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"JESUS...AS WAS HIS CUSTOM..." (LUKE 4:14-16)
by Barnabas

July 2011

“Jesus…as was His Custom…” (Luke 4:14-16)

Dear Brethren,

Whenever we travel to another country, it is important for us to try to understand the basic customs of the people.  Customs are important in every culture.  Marriage, property rights, and the raising of children vary widely from people to people, as do the rules for eating and hygiene.  Being left handed, there are countries where I have been reminded not to eat with my left hand from a common dish.  Once on the East Coast, while sitting down in a restaurant for a meal with a pastor and his family from India for the first time, the pastor quietly asked, “Do you mind if we eat with our hands?  It is our custom.”  In many countries, sitting with your legs crossed or showing the sole of a shoe can be extremely offensive.  Customs are the distinctives that help to define a culture.

After the children of Israel left Egypt and were ready to cross the Jordan River to take possession of the Land (Joshua 3:1-17), the Lord warned them not to adopt the customs of the people.  Leviticus 18:30 and 20:23 are two passages in which the Lord gives His people a strong warning not to follow “any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them.”  God takes customs and behavior seriously.  What is considered normal in one culture may indeed be an “abomination” in the sight of God according to His Word.

When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He lived a life that reflected the “customs” of His Father’s Kingdom.  It was His custom to go to the synagogue, to “Church” on the Sabbath.  It was His custom to read the Word of God, and teach others the Truths of the Scriptures.  It was His practice to encourage others to walk in obedience to the Word of God.  (John 8:11; Mark 10:21-22) 

The Bible tells about Jesus praying for Himself, His disciples, and for us (John 17).  There were times when He was not ashamed to pray in public (John 11:41-42), and frequently, He went off to pray alone (Matthew 14:23).  Prayer was His “custom.”  More than once the Word of God says that Jesus went from town to town preaching the Kingdom of God (Matthew 9:35).  It was His “custom” to proclaim the Word of Truth so that whoever had “ears to hear” (Mark 4:23) could respond in faith.  He was ready to “preach the Word in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2) not willing to miss any opportunity to confront sin (Matthew 23:1-33) or sow the seed of Hope (John 14:1).

Time after time we read in the Gospels of Jesus’ ministry of healing.  The lame, the leper, and the blind, were healed by the Word of the Lord (Matthew 8:8).  It was His “custom” to respond to those who were in need of healing.  Sick bodies were made well (Matthew 8:15) – the dead were raised (Luke 17:14) – the demon possessed were delivered (Mark 5:15) – Jesus never turned His back on those in need (Matthew 4:24).  And it was the Lord’s “custom” to speak to strangers and outcasts (John 4:7; Luke 19:5), His “custom” to reach out to those who were lost (Luke 19:10).  Jew and Gentile, slave or free, man, woman or child (Galatians 3:28), all had value in the eyes of Jesus because they were made in the image of God the Father (Genesis 1:26-27).

As Christians living in the shadow of the second coming of Christ, our custom should be to walk “in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), standing firm in our faith (Philippians 1:27), so that we can indeed be Christ’s “witnesses” (Acts 1:8) in this world filled with sin, sickness and death.  For those who are strangers to the Kingdom of God, we must be living our lives so that the Lord will be glorified in all that we say and do.  Therefore, let us encourage one another to consider the life of Jesus the Messiah and follow Paul’s “encouraging Word” and be “imitators” of him as he was of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).

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