a difference in this area.” Your first steps will generally be alone, but I bet you’ll also be looking at the experience of others to learn. Maybe a first step is to join an organization that is already about that mission, or maybe you’ll begin by sending support to them.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Paul explains that we are each purposely created to do good works that God has prepared us to do beforehand. You have a God given purpose. You have work to do, even alone, no matter your situation. The great thing about this verse is that it says this purpose is prepared beforehand. Elsewhere we read about how God has gifted each one of us in specific ways, again proving He has prepared us for the work He has for us to accomplish. This includes you, no matter what your situation is in life. Homebound, in prison, mentally ill, no matter, you can still fulfill God’s purpose for your life, and you have a specific mission to be about.

BUT, you are not meant to be alone. In fact, in many Scriptures we see where we are told how great it is to have friends, others, teammates, to help us in our life journey. This includes having a team to be on mission with.

Jesus on Mission

Did Jesus have an individual mission?

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:16-21

Here we read Jesus’s own mission. He had an individual mission He was about. And if we follow Him throughout the Gospels, we find this is exactly the mission He completed.

However, after Jesus’s baptism by John and His time being tempted by Satan in the desert, (tempted to shortcut the mission), Jesus began His mission by choosing teammates. That’s right, the Son of God, deity in the flesh, accomplished His mission by gathering others to help Him.


Jesus began His mission, His three years of mission activity, by choosing the least likely persons to help Him accomplish His goal of saving us from slavery to sin. He didn’t do it alone, He recruited a team. After some “grooming” of this team, we see where He sends them out, on mission, without Him with them, to prepare the “fields” for His work, (Luke 9:1-6).

Along the way, Jesus gains more followers. Some of these were more than just fans, they were true followers. He chose from them, seventy two to send out on mission again, (Luke 10:1-23). In this instance we see Him specify they are to go, “two by two.” He sent them in teams of two to announce His coming, “into every town and place where he himself was about to go.” They were the teams of ground tillers and seed planters for Him to come through later reaping the harvest. But He actually gives them instructions to, “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” In other words, more workers, more teammates, to help accomplish the mission He was given.

A Lone Ranger

Here’s the bottom line. We all have a mission, and we should all be about recruiting others to join us in this mission. Sure, it may start with a personal mission or calling, and you may be able to do some good work alone. But with a team, with others backing you on the same goal, you can do so much more. A football team isn’t a winning team with a quarterback alone. He needs blockers, defenders, receivers, even a coaching staff, to help him accomplish the goal of winning. Jesus, the Son of God, recruited a team of players to help Him accomplish His mission. If He needed a team, so do you and I.

What’s your plan? If you don’t know, maybe I can offer some tips:

  1. Let others know about your mission. What is your passion? What breaks your heart?
  2. Be intentionally on the look out for others that share your passion, desire to do something.
  3. Make friends, but more importantly, find teammates.
  4. Jump start by finding organizations that are about the mission you are called to and jump in.
  5. Pray, not last but first. As the Lord says, “Pray for laborers.”

Heed the command of the Lord for the seventy two, take others with you! Recruit someone else to go alone with you on your mission. It is not safe, nor good, to go it alone. You need others and they need you!

Who are You Hanging With?

Check out the teaching video on YouTube here.

Choosing the right friends is really important when we talk about friendship and community. We have those people in our lives that we don’t really want to hang out with. And we have our reasons, which usually may be they’re negative attributes, their divisive, selfish, or simply bad influences. 

We hopefully also have a few friends that have positive effects on us. They cheer us up, they bring joy, they are positive and caring, and probably are good influences on us.

So when we talk about being intentional in finding friendships and community, then we need to keep some things in mind. Because who we hang out with can effect us in good and bad ways. So for the ultimate wisdom, let’s turn to the Scriptures and see what wisdom we can find there.

The Bible is full of wise counsel when it comes to the friends we choose such as this opening verse for us:

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 13:20

We are who we hang out with. If you wanted to be the smartest kid in the classroom, then you should have been hanging out with the “nerds” right? Yet many of us, myself included, hung out with the fools. In our workplaces, if we want to move up the ladder, then we need to be sure we’re making friends with those that are workers as well. If we want to be wise, we’ll find wise people to befriend.

If we choose bad company…

Bad Company

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

1 Corinthians 15:33

This is one of those verses you may have heard as a “wise old saying.” Especially when you were young and hung out with that “wrong crowd.”

In my own life I got in a lot of trouble numerous times because of the people I was hanging out with. They were friends that lived life on the wild side, and it was a community I found myself in. 

Sometimes when we’re looking for a community to belong to, we’ll lower our standards. Hang out with people that might be a little more risky than we are, just so we have a place of belonging. Self confidence plays a role in this for sure. Because if we aren’t confident about who we are, then we might find ourselves trying to be something we aren’t because we simply want to fit in. And sadly, most of the time, we end up trying to fit in with the wrong crowd instead of the right ones.

Sometimes when we’re looking for a community to belong to, we’ll lower our standards. Hang out with people that might be a little more risky than we are, just so we have a place of belonging.

Angry People

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

Proverbs 22:24-25

We don’t have to go far today to find angry people right? There are so many issues today that strike up anger in those given easily to it. And it so easy for us humans to give into it. It doesn’t take much of a spark to ignite the flame of angry passion within us. So we must be guarded from those that tend to allow anger to rule within them.

Do not go with a wrathful man. Don’t take a trip with one bent on revenge is what I’d say here. You might find yourself in a predicament you don’t want to be in! Hence the snare…the trap, the situation that you didn’t ask for.

Positive Friends

I’d bet that you, like me, would much rather be surrounded by friends that help build me up, speak life to me, and again, are a joy to be around.

Listen to these positive verses on having the right people around you. These verses define what kind of friends we should desire to have as we as what kind of friend we shall be.


Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Who doesn’t need encouragement? Who doesn’t need to be built up every now and then?

In this world it is so easy to find ourselves discouraged and beat down from all that is thrown at us in a typical day. How pleasant it is though to have someone around you that will be there to encourage you, to help pick you up. This is what a good community of friends should be for one another.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 1-:24-25

Another great reminder not only to be encouraging to one another, but to “stir one another to love and good works.” As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Good friends help us keep the right things in focus. They’re not going to distract us from doing what is right. They understand purpose, and will be there to encourage us in finding and staying on our purpose as well.

I love this word from Paul in his letter to the Romans…

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Romans 1:11-12

This is understanding that we have gifts to give to one another for the encouragement of one another. Like I said last week, sometimes we need to remember that when we seek out others to befriend, we need to see it as us giving that person a gift. Taking the focus off of ourselves and seeking to serve the other person’s needs.

Give and Take

Community and friendships are always two way streets. They require give and take in the relationships. You have something to give someone else and at times you’ll be on the receiving end of someone else’s gifts to you.

Again, the Scriptures help guide us in being good community together.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:12-17

First notice, this a word to us as believers. It is a charge given. We are to put on these characteristics Paul lays out here: Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love.

Isn’t this the kind of community you want to belong to? It should be our goal to be this kind of community. Intentionally striving.

And then he reminds us, “we are called in one body.” We are in this together. We are to be encouragers just as well as we sometimes need encouragement. We need to be the burden bearers and sometimes need someone else to help bear our burdens.

We are in this together. We are to be encouragers just as well as we sometimes need encouragement. We need to be the burden bearers and sometimes need someone else to help bear our burdens.

He says that love binds all these together in perfect harmony. You need people that love you, and you need to be loving to those around you. When we love each other, we care for one another’s needs above our own. We’re willing to seek the best for one another.

We are to teach and admonish one another. I pray we learn to do this better every day.

You weren’t created to do life alone. You need others and others need you. You need the gift of friendship and community and others need you as their friend and their community.

Wise Words

But let us remember to be wise in who we befriend and are in community with, because it’s easy to be a fool in this life. It takes no effort, and there’s lots of other fools we can easily pick from.

It all takes wisdom and intentional action to find the right people to include in our lives. And I think we do a better job if we actively seek out those in need of friendship and community.

The Best Friend

In closing, I love this word I found from the book of Job.

Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me,

Job 29:4-6

Has God’s intimate friendship blessed your house? Are you a friend of the Lord’s?

As we read last week, Jesus said to His disciples…

I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

To be a friend of God, you have to believe in the One He sent. And if you’re a friend of Jesus then you are a friend of God.

You? A Gift to God?

You’ve probably had times where you’ve questioned your value. Questioned if God could even love you. Maybe you’ve told yourself, “no one wants me or ever will.” Or maybe you have questioned God’s acceptance of you.

John 6:37-40

those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Did you catch what you are to Jesus? You are a gift given to Jesus by God the Father! Now, if God has gifted you to Christ, then what kind of gift are you? How much value has God placed upon you if you are a gift He is giving to Jesus?

Friend, you are loved! You are wanted! You belong to Christ if you claim Him as Savior and Lord. No good Father gives junk to His Son, and God our Father didn’t either. You are a gift to Christ!

Community: Will You Be My Friend?

This past Sunday I delivered part two of our Community series, again tackling the problem of loneliness. Today many of us have no “true” friends we can call on. Even in this day when we have hundreds and some have thousands of “friends” on social media, we still feel more lonely than ever.

We began by pondering these questions:

  • What’s the difference between a social media friend and an “in real life” friend?
  • Why do we tend to have so many social media friends and so few real life friends?
  • Can we make our social media friends just as close as our real life friends?

Robin Dunbar, an Oxford evolutionary psychologist says the average maximum number of “stable relationships people are cognitively able to maintain at once” is 150. So the range is around 100-250.

Of course these 150 relationships also have their own concentric levels of relationship. Just like in social media world, though we may have 1,000 friends, the likelihood is true that few of those are bestfriends, and even fewer what we would call, “close friends.”

Dunbar developed a circle map of our typical relationship levels to display this idea:

The image explained:

“The innermost layer of 1.5 is [the most intimate]; your romantic relationships. 

The next layer of five is your shoulders-to-cry-on friendships. 

The 15 layer includes the previous five, and your core social partners. They are our main social companions, so they provide the context for having fun times. We trust them enough to leave our children with them. 

50, is your big-weekend-barbecue people. 

The 150 layer is your weddings and funerals group who would come to your once-in-a-lifetime event.”

What really limits our friendship capacity? Time.

The truth is we have limited time, and some of us more than others. And it takes time to invest in relationships to make them meaningful. We have the responsibility of how we invest our time.

So how much time does it generally require for that acquaintance to become a best friend?

“It takes about 200 hours of investment in the space of a few months to move a stranger into being a good friend.”

Jesus and His Friends

So, if Jesus is our example then let’s look at His life from acquaintances to His closest friendships.

When Jesus first begins His ministry after being baptized by John the Baptist, He calls a few guys to “follow me.” 

These first followers are an unnamed disciple of John, Andrew, Andrew’s brother Simon Peter,  Philip, and Philip finds Nathaniel inviting Him to come along on the journey to follow the “One whom Moses spoke about.” 

So there are then 5 disciples, new acquaintances or new followers of Jesus. These 5 follow Him to the wedding at Cana of Galilee. No doubt Jesus made other acquaintances at the wedding. 

And when He leaves the text just says:

John 2:12

After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

Only His original 5 followers, HIs mother, and His brothers, went with Him from the wedding.

Later on He chose two others, John and His brother, James, the sons of Zebedee. Then a little further Ha calls a few others, Matthew, another James, Thaddeus, Simon, and then Judas.

Still we are not yet told they are more than simply followers of Jesus. He doesn’t consider them disciples, until He prays about it.

Luke 6:12 tells us Jesus spent all night praying to God about who His disciples were to be. And the next day He called the 12 by name to be His disciples.


Along the way, though, Jesus had others begin to follow Him. Shortly before His time in prayer was when He and His followers were walking through the grain fields plucking heads of grain that outraged the Pharisees. Remember we figured out that Jesus either had Pharisees following Him at the time or “workers” for them, hence how they knew and then called Him out for allowing His followers to break this supposed Sabbath Law.

Luke 6:17 also speaks to Him having other followers at this time as it tells us after His choosing of His disciples…

When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds.

Let this be a little wisdom for us, just because someone is following you, it doesn’t mean they should be your friend. 

Just because someone is following you, it doesn’t mean they should be your friend. 

So often, especially in social media world, we think we have to “friend” anyone that follows us or sends us a request. But would you do the same in real life?

The offer of friendship is an offer to do life together…especially when we look at these persons being close friends.

Have you prayed about finding/gaining friends? What if, again, we did this before accepting friend requests? Before inviting that “acquaintance” over?

Jesus’s Friends Circle

There’s honestly no great idea on how many folks followed Jesus at the various stages of His ministry. We get a number here and there of some events, such as the feeding of the five thousand, but we don’t know how His entire ministry fits into the Dunbar’s circles. 

But if I were to make a guess, I would put it something like this:

Acquaintances of course would be those fringe followers, 500 or so.

Friends might would then be 150 or so of those folks. They weren’t enemies and maybe He and they had some light conversation from time to time.

The next circle is the 50. What Dunbar would call “Good Friends.” This is the group you might have a barbecue with remember? 

The 72

Later in Jesus’s time, He sends out “72 disciples” to do ministry in the surrounding towns and places He had planned to visit.

Luke 10:1

The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.

For Jesus, these may have been good friends because there is no doubt He would only send those whom He could trust to do the works He needed them to do.

These would have not only been doing miraculous works, but in whose name they were doing them is what mattered. He sent them to the places He’d planned to go, in other words, they were going and making a name further for Him preparing the fields for harvest.

They were on Team Jesus!

Don’t you want others on your team? Friends that can help you get to where you desire to go in life? Friends that though you may not be the closest, they’ll speak a good word for you. They can be relied upon from time to time to lend you a hand. 

These are the ones I’d say we hope to have in community with us. A village of people that we can rely on and depend upon in times of need. They may not all be those you’d share every secret with, but they might be those you’d call to lend something to you. They may be close enough for you to know if they went missing, and you’d need to call and check up on from time to time, and know they’d do the same for you.

No Longer Servants

There is a time when our relationships change, it grows deeper, and usually that may be after an experience you have together. Jesus marks such a time with His 12 disciples…those that had no doubt been with Him the most time and experienced the most ministry alongside Him.

John 15:15

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 

These are people He can trust with all His Words.

How does it feel to have someone whom you may not have been extremely tight with in your eyes, tell you, “hey, thanks for being a good friend.

I believe that is what we see here. Maybe the disciples had only seen their roles with Jesus as fellow workers, slaves, as they sought to learn from Him as their Master and Teacher. But then Jesus tells them, “You are not my slaves, or my pupils, but you are my friends.”

They may have already been in Jesus’s “best friend” zone, but they hadn’t considered such a thing most likely. But Jesus makes it clear here, and I can only imagine how it may have touched them to hear Him say this.

Make sure that those whom you think are good friends to you know it for themselves. Share how they affect your life positively. I think it’s extremely encouraging to be told how I’ve impacted a friend’s life for good.

The Inner Circle

Still there is one more level, other than family, that we need to look at when it comes to friendships. These are your closest friends. They are as close to blood family as it gets without them being related.

These are the ones Dunbar says are, “your shoulders-to-cry-on friendships. They are the ones who will drop everything to support us when our world falls apart.”

These are truly the friendships we dream of having. And I dare say these are the ones we lack the most when we feel we are “all alone” and have “no one that understands.”

We see these displayed in Jesus’s life as well. We call them His inner circle. These are Peter, James, and John.

They were with Him for the transfiguration

Mark 9:2-4

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.

They were the only ones invited with Him into the home of Jairus when Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead.

And they were the three that accompanied Him in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixion, where He prayed for God to give another way.

These were His ride or die guys. They were there for the intimate miracles and for the worst of times for Jesus. 

We need a few relationships just like these. When we are hurting we need people we can call to come alongside us and just listen to our pain without judgment. Not people to fix our problems, but just love us through them. People that enjoy our good times and are there for our bad times, and us for them as well.

When we are hurting we need people we can call to come alongside us and just listen to our pain without judgment. Not people to fix our problems, but just love us through them.


As we have been talking about community these past few weeks I want to point out that we need friends in our community. We are not created to be alone. God has friendships out there that are just what we need. But, as we have been talking about and learning as well, we need to be intentional to find and make them.

Even in looking at Jesus’s life, we see He picked His own people, and then made selections of the acquaintances that followed Him. He even chose 3 of His best friends to be His closest friends. It is ok for you to do the same.

Remember, pray for friendships, pray about those you let speak into your life and for those that may need you to speak into their lives. Don’t accept just anyone, pray about them. Pray for community.

You Are Christ’s Friends

Jesus wants you as His friend. Too often we may look at our relationship with Jesus as a Master/slave relationship. But I believe Jesus wants more than that for us.

John 15:9-17

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Are you Christ’s friend? He says that if you are, you’ll do what He has commanded, and you will love one another. He has confided in us His Word and His love to share with the world. He chose us, we didn’t choose Him. 

And He has work for us to do with Him, He wants us to be His ride or die people. Are you?

Here’s a couple extra thoughts that didn’t make it into the message but I think are important reminders from Dunbar.

“Losing and gaining (friends) is largely a consequence of who you’re exposed to.”

“Don’t be fazed by loss of friends, because it’s an opportunity to go off and make new friends, which may turn out to be even better.”

Community: Living with One Another

Tuesday evening, April 3rd, we began a bible study video series called, “Find Your People” by Jennie Allen. The study is about making friends and community. Through it Jennie gives us biblical principles and tips on doing just this.

We began this series for a few reasons.

Loneliness is a major epidemic.

We were created by God for community.

Our heart with Innovate Church is to be a place of belonging, to create and be community together for those that feel they have no one, no community, no one that cares about them. The forgotten ones of the world.

So, along with this series, I wanted to look at what you may have heard as, “The One Another’s” of the Bible.

These are all the true relationship teachings of the Scriptures that help point us to being good friends, good family members, good community, and even good citizens of this world.

Being in community together, means doing these one another’s well.

Relationships with One Another

The word generally translated as “one another” is used 100 times in the New Testament.

47 of them are direct instructions to followers of Jesus.

Paul wrote 60% of them.

Relationships are hard for many of us. To be in a positive relationship with anyone means give and take. It means showing grace and love, and at times forgiving one another. If you can’t forgive someone then the relationship breaks down.

We must accept that we are all sinners and are going to hurt and be hurt, mostly unintentionally, and that we need to make sure we show each other grace and forgiveness when this happens.

If we want to find good relationships and great community:

WE have to be willing to make the first move! We go first!

That goes right along with Jesus’s command to do to others as we would have them do to us. You treat people how you want to be treated…it is an active command not reactive. 

So with that let us look at “the one anothers”…

The most well known is that we should love one another. In fact the command to love one another is found 16 times in the New Testament.

1 John 4:7,12 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

In Jesus’s commandment for us to love one another as He has loved us He says…

John 13:35By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jesus’s most well known trait was that He was loving. He was gentle and kind. As saved people we know He is forgiving.

Paul says..

Galatians 5:13 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

If the One we follow is known this way, then we who claim to follow Him should have the same reputation. 

Loving people is hard. Even in our nuclear families, you may have some who you have to choose to love right? When you throw together those family reunions, or maybe even the “church” gatherings, and introduce all kinds of different opinions and beliefs, how much harder is it to love each other then? 

As Jesus set the example of love, so are we to do as His followers.

The One Another’s

So let’s look at most of the One Another’s of the New Testament below beginning with what I call…

Relationship Builders

Love one another (John 13:34 – This command occurs at least 16 times)

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 

Relationship Builders

Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10) 

Love one another with brotherly affection. 

Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)

Outdo one another in showing honor.

Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16) 

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Build up one another (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11) 

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Be likeminded towards one another (Romans 15:5) 

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another (Romans 15:7) 

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Admonish one another (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16) 

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Greet one another (Romans 16:16) 

Greet one another with a holy kiss

Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25) 

that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Serve one another (Galatians 5:13) 

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) 

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:2, 32; Colossians 3:13) 

Be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13) 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15, 25) 

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32) 

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19) 

be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21) 

submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Clothe yourselves with humility towards one another (1 Peter 5:5) 

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3) 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Look to the interests of one another (Philippians 2:4) 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18) 

Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) 

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13) 

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Stir up [provoke, stimulate] one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9) 

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Employ the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of one another (1 Peter 4:10) 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Pray for one another (James 5:16) 

Confess your faults to one another (James 5:16)

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 

Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)

be at peace with one another.

Wash one another’s feet (John 13:14)

you also ought to wash one another’s feet

Relationship Killers

Do not lie to one another (Colossians 3:9) 

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices

Stop passing judgment on one another (Romans 14:13) 

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you’ll be destroyed by each other (Galatians 5:15) 

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Galatians 5:26) 

Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Do not slander one another (James 4:11) 

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Don’t grumble against each other (James 5:9) (John 6:43)

Do not grumble among yourselves.


We do all this because we are in a real sense “members of one another” (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25)

so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Listen to this from Jennie’s book. The idea here is living on purpose, making friends, making community on purpose.

“Why do we expect close friends to somehow appear in our busy lives? We think acquaintances should just magically produce our few best friends. Then our relational needs will be met. Back in the day, people found friends from their larger village of interconnected people. Think village life, small-town life, or agrarian life, or tribes.

People’s needs were met because of the way they lived: close. But because we see community as an accessory, not the essential fabric of life as our ancestors did by default, we are lonely. We are looking to plug a gaping hole. The hole is larger than a couple people could ever fill, and so we live constantly disappointed, and we further isolate ourselves. It’s time to break that cycle – on purpose.”

One of the best examples of community, with this village mentality Jennie mentions, is found in Acts 2. This describes the very beginning of the Church…the people not a building. A Community of believers living out the teachings of Jesus.

Acts 2:42-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

This is community. 

If you’re like me you read this and begin throwing up the “yeah buts.”

“Yeah, but…I’m not sharing my ________________.”

“Yeah, but…I’m not selling my ________________.”

And this idea that “day by day” they came together.

It’s all a bit extreme right? But isn’t that what it would be like to live in a village together? A small place, where everyone knows everyone, and makes sure no one is without.

This, in my opinion, is Christian love for one another. The love Christ calls us to have for one another. He gave His all for us, and says we should be willing to do the same. But you and I aren’t being called to go to the Cross as He did. But we, myself included, won’t even give up the time it take to pick up the phone and call someone to check on them.

Most of us live busy lives. And I know that when I come home from work, I’m ready to relax, not deal with people. And that’s completely understandable for us all. But let us pray that we don’t get so involved in our own lives that we forget to invite others into our lives, and or involve ourselves in our neighbor’s lives. Everyone needs to know someone loves them…and not just family members.

The Kingdom is here and now, but it takes us bringing it into practice everyday. Purposely living it out, in community, together…digitally and physically.

If this content sounds like something you need, or if you are seeking a community to join online, please look us up at Innovate Church. There we have all the links and information on how you can join in community with us.

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