The Must Needs
One of my most favorite verses is John 4:4, ” And He must needs go through Samaria “. This verse begins the account of Christ and His divine appointment with the Samaritan woman at the Jacob’s well in the city of Sychar (John 4:4 – 42). Christ had an unbreakable appointment with this woman and He truly ” must needs ” not miss it. There was an immediacy to His ” must needs ” as well as a strong sense of purpose. For this ” must needs ” led to the salvation of the Samaritan woman and many of those in her city.
As I’ve continued to read through God’s word, I am always struck when I hear the phrase ” must needs “. To me it always represents God’s divine plan and will – those unquestionable appointments or standards. Just as His will was fulfilled when He met with the Woman at the Well, it was in turn played out when He met with each of us. In this devotion, we will be looking at those passages where God chose to use the phrase ” must needs ” to discover the other unquestionable appointments and standards He has for us.
Genesis 17:13 ” He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant “. In this early verse in God’s word, the Lord is speaking to Abraham. The Lord is coming to Abraham to renew the covenant between God and His people. As He speaks to Abraham, He tells Abraham that all of Abraham’s offspring as well as His servants are to be circumcised as a token or symbol of the covenant. The circumcision “must needs” occur in order for the everlasting covenant to be upon Abraham. So, what does this “must needs” hold for us today? Well, God’s desire here was to set apart His children from those around them. In this case, He asked for a physical change to their bodies, that they would be “marked” as His. In our lives, God is asking for a similar thing. We are to be set apart as God’s children – in the way we live our lives and relate to Him. ” But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for Himself ” (Psalm 4:3). John 15:19 reminds us that we are called out of the world, ” If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you “. Lastly, listen to the words in I Peter 2:3 ” But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light “. Just as God called Abraham out of his world and told him to set himself apart, we are called out of the world to live holy and separate lives.
II Samuel 14:14 “F or we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth He devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him “. In this verse, the woman of Tekoah is speaking on behalf of Joab to King David. She basically says, “We all are going to die and like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again, our death is permanent. But God is not a respector of persons and does not show partiality, but He makes a way that those separated from Him are not actually expelled forever”. The woman of Tekoah is speaking in regards to the King’s son Absalom who had fled three years prior, but what a marvelous truth this is for us as well. We are all going to die. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that ” it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment “. We are all going to die and we will all be judged. We see in Romans 6:23 that what we deserve for our sinful lives is death, but God has given us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ His Son. Just as we read in II Samuel 14:14 that God “devises means” that all those separate from Him are not separate forever, He made a way for us to come to eternal life through the death of His Son on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. We “must needs” die, but God made a way that our death is only a step into His everlasting presence.
Jeremiah 10:5 ” They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good “. Jeremiah, the prophet, lays out in this verse (and those preceding it) the great disparity between God and the idols worshipped by those people that surrounded the Israelites. In the verses preceding these, Jeremiah talks about the “construction” of an idol, ” Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not“. The idols are constructed by men, who cut a tree out of the forest, carve it into the shape they desire, adorn it with silver and gold, and then stabilize it with nails so the it does not fall down. Our “must needs” verse then tells us what these people are left with – their idol is tall and imposing like a palm tree, but it cannot speak and it “must needs” be carried around because it cannot move on its own. Jeremiah goes on to tell the people not to be afraid of the idols because on their own, they cannot do evil and by the same token, they can’t do any good. In the verse following our “must needs” verse, we then see what Jeremiah knows to be true of the One True God, ” Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might “. So what is the lesson for us in this “must needs” verse? We are surrounded by idols in our daily lives . our idols are all those things that we give greater importance to than God. Sometimes it is money, sometimes prestige, sometimes it is education, sometimes a parent or spouse. But each of these things pales in comparison to the One True God who alone is worthy to be worshipped and to receive our praise. None of these earthly “idols” can bring us true peace, happiness, love, or eternal life. They are all “of the earth” and are only as powerful as the energy we give them. God, however, is ” the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting king ” (Jeremiah 10:10).
Matthew 18:7 ” Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh !” OK, jump ahead with me into the New Testament, where Jesus Himself is speaking. In Matthew 18, Christ is speaking to His disciples, and He has just said to them that we all must humble ourselves as little children before Him in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:4). He then goes on to say that if someone offends one of His children, it would be better for that person to be cast into the sea with a millstone around his neck. Wow, what a warning! And yet, we’ve already discovered that these “must needs” verses have strong meanings. So what is Matthew 18:7 saying to us? Well, we are told in verse 7, the offences are going to happen – we know that is a fact, for it “must needs” that offences are going to occur – we are all going to be persecuted and hurt as children of God. But Christ then says, ” woe to the man by whom the offence come “, in other words watch out that you are not offending those around you! We must all be vigilant that our lives and behaviors are not acting as “stumbling blocks” to those around us. As believers, we do not just live unto ourselves, but we are also responsible for the Christian walks of those around us. It is our job not to cause any of those in our paths to stumble in their faith. My friends, we must live lives that encourage only, not live that cause others to question or doubt!
Mark 13:7 ” And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet”. Again, Christ is talking to His disciples, but this time He is talking privately with Peter, James, John and Andrew. They’ve asked Him when the world will end, in what time and season. And Christ answers them and speaks to us at the same time. He tells them not to be deceived when false teachers and prophets come saying that the world is coming to an end; and not to be afraid when we hear of wars, for wars “must needs” be. He goes on to tell His disciples, “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows “. While we know that while wars and earthquakes and famines and trouble are indicative of the end of the world, they don’t always mean that the end is imminent. Such things “must needs” be, ” but the end shall not be yet “. So what are we to do in light of these wars and troubles that we hear about in our world? Well our task is always the same. Christ reminds us again of our task in Mark 13:10 – ” And the gospel must first be published among all nations “. Therefore, ” Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature “.
Luke 14:18 ” And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused “. This “must needs” verse is a little different in that it is an example of those things that we as those who must come to Christ use as excuses for not coming to Him. This verse lies in the midst of the parable of the great supper. In this parable, Christ, speaking to His disciples, tells of a certain man who prepared a great supper and then sent out his servant to bid those invited, ” Come, for all things are now ready ” (Luke 14:17). But those bidden made excuses, such as that in verse 18, ” I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused “. The excuses continued, ” And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come ” (Luke 14:19-20). So what did the man who had prepared the supper do? He sent his servant out to the poor and maimed and blind, bidding them to come to his great supper – and they came at the invitation. What are your “must needs” for not coming to Christ? Do you have an excuse for not accepting Christ as your Saviour? Perhaps you want to have all your fun in life and then accept Him on your deathbed. What if you don’t have the chance? Or if you’ve already accepted Christ, do you have an excuse for not following Him and living a holy life? Perhaps you think that forgiveness is a license to sin? Well, it’s not. ” What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid .” (Romans 6:1-2). I think that the “God forbid” from the Apostle Paul speaks for itself. Our “must needs” are generally excuses for not following the will of God, while His “must needs” are His absolute will. Perhaps it’s time to examine our lives and make the necessary changes that our “must needs” align with His.
Acts 1:16 ” Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.” This verse speaks of the marvel of God’s sovereign plan. Here, Peter is speaking to the disciples who have gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit. Peter is speaking of Judas, who with the 30 pieces of silver he gained by turning Christ over to the Romans, ” purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out ” (Acts 1:18). Judas, even in his iniquity, was part of God’s sovereign plan. While the betrayal of Christ was a heinous crime, God used it, just as He continues to do . ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose ” (Romans 8:28). God’s scripture “must needs” be fulfilled, because it is sure. Christ Himself says to us, ” Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away ” (Luke 21:33). And in another of my favorite verses, Christ tells us ” For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled ” (Matthew 5:18). This “must needs” verse is of the utmost importance for it lays out for us two very important facts. First, that God has a sovereign plan and second, that His scripture and all it’s prophecy will be fulfilled. For remember, long before Judas ever was, God knew that He would be the one to betray Christ – ” Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalms 41:9). Never doubt His plans!
Acts 17:3 ” Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ .” Now here is the greatest truth of the scriptures, that Christ “must needs have suffered” that we might have forgiveness of our sins through His death on the Cross. Here is the greatest of the “must needs” for it is the essence of the Gospel. Romans 5:8 corroborates, ” But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us “. And Romans 5:19 continues, ” For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous .” It doesn’t get any better than this! Christ in His obedience went to the Cross knowing that through His death, we might have eternal life! Look at Philippians 2:8, ” And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross .” And what about John 3:16, ” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life .” I could go on and on! Here’s another, ” In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sentHhis only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins ” (I John 4:9-10). Christ “must needs” have suffered that we might have eternal life. Of all the “must needs”, hold tightly to this truth!
Romans 13:5 ” Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake “. Now, here is a “must needs” for how we are to live. We “must needs” be subject to God’s laws, not just because we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), but also because we know in our conscience’s right from wrong. As Christians our conscience bears witness for us in the Holy Spirit (Romans 9:1). We are held accountable not only to God’s law, but also the Holy Spirit who resides in our hearts. I Peter 2:13 tells us, ” Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. ” As Christ’s followers we are, by definition, to submit ourselves to His laws, will, and ways. If we follow Him, we are to be submitted to Him. ” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you ” (James 4:7).
I Corinthians 5:10 ” Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world “. Here’s another absolute from the Lord – we ” must needs go out of the world “. In this verse we see that fornicator, the covetous, the extortioners, and the idolaters are of the world and as His followers, we are to be ” out of the world “. Similarly, we are told in II Corinthians 6:14, ” Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people “. As Christ’s followers, we are to be ” ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you ” (II Corinthians 6:17). This verse hearkens back to the “must needs” verse we looked at in Genesis 17:13 where just as God called Abraham out of his world and told him to set himself apart, we are called out of the world to live holy and separate lives.
II Corinthians 11:30 ” If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities “. We’ve come to the last of our “must needs” verses and again it’s a verse about how we are to live as Christ’s followers. We’ve already discussed that we “must needs” be submitted to the will of God and with that submission comes ultimate humility. For as Christ’s followers, our glory rests in those things that glorify Christ. Our purpose is to glorify God, ” Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven ” (Matthew 5:16). Therefore if we “must needs” glory in something, it must be in Christ. Look at II Corinthians 12:9, ” And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong”. Here, Paul shows us that He must glory in His infirmities because it is those infirmities that force him to depend on Christ.
Wow, what a list! Did you ever know there were so many “must needs”? I didn’t! Let’s summarize what we’ve learned here.
- We “must needs” live holy and separate lives, like Paul, ” separated unto the gospel of God ” (Romans 1:1).
- We “must needs” die at the end of our lives, but we have the amazing invitation to eternal life with God, knowing that ” God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us ” (Romans 5:8).
- We “must needs” live for God with Him as our only idol. We must ” take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them ” (Deuteronomy 11:16).
- We “must needs” live lives that encourage only and do not cause others to stumble or falter in their faith. Ephesians 4:29 encourage us to, ” Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers “.
- We “must needs” simply come to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. We must believe that ” He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him ” (II Corinthians 5:24).
- We “must need” believe that God has plans for us and that He uses all things to further His sovereign will. In faith believing that He knows ” the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end ” (Jeremiah 29:11).
- We “must needs” believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that it alone can bring salvation. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me ” (John 14:6).
- We “must needs” submit our lives to Christ in such a way that our true prayer each and every day is, ” Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven ” (Matthew 6:10).
- We “must needs” glory in Christ and His work in our lives. As His children, our lives are a reflection of His presence in our lives. ” For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s ” (I Corinthians 6:20).
I hope that this study of the “must needs” has touched your heart. I pray that it does and that it continues to do so in the future as it has touched mine. God bless!