September 23

John 19-21, Psalm 111

Nabeel Qureshi was a devout Muslim who was introduced to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in his freshman year of college by his friend, David. This introduction led to a 3 year journey where through the Bible Nabeel's faith in Islam was challenged. After this time when the evidence was clear he gave his life to Jesus Christ. Nabeel wrote concerning his conversion, "When I became a Christian, it was the most painful thing I ever did. I wanted to die." "I asked God to kill me because I lost my family. I lost my friends in the mosque. I lost all the people who loved me the moment I became a Christian." He became an apologist and wrote 3 books: "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity", "Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward", and "No God but One: Allah or Jesus?" At the expense of losing everything he ever held dear, he gave it all away for the cause of Christ. At the young age of 34, he just lost his battle with stomach cancer, and now gets to enjoy being with the One he loved most.

In Today's reading we come to a verse that for years confused me. In John 19:26-27, from the cross, we read, "When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home." My confusion was because I viewed it from an earthly standpoint. We know from Matthew 13:55-56, that Jesus had four brothers (same mother, different father; since their father was Joseph, but Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit) named James, Joses, Simon and Judas. In addition to an unnamed number of sisters. Though Mary had an earthly family at this time, Jesus' brothers and sisters did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. We read in John 7:1-5 of His brothers almost mocking Jesus with this portion of Scripture ending in verse 5 with, "For even His brothers did not believe in Him." We see not until Jesus is resurrected and ascends to be back with His Father does His immediate family become believers, as we see in Acts 1:14, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." What Jesus illustrated and what we on earth so often miss is that true families are forged and held together at the Cross of Christ.

So a question that we must all ask ourselves is, "Does our love for Christ supersede all other relationships?" Jesus never said following Him would be easy. We read Jesus' Words in Matthew 10:34-39, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword...He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." We read from Nabeel Qureshi's own words what his decision cost him concerning his family. We can't accept the portions of Scripture we like and disregard those portions we don't like. The world will always pull towards the multitude. But we who belong to Christ are often pulled alone, taking unpopular stances, but it is so worth it, for we are siding with Christ.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster