Bringing Encouragement For Our Youth
THE NEW TESTAMENT FOR YOUNG FOLKS
(A great review for all ages.)
By Rev. Gary E. Newmyer
The Gospel According To Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
We have one Gospel, written by four men, and each man wrote as the Holy Ghost gave them the words; therefore, instead of looking at each one as separate documents, we’re going to join them all together. Why? Matthew is written to the person who has just received the Cross, and Mark to those who are further along, Luke to those who like to study, but John fills in many gaps, and gives us a time table to follow, and each joined together gives us a complete historical, and spiritual account. Why is that so important? It tells us how the Spirit of Christ in us desires to work through us, and desires to make us a people of love, peace, joy, faith and hope. Once we know what is going on, we can join it with peace and hope. Like anything, once we know the rules and goal, then we can join, but if we think it’s “baseball”, but it’s really “kickball”, we not only mess up the rules, but we end fighting the purpose. There are religions many in the world, all of which talk about God, or a god, and each has moral values that the person in that religion are suppose to follow; however, none of them promise us a New nature, one that does Good without having to think about it. We do a bunch of things without having to think about them, we just do them. Our Nature guides us, and being a Christian gives us a Nature we’re going to talk about. Will it change you into some puppet? Nay, it will finish the good work begun in you. You will be a better person, a happier person, a more loved person, and a person who is at Peace.
The Birth of Jesus
We will begin with the Birth of Jesus, then go to Luke where we are told some things about Jesus when He was twelve years old, then we will move to John the Baptist, then forward to the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. Luke’s account is somewhat different since he is speaking to those who like to study, and he takes many events and puts them into two groups, one group points to “deny yourself”, the other to “pick up your cross”, both study groups show us how to receive the Cross of Jesus as God intended.
So, let us begin. Luke isn’t concerned about getting the events “one after the other” as they happened. He is putting them into groups so we can study them as they relate to the group. For instance let’s say Jesus one day did Math, the next English, the next day Math again, and so on. Luke wants us to look at all the Math stuff together, and then all the English stuff together. John on the other hand tells us “on the next day”, or on a certain day, showing he is going day to day.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was a remarkable man, he had two missions both were to prepare the way for the Lord. First was his mission to prepare the people to believe on the Lord, then he was to wash the Sacrifice of God, and present that Sacrifice to the Father, and when he did he would see the Dove (acceptance) of God prove Jesus as the “Lamb of God”. John’s mission to prepare the people was to preach and to baptize the people in water. John’s type of baptism was very important, but our water baptism is somewhat different. When we Believe something, it means we have a confidence now, but the basis for our belief is something that has happened. Faith is also a now confidence, but it’s based on some hope yet to come. We believe we got up this morning, we have faith that we can get to bed tonight. John’s baptism was that the people “should” believe on Jesus, since the Cross of Jesus was yet to happen. The baptism of John pointed to the Cross, but ours looks back at the Cross. When we are water baptized we are saying we believe in Jesus, we believe in the Cross of Jesus, we believe Jesus is raised from the dead, and we want all that Jesus has for us, and we want God to forgive our sins, and our part in that is our vow to forgive others, as we are forgiven. Wow, the most important part is our belief that as we forgive, we are forgiven by God.
John also preached to the people, and what he preached was another type of baptism, one only Jesus could do. You see the word Baptism means to be covered, but it also means we want to join to something. When we were baptized in water, we didn’t become water, so why water? Why not grape juice? Water is a symbol of Mercy, and Mercy is a willing heart to forgive. When we are covered, or sprinkled with water we are accepting the purpose of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus; we are saying we believe in what Jesus did for us, but that is only part of it, not all of it. We then need the Power to finish, and when we ask Jesus to baptize us with the Holy Ghost, He will. Our faith then says Jesus is able to complete all this, and get us to heaven. No one can get to heaven without something from heaven, and Jesus made sure we could have the same Spirit that He had. John couldn’t do that, and in truth neither can we, we must ask Jesus to give us that Spirit.
The Fall Nature
So, why even go through all this? When Adam and Eve took of the fruit they began something in the earth called “the fall nature”, it’s that nature that makes us think of nothing but ourselves, or to make sure we get something for what we do. Is that bad? Well, if the only reason we help others is to get something for ourselves, yes. The Ten Commandments were given to man as a type of “conscience”, they are set rules to tell man what not to do. When we accept the Holy Ghost, He will give us the Holy Spirit as our New “conscience” that not only warns us of what not to do, but explains why; and better, He is our guide Who leads us into what we should, and can do. The Holy Spirit in us is what the New Testament calls “Grace”, which means a gift from God to do the things of God. This gift is one that no person can buy, steal or copy, but one that God gives freely when we ask. The fall nature wants us to fail, wants to beat us up, and really wants to destroy us. The fall nature will make like it’s our “friend”, yet lead us into trouble. Ever think, “okay, this is good, I can do this”, but then find out it was wrong, and you got into trouble? That was the fall nature. Ever think, “I know this is right, and I really think I should do it”, and you do, and people say “oh my, you are so good”? That was God’s nature leading you into good things. All of us needed to be taught to walk, talk, eat, and many other things. The fall nature, and the Christ nature are no different, the fall nature taught us many “tricks” to get our own way. We learned how to cry, stomp our feet, show off in front of people, or just be real cute to get what we wanted. The Christ nature is teaching us how to be open, honest, and truthful. The fall nature has a “love”, but it’s a love for the self, ever see anyone who only thought of their self? Whatever was going on, they had to be the center of attention, whatever was happening they had to get the most. They were always the “show pony”, and they always thought of their self. That is a “self-love”, but God’s love is much different, it will cause us to be a “blessing” (a reason to be very happy), but it always includes other people. The Love Jesus has for us is based in God’s Love, a love that cares about us. Jesus gave of Himself when He didn’t have to, and He did it for love.
If this fall nature is so bad, why can’t we just peel it off? We can’t is has become our “master”, and it has things that “rule” us. Ever get so angry the anger made you do things? The anger was ruling you. Ever get so scared that the fear caused you to do something you might not have done? The fear was ruling you. As long as those things rule us, we are a slave to them. However, Jesus gave us something greater, when Jesus went to the Cross He did it for the each of us who would receive His efforts. We can’t die, and then put our flesh back on like some coat but Jesus who had no sin, died for us who are sin, so we may look at Him and say, “Thank You Jesus, I accept your death in my place, and I accept Your life in my heart”. To show we mean business we submit to water baptism, and ask Jesus to baptize us with the Holy Ghost.
God saves us by His Mercy, so we can be saved through His Grace. Okay, so you just got all grown up on us, stop and talk about that for a minute okay? Sure, remember, Mercy is an attitude that desires more to forgive, then it does to get even, in fact Mercy doesn’t look to get even, it looks to forgive. Grace is the giving and living by the Spirit of God, and Grace is a gift from God so we can do the things of Grace, and the things of Grace are all the things of Salvation. We can’t cook without the stuff to cook with, and that is like Grace. Grace gives us the ability to do the things of Grace, and in Grace we find the things of God.
There are conditions on all this, when we receive the Mercy of God it’s based on what Jesus said on the Cross, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”, but Grace comes with the Spirit. Forgiveness of sins means we have sinned, but because of what Jesus did, God the Father will forgive us. This forgiveness doesn’t come to us because of some good thing we do, or have to do, it’s because Jesus asked the Father to forgive us. So is it automatic? Yes and no, yes when we ask for it, no if we don’t.
No matter what we have done, no matter how many times we did it, God is willing to forgive. So, what is Grace? Grace goes further than Mercy, Grace means God looks at us as if we are Jesus, because we have the Spirit of Christ, and it means that which made us sin is being removed from our hearts. The Spirit doesn’t make us robots, nor does He make us slaves, the Spirit gives us the ability to do the things of Christ. How does this fit into water baptism? Good question, we make a vow to God that if He will give us His Mercy, we will give it to others, we will become a forgiving person, not a get even person.
In the Name of Jesus
Have you ever heard someone say, “in the name of Jesus”? Or have you heard of someone asking “where you baptized in the name of Jesus”? That means when you were baptized was the person who baptized you a Christian, and did you believe Jesus died for you. The word “name” means Authority, and Authority means you have a right to do something, but it also has rules. A policeman says “stop in the name of the Law”, but can he stop just anyone? No, he has rules he must obey as well. John’s baptism never asked anyone if they did believe, only if they “repented”, and that they should believe. Oh boy, what is that repent stuff? To repent means we’re sorry for what we have done, and we want to change. It also means we know we have hurt someone else, and that is why we are sorry.
John had the Authority from God to baptize people, and he had the Power to do it, but he did not heal people, or raise the dead. So we find Power is the ability to carry out the authority granted, but if we go beyond the authority, then we’re in rebellion. What if John went about healing people? He would have been in rebellion, but John knew what he was to do, and what he was not to do, and he finished his job with honor.
Looking at the policeman we can see how Authority is his permission to say, “stop in the name of the law”, but what is the name of the Law? Is it Bob? Or Judy? No, that means the Authority given the policeman by the laws. If the person doesn’t stop the policeman arrests them. His ability to arrest means he has the power to arrest them, but that power came because of the authority he already had. The Name of Jesus is like that, when we receive Jesus, He gives us His authority to do things, one of those is to baptize others in water. There are other baptisms as well, fire, the Holy Ghost, the blood, and some more we will find along the way. However, we have to know there is a difference between the baptism John did, and the one we do. Does that mean John’s wasn’t important? No, it was very important, but it also shows the Cross of Jesus brought change, and made it possible for us to have God in us.
Okay, what about John? John’s daddy was a man by the name of Zacharias, a priest in the temple, who was in charge of keeping the lamp burning. In those days they didn’t have light bulbs, they used olive oil in lamps, but to make the olive oil burn, they had to treat it for seven days. They picked the olives, mashed them, took the oil and worked with it until it was pure oil, which took seven days. Zacharias was in charge of the lamp inside of the Temple, and he had to make sure there was olive oil, and make sure the lamp was always burning. One day Zacharias came into the temple to do his work and an angel appeared, but not at the candlestick, rather the angel appeared next to the “altar of incense” (Luke 1:10). The Altar of Incense was a thing that held incense and it stood for the prayers of the saints. Our prayers are kept in heaven, but this Altar was before the Cross and a sign, or reminder to the people that their prayers were heard. That’s really important since the angel tells Zacharias, “your prayers have been answered”. When Zacharias the priest heard that, and saw the angel next to the altar he should have jumped for joy, but he didn’t, instead he questioned the angel.
By the way what was his prayer? He didn’t have any children, and he wanted a son real bad, so much so he prayed for one. Here an angel comes to tell him his prayer is answered, and the angel even stood next to the altar of incense to prove Zacharias’ prayer was answered. Why even pray if you don’t think God is going to answer? When you pray, you must be ready for the answer. Sometimes it’s Yes, sometimes it’s Wait, sometimes it may even be No. When No? When we ask for things that will harm us, or others. If we got mad at someone and prayed for them to be hurt, do we think God would answer that prayer? No, not at all, why? If He answered our prayer, He would have to answer the prayers of others who pray the same thing. Perhaps someone is mad at you, and praying for God to teach you a lesson, would you want God to answer their prayer? Of course not, so Jesus will tell us to pray For those who hurt us, and for a very good reason. We may not want to pray For them, but when we do pray For people, we also receive more of God’s Mercy, and God’s Mercy has the power to not only forgive, but give us peace of mind. Simply, pray for others, in the same way as we would have them pray for us, and in the same way we pray for ourselves. In the case of Zacharias he prayed to be blessed with a child, and God considers a child the greatest blessing of all.
So did Zacharias jump up and down, and shout “Praise the Lord, my prayer is answered”? No, he said, “How shall I know?”. He questioned the angel, which is the same as questioning God’s ability to answer prayer, and really he questioned his own prayer. The angel then told him, “Your mouth will be closed until the day these things come to pass”. Why? If Zacharias failed to believe his own words, then he would speak against himself, and would mess things up. He was no where near “faith”, and a mile from “belief”. The prayer was something Zacharias “said”, so his words were in the past, and that calls for him to believe, but the answer to that prayer was still in the future, so that called for faith. Zacharias had proof that God was able to bring children from the life of Abraham. The faith part still called for believing today for that which is yet in the future, and Zacharias wasn’t believing anything.
Elisabeth was the wife of Zacharias, and they would have a child just as the angel said, and they would name that child “John”. Elisabeth had a cousin by the name of Mary, and Mary was engaged to a guy named Joseph. Mary and Joseph were picked of God to raise Jesus, and Mary was picked from among all the women to carry Jesus. So, if God is God why not just go “bang” and have Jesus appear? Because God sets the rules for us, and even God won’t violate them. The rules for being a human is to be born of a woman, and so it was with Jesus. Jesus was to stand for all men, and all of us were born the same way. Why would God pick Joseph and Mary? Because of some good deed they did? No, because they had a lot or money? No, because they were good looking? No, because their hearts would accept the plan of God.
Zacharias would be the father to John the Baptist, but in the case of Mary there had to be Belief in her heart, so she was chosen from among women. Mary’s dad was also named Joseph, and her grand-dad was named Heli, and her family line went back to Nathan, one of the sons of David (Luke 3:23-38). To the Jewish people, if you mother is not Jewish, you’re not Jewish. They kept records to prove one was Jewish, but they kept the records by using the name of the father of the wife. Luke gives us the family line of Mary to show Jesus was Jewish. Matthew gives us the family line of Joseph, Mary’s husband to be, but why? In order to be a king in Israel the family line had to go back to Solomon and David. So, to be a king one had to be related to Solomon and David, but Solomon’s mother was not Jewish, her name was Bathsheba, and she was from a different country. So, we find God also picked Mary and Joseph because of their family history.
Only God could put this together, but did God make Mary love Joseph? Or make Joseph love Mary? No, God saw them together, and knew the lines would be perfect to show Jesus is Jewish, and subject to the promise God made to Abraham, and Jesus was also in line to be king. When the king dies, then the son of the king appointed to be the next king takes over, but wait; Jesus lives, so there can be no more kings. Or can there? When we accept the death and resurrection of Jesus, He makes us kings, but He is still King of all kings. So what is a king? Some hot shot who tells people what to do? Only if they are a bad king. A good king is someone who has authority to do things in the kingdom, and a kingdom is the place where the will of the king is done. A good king always thinks of his subjects, and the well being of the kingdom. A bad king always thinks of himself, and could care less about anything else.
We are kings, but we don’t have our own separate little kingdom, we are all “equal” in the Kingdom of God. No one in the Kingdom is greater than Jesus, but no one is greater than the other members in the Kingdom either.
Now we know why Matthew wrote one family line, and Luke another, they are not wrong, only speaking of two different things. Is the mother of your father, the mother of your mother? No, there is Grandma So-and-so, and Grandma That-And-That. One grandma is the mother of your father, the other the mother of your mother. The same with granddads, one is the daddy of your father, the other the daddy of your mother. Each has a family line, and Luke gives us Mary’s; Matthew gives us Joseph’s. However, before Mary and Joseph were married an angel appeared to Mary six months after the angel appeared to Zacharias, and told her, “You are favored among women”, and then told her she was picked to be the one to bring the Messiah into the world. She knew it took one man and one woman, but this angel was saying, “nope, God has a different way to pull this off, but He still needs you”. Mary wondered how God would do it, so is that unbelief? No, Zacharias wanted to know If it could be done, Mary wanted to know how, she knew it could be. Both Zacharias and Mary asked, but they asked different questions. Once Mary knew God had it all figured out, she said, “Sure, let it be done”.
Jesus not only had to be born of a woman, but He and to be born in a very special way. This was called “born of the flesh”, and our flesh and soul are different. Our flesh is a result of the mixed DNA of our mother and father, but our souls are a creation from God. No two souls are alike, but we know there are “twins”, and “triplets”. God made sure each of us have our own specialness. The skin and body we use on earth give us a right to be on the earth, but the Spirit God gives us, gives us a right to belong to heaven.
So, when Mary asked, “how can this be”, why didn’t the angel close her mouth? Because John the Baptist was going to be born to one woman, and one man, just like any of us, Jesus was not. Mary wondered how God was going to pull it off, not that God couldn’t do it. We can wonder, and wonder about how God is going to do something, but know He is still going to do it, and that is not doubt. “Gee, that’s neat God, how are you going to do it”, is different from “God I don’t think you can do it”. Unbelief is when we don’t think God can do it, but Doubt means God started, but we don’t think He can finish what He started. Dad says he is going to build a tree house, and we say, “I don’t believe it”, which means we don’t think he will even start it, which is unbelief. Then he starts to build it, and we say, “he won’t finish it”, which is doubt. Zacharias didn’t believe God was able to begin, or finish, but Mary knew God was able to begin and finish, and she just wanted to know what she was suppose to do. Isn’t that the way it is with us? “Okay God I’m for it, so what do I do?”. Sometimes it’s “do this”, other times it’s, “just believe”.
In those days Israel was slave to Rome, and Caesar Augustus made an order, and wanted all the males to go back to the towns they were born in. He wanted to record who they were, and how much tax they had to pay. Mary was almost due to have her baby, but orders are orders, and Joseph put Mary on a donkey and headed for the town of his birth, Bethlehem. They lived in a place called Nazareth, which was about 75 miles north of Bethlehem. Bethlehem was below Jerusalem, and to get back to Nazareth they had to pass through Jerusalem, which will become important in a few minutes.
There were a whole bunch of people who were born in Bethlehem, more than the hotels could hold. It was a sell out, every room was taken, and when Joseph got there he couldn’t find one room. Why would God allow that? Surely the God could make sure His own son was born in a fancy room. What do you think would happen? They would be selling bits and pieces of that room for years to come. “Oh this is a piece of the wood from the very room where Jesus was born, only one hundred dollars, a real bargain”. The only things that made Jesus mad, was selling things that should be given away. Jesus cleaned out the temple twice, and both times it had to do with the religious leaders making money off the people of God. Freely we received from God, and freely we’re to give.
There was no rooms to be had in Bethlehem, but one hotel clerk told them they could use one of the stalls for the animals. That was better than nothing, but it all makes sense. Jesus is the “Lamb of God”, which means Jesus was sent into the world to live and then die for you and I as a sacrifice we couldn’t give would be born in the poorest of all places, so we could be kings in the greatest of all places.
Jesus would be the sacrifice that would remove our sins, and make us holy enough to not only stand before God, but to stand next to Jesus. God didn’t want to make us like the angels, but He wanted a Family, a great big family.
The time came, that one time in all the time of man for the birth of Jesus. A time so special that the whole world knows when it’s “Christmas”. Was Jesus really born on December 25th? No, we pick that day to celebrate, and one day is as good as another, the real day is when He is born in our hearts.
Not that far from the stable was a special flock of sheep, and the only shepherds who would remain all night with their sheep were those who were guarding the sheep used in the Temple for sacrifices. Those special shepherds had to accept the “Lamb of God” as more special than the sheep used in the temple. God sent an angel to tell them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). We read that and think, “yeah cool, but so?”, in those days there were two groups of people, the Jew and the Gentile, and according to the Jew, only the Jew held a special place with God. This angel is saying “all people”, which means “all people”, Jew or Gentile. The shepherds left their herd and hurried to Bethlehem, and they found Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.
Joseph and Mary stayed in the area of Bethlehem for a day or two, and then headed to Jerusalem, and would stop at the temple to take care of business. In order for a male Jew to accept and have the Covenant God made with Abraham they needed to endure a special rite by a priest, and that rite was called Circumcision. Not only did they have to undergo that rite, but it had to be done on the eighth day of their life. Okay, what about the Wisemen, did we forget them? No, all things in their order, they will show up.
Mary also had to go through a rite called “Purification” which was done after a woman had a child. Both Mary and Jesus had their rites done in Jerusalem, in the Temple (Luke 2:22-24). On the way back to their home they passed through Jerusalem, and that shows they were on their home before the Wisemen showed up, which we will see shortly.
In the Temple was a man by the name of Simeon, and God told him he would see the Lord’s Christ, and when he saw Jesus he knew that came to pass. Jesus didn’t jump up in Mary’s arms and say, “Look man, I’m the Christ, are you lucky or what?”, Mary didn’t hold Jesus up and say, “Hey Simeon, here is the Christ you’ve been waiting for”. Simeon knew in his heart, and that is the best witness of all.
Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth the place where they lived, and now we get the rest of the story, and the Three Wisemen. We know most Christmas stories have the Three Wisemen coming to Bethlehem, but the Bible doesn’t say that, and we’re always better off using the Bible. The Three Wisemen were called “Magi”, or those who study the stars, and look for signs of God. “Oh, they did the thing in like find people’s future in the stars”. No, they were different, they looked only for signs about God, not people. They saw in the stars how the Christ was to be born, so they followed a star to Israel, and they headed to the East from where they lived toward Bethlehem. They stopped in Jerusalem, and spoke to king Herod, a Jew who was appointed by the Romans to be over the Jews. Herod was a bad man, a king who thought only of himself, and when he heard of the Christ being born he was afraid for his job, and when the Three Wisemen said they were looking for the Christ, Herod thought he would lose his job for sure. He called the chief priests and scribes, and asked them where would the Christ be born, and they said it was written in the prophets that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:1-6). Then they added how this Christ would “rule the people Israel”. That was all Herod needed to hear, he was set to stop this thing from happening. Herod caused all the children three years and under in Bethlehem to be killed. How could God allow that? This was special remember, and God had a special place in heaven for all those children, but the “records” had to show there was only one child born in Bethlehem, and that child was Jesus of Nazareth.
This area about the time of the Wisemen showing up is clearer when we find the Greek word used for “young child” in reference to the Wisemen meeting Jesus means a child around the age of two years old, but not a baby. With that, we add the clue of Herod sending out the order to kill the children two years old and under (Matt 2:13-16). Another clue is when the Wisemen leave Herod they also lost sight of the star, but then they see it again, and follow it to the “house” of Jesus, not the stable (Matt 2:10-11). The Wisemen all brought gifts, gold fitting for a king, frankincense (sweet smelling oil) fitting for the sacrifice of God, and myrrh (used for burials) fitting for the life of the child, raised to die for us. After the Magi see the child, they are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, but why? Because they knew the child was born in Bethlehem, but that isn’t where they found Him, they found Him in his house in Nazareth. If they passed back through Jerusalem, and if they were asked of Herod, “did you find the child?”, they would have to answer “yes, in Nazareth”. They would have to be honest, since that was something the Magi were known for. Joseph was also warned in a dream to leave Nazareth, and take Jesus into Egypt. Dreams are not always signs from God, sometimes they are signs that we shouldn’t eat before we go to bed; however, some dreams are from God, and usually they are warnings. God does get involved in our lives, and instead of killing Herod, God told Joseph to flee into Egypt, and the Wisemen to take another way home. God’s ways, are God’s ways, and they are always better than our ways.
Herod could have gone to the Temple records as well, and there he would have found the name of Jesus as a youth born in Bethlehem, but living in Nazareth. For that reason God warned Joseph in a dream, and told him to take Jesus to Egypt, and raise Him there, until this Herod is no longer in power. Joseph obeyed God, and moved to Egypt.
All this time both Jesus and John the Baptist are being raised, yet we really don’t read about their day to day childhood lives, why? Is there some hidden book to tell us? No, they are an example of how God protects us when we are children growing up. Here is something hard for some to believe, but in Isaiah 57:1 we find God takes the young, knowing what lays ahead for them. It’s far better for a young child to be with the Lord forever, then with us for a short time, and in hell forever. Does that mean if we live a long time we’re evil? No, not at all, it means we can’t question God’s wisdom and knowledge, He always knows better.
When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts, we are like little babies inside, and a growth takes place. When we were first born to our parents, we were not sent to school the day after we were born. There were years of training, learning to walk, learning to talk, and learning many other things. Then came school, where we learned more, and it takes years of learning before we are ready to get a job. Jesus and John were no different, they grew up as any of us. So, why did Jesus have to? Because Jesus experienced the things we do, and none of us have been through more than Him. Also it shows how important God holds our childhood, and wanted Jesus to experience that great time. At the same time Jesus knew who He was, and Luke shows Jesus was very wise, but that doesn’t mean John was ready. John was not the Son of God, he was all human, and Jesus waited until John’s ministry was operating, before the ministry of Jesus could begin. God didn’t tell John, “ready or not here I come”, there was a time to wait until John was fully able to do his job. God will never toss us into something He hasn’t prepared us for, and He always gives us the power to complete whatever He asks us to do.
God gave the Jewish people some holidays, among them were three that were more important than the others. Holidays? Sure, God isn’t all boring and He wants us to have fun too, but He wants us to have “holy fun”, not “evil fun”.
The Day of Atonement was one of those holidays, and it was a day when the high priest would take the sins of the people before God and ask God to “pardon” the sins of the people. Okay, so what is that? A Pardon doesn’t say we didn’t sin, it says there isn’t enough evidence to show we are responsible, and God shows us mercy, and balances the scale. On one side is our sin, on the other is God’s mercy, giving us another start. That’s cool, but Jesus gave us two things greater. Even if the scale is balanced, the sin is still there, right? Well, the Father forgives our sins, because Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”, which means the Father removes our sins from us, and from the scale. However, then we add the Sacrifice of Jesus, which takes us one step further, and “remits” our sins, which means God looks at us as if we have sinned. How can He? Because of Jesus, when we accept Jesus we accept many things, one is how God looks at us. Jesus took our sins, but He never sinned, so God the Father looks at us like He looked at Jesus. The second we receive Jesus and the Sacrifice the Father looks at us and says, “this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. Double cool.
Jesus then takes it one step further yet, and gives us His Spirit so we can be like Jesus, and so we can be like God. Wow, does that mean we’re God? Not hardly, it means we can be like Him in attitude.
We might look at the “Blood of Jesus” as some gross thing, but the Blood of Jesus in heaven is nothing like the blood of you and me. The Blood of Jesus is the Blood of the Lamb of God, the very Life of the Anointing of the Christ, so, it’s not like our human blood, or the blood of animals. The Blood of Jesus not only gave Him life, but the Life lives on, and covers us. Once we accept the Spirit of Christ, the Blood of Jesus covers us, and we are in a place where Love, Peace, Faith and Hope live within us.
Well, back to the three holidays, the Day of Atonement being one, Pentecost, or the day when the people give their first fruits from their fields to God, as a sign that they know the ground, the fruit and the power to make the things grow all came from God. The last holiday is “Passover”, and back when Moses was leading the children out of Egypt, and into the Promised Land there was an angel of death that was sent to kill the firstborn male of all the families in Egypt. Why? That was a sign as well, not only of the Power God has to make the world let us go, but to show how the sad it was for the Father to see the Son suffer on the Cross.
God told Moses to take the blood of a lamb and put it on the Door to each house that belonged to a Jew, and the angel would Pass Over, and not touch those in that house. That was called the Passover, but the purpose was not only to remember how the Blood saved them from the death, but how there were those who did die, and they were to remember sin brings death, and how death is not a joy for the Lord, but having our sins forgiven and remitted is a joy.
Anyway we said all that to lead up to a time when Jesus was 12 years old, and it was a great pleasure if the families of the Jews could go to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. They would get together in great caravans, and march to Jerusalem, have the feast, play games, and make a big vacation out of the thing. When Jesus was 12 His family went to Jerusalem for Passover, but instead of hanging with the family, Jesus went to the Temple and was asking questions of the teachers. The teachers were amazed that this 12 year old kid had just a great understanding of the Bible. In the meantime the family packed up and was headed out, and about three days down the road they did a “home alone” thing, and Mary couldn’t find Jesus anywhere. So, why couldn’t she find Him for the three days? Come on, if it was a store, she would have found him real quick. In those days the parents all traveled in one group, and the kids in another. When the children’s part of the caravan joined the parents, Mary couldn’t find Jesus, and she had a fit, where was her son? She and Joseph went back to Jerusalem, and found Jesus still with the teachers, and still asking and learning. Mary asked Jesus, “where have you been? We’ve been worried sick”. Jesus said, “Why did you worry? You know I would be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:41-51). At 12 years old Jesus knew who He was, but He also knew to wait for the perfect time to begin. Gee, maybe He had unbelief about being able. No, He knew there was a time to begin, and that is different than thinking it will never begin.
Time passes on, and Jesus is now about thirty years of age, and from His birth to when He was 12, to the time He became about 30 was a time of growing and increasing in wisdom, ability and confidence in the anointing.
Have you ever done something and had to say you were sorry? Ever say something to someone, and have to say you were sorry? Jesus was different, and everything He did was perfect, and without sin, and He never had to say He was sorry to anyone. That is just how perfect Jesus is, and that same attitude lives in us by the Spirit. However, we also have our flesh, and at times we do things we should not, and we should be quick to say we’re sorry to the person we did the wrong to, and quicker to tell God we’re sorry.
John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus, and John’s ministry began as a preparing, or setting the stage. John preached about a baptism that was to come, but the baptism he did was not the one he preached. Huh? Sure, he baptized others in water, but preached that Another (Jesus) would baptize the people with the Holy Ghost and Fire. The “Fire” is not to consume us like some b-b-q, it’s a the same type of fire they used with sacrifices, only it’s not like the fire we use. The fire of God is not seen, it doesn’t burn us, it “removes” things that cause us harm.
Once we’re baptized in water, we can baptize others in water, but none of us can baptize with the Holy Ghost or Fire. So, how does one get the Spirit? Ask God, and He will give. That simple? Yes, it’s that simple. John was baptizing and Jesus came to him and wanted to be baptized in water, so did Jesus have to repent for sin? No, Jesus never committed sin. So why even get baptized? The washing of the sacrifice is part of our water baptism, we are allowing someone to wash us, so we can be used of God. John looked at Jesus, and said, “Man, I have need to be baptized of You”. John wasn’t talking about water baptism, he had been preaching about Jesus baptizing others with the Holy Ghost, so John wanted the Spirit; however, it wasn’t time yet. The Spirit would not be given to anyone until after the Resurrection of Jesus. When John baptized Jesus the Father sent the Holy Ghost in the shape of a Dove representing Peace on earth, and the Father’s acceptance of the Sacrifice, then the Father said, “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased”.
Jesus told John to let happen the way the Father desires, and John baptized Jesus in water, and immediately the Spirit of God took Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. What? How can that be? What kind of God would do that? A God that knows Jesus will win. The wilderness is not a bad place, it’s the place where we see those bad things on the inside of us that we have hidden, or have ignored, and it’s the place where those things are removed. Why see them? So we can say, “Lord, I don’t like that”, and the Lord sets us free. Like what things? Anger, being mean, nasty talking, hateful attitudes, being stingy, or greedy, all things that are connected to the “fall” of man. How did we get them? Jesus didn’t have any of those things, but the devil wanted to trick Jesus into taking them. In our case the devil came along one day and said, “you know if you cry real loud, they will pay attention to you, and you can get what you want”. We cried real loud, really really loud, and it worked, so we used it. We took of the fruit of the wrong tree, and were taken captive by sin. The Cross of Jesus frees us, and the Blood of Jesus is cleaning us daily. How do we know we are covered by the Blood of Jesus? We have the Spirit. How do we know we have the Spirit? That little voice inside that tells us what is right, and what is wrong. The Spirit of Christ is the Mind, or Conscience of God in us.
Don’t think the Ten Commandments are bad, they are not; they are Good, but they are sent to bad people, or people who could turn bad. They are a written conscience for the people who don’t have the Spirit of Christ. People know not to steal, because the Ten Commandments say so, but we know not to steal because Jesus in us says so. People without Christ need something to tell them it was wrong to steal, but when we think about stealing, that little voice inside says, “no, that’s wrong”. We are then “convicted”, which means we feel inside how wrong it is. Those without Christ feel it’s wrong when they are caught. When we think about lying, that little voice says, “are you sure that is the truth?”, and this shows we have accepted the Spirit of God, and the Conscience of God is within us. Those without Christ try to find some way around God’s Laws, they think if they have a “right” that it’s Right to it. Not so, having a right granted by man doesn’t mean the act is Right in God’s eyes. Abortion is one example, it’s not only very self-centered, but it takes away the right of God to give someone a soul. How would we like it if Mary said, “No, I don’t want any children, this one is to be aborted”? How would we like it if John’s mother aborted him? Jesus would be standing at the River Jordan, and no John, thus no baptism, no ministry, no Cross, and no Salvation. Having a right, doesn’t mean it is right.
The devil came at Jesus with three temptations, and temptations are suggestions that go into our minds and when we buy the suggestion we are drawn to do something that is wrong. God cannot tempt us to do evil, since there is no evil in God. So, we know there must be two things to make a temptation work its evil, the one who is doing the tempting must have some evil in them that causes them to try and make us do evil, but the one who is tempted must also have some evil in them in order for them to be tempted. Without both the evil in the one doing the tempting, and the evil in the one being tempted, there is no temptation. So what would it be? If the there is no evil in the one doing the tempting, then it’s a test. God will test us to show us where we’re at, and how much we have grown, or to show us we haven’t grown as much as we think. An example? Sure, someone comes up to us and says, “you know what is funny? Trip a blind person”. We know that is wrong, but what made them say that? Evil I them, a desire to do wrong, and enjoy it. When they attempted to get us to do the wrong, they were tempting us to do evil. What if said, “yeah, sure, that’s cool”? We were tempted, so there was an evil in us. What if we say “are you nuts, that is so wrong”? We were tested, but that doesn’t mean they were not evil. That is what happened to Jesus, the devil suggested things that were evil, Jesus said, “no way”, so the temptation was not complete, showing Jesus won.
The wilderness for us is get rid of those things that cause us to do wrong. Of course Jesus didn’t have any of those things, so why even go into the wilderness? To beat the devil, and show Jesus is always greater than any and all evil.
Did Jesus sit on a rock in the wilderness, or did He go about doing things? He went about doing things; John’s account shows Jesus did a bunch of things, including cleaning out the temple, taking to Nicodemus, and the woman at the well, as well having some disciples with Him. Among other things we know Jesus “fasted” during the forty days, and a fast is when someone doesn’t eat. Forty days is a long time to go without food, but Jesus did it.
Once John saw the Dove at the baptism of Jesus, he knew his work was really done, God had accepted the Sacrifice, and when he saw Jesus the next day, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God”, and two of John’s disciples left John’s ministry and followed Jesus. One of those is named “Andrew” (Jn 1:40), and the other isn’t identified until we get to the meeting in Acts 1. Who was the other one? Judas, Judas was with the ministry from the beginning, he did many things, and held an important office, yet he allowed his old fall nature to control him to the point of even betraying Jesus to get his own way. Judas shows when we don’t allow the Spirit to deal with the evil in us, we will take the Good God gives us, and twist it to evil. Judas cast out devils, but it he never took on the old nature, and allowed it to tempt him to do something that was so wrong, no child has been named “Judas” since.
Peter would meet Jesus for the first time at this time, but Peter would not be called into the ministry until after the 40 day fast. Nonetheless we find Philip, Nathanael (Nathaniel), Andrew, and Judas as active disciples with Jesus, even during the forty day fast.
Jesus would clean out the Temple in the very beginning of the fast, and correct those who “sold the dove”, or made money from the things the Holy Ghost gave them. Regardless of what it is, we are not suppose to sell the things of God. That was so important it was the first thing Jesus would do.
Jesus would also do the miracle of the wedding at Cana, and that miracle was turning the water into wine. So, why do that? To prove He is a big shot? No, not at all, it was a symbol of what His ministry was all about. We are vessels like the jars used at the wedding, God forgives us, and fills us with His Mercy (water), then the Holy Ghost turns that Mercy into Grace (wine), then we are happy, useful, faith living people.
What else does the wedding at Cana tell us? We see Mary, but where is Joseph? We also know Mary went to live with Joseph’s brother, and we say “so what?”. We put that with the Jewish traditions, and we find out something interesting. Mark tells us Mary had other children, but in the Jewish way of life if Joseph died, then Mary would go to live with Joseph’s brother, and would help raise the children of Joseph. Instead of calling Mary “aunt”, Mary would be like a second mother. All this shows two things, most of the ministry team of Jesus consisted of people related to Mary and Joseph in some manner; next Joseph had died by this time. Mary was a type of single mother, Jesus was without an earthly dad, yet He always knew He had His heavenly Father. Faith was not something Jesus used to avoid danger, or terrible events, it was something that kept Him in touch with His heavenly Father during those hard times.
Jesus would also meet Nicodemus and explain about being Born Again, so what is that? We are all born into this world in the flesh (not just skin, but that which connects us to the earthly), and in order to be like Jesus we must be born again, or a second time. How can that be? Nicodemus wanted to know that as well, he thought we had to go back into our mother’s belly. No, that would be flesh again. Jesus died on the Cross so we can say, “Jesus died for me”, and that means we can accept the death of Jesus in our place, which then gives us the right to be born of the Spirit. Where does this take place? If the flesh is on the outside, where do you think the Spirit is? Inside? Good, that’s exactly what happens.
Nicodemus, was a teacher, and a Pharisee, and saw Jesus clean out the temple of those who sold the dove, and he knew that was a miracle. Why a miracle? To enter the Temple, and do those things took a miracle. Nicodemus wanted to know how Jesus could do that, and simply walk out of the Temple without any of the priests tossing stones at Him. Nicodemus knew Jesus was from God, and Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, Except a man be Born Again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:1-3). What has that to do with God being with him? Nicodemus didn’t even ask a question about being Born Again, but Jesus answered, so what does that mean? Jesus knew what was on the heart of Nicodemus, and this man was a religious leader all his life, and he never saw anyone like Jesus. Jesus was telling Nicodemus how he could be “from God”, and how it was going to take something like a birth, but only one that could come to pass when the Cross of Jesus came to pass.
This was still the time of the wilderness, and Jesus was taken into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Why would the Father allow Jesus to be tempted? The Father knew Jesus would win the battle, but the experience also shows us how the devil works. Jesus went without food for forty days, and then the devil came and said, “If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread”. Did God make the stones bread? No, but the devil was tempting Jesus to take the creation of God, and make it into something it was never intended to be, just to please the flesh. Could Jesus have turned the stones into bread? Sure, but why? We know while He was at the well His disciples went into town to get Him something to eat, so God was providing in a way God wanted to. Jesus wasn’t about to do anything the devil suggested, and Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”. Wow, think about that, every word? Not just a few, or just the ones we like, but all of them. How can that be? How can we as humans live by all the words of God? We as humans can’t, that is why Jesus came, so we could have the Spirit of Christ in us, so we can live the life of God on this earth.
The devil came again, only this time he gave Jesus a false vision, and in the vision he took Jesus to a place where Jesus could impress the people, and make the people obey. The devil showed Jesus the very top of the temple, and told Jesus, “if you cast yourself down, the angles will hold you up”. Where did the devil get that? From the Bible, so don’t think the devil won’t use the Bible, he will, but he always uses it in a manner God never intended. Like using a lawn mower to vacuum the rug, right equipment, wrong usage. The devil will twist verses to trap us, he will deny the Bible to trap us, he will tempt us with fear to trap us, but if we have Jesus, then we know Greater is Jesus in us, than the devil.
Jesus went right back to using the Bible to answer the devil, and said, “you shall not tempt God”. Tempting God is putting a test on God to see if He is telling us the truth or not. Faith knows God cannot lie, what God says, God says. Jesus knew the angels would hold Him up, He didn’t have to test God. Neither did Jesus attempt to impress the people, He was not making a show out of this, it was serious, and the people had to make their own choices.
The devil came again, and this time he told Jesus if Jesus would only bow, then he would give Jesus all the people, and then he said it was in his power to do so. What a jerk, as if he owned the people. Think about it, when we came to Jesus no devil could stop us. The devil owns nothing, not even hell. That’s right, that is where the devil will end up, but God still owns it. Here the devil said, “You came for the people, bow to me and I will give them to You?. Just one little bow, one small one, just one knee. No way, that would mean the devil was king over Jesus. No way, no way, and no way. Did Jesus come to save the people? Sure, but He was going to do it the way the Father wanted, not the way the devil wanted. Oh yeah, the devil is a tricky rascal, but he can’t devour just anyone. No, he looks for someone who will listen to him, and obey him. If we obey the devil what is that? Bowing? Sure is. Better to obey God.
Jesus had enough of these games and told the devil, “get behind Me”. The devil is always limited in what he can use, and he used all of them on Jesus. Now did the devil go “boo”? No, did the devil hit Jesus? No, did the devil possess Jesus? No, stories to scare us are not Bible. The devil is defeated, and no one ever saw a dead horse win a race.
During the forty day fast Jesus and His disciples were also busy baptizing people in water, although Jesus didn’t baptize any, only His disciples did, including Judas (Jn 3:22-24). We know this is still the time in the wilderness, since John was not yet cast into prison (Jn 4:24), but when the forty day fast ended John was in prison (Mark 1:14).
Since Jesus and John each had a ministry going on, there came the a question, who was greater? The baptism of John? Or the one the disciples of Jesus were doing? See, if Jesus was baptized of John, surely John was greater. Not so, and that is the wrong way to figure things. That is the same as saying Jesus loved Lazarus more than John, since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but not John. We can’t figure out those things by using our own minds, we will get it all messed up. John said in order for Jesus to increase, John had to decrease, which means John knew in order for the ministry of Jesus to become all God wanted it to be, John had to step back. People would always look at Jesus as being subject to John, rather than seeing the purpose of John was to baptize Jesus, making Jesus much more important than John.
Toward the end of the forty day fast Jesus also went to see the woman at the well, and this women as not liked by the other women in her town. She had been married a bunch of times, and she was not living a very good life style. She was at the well all by herself, the other women all turned their backs on her, but not Jesus. The disciples wondered why Jesus would even talk to this woman, but Jesus wanted to save her, not condemn her.
Jesus used the well, and the water in the well to explain God’s Mercy to the woman, and at that very moment Jesus was showing her mercy. Jesus acted like the well was a person, and the water was in the well, and the people had to get it out, but Jesus would say we are like that well, only there is a great spring in us, and the Water comes out in great amounts. When we are in need of Mercy, we know from inside of us will spring up God’s Mercy. Why? We have the desire to forgive. This woman was hated by other women, and for her to overcome she needed to forgive. Could she? Jesus would tell her the time is coming when all people could have the Spirit of God in them, and from the Spirit that Mercy (Water) would come.
While Jesus was talking to the woman at the well His disciples went to town to get Him something to eat, after all it has been almost 40 days (Jn 4:8). When they return they saw Jesus talking to the woman, and wondered “why would He talk to her?”. The woman was so excited she ran into town and told the people about Jesus, and they came to see for themselves. The disciples wanted Jesus to eat, but Jesus said, “I have meat you don’t know about”. They wondered, “who gave Him food?”. Jesus wasn’t talking about food, food, but about the joy of seeing people come to God. The town’s people came and wanted to know more, and Jesus stayed with them a couple of days, which ended the fast and the wilderness experience.
When Jesus came out of the wilderness, John the Baptist was in jail, and Jesus then heals the son of the official (Jn 4:43). Which was the second miracle, the turning the water into wine was the first. So, then why did Nicodemus think cleaning the temple out was a miracle, and Jesus didn’t? A healing is bringing something back to what it’s suppose to be, a miracle goes beyond that, and brings something where there is no foundation for it. Say huh? A cut that is healed is a healing, but when a finger is cut off, and a new one grows in its place, that’s a miracle. The cleaning of the temple was healing the temple, but turning water into wine? That is a miracle. Water was not made to be wine, but why do turn it to wine to begin with? To make the people at the wedding happy? No, it was a sign to us, we are baptized in water (mercy), but the Blood of Jesus is cleaning us (wine). The water into wine shows a progression, or growth, and it relates to being Born Again. Jesus was teaching on the Cross long before He went to the Cross.
It’s important to keep in mind before Jesus came out of the wilderness He did many things, He cleaned out the temple of those who sold doves. So what does that mean? The people were required to give sacrifices, and if they were poor, all they could afford was a dove, since there were so many of them in that area. They would bring their dove to the priest, and he would inspect it. However, the priest would say, “nay, this one is no good, you must buy the improved one over there at the love offering table” (paraphrased). Of course the person selling the dove in the temple was cheating the people, the same dove that cost one dollar on the outside cost five dollars in the temple. We are the sheep of God, but pity the person who steals from us in the “name of God”.
However, the sign of the dove went much further. We know when John baptized Jesus the Holy Ghost appeared like a dove, not that the Holy Ghost is a dove, but the Holy Ghost took on the “form” of the dove as a sign of Peace, and acceptance by God. After the baptism Jesus went into the temple, and there were the religious rulers selling doves to the people at prices that were way too high. Jesus got mad, and turned over the tables, and punished those who sold the doves. Two times Jesus got mad, and both times it had to do with the religious leaders using the temple of God in way God never intended. Jesus never got mad at the Romans, or the people. Being a leader in the church is not easy, they always have to keep their eyes on Jesus, and their ears open to the Holy Ghost.
When Jesus turned over the tables, and ran those who sold the dove out of the temple, the religious rulers thought that was a “miracle”. No other person, not even a Roman had ever done anything like that. However, Jesus saw it as correction, and a healing, not a miracle. For that reason John, Luke, Matthew and Mark don’t call the cleaning of the temple a “miracle”.
After the wilderness Jesus was on His way to the city of Capernaum in Galilee to set up the ministry, and gather the rest of the disciples, and a man came to him with a big problem. The man’s son was in Capernaum, the city Jesus was going to, but both the man and Jesus were in Cana, a city on the way to Capernaum, but still some miles away. The man wanted Jesus to go to his son, and heal him. Jesus said He didn’t have to go to the son, the healing power of God is not limited by place, or time. Jesus was on His way there, so why not tell the man, “Sure, as soon as I get there”? This was for us, it shows us that Jesus doesn’t need to be in the same room with us to heal us, or hear us. He was in one city, and healed the man’s son who was in another city.
Jesus told the man to go about his business, his son was healed. The man went about his everyday business, and then his servants came to him with happy news, “your son lives”. The man wanted to know when his son started to get better, and his servants told him “on such and such day, at such and such an hour”, which was the same time Jesus said, “Go, you son lives”. From this we know God will send His Word, and His Word will heal us.
All these areas bring up the word “faith”, and we can get all confused over thinking God hasn’t done something for us because we think we lack faith. Often we attempt to make our faith do things it was never intended to do, and then think we don’t have any. For instance the Bible tells us if we say unto that Tree be gone, and we have faith, it will go. To “test” that we walk out into the back yard and say to some tree “go away”. It doesn’t go, and we say, “well that didn’t work, I must not have faith”, or “it didn’t happen, so the Bible is wrong”. To begin with we were “testing” God to see if it would work, and that lacks faith. Next the Bible uses things called “metaphors” (met-a-fors), which means the Bible uses one thing to talk about another. For instance, someone promised to give us ten dollars, so we tell mom, “hey mom I’m going to go to the store and charge a bible”. Mom says, “what are you going to use for money?”. We say, “Old so and so promised to give me ten dollars tomorrow”. Mom then says, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. Chickens? We’re not going to buy any chickens. What is she talking about? She used a metaphor, she pointed to one thing to explain another. She is telling us wait until we have the money before we act. She could have said, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, which is the same thing as saying, Wait until it’s in your hand. The Bible has tons of metaphors, God said the Jewish people would be as the “sand of the sea”, so are they sand? No, of course not, God was showing how many of them would come from Abraham. God also called the religious order of Israel the “Fig Tree”, so do they walk around with a fig tree sticking out of their head? No, but Adam used “fig leaves” to cover himself, and from that we find the Law of Moses merely covers sin, it can never do away with it. All this shows the “tree” is not a real tree, it’s a figure of speech, or a metaphor to show us something. That Tree or Mountain means things that block us from God, and when we accept Jesus we can say to the all the rules that are against us “go away”.
The Law of Moses is good, the Ten Commandments are good, and both came from God, but we never judge a law on that, we judge the law by seeing to whom it was directed. The Ten Commandments are given to people who lack a Conscience, they have to be told “it’s wrong to steal”. When we have the Spirit of Christ in us we know it’s wrong, no one has to tell us. In fact the Spirit is changing us so we won’t even thing about stealing.
The Law of Moses came from God, but it was given to a people who lacked the Spirit of Christ. When we accept Jesus, we accept all the Cross of Jesus grants us. We will find many things, all good, but we will find there are some things we have to do, among them is accepting a change in our attitude. Since we no longer are under a law that judges us, we can no longer judge others. Since we are no longer under a law that picks out the wicked things in a person’s, just so we can feel superior, we no longer go about looking for the evil in others. Our attitude changes as we grow in the Spirit, and then we obtain a New way of looking at things, and a New way of doing things.
Having said all that, let’s look at some of the healings of Jesus, and then we will look at some other things He did as well. There were people who suffered from “leprosy”, which is a real bad skin disease. It’s so bad the people would lose feeling in their fingers, and toes. For years man thought that Leprosy caused the person’s fingers to fall off, but now we know they lost all feeling in their fingers and toes, and the rats would eat them off. That’s is way not cool, and back in those days they had camps away from the cities, and they would send the “Lepers” there. Not Jesus, when they came to Him He healed them. Jesus healed based on one of three things, when someone asked for their self, when someone asked Jesus to heal a friend, family member or servant, or when no one asked.
People had faith in God, not just a faith to be healed, but a faith that God would heal them. It’s one thing to believe you will be healed, another to believe God will do it. There was a man with a real bad hand, and Jesus asked the man to stretch it out, and it was healed. The man didn’t ask, in fact the man was sitting in the midst of a bunch of unbelieving Pharisees, and would rather just be left alone, but he did as Jesus said. There were blind people who were able to see again, and one man who was born without eyeballs, and Jesus took some clay and put it in the eye sockets, and the man washed his face, and had eyeballs, and his sight. Now if Jesus wasn’t going about bragging on Himself, why do these healings? It seems that would draw attention, after all the people ran to Him saying, “Heal us”. Two ways anyone can look at this, one is from what is called the “wisdom of man”, the other from what is called the “Wisdom of God”. Knowledge and wisdom are different, knowledge is brain stuff, but wisdom is how we deal with events and people. The Pharisees saw the healings as evil, and they attacked Jesus. Some today see the healings as Jesus merely promoting Himself, others don’t think Jesus heals. However, Jesus said He came to do the work of the Father, and what the Father told Him to do, He did. In all the things Jesus did, He never told anyone, “thou are sick, and thou will get sicker”. Does that mean sickness is a sin? No, not really, all though we can be in sin, and get sick. We can get sick because of some weakness in our flesh, or because we did something dumb, like going outside on a very cold day without a hat and coat. Whatever, we know Jesus has ways to heal us. “Oh yes, I never go to a doctor”. That doesn’t mean you have faith, what would you do if Jesus said, “I want you to go to a doctor”? “Oh no Jesus, I have faith”. Wrong, not doing what Jesus wants us to do is rebellion. We made it sound like faith, but it pride wearing a mask of faith. Faith means we do what the Lord tells us to do.
All these healings showed the people a time of change had come, a time when they no longer had to run to the religious leaders, but they could come to the Lord on their own. It didn’t matter if they had sickness, or sin, or were cast outs, they could come to the Lord and be healed, forgiven, and accepted. We also know, Jesus never turned anyone away, even if they later yelled, “crucify Him”. Jesus knew all things before they were things, and He healed people just because they asked, and He never said, “Heal you? No, way in six months you’re going to crucify Me”.
While all these healings were going on we find John the Baptist in jail. When Jesus was in the wilderness John was still baptizing, and preparing the way for Jesus. One time we find John was in one area baptizing people, and the disciples of Jesus in another, so even in the “wilderness” Jesus was doing things (Jn 3:22-36). When Jesus came out of the wilderness John was in jail, arrested by mean Herod (Jn 3:24 & Mark 1:14). Herod was a Jew who was placed in a position of power by the Romans, kind of using a Jew to rule the Jews, while still controlling the Jews. This was not the same Herod who killed all the children, this is another Herod. Anyway, Herod had a brother by the name of Philip, and Philip had a wife and a daughter. Herod took Philip’s wife as his own, and her daughter went with her. John saw this was wrong, and he said so, more than once. One day there was a party put on by Herod, and the daughter danced before Herod in a naughty way, and Herod asked her, “I will give you anything you want”, and she said, “give me John the Baptist’s head on a silver plate”. Herod opened his big mouth, and his pride wouldn’t let him say no. At first he put John in jail, but the daughter kept hounding him, and one day he had John’s head cut off and served up on the silver plate. From that came the saying, “serve up his head on a platter”, and it’s not a good saying, it means we allow people to make us do bad things.
Now, if Jesus did all these healings, and raised people from the dead, why didn’t He save John? John said he had to decrease in order for Jesus to increase. The people were making a “god” out of John, so it wasn’t God who caused John to be beheaded, but the people not seeing how John was less than Jesus, and the purpose of John’s ministry was to prepare the way for Jesus, not steal the way from Jesus. It was far better for John to go, then to stay and cause division among the people. Wisdom tells us not to question the things of God, but to understand God has a good reason for all things, even the things we don’t like. Yeah, finding the reason is hard at times, but the “good” is there if we seek it.
Jesus also taught the people, sometimes He taught them with direct words, like “you must forgive”, and other times He used “metaphors”, and “parables”. A parable is a story based on a simple truth to show a greater truth. If we took a rock and tossed it in the air, and said, “that is how an airplane flies”, that would not be a Parable. However, if we used a bird, and showed how an airplane is able to move through the air like a bird, that would be a parable. When Jesus talked about the “seeds”, “fields”, and a “certain” person, they were real things, but used to show us other things.
However, before all that begins Jesus begins to add disciples to His ministry, and to teach the people in and around Capernaum. Why go to Capernaum? Why not Jerusalem? Or why not stay in Nazareth? Well, Luke and John show why Jesus didn’t stay in Nazareth. Jesus entered the temple in Nazareth, and they asked Him to read from the Scriptures. Jesus opened up their Bible and began with, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me…” (Luke 4:18). Wow that alone is powerful, think about it. Is the Spirit of the Lord in you? Sure, it you asked to be Born Again, then you are anointed of God. So then, what does Anointed mean? Anointed means God has given you the power to do the things God has set before you to do. Paul said he could do all things through Christ WHICH strengthens him, and we find the word Christ means Anointed, and also represents the Body of Christ. Paul knew the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, thus he also knew he was anointed to do the work God had set before him, and he knew the anointing and the people in the Body were the Which that gave him strength to go on.
Jesus knew that better than anyone, and continued with the saying, “to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). That is a bunch of stuff, but it shows how much Jesus knew He was to do. Those who are poor in Spirit, or better those who lack the Spirit will hear the Gospel, and the word Gospel means Good News. If we’re brokenhearted, Jesus will fix us, if we are confused, and blinded to the Truth, Jesus will heal that too.
You would think everyone would say “Okay man, that’s what we’ve been waiting for”. No, they questioned Jesus, and said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”, then Jesus said, “no prophet is accepted in his own country” (Luke 4:24 & Jn 4:44). Capernaum also opens the door to those Metaphors were talking about. When the Bible talks of people being a “sea” that is a metaphor, and it doesn’t mean people are really living in the sea like a bunch of fish. When the Bible calls us “sheep”, it doesn’t mean we will turn into real sheep when we accept Jesus. These are words that tell us something, the sea is a big place, but it has deep places, and dangerous hidden places, and things in it we don’t want to meet face to face, thus the metaphor Sea means World. Having said that, the Bible shows us the World and the Earth are two different things, the world is the place that contains all the people who are not Christian or Jewish, and they are called “Gentiles”. Before Jesus came there were two groups of people, the Jew, who was promised something by God, and the Gentile who was not Jewish. After Jesus came we have a third group, us, the Christians, who are neither Jew or Gentile.
The Earth is the kingdom of heaven, not the Kingdom of God, but the kingdom of heaven. Heaven is a place, God a personage, so the kingdom of heaven is the place where all the people of God dwell, but the Kingdom of God is the place where God dwells. The Kingdom of God is within us, but we are in the kingdom of heaven. Hope that makes sense, and it’s like saying, “I am a student, but I go to a school”. Student is who you are, but the school is where you go. You wouldn’t say, “I am a school, and I go to a place called Student”. Heaven is a place, God a personage, we are in the kingdom of heaven, but the Kingdom of God is in us.
Anyway Jesus picked Capernaum because it was next to a Sea, and we see that as Christians we are no longer of the Sea, but we will “catch” those who still are in the Sea. Jesus sees Peter again and tells him, “I will make you a fisher of men”, so does that mean Peter goes around with a fishing pole and hook to catch people? No, it shows how Jesus pulls people to Him, people don’t pull Him to them. Jesus didn’t become worldly to catch the world, He remained free from the world, so He could save us who were in the world.
At Capernaum Jesus adds to the His disciples, but then He teaches the people how to have Mercy. Jesus connects Blessed and Mercy together, and the word Blessed means “A reason to be happy”. Does being blessed mean you are always happy? No, it means you have a reason to be happy. We can have a reason to be happy, but go about all mad and nasty. There are many who don’t have a reason to be happy, because they don’t have Jesus. Once we have Jesus, we have a reason to be happy, amen?
The teaching Jesus is about to give us is called “The Beatitudes” or “Having an attitude of blessing”, or a “blessed attitude”, and some call it the “Sermon on the mount”. Attitude is important it’s the first thing people use to judge us by, they hear our attitude and make up their mind about us. With that we find we are to have the “mind of Christ”. Yikes, do we get some other mind than our own? Do we forget who we are? No, not at all; have you had a friend say, “you know what I want to do?”, and you say “no”, then they tell you and you say, “wow, me too”. Or they say, “you know what I think?”, and you say “no”, and they tell you, then you say, “yeah me too”? You were thinking like them, but the Mind of Christ not only let’s us think like Jesus, we also gain something else, the way Jesus would see things. Jesus saw things others didn’t, the Pharisees would say something thinking they were really smart, and wise, but Jesus saw the deepest part of their heart and knew they were playing a mind game. We are given the Mind of Christ, which is the Attitude of Christ when we are Born Again. Jesus was teaching these people what they “could have”, if they continued to believe until He was raised from the dead. The biggest lesson is how they all ran when the pressure came, showing us without the Mind of Christ we won’t have the courage to stand and face events in a Godly manner. Our old attitude was “punch them out”, the mind of Christ says, “love them, they know not what they do”. The teaching Jesus is about to give tells us the Attitude we will get when we are Born Again, and what to expect from that Attitude.
Jesus went up to a mountain, which means He was giving us the Commandments He was bringing. Moses went to a mountain to get the Ten Commandments from God, Jesus is going to give us Commandments from a mountain. We know these are Commandments by the wording Jesus uses, and He tells us, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least Commandments, and shall teach men to break them, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do them, and teach them to others, they shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:19). Under the Law of Moses it was “do it or be cursed”, and a curse is “trouble upon you”. Here Jesus doesn’t even talk about a curse, but He does talk about being blessed.
Jesus then begins by telling the people they are Blessed if they do as He says. The reward for walking in Mercy is great, those who are poor in spirit, or better, those who a lack the Spirit will have the kingdom of heaven, where they will find the Kingdom of God. If we have compassion on people, we will feel sad when they are sad, and hurt when they hurt, and Jesus says we are Blessed, for we will be comforted. If we are meek, which means if we don’t go about starting fights, and trouble, we don’t go about bragging, or being prideful, then we are meek and blessed, and we shall inherit the earth. The Earth? Is that one of those metaphors? Yes, this doesn’t mean we will have the dirt earth, it means we will have the Kingdom.
If we always want more and more of the Truth, and more and more of the Righteousness of Jesus, we are blessing and we shall find what we seek. What is Righteousness? It means we can stand before God like we really belong there. Man works and works to impress God and man, but no one impresses God. However, Jesus didn’t come to impress God, or man, He came to save man, and He gained the highest, and purest of all Righteousness, and gave it to us. This goes right along with “seek you first the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness”. If we do then “things” shall be added to us, so do we seek the things? No, they are added by God. So, do we seek the Kingdom to get the things? No, that is greed, and wrong. When we seek the Kingdom of God, which is the same as seeking to walk in the Spirit of Christ, and we stop trying to impress God, but simply serve Him because we love Him, then we will find all these Things (blessings) added to us. Does that include Things like Things? Sure, but if we’re blessed, we’re happy, and able to show people about Jesus, and that is the point.
The heart of a person is also two things, we know about the pump that is really the heart, but Jesus talks about the “center of a person” or that which makes a person a person. If we are “pure of heart” we are blessed and we will See God. What is pure of heart? Honest, open, merciful, and more important Born Again. How about a guy who gets a heart transplant? What if his old heart was pure, but his new one isn’t? Yikes, give it back!!!! No, this isn’t talking about the flesh heart that pumps blood in us, it means the “center” of who we are, that hidden part in us that gives us ideas, and courage, and many things. David sang to God, “create a new heart in me”, and that wasn’t asked for a heart transplant, it was asking for a Spirit that was pure and honest. Of course David couldn’t be Born Again, but we can.
A Peacemaker is not someone who goes to countries to make them have peace between ach other, it’s someone who shows how we can have peace with God. If we show people how true Peace is having Peace with God, we are blessed. A real peacemaker is one who makes peace between those in the Body of Christ, which is the real the meaning of Peacemaker as Jesus used it.
Okay, what if our stand for Jesus makes others mock us? What if call us names? Golly we’re still blessed, IF we pray for them, and not fight with them. When we are attacked for the sake of the Love of God in Jesus, Rejoice, dance, be happy, God is about to bless you greatly (Matt 5:3-12). Jesus goes over the “Blessed are you” areas, but then spends the rest of the teaching telling us to keep that Blessed Attitude.
First we don’t teach people to break these Commandments, rather we teach people to keep them. The Ten Commandments were good, but Jesus is saying it was time to move up to greater Commandments, and a Commandment is something that we can’t change, or ignore, and the Commandments of Jesus always have a blessing attached to them. So, if we don’t do them, are we cursed? No, we just don’t get the blessings.
Jesus tells the people the way the Ten Commandments taught, but He is telling them there will be a better way. So does that mean the Ten Commandments are bad? No, it means there is a better way. One car can be better than another, but that doesn’t mean the lesser car is bad. Remember the Ten Commandments are the written conscience for those who lack a Godly conscience, but we have the Mind of Christ. It was said in old times, “Thou shall not kill”, which means you can’t take that life of another without a Godly, and Just cause. However, Jesus says if you hate someone, that is the same is the desire to kill them. Jesus takes us to the Root of our thoughts, and tells us to consider our thoughts, before we allow them to be actions. We sit and wonder, “you know I don’t like that kid, I think I will hit them”, that is the thought, and the thought is not evil, but if we allow that thought to guide us, and go ahead and hit that kid then we are evil. Jesus is telling us to stop and put that thought to the test, “is that what Jesus would think?”, “is that what Jesus would do?”, if not it’s the wrong mind.
Then Jesus talks about “eyes”, but don’t forget He is using those “metaphors”, there is no way Jesus wants us to harm ourselves, and He is merely telling us if our eyes wonder into places they should not, take authority over them, and refuse to allow them to do those things. If we find ourselves looking into books we know we shouldn’t, say “No, I will not!!!”, and “shut the eye” to the evil.
When man lacked God in their heart, then God told them “an eye for eye”, since that was all they understood, but with God in our hearts we have the power to forgive. When Jesus tells us to “turn the other cheek”, that doesn’t mean to tell someone, “here is my other cheek, go ahead and hit me again”, it means we refuse to do them, that which they did to us. If they hit us, we will first try to walk away. Some of the things Jesus said didn’t seem to make sense, but they work, and when they do work we know they do make sense. Have you ever laid in bed at night wanting someone to pay for what they did to you? That is a failure to turn the other cheek. Jesus will repay for all the wrongs done us, IF we forgive those who have done us wrong. Jesus wants us to go on with our life, and live in joy, rather than walk around trying to get even with everyone. When we pray for those who hurt us, we will be able to forgive them.
Jesus then taught the people how to pray, and what are the important matters. The Holy Spirit is here on earth, our heavenly Father is in heaven; therefore, Heaven is our home, the place where our Father is. The Holy Spirit is working with us to get us Home, and when we know our heavenly Father has all this in hand, and nothing is going to surprise Him, then we can rest in His power and might. In stead of thinking fifty days ahead, and telling God what we might need, Jesus said take one day at a time, ask God to give us what we need today, and then know God gave it. That’s important, since some people think they got their own need taken care of, and if we have faith in God, we know God supplies.
One of the biggest issues for anyone to receive forgiveness of sin was how we are to forgive others, it was so important that Jesus told us our Father in heaven can’t forgive us, unless we do forgive others. A hypocrite is one who demands for others to do things, or live a certain way, yet they won’t. It’s a kind of a “do as I say, not as I do” thing. A hypocrite will also condemn (judge us guilty) for things we do, yet they do the same or even worse. God is not a hypocrite, He will not forgive us, if we refuse to forgive others. Most hypocrites refuse to believe they are doing the very things they are accusing others of, and that is what we call “self-deceived”, or telling yourself a lie, and believing it. God is not a hypocrite, and He doesn’t make hypocrites. God wants us to do unto others, that which He does unto us. He will also do for us, that which we do for others. If we give mercy to others, then we receive mercy. If we forgive others, then God forgives us.
Jesus also told us we are the Light of the world, when there are no more people on this earth who follow God, then the earth has no reason to stay the earth. As long as we’re here, then people know there is a difference between the darkness of evil, and the Light of God. How are we going to be a Light? Being Born Again makes us different, and the difference is the Light of God in us. Light exposes things we can’t see in the dark, and by being filled with the Holy Ghost we will walk in that Blessed Attitude, and people will know there is a God. However, we have to make up our minds, do we want to serve God? If so, we can’t serve the darkness. Our trust and faith in God will grow when we seek the Holy Spirit (Kingdom of God), and God’s Righteousness (Right standing, or the right to come and go from in front of God). Our trust knows we don’t worry about tomorrow, God has all things in hand. Righteousness, or Right Standing has different forms, the one Jesus gives us is the same one He has. Angels come near the throne of God, but Jesus sits next to the Father. You can’t get more Right than that.
There are some who do all sorts of things to get some Right Standing with God, but no one can get a better Standing than Jesus. Jesus gives us His place and standing when we receive Him. Sure we do things, but not to gain standing, we do things because of our blessed attitude.
Jesus then teaches us about Judging, and how there are two types., and we are only going to do one of them. If we judge someone guilty, that is wrong, but if we’re trying to find the truth, or what is going on, then we have judged righteously. If someone wants to do evil, we judge the evil, not the person. That is hard, and only those with God can do that. God judges some things as evil, and if a person does those things, they take on the evil of the thing. If that same person repents, then they leave the evil behind, and they are no longer part of the evil thing. If we are with one group, and they do wrong, then we leave them, and join a group that does good. That is what we would call, “repenting from the old”, and when we do that we leave the evil behind. Once we do that, we are no longer evil. When we leave darkness and join to the Light, we become Light. If we stay with the darkness, then we end judged with the darkness.
However, we need a beginning, a place to start the growing from. No one builds the second story of a house, without first building the first, and they don’t build the first story until they lay a foundation. Jesus tells us to do the same, don’t build on the wrong foundation, but build on the right one. Mercy is always a good start, the Holy Spirit is better.
Jesus then warns us, there will be some who will say they are “Christian”, but they are not. How do we know? Oh, if they say Jesus is Lord, they must be okay, right? No, anyone can say it, but only a Christian can live it. It’s the Attitude, if they say Jesus is their Lord, yet they back talk about people, talk nasty, say things they shouldn’t, and really don’t care if they do, then they haven’t made Jesus Lord of their life. Jesus calls them “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, but did you ever see a wolf wearing a sheep skin? No, so Jesus must be using one of those Metaphors again. In order to get a sheep’s skin, you have to take it off the sheep (makes sense). Jesus calls us Sheep, but that doesn’t mean He wants us sheared, skinned or abused. A wolf is a loner, they don’t care what they kill, they just look for something to make them happy. A sheep on the other hand is fussy about what they eat, they won’t hurt people just to hurt them, they won’t kill people, they won’t hunt them down, all they want to do is serve man, and provide the wool to keep man warm. A wolf will steal the covering, and they refuse to allow God to change their inside. They look like sheep on the outside, but the inside is the same old darkness. The Holy Spirit does His work on our inside, and we may look the same as we used to, but we don’t act the same. Anyone can play at being religious, they can force their self to say the right things, they can wear the right clothes, get the right hair cut, but inside there is no change. Being a Christian means we are being changed on the inside by the Spirit of Christ.
After Jesus taught the people about Mercy, and how to walk in Mercy, He came down the hill and found a “leper”. Leprosy is not around like it used to be, and we remember how it’s a skin disease that makes the feeling in the fingers and toes go away. Leprosy was thought to spread from person to person like the flu, or a cold, and in the days when Jesus walked the earth there was no immediate cure for Leprosy. One of the signs of Jesus being the Christ was healing the lepers immediately. There was a method in the Law of Moses where a leper could receive healing, but it involved a bunch of sacrifices, and other things, all Jesus did was say, “you’re healed”. The person didn’t have to pay Jesus money, send gifts around the world, do some special act for the community, all they had to do was believe and have faith in the ability of Jesus to cure them.
Then there was a servant of a Roman Centurion who was sick with the palsy, and Jesus healed him. Wait, didn’t Jesus come for the Jews alone? Sure, but the Romans were rulers over the Jews, and since the Centurion was in the land of the Jews, Jesus granted him his desire to see his servant healed. This Centurion understood something about Faith, and how Faith means more than believing. The Centurion had soldiers under him, and when he told the soldiers to do something they did it. This shows he would say something now, and his orders would be carried out in the future, and he had confidence those under him knew he had the authority to give his soldiers an order. The Centurion then said, “I know if you say my servant is healed, then he will be healed”, and Jesus called that great faith. This shows us faith is also the trust and belief in another person to do something. The Centurion knew if he gave an other another person would carry it out, just as if mom says, “take out the trash”, we know she has the authority in the house to tell us that. The Centurion knew Jesus had authority over sickness and disease, and if Jesus said “go” the sickness and disease had to go, no questions, no debates, no refusal, it had to go.
Jesus then entered the house of Peter, and Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a bad fever. Jesus touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got out of bed and ministered to Jesus and the disciples. So, did Jesus heal her, just to get her to wait on them? No, she did it because she appreciated what Jesus did.
One day Jesus and His disciples got into a ship, and they began to cross the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee wasn’t all that big, not like the Pacific Ocean, or anything like that, but it would get some strong winds, and some big waves. Well, they were in the boat and up came the wind, and up came a storm. Jesus was asleep in the ship, and one would think that strange, after all, ever try sleeping in a storm? No? The boat is being tossed around, and there is Jesus asleep. Just prior to getting in the boat a guy came to Jesus and said, “I will follow You”, but Jesus told him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but I have no where to lay My head”. Yet here He is, laying down His head, and in a storm to boot. So did He lie to the guy? No, it’s those Metaphors again, Jesus was talking about the work to be done, not that He couldn’t sleep. Was the man willing to put all aside, and really follow Jesus? Or was he just talking?
How was Jesus able to sleep? Peace within, even with a storm going on outside. Jesus knew they were going to the other side, the storm said “No, you will stop here”, but Jesus has authority over the earth, and all the things on the earth.
Well the storm is going, the wind is blowing, and the disciples are shaking in fear. Wouldn’t you? Sure, but Jesus wasn’t. They woke Jesus and said, “Lord save us, we’re going to die!!!!”. Jesus then said something a little strange, as He said, “Why are you fearful, Oh you of little faith”. Huh? There is a big storm thank you very much. What faith? Jesus was with them, they just heard Him tell a guy there was work to be done. As long as Jesus was in that boat, it would get to the other side. The best place to be in a storm is with Jesus.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus we find two storms on the sea, but none on land, how come? The sea standing for the world shows that is where all the storms are, there are no storms in the Kingdom.
The other storm comes later, but it also relates to this one. In this storm Jesus was in the boat, but what about those times when Jesus isn’t in the boat? Jesus told the disciples to cross over the sea, and He would see them on the other side. Jesus never guessed at anything, so if He says “I will see you there”, He will see us there. This other storm was just after Jesus fed 5,000 people with just a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread. That is a something, and then He told His disciples to go to the other side, and they got into the boat, and headed out, but half to the other side a storm came up (Matt 14:22-28). It was just as far to go back, as it was to go on. Should we go on? Maybe Jesus was wrong? Maybe we should go back? What to do? Then they saw a figure walking on the water, and at first they thought it was some sort of evil spirit, but then they saw it was Jesus. Jesus told them, “be not afraid, it is I”. Peter then said, “If it’s you Lord, bid me to come”. Jesus said, “Come”, and Peter walked on the water too. We don’t know how long it has been since you walked on water, but is walking on the water something Jesus told them to do? Later after the Resurrection Peter will be in a boat, and the Lord will be on the shore, and when Peter finds out he jumps into the water and swims to shore. So, why not walk on the water again?
Peter found out something in this experience, Peter began to walk on the water, but then the storm got his attention, and the storm was his real problem. He was showing off, attempting to show Jesus he wasn’t scared, but the storm proved him wrong, and he began to sink (Matt 14:29-30). Peter called out for the Lord to save him, and the Lord did, but then Jesus said, “oh you of little faith, wherefore did you doubt?” (Matt 14:31). What did Peter doubt? Let’s look, and learn. First off we can see how Peter put the Lord in a corner, what was Jesus to say? “No, Peter, it’s not Me, it’s someone else”? No, there was only one answer, and Peter didn’t really ask a “question”, since there was only one answer. There is a thing called a “fleece”, and that means we really don’t know what to do, so we set some sign up for the Lord to do, to give us direction. In the Bible a man didn’t know if he was to go to war or not, so he placed a sheep’s skin (fleece) on the ground and told the Lord, “Lord when I wake and I see the dew on the fleece and none on the ground then I will know to go to war”, and so it was. The next night to make sure the man said, “Lord when I wake and I see the dew on the ground and not the fleece, then I will know for sure”, and so it was. However, a fleece gives the Lord choice, Peter didn’t’. Peter’s walking on the water may have appeared cool, but the command was to get to the other side, and Jesus called what Peter did Little or Puny faith.
Really, the storm was Peter’s problem, he stopped have way and wanted to show off, but the Lord was on His way to the place where He said He would meet them. A good lesson, don’t try to go beyond what the Lord has given us, stick with the plan, and go to the other side.
Back to the time when Jesus was asleep in the boat, when they got to the other side there was a man in need, real need. Matthew tells us there are two people demon possessed, but Mark says there is only one, so who is right? Both are, Matthew shows us the people in the area were using this poor demon possessed man to keep people away, because they were selling things they shouldn’t be, so they were as evil as the devil in the man. Jesus considers anyone who uses the things of the devil, a devil. Jesus will even call Judas a devil, so did Judas have a tail and horns? No, of course not, but Judas would end using the things of the devil for his own personal gain, and that made him wicked and like the devil.
The Jews didn’t eat pork, and chickens and pigs were used to eat the garbage, and were considered “unclean”, or something not to be eaten, or touched. The people in the area were raising pigs for food, and didn’t want anyone to find out, so Matthew shows they are just as devil minded as the man was demon possessed. Jesus breaks up the ring of pig sellers, and does so by casting the demons out of the guy. Man what power!! Guess what? If you have Jesus you have the same power. The devil is all mouth, and he has no power over a child of God, unless we give it to him. How? By doing the things he wants us to. If we know to forgive, yet we hate, we are giving power to the devil to harm us. If we know not to steal, yet we do, we are giving power to the devil to harm us. Listen to the Holy Spirit and the devil has no power over us at all, not one little, tiny bit.
Jesus then heals a crippled man, and tells the man “your sins are forgiven you”. Wow, there it is again, so can sin make us sick? We know now that is a consideration, it’s something we consider if we are sick, but not the only thing. The James who wrote the book of James tells us if we hold unforgiveness against others we can get sick, so that is one of those things where sin can make us sick. Later Peter would write, “by His stripes you were healed”, but he never said, “By His stripes you will never get sick”. Sickness can be a blessing, it can keep us from doing something we were planning on doing, but was wrong to do. Huh? Sure, we make plans to go here or there and God is telling us No, but we can’t hear, so God “allows” us to get sick to keep us from going. Perhaps we would get real hurt if we went, or get into some trouble, or something else. Also being sick is not sin, and here Jesus didn’t say, “your sin has made you sick”, He said You sins are forgiven, and the power of forgiveness brought the healing.
What if mom says, “wear your coat honey”, and we go “I don’t have time to find it”, and we go outside and catch cold. We did sin when we didn’t obey mom, but did the cold come because we sinned? Or because we didn’t wear a coat? Maybe no one said a thing, but inside we knew we should put on a coat, and we don’t. We knew to do right, and didn’t and that is wrong. We know to obey our parents, so when we don’t we are asking for it. Anyway some people get all twisted out of shape about sin and sickness, and Jesus never said, “well before I heal you, let’s figure this out, did you sin? Oh well, I can’t heal you”. No, even if they did, He healed them by “forgiving them”. The same is true with us, when we’re sick the first thing we have to do is figure out if we’re holding unforgiveness against anyone, or if it’s a sin issue. Okay, what if it is? That’s easier than taking pills, just ask Jesus to forgive us, and clean us from whatever caused us to sin. There are times when we have no idea what we are doing is sin, and then comes a sickness to show us. There are other times when we’ve done nothing wrong, and we get sick. Sickness Can be a sign, and it may not be, but never see a sick person and wonder “did they sin”. That is wrong, whether they sinned or their parents makes no difference, as Jesus will soon tell His disciples.
With this crippled man it was clear the main issue in healing him was to show all the religious leaders that Jesus as the Son of man had power to forgive sins on earth (Matt 9:6). Where else is there sin? No where, but where else is there forgiveness of sin? Oh yeah, in heaven. As the Son of man Jesus stands for all of mankind like a lawyer, but as the Son of God, Jesus stands in the place of God. Jesus was forgiving sins on earth, and He did so for us when He was on the Cross and said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. Does that mean when we did sin we didn’t know it was sin? Maybe, there are times when we know, and times when we don’t. The old nature did many things we thought were right, but were really sin. Today people think if a court says they have a “right” to do something, then it’s Right to do it. That’s wrong, we have to think, “Does God say it’s right to do?”.
Jesus then does something most religious people would consider a big “no – no”. Jesus walks up to a tax collector, a guy that was taking money from the Jews, and giving it to the Romans, and tells him “Follow Me”. Why my goodness most would have rejected even the thought of hanging out with the guy, but Jesus told him, “follow Me”. The guy’s name was Matthew, and he would join the disciples and be one of the twelve. We can also see how Jesus was building the ministry by adding disciples along the way. He began with the few, and then the ministry grew and grew.
Next we get a lesson in belief, there was a man by the name of Jairus, a man who loved his daughter, yet his daughter became sick. Jairus didn’t say, “well daughter, let’s see did you sin?”. No, his daughter was sick, and he went looking for Jesus. When he found Jesus, he “worshipped” Him saying, “My daughter is even now dead (or unto death): but come and lay Your hand on her, and she shall live”. Mark covers this from a different angle, and shows the belief of Jairus, Matthew shows the desire of Jairus. The point being we often think Worship is singing, but Jairus didn’t sing, he Trusted in the Jesus. Giving ourselves to Jesus is trust, and it’s also a type of worship. Mark shows the worship as “besought Him greatly”, which shows how worship is trusting in someone. When we worship in song we are seeking the Lord’s presence in our life, here Jairus was doing the same.
Matthew shows just how sick the daughter of Jairus was, Mark shows it was on the way to the house of Jairus that Jairus got the confirmed news, “your daughter is dead”. Jesus looked at Jairus and said, “be not afraid, only believe”. For some reason we think Belief means we shout, or yell what we believe, but here we find the war to believe is often a silent war on the inside.
Jesus used another one of those metaphors when He spoke of us as God’s people being “sheep”. He looked at the people as “sheep without a shepherd”, the people lacked guidance, they lacked knowledge, and they lacked leadership. Jesus called each of his disciples “sheep” as well, but he also said He would make them fishers of men, and He gave them the ability to become shepherds. Wow, too confusing? Not really, if we keep all these things as “metaphors”. Jesus looked at the world as a type of Sea, it was restless, appeared calm, but then would storm for no reason, would become dangerous, and violent. Jesus looked at the Jewish people as the “sand of the sea”, or that area right next to the sea, but not really sea. He looked at the Kingdom as the “earth”, giving us three areas, the world (sea), the nation of Israel (sand of the sea), and the Kingdom (earth). As Fishers of men the disciples would be above the water in a boat, they were not fish, and they were not water, they would catch the fish, showing how Jesus considered lost people like fish, they needed help to get out of the sea. When the “fish” were caught, then would come the Earth, and things would change, and the fish would change. We were all “fish” until we came to Jesus, then we became sheep. Has any fish ever turned into a sheep? No, not even the weirdest of evolution thinking would go for that. Why would this be important? It keeps us from thinking some day we will wake up as a sheep, or as a guppy in a fishbowl. If we look at fish we find some like to travel in groups, called “schools”, but some travel alone. Sheep must be kept together or they wander off, and get into trouble. Sheep gain their strength by remaining together, and obeying their shepherd.
Jesus now has twelve disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (Levi), James the less, Thaddaeus (Lebbaeus), Simon, and Judas. He then ordains them, or gives them an office and responsibilities, and tells them to go to the Jews, and preach the Kingdom is near, and to prove it they are to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out devils. Those are things we hear about all the time, but then He added something, “freely you have received, freely you give”. The world charges for the things of God, and any of us can fall into the worse of all deceptions, the thought that since we can cast out devils, we can sell the things of God. Don’t forget among these twelve was Judas, so Judas cast out devils, he preached, he had an office, he was ordained by Jesus, he was even anointed, but he was more concerned about money, than he was Jesus. Jesus never gave us the Power, Authority, Talent or Gift so we could make money, for the love of money is the root of all evil. How do you know if you love money? If all you think about is how to get money, you love it. If you think you must have money, you love it. Money is a tool, God gives us our need, but He won’t fill our greed.
Jesus then talks about the word “confession”, and we hear preachers tell us we must Confess Jesus before men, but what does that mean? Does it mean we Say “Jesus”? No, a Confession is a manner of life, and the “word of our testimony” is what people say about us. A true Confession is how we live, do people know we trust God? Do they know there is something special inside of us? What do they say about us? “There is a nice kid, they must be Christian”, or ”what a brat”?
The disciples were all out doing the work of the ministry, going from house to house, and town to town, but Jesus remained in Capernaum. Jesus sent them out in pairs, each with another disciple. That gave them confidence, and kept them from getting lonely, but more important we see there was a witness to the things Judas did. From this we know Judas didn’t go and sit in some cave, he was out there doing things, and experienced the power of God in his life. It’s one thing for a person who has never experienced God to deny God, another for someone who has experienced God to betray Him.
At that time John the Baptist was still in jail, and the disciples of John were wondering about this Jesus. Why was John still in jail? How could a true Christ leave the one man who really believed in Him in some jail? Why didn’t Jesus even ask John to join the ministry? Was He mad at John? A lot of people during that time thought Jesus would come and destroy Rome, give back the land to the Jews, and make them kings over the world. They had the wrong concept of being a Godly king, a Godly king serves, they do not rule over people.
The disciples of John came to John, and John sent them to Jesus, if you want to know something, go to Jesus, He always has the answers. When they got to Jesus they heard the Truth, and you will always hear Truth from Jesus. You may not like it, but it’s always truth. Jesus told them to look around, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are clean (healed), the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is being preached, all things John didn’t do. However, does that make John less than the disciples of Jesus? No, it means John had a job to do, he knew the job, and he did it. If John would have joined the ministry of Jesus the people would always look at John, and place Jesus second place. We can never do that, not that Jesus has some big ego, but His position is far greater than that of any mortal man.
The old attitude of man is not a nice thing, we see it in the world all the time, and it can creep into our lives as well. Some of the people were looking for fault in John, if he was in jail there must be some evil in him for Jesus to allow him to remain there. Wrong, the religious rulers saw John, and how John refused to drink wine, and they called him weird. They were simply looking for evil, and refused to see the good. When we look for fault in others, it’s because we want to look better than them. In the case of God we find some want to find fault in God, so they won’t have to do as God says. No person has to do as God says anyway, but whether they do, or don’t will show where they spend forever. It’s better to do as God says, and live with Him, more important if we love God, we will do as He says. Right?
Jesus tells the disciples of John how John was a good man, he did what God told him to do, no more, and no less. Where John was on this earth didn’t mean a thing, where John would be after this earth did. John was honorable, honest, loved God, and served God well. John’s ministry didn’t call for him to heal the people, or raise the dead, he was to prepare the people to receive Jesus, and he did that well.
Many of the religious rulers were selling the things of God, and when Jesus came they didn’t like Him, since He didn’t bow before them. The people loved Jesus, because He was honest, pure and what you see, is what you get. If the people didn’t want Jesus, fine He wasn’t going to force Himself, but their Peace, Health, Love, and Salvation was in Jesus, reject Jesus, you reject all those things. Double dumb for sure.
Jesus also had other disciples, and they were called “the seventy”, since there were seventy of them (makes sense). Jesus also sent them out to preach and heal, but He didn’t call them “apostles”. Oh, what is an Apostle anyway? An Apostle is one appointed by Jesus to begin new churches in areas where there are none, and they bring us Commandments from the Lord. The 12 went out to bring the Gospel to places where it had not been preached, and in their preaching they would give the same Commandments that Jesus gave on the mount. The seventy were different, and Jesus said He was sending them like “lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). Yikes, sending them into the trap of death??? Nay, they were protected, since Jesus also said they were to heal the sick, and preach. Jesus didn’t tell them to cast out devils, or raise the dead, so they had a different set of rules than the twelve.
When the Seventy returned however they told Jesus they found something out, something that made them Rejoice. The told Jesus, “even the devils are subject to through Your Name” (Luke 10:17). Wow, does that mean if anyone says, “In the name of Jesus” they have power? No, it’s like saying “in the name of the Law”, the word “name” means the Authority, or the right to do something. If the man who brings the mail said, “here is your mail in the name of the Law”, we would think he was nuts. If the policeman said, “Stop in the name of the Law”, we would stop. The seventy found out they were placed in authority by Jesus, and since it was His authority they used His name to show people they were not acting on their own. Having power over devils is great, but what will Jesus say? “Behold, I will give unto power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). What? What has that to do with devils? Scorpions and Serpents? What about mad dogs? Oh, we get it, those Metaphors again. Right the term Scorpions means religious people who attempt to force you out, or go about finding fault. The term Serpents means anyone who uses evil. Does this mean only the Seventy had this power? If so, what about the Twelve? What about Stephen, Philip, Paul and others who came to the Lord after the Seventy? This means anyone who falls within the Name of Jesus has that power, and that includes anyone who has made Jesus their Lord.
However, Jesus added to all this, and said, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the evil spirits are subject to you: but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Ah come on, rejoice not! Oh, wait in the Name of Jesus on earth, but having our own Names written in heaven. We get it, we can have the Name of Jesus on earth, but forget about having our names written in heaven. Sure, we can’t trust in the power as our sign of having our names written in heaven, we must trust in Jesus.
Jesus then tells a Parable regarding the acts of Mercy, and how casting out devils is important, and something we’re to do, but we can’t forget we are also to grant Mercy to others. There was a man who went from Jerusalem, the center of religion to Jericho, a nothing place, but on the way he was robbed, and beat up, and left in the road. Along came a priest, but he didn’t want to be troubled with this wounded man. The priest would be one who would teach the people about the Law of Moses, and how we are to love one another, but he didn’t do as he preached. Then came someone who was in the tribe order from where the priests come, we would call him an “elder”, but like the priest he didn’t want to be troubled with this one person in the road, after all he could have some disease, or something. Then came someone from the area of Samaria, a place known as the outcast, the place where weird people hang out, but even with that sort of a reputation, the Samaritan stopped, and helped the wounded man. Both the priest and Levite were attached to the religious order, and both would have been from Jerusalem, the same place the wounded man came from. The Samaritan didn’t know the man, but the Samaritan had “compassion”, he “cared”, and gave “mercy”. He didn’t say, “well, maybe this guy deserved it”, or “maybe he is the robber, and the good guy beat him up”. No, he took the wounded man, and cared for him, and made sure he would be okay. Which of the three, the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan had their name written in heaven?
There were those who couldn’t get to Jesus, and in that case they had “friends”. A real friend will get you to Jesus, and there was a man who was crippled, and couldn’t get out of his bed. His friends knew Jesus was in town, and teaching in a house. They picked up the man’s bed, and the man on the bed and headed off to Jesus. When they got there the house was full, so full the door was jammed, and they couldn’t get in. They knew they had to get their friend to Jesus, but how? Ahh, they got on the roof and began to rip it apart, and then when the opening was big enough they lowered the man down to Jesus. The religious people looked and found fault, but Jesus healed the man.
Like we said, some people always look for the wrong, or the fault, and they will even tell us they have found fault, but have they? The Pharisees were always trying to find something wrong with Jesus, but we know Jesus never did anything wrong. So, if they said they found something wrong did they? No, of course not. Well one day there were some people who brought a man possessed with a devil to Jesus, and Jesus cast the devil out. The people were amazed, the Pharisees got mad. The Pharisees said, “This fellow does not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils” (Matt 12:24). Are they crazy? Saying Jesus was working for the devil? That is got to be the dumbest thing in the world to say, but there are those who say that today. Jesus heard their words, but He answered their thoughts, and said, “If Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself, and his kingdom will fail, but if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you”. Even if the devil is casting out the devils, rejoice, his kingdom is done for. If the devils are being cast out by the Spirit of God, then rejoice for where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the Kingdom of God.
Jesus then taught them about things said, and how they were blaspheming the Holy Ghost. They were giving credit to the devil, for the things of God, that is double dumb at best. Jesus was also doing the casting out, and the Pharisees were speaking evil of Him, so we find when we speak evil of the people of God, we are in fact speaking evil of the Spirit of God. Why? The Spirit of God is in them, or guiding them. We can’t say we are in the Light, yet hate our brothers and sisters in the Lord. They may tick us off once and a while, but we can’t speak evil of them. Always take it to the Lord, and remember Jesus is King of kings, His people don’t work for us, they work for Him. To blaspheme means to speak evil of someone because we don’t like them, that is different than bringing a wrong to their attention, as long as we know the “wrong” is really a “wrong”, and not something we dreamed up.
Did Jesus run into fault? Sure, but He didn’t go around looking for it. The Pharisees were different, and in the case of Jesus when fault did jump up in His face, He always gave the person a way out. The Pharisees never did, they found what they thought was fault, and beat the person half to death with it. We will discern, or see things, but what we do then tells what type of person we are. Do we mock the person? Do we accuse them? Or do we try to help them?
How about children, how did Jesus feel about them? One day many children came to Jesus, and the disciples thought,” Oh man a bunch of kids bugging the Lord”, and they told the kids not to go away, but Jesus said, “Don’t do that, allow the children to come to Me”. Later the children came again, but instead of the disciples telling the children, they went to the parents and said, “don’t let your kids bug the Lord”, but Jesus said, “Don’t do that, allow all the children to come to Me”. Jesus said the Kingdom was the same way, it doesn’t matter if we’re supper smart, or not, we come to the Lord as little children, open, full of Love, and wanting to love. Jesus never stopped one child from coming to Him, and we’re never to stop anyone from coming to the Lord.
Know what else? We all come to the Lord the same way. It doesn’t matter if you’re supper smart in the things of the world, or not, when we come to Jesus we all start at the same place. Someone can be supper smart in the things of the world, and know nothing about Godly things. We all have the same start, the same power, and the same rules.
Having said that what about after we come to the Lord? Children grow up, and if we have little brothers and sisters we know they get away with a lot more than we do, but they don’t know as much either. As they grow and learn more things, they are held more responsible. So it is in the Kingdom, and Jesus used the “seed” to show us how all this is a matter of growing. The Seed is the Word of God, and the Word of God is really Jesus. We know, the Bible is called the Word of God too, but the Bible calls itself the “Scriptures”, and the Bible calls Jesus the Word (Jn 1:1). We don’t have a Bible planted in us when the Word is sow in our hearts, we have the Spirit of Christ implanted in us. So, in order to see this in a way that makes sense, let’s look at the ground, and how a seed grows. Let’s say we are the ground, and along comes the Holy Ghost, and He plants the Seed of God in our hearts. Then Mercy is applied, and it acts like water. How? As we forgive, God forgives, and we know forgiveness is Mercy, and Mercy makes us tender. The first thing that happens is the Root must grow. What is this like? The time when we were in our mother’s belly, we were growing to become Born, the same is true with the Word in us. When the Word is Born, so are we. When is that? When that little blade pops up, the time when we things are really different for us. The comes the growth, just like a tree, first the root, then that little bit of thing that looks like a blade of grass, then the tree, then the branches, then leaves, and so on. As we grow, the tests come from God to give us strength, just as the tree gets stronger when it grows.
Did you ever see a seed for a fruit tree grow fruit? No of course not, the seed has to be planted, it has to grow up into a tree, then it can give fruit. We’re not different, we all start the same, and we all are suppose to grow. It’s the growth thing that calls for us to work with God. We submit to God, have faith that God is always working in us, always cleaning us, always saving us. The more we grow, the more we know.
Jesus then said the Kingdom was like a net cast into the Sea, and we know what that means right? (Matt 13:47). Then He tells us something that we know is true, but something that seems strange considering the Kingdom of heaven. When the net is cast it brings in both good and bad fish, but why? How can this be? Opportunity, Jesus gives anyone who asks opportunity. Later Jesus will tell the disciples where to fish, and Jesus won’t say, “now cast the bad fish back”, or “I don’t want to see any bad fish”. No, He takes them all in and gives them all the opportunity to join Him. What evidence do we have? Judas of course, out of twelve only one fell short, so the odds are in our favor. The problem Judas had was Judas, and he just didn’t want to face his own heart. We open our hearts to the Lord, as little children, much different. As long as we want to be “caught” by Jesus, we’re okay, we will make it. How do we know? Even if we stop half way, Jesus will be there to get us the rest of the way.
What makes a bad fish? A fish that refuses to allow the change to take place, one that refuses to grow. Let’s say two fish are caught, one says, “Lord, you can change me I know it, and I want you to, and I will allow it”. The other says, “I will change myself, and I will appear more holy than the other fish, and I will make lots of money selling the things God gives me”. Which do you think is the good fish? Which the bad?
Jesus would tell us things that are so easy to understand, for instance, would you expect to find an orange on an apple tree? No, of course not, but if you saw a tree that had apples on it, what would you call it? An apple tree? Sure, but why? Because the fruit on that tree told you what kind of tree it was. People are no different, and some people are masters of hiding behind masks, but sooner or later the real them comes through, and that is their “fruit”, and that is how you know them. By what they do? No, but how they act. They can do a neat thing today, yet talk ugly about someone all the rest of the time, their fruit is “anger and bitterness”, and that is how you know them. We have a choice, we can keep the old tree of nasty and angry, or take the New one of Jesus. We have to make the decision to change trees, Jesus will not force Himself on us. That seems strange, since there are those who do force themselves on us, but Jesus is not like “them”, He is gentle, kind and waiting to help us, all we have to do is ask.
There are people out there who love to hurt others, we know it, and we may even know some. Jesus called them “tare planters”, and He explained it in a way we can understand. There was one field, it belonged to a good man, and the good man planted only good seeds, but the enemy came along and planted bad seeds in the same field. The field was not evil, but the seeds planted by the enemy were. None of the workers knew about it until the seeds began to grow, and then the workers saw the “tares”, were not “wheat”. So what is the difference? A Tare looks just like Wheat, but it doesn’t have a seed in the center. When you open a wheat, you find the “grain” or seed that is used to make cereal, bread, and other useful and good things; when you open a Tare, you find nothing. Both grew in the same Field, but only one was “good and useful”. When the workers found out the field had tares, they ran to the good man of the house and said, “Should we rip them up?”. The good man of the house said, “No, let the angels do it” (Matt 13:24-30 & 13:34-41). Tares are not good, and there are times when someone says something, or they hurt us, or we think someone has hurt us, and we accept their Tare. It grows and becomes anger, bitterness, revenge, or some other thing that is not Godly. That tare has one purpose, to keep us from God. The Holy Spirit is able to show us the Tare, and remove it. How? We ask Him and He removes it.
About half way through the earthly ministry Jesus would cross the Sea of Galilee, and a great crowd followed Him (Jn 6:1-2). This would be the Passover time, and we remember when Jesus was still in His wilderness He cleaned out the Temple on Passover, and that was just a few days after John baptized Him, and we will find Jesus went to the Cross on the next Passover, so this Passover is half-way through the ministry of Jesus. It’s important to know this is half-way, since we recall how the disciples were half-way across the Lake, when the storm came up. Jesus will face a type of a storm during His half way mark, but instead of “walking on the water”, He will deal with it in a Godly manner.
There were 5,000 men, not counting the women and children listening to Jesus teach them, and heal their sick, but it was getting close to dinner time, and the people looked like they were hungry. They were in a place where there were no stores, restaurants, or places to buy food, so how were they going to eat? Jesus looked at Philip, one of His disciples, and said, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” (Jn 6:5). Jesus asked “where”, and did so to test Philip, but why test him or anyone? To show us where our minds are at. Jesus asked “where”, but Philip ran to the money bad to see “how”. Philip thought money was the answer, and when he found they didn’t have enough money he thought it was impossible. Then Andrew, another disciple found a young boy who had five loaves of bread, and two small fish. This was the “where”, but how about the How? They seemed like so little for such a large group, but Jesus took the bread and fish, gave thanks for it, and when Jesus gives thanks, it’s always more than enough. That little amount fed all those people, and there were twelve baskets left over, one basket for each disciple.
That night Jesus told the disciples to go to the other side of the lake, and He would meet them there. They left in a boat, and in the middle of the lake a storm came up. This would be the time when they saw Jesus walking on the water, and the time when Peter would do his water walking thing. We looked at that, so we will move from there to the next day.
The people got up, and saw Jesus was gone, and they also saw the disciples boat was gone, so they left and went to the other side to find Jesus. Wow, isn’t that neat? Maybe not, let’s see (Jn 6:24-25). They found Jesus on the other side, and Jesus knew their hearts and said, “You seek Me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat and were filled” (Jn 6:26). Jesus then laid it on the line, labor to do the will of the Father, and stop laboring to get the Father to do your will. What is that will? That we believe on Jesus (Jn 6:29). The people had their “tares” exposed, but instead of saying, “You’re right Jesus, forgive us, teach us to do the will of the Father”, they attacked Jesus, and attempted to manipulate Him into giving them more food. They said, “Our fathers did eat the manna, and it is written God gave them bread to eat”. So what does that mean? They were saying “What is wrong with wanting bread? God gave our fathers bread, so should You”. Jesus corrected them, and showed it was not God who gave the people the manna, it was God who gave it to Moses, for the sake of the people. Huh? Sure, the Father forgives us because Jesus asked Him to, God gave the manna to the people, because of Moses. Here these people are saying it was because of the people, but Jesus corrects them, and shows “Moses” was the reason, and beside that the manna came up from the ground, not down from heaven (Jn 6:30-32). Jesus is the Bread of God from heaven, and yet Jesus would say, “Man does not live by Bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. What gives? Jesus will add to this and show us it’s important to come to Jesus at the Cross, but it’s also important to continue on with Jesus. Here Jesus will give us a clue to the Rock and the Church that is on that Rock. The Body of Christ is the Rock, but from the Body comes the Church. Jesus then speaks of taking His Body, and His Blood – Yikes, I don’t think I can deal with that. Easy, it’s right back to those metaphors again. The Body of Jesus is the working part, it’s all the people who come to Jesus, and accept “His Name”. The Blood of Jesus represents His sacrifice and suffering for us. Later Jesus will tell us to take of the Bread (Body), or better to remember we are one big family in God, but then He tells us to take His Blood which is the New Testament. What is a Testament? It’s a Covenant. So what is a Covenant? It’s like a contract, and we know how our parents buy cars, and things, and by them on “time”. Someone says, “look I will sell you this, and you pay me so much money a month until it’s all paid off”, then our parents say “sure, sounds good”. That is a contract, one needs, the other delivers, and they each have responsibilities. If our parents don’t pay, the man comes and takes back his goods. If our parents pay, then when the time comes the thing belongs to them, and the contract is complete and done. The Blood of Jesus is our sign of making it to heaven, Jesus did it all, so what is our part? Accept the works of Jesus, and do as He says. When we accept the works of Jesus, we are saying, “Lord you saved my life, now save me”.
Why is this coming up now? That is the issue with these people, they had “bread and fish”, and those two things represent the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Spirit of Christ is associated with the Blood of Jesus, so the people did take and eat, but they didn’t understand why. They thought it was just a hand-out, but Jesus was making a point. If they took, were they willing to give? No, they attacked Jesus, yet the very day before they took from Him. We have to be careful we don’t do the same, “Oh Lord save me, oh please”, and He does, then we say, “I’m sure lucky I was able to save myself”. Ouch, not nice. What is the storm? Having a bunch of people yelling at you is one, but we also find many of His disciples left Him over this issue. He could have said, “Hey, wait, let’s talk about it, you know I was only kidding”. But He didn’t, this issue was a call for responsibility, and the ones who stayed were the twelve, and some of the seventy.
Jesus also tells these people, “I am the Bread of Life” (Jn 6:48), and “the words that I speak are Spirit (about and from the Spirit), and they are Life” (Jn 6:63). Two things, His Body, and His Blood. If all we take is His Body, we will have Life, but we must submit to His Blood (Spirit) to gain Life More Abundantly. What is More Abundantly? Heaven, Adam had life on earth, but he was not allowed into heaven, God had to come to him, and Adam knew all about animals, and nothing about God. We have a Right by the Blood of Jesus to come before the throne of God in prayer anytime we want, and all heaven stops so God can hear our prayers. How? Jesus, but what Jesus did, we can.
When it came down to the taking the responsibility many of those same people who said, “Lord, even the devils are subject to us through Your Name” (Luke 10:17), would turn and walk away from Jesus, and walk with Him no more (Jn 6:66). When they walked away Jesus asked Peter and the other apostles, “Will you also go away?” (Jn 6:67). Peter told Jesus, “Where? You are the only one has words of life”. Peter was right, the words that Jesus spoke were Life, not death.
In this we also find another mystery, with the Old Covenant, or contract God had with the people through Moses there was both blessing and cursing. They needed some incentive, some reason to serve, and like the people who said, “where’s the bread”, they had to know God would bless them if they did as He said, but if they didn’t they would leave the door open for a cursing. Jesus never said we would be cursed, all He talked about is being Blessed, and being a Blessing. Remember the Sermon on the Mount, and all Jesus said was “blessed are you”, He never said, “And if you don’t do this, you will be cursed”. If we don’t we won’t be blessed, but all curses are nailed to the Cross of Jesus, accept the Cross and be free of all curses. Under Moses the people served based on what they could get out of it, we serve based on what Jesus did.
There are people who seek to find fault, they will pass tons of good things, just to find one little thing which they think is wrong. The religious rulers in the times of Jesus were no different, they would travel miles just to find something they felt was wrong with Jesus. Something Jesus didn’t do, they thought He should, or something Jesus did, they thought He shouldn’t. Forget all the healed people, forget all the great sermons, just find some little thing wrong. Why? People think if they can find one thing wrong, they can reject everything. Not so, if they know about Jesus, they are responsible to Jesus.
So, the Pharisees tracked Jesus down, and they saw the disciples of Jesus eating with “unwashed hands”, oh naughty, naughty disciples, so they asked Jesus, ”Why do Your disciples transgress (violate) the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (Matt 15:1-2). When they said “wash not their hands”, they were not talking about some soap and water, they were talking about a whole thing involving much time, and really proved nothing. To show what we mean, there was a story of a Rabbi (Jewish teacher) who was in jail, and each day he got one half of a loaf of bread, and one glass of water. To protect the “tradition of the elders” he used the water to wash his hands, before he would eat the bread. The man died of thirst, not because he didn’t have water, but because he wasted it on a tradition. The Pharisees didn’t understand the reason for the tradition, remember the metaphor thing? Water is a metaphor for Mercy, and we are to lay hands on people, so before we do, we must make sure we are Mercy covered. How? We make sure we have entered that place of forgiveness, we make the decision to forgive, God gives us the Power to forgive, and then we can lay hands on the Bread (Body) of Jesus. See how important is to know these “metaphors”? Jesus saw more than bread like you buy in the market, He saw a symbol, something that stood for much more. The Pharisees saw “dirty hands”, and missed the point. Why? They were seeking fault, not Truth, and they may have washed their hands fifty times a day, but they were not “clean” for the work of God.
A Tradition of men is something some people in the past did, and they thought it was holy, so the next generation picks it up, and they say it’s not only holy, but something we all have to do. Then people teach us we have to do it in order to be saved, and then we have a Tradition of men. A Tradition is either of men, or of God, and if it’s of God, then we do it. We take Communion because Jesus asked us to, and we are baptized in water because Jesus asked us to, so they are not Traditions of men, but Traditions of God.
The Pharisees were demanding that the disciples of Jesus do the Traditions of men, but they refused to do the Traditions of God. Jesus called them “hypocrites”, or those who go about saying, “do as I say, not as I do”. The Law of Moses had many do not things, do not eat pork, do not eat chickens, do not eat fish that don’t have scales, do not eat this, or that, but it wasn’t the food that was “evil”, rather God created all things, and all things are Good. What was it then? Obedience, God was looking for obedience, so He gave them a list of do not’s they could understand. The food was nothing, God simply used the food as a tool so the people would obey, and that allowed God to bless them.
Jesus explains how one could watch everything they eat, yet speak words full of unclean things, as He says, “It’s not goes into a person’s mouth that is unclean, it’s what comes out of it” (Matt 15:17-20). Wow, everything you say is unclean? No, since we also know we have to “confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord”. The tongue is just a thing in our mouth, Jesus is talking about what makes the tongue move. From the old attitude and nature all sorts of nasty things come forth, so we change the “tree”, and receive the Spirit of Christ to change the way our tongue acts.
Jesus at this time in the ministry was all ready talking about the Cross, but the disciples didn’t understand a word He was saying. They had never seen anyone who was crucified on a Cross come forth from the grave, and really they thought things were going along just fine, why go to the Cross anyway? The earthly ministry of Jesus was a Beginning, not the End, none of us get ready for a race, then stand up and say, “Okay, it’s done, I’m finished”. No, we have to run to the finish line. There were things that needed to be done, the earthly ministry was an Introduction to what Jesus was going to do through the Cross.
This is our area of Belief, for the disciples there was nothing in the past for them to believe in, but for us we know the Cross of Jesus happened. In order to show them the change to come Jesus went to a mountain and took Peter, James and John. While on the mountain a strange thing happened, Jesus changed into a shinning person, and His face did shine as bright as the sun. Next to Him appeared Moses and Elijah. Yikes!!! Run, it’s ghosts. No, the figures stood for something, and like many other things, what we see is merely explaining what Jesus is telling us. It didn’t mean that actually Moses or Elijah were raised from the dead, it was what the figures represented; Moses the Law of Moses, and Elijah the Prophets. Those two Witnesses of the Law and Prophets always witness against people, they remind people of the Conscience of God. For that reason we find many people don’t want the Ten Commandments in your school, or anywhere else. Their hearts know the Ten Commandments are the Conscience God gave Moses for the people. When someone sees the Ten Commandments they get mad, because they want to do such and such and feel good about themselves, but God says, “Thou shall not steal”, and they don’t like that. They love the works of darkness, they want to do “their own thing”, and not be held responsible. So, removing the Ten Commandments makes them think they free of the responsibility, but are they? No, they know there is something called the Ten Commandments, and if they know about them, they are responsible to them. Who isn’t? Those of us who have Christ in us. Paul tells us the Commandments are nailed to the Cross, so that we can have the Mind (conscience) of Christ.
When Jesus appeared with Moses (the Law) and Elijah (Prophets), Peter had an idea. Peter always had an idea, many times the wrong one, but he was learning. Peter is a hope for us, we make mistakes on this path with God, we can even make some big ones, but Jesus understands, and when we ask Him to forgive us, He does.
Peter looked up and there was Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and Peter felt all three were equal, and said, “Wow, this is cool, let us make three tabernacles, one for each one”. Then the Voice of the Father came from heaven and said, “Hear you Him”. Oops, hear Jesus, know about Moses, know about the Prophets, but stick to Jesus.
One of the main issues in walking with God is the area of forgiveness, we can’t hold unforgiveness, no matter what. Is that a big call? Sure, in some cases very big, and very hard, but our love for the Lord must be greater than our desire to hate people. This area was hard for Peter, so hard he was trying to find a way around it. How important would it be for Peter? Well, Peter will blow it, and Judas will blow it completely. Peter had to forgive himself, and he had to forgive Judas, and he had to forgive Jesus. Forgive Jesus? What for? Jesus will tell Peter, “Satan has desired to punch a hole right through you, but I have prayed for you, and when you repent and return, teach your brothers”. Jesus was going to allow it to happen, could Jesus stop Satan? Sure, but the lesson for Peter was great. You see Peter had a pride issue, and he was a big guy, and very strong, and all his life he was “the man”, even to the point that he felt he could take on the entire Roman army and win. Until he was faced with something that was over his head, and he denied he even knew Jesus. Peter had to see the danger in holding pride, and see the difference between pride and courage. Real courage is doing what Jesus said, even if the storms come up.
The hope we find in Peter is how Jesus said Peter would repent and return. Well, now, if Judas repented, could he be returned? Judas did repent, but he repented because things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, Peter repented because he hurt the Lord. Both men repented, but only one “returned”. When we’re sorry, we have to consider what our acts have done to others. Jesus will go through much, and yet no one will stand with Him. Peter will deny Him, the others will run, but He will forgive them all, and love them, and call them into His ministry. The Cross is perhaps the best example of this; think of the pain of the nails through the wrists and feet of Jesus. Think of the pain of being beaten, think of all that, and think of having the power to stop it. That changes everything, someone may knock us down, and sit on us, and we get mad, but we can’t stop it. If we could, we would, and we know it. On the Cross Jesus had the power to stop it at anytime, but He kept seeing those He loves, and that includes you and I, and He knew the pain was well worth it. Then He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. Wow, it wasn’t “Father get them”, or “I’m the Christ, you’re all dog meat”, or “When I get down from here, you’re going to get it”, or “I come against you”, it was “Forgive them”. That takes courage, real courage, anyone can take revenge, but it takes someone special to forgive, and continue on with what God told them to do.
To show this forgiving attitude of God, and how we are to have it Jesus talked about a “lost sheep”. The disciples were mostly fisherman, but they knew about being a shepherd. A man has a hundred sheep, and one wanders off, and he has 99 left. So, why even go after the one, the 99 are more than most people need. Oh, greed, the guy can’t stand to lose one, right? No, not greed, although some would run after the one for greed, but they would also make sure the 99 were with them. This shepherd know the 99 would be fine, they were grouped together, and would wait, it was the one all alone that worried the shepherd. He took off and searched without rest until he found his lost sheep. When he found it, he was happy, and carried it all the way back to the rest of the flock. For the most part the only ones who knew that one sheep was lost, was the one sheep and the shepherd, but the shepherd knew before the sheep did. So it is with us, when we begin to wander the Lord knows it, and is guiding us back to the flock. The Lord may even let us wander for a time, but like Peter, we know there is a lesson and a hope, and when we repent and are restored we will have something to teach others.
Our trust in God knows that when we pray, “Lord guide me, protect me, and instruct me”, that is what He will do (Matt 18:10-14).
Peter knew this story was about forgiving, since the “lost sheep” was the same as someone who walks away from the Lord. Remember back to those who said, “Body and Blood, no way, we’re out of here”? Peter had to forgive them too, which covers sheep forgiving sheep. Must we? You bet, Jesus tells the disciples how they must forgive, but He also gives them guides. This is important, and you have heard of “binding and loosing”, well this is the area where we learn all about binding and loosing. If someone has a problem with us, or we with them, we go to them to reason and find peace. Well, that’s fine, but what if they won’t listen? Then we go and get someone who knows us both, not just our buddy, or someone who will side with us, but someone who knows both, and is able to talk to both. Then we know when two (them and us), or three (them, us and the other person) are gathered together to make peace between us, Jesus is there in the midst of us. By prayer we can make peace between us, and loose any pride, hate, bitterness, and strife that has caused the problem to begin with. Ahh, the Peacemaker thing right? Right, blessed is the Peacemaker.
Peter hears this forgive thing, and says, “cool, so if someone does it to me, do I forgive them till what? Seven times?”. Peter was looking for the limit line, “Okay, that’s seven, now I’m going to punch your lights out”, but Jesus takes that excuse away and says, “seventy times seven”, or 490 times in one day. Has anyone ever crossed you 490 times in one day? There aren’t enough hours. Wait, what is the other side of this? God will forgive us 490 times in one day, remember Jesus never asked us to do anything God won’t do.
Jesus tells us to pick up our Cross, so do we make one, then carry it around? No, we say we will accept the Cross of Jesus as our Cross, and die (reject, toss away, refuse to use) the old attitude, which means we have to say, “Forgive I forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Hard? Sometimes, but that is what God does for us. No matter what we have done, God is fully able to forgive us.
So, what has this to do with loosing? Simple, Jesus tells us when we hold unforgiveness against people, we have bound the Mercy of God in heaven, and have bound ourselves from God. When we loose people by forgiving them, we loose God’s Mercy from heaven, and loose us from the earth. It’s easy to hate, the world does it all the time, and it’s easy to love those who do good things for you, but to forgive and love all people takes God in your heart. There it is, the mystery. For many of us the act of forgiving is really, really hard, but God is looking for desire and decision. Is our love for God greater than our desire to hate? If so, we tell God we really want to forgive, but we can’t, then God gives us the power to forgive, we use it, and when we do God forgives us the more, and the more power to forgive we get. We loose people from our unforgiveness, by forgiving them. Really holding unforgiveness against someone doesn’t hurt them one bit, it will nearly kill us. How? It keeps us Bound to the earth, and keeps God’s Mercy Bound in heaven from us.
Once we ask God to forgive us, we must forgive others. Jesus told us about a guy who owed tons of money, so much money that it would take 1,000 years to pay back just some of it. This guy was in debt big time, and more than that he was in debt to the king. The king called for his money, or the hide of the guy. Oh man, what to do? The guy begged the king, and said, “Lord have patience with me, and I will pay you all” (Matt 18:26). Pay you all? There was no way, and the king knew it, but the king had compassion on the man and forgave him the entire debt. This is true with us, we come to God, and there is no way we can pay for our sins, but we ask God to forgive us, and He does. End of story? No, the guy who was forgiven had some guy who owed him about a dollar. Right after the king forgives this guy his entire debt, he goes out finds the guy that owes him a dollar, grabs the dude around the neck, and says, “give me my money”. The guy says, “have patience with me, and I will pay you all”. That is the same thing he said to the king, now someone is asking him to forgive, so will he? No, he had the guy tossed in jail for one dollar. The king heard about it, and told the guy he had forgiven, “you wicked person, I forgive you all, and you can’t forgive? I will send you to the tormentors, and they will torment you day and night forever” (Matt 18:26-35). The lesson was there, if we ask God to forgive us, we must forgive others. The very good side to this? When we forgive we walk in Peace, a very good, very solid Peace.
Before Jesus goes to Jerusalem, and faces the Cross there is yet other signs that must be presented to the religious rulers, and the people. Some people get all hung up on some silly issues, some even refuse to celebrate holidays because they are not in the “Law of Moses”. Well, there is a problem with that, one holiday the Jews celebrate today was not in the Law of Moses, it wasn’t even in the Old Testament. There is a time period of about 400 years between the time when the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins. During that time there were still Jews, and Gentiles. Okay, there’s one for you, what is a Gentile? A Gentile is someone who isn’t Jewish. How about an Arab? They are a Gentile. Anyway during this 400 years there was a time when the Gentiles took over the temple, and the Jews rebelled and fought the Gentiles. After the fight the Jews got their temple back, but there was a problem. The oil that they used to light the lamp with takes eight days to make, and they only had enough oil to keep the lamp burning for one day. A miracle happened, and the lamp burned for eight days, and on the ninth day they were able to put oil in it, and they call the holiday “the feast of dedication”, which comes around in our December. They use a special lamp that has nine bowls on it, rather than the seven they usually use in the temple. The lamp is called a “menorah”, and when Christians are celebrating Christmas we hear of the Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication), and they light a candle for each of the nine days. Why is this important? Jesus celebrated that holiday, and it wasn’t in the Law of Moses, it wasn’t even in the Old Testament (Jn 10:22). Some of us get Blind to the Good News of the Gospel by making up hindering traditions of men.
What to do? Let’s go back before this time, to a man who was standing in front of the temple, a poor man, who was born without eyeballs. It’s one thing to be born blind, but this poor guy didn’t have eyeballs. What was he to do? In those days for a person to beg for money in front of the temple they had to be examined by the religious leaders, and if the person was really a “beggar”, then they were given a robe to prove it. Much like giving them a card to show they are really in need, anyway this guy and others during that time had their “garment”. One day while this guy was outside the temple, Jesus and His disciples walked by, and the disciples said, “wow, this guy was born that way, so how sinned for him to be like this, him or his parents?”. For some reason we think “sin” or the “devil” is always the cause when things go wrong, but Jesus said, “Neither he or his parents, but this man is like he is so the works of God can be made open” (Jn 9:1-4). Then Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (Jn 9:5). Ah, gee wait, didn’t Jesus tell us to let our light shine? Yes, but we get our Light from Him, and as long as one of us is here on earth, the Light of Christ still shines. What does light do? What power does light have? How many times have you entered a room and turned out the darkness? No, we turn on the lights. Why? Light has more power than darkness, you can’t turn on the darkness to make the light go away, but you can turn on light to make the darkness go away. Why is that? Because God saw the world was dark, and He said, “Let there be light”, and the light drove the darkness away, and so it has been ever since. How about this blind guy? Could he even tell if there was light? We need eyes to see the natural light of the sun, and light bulbs, but Jesus was talking about a different Light. What Light? The light of faith, and this blind guy had that light. Jesus took some clay, the same stuff that God used to form the flesh of Adam, and then Jesus spit in it to impart His light and life, and then He put that clay in the empty eyeball sockets of the guy (Jn 9:6). Then Jesus told the guy to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, and the man did as he was told. Some people might shout, “Look that guy is messing with the blind guy, let’s get him”, others might call the cops, but the man knew to obey, yet he couldn’t “see”. After he washed he had eyeballs, and that caused the shape of the his face to change as well. People who knew him said, “I think that’s him”, others said, “I don’t know”. Without eyeballs the face sinks in, but with them the face changes, and even his own parents had to take a another look. “is that you son?”. After all he was without eyeballs since he was born, now in just a few seconds here he is with eyes. It was him, and this is a miracle.
Even in the Old Testament lepers were healed, and some raised from the dead, but no one has had the power of “creation”. This was a Sign of signs, one that shows Jesus is not just some prophet, or some saint, no one has ever “created” before. Some have formed, or made something from something else, but to make eyeballs? Who has ever heard of such a thing? Well, for sure the Pharisees didn’t, but they will.
The man had a garment to beg, but now he had no reason to beg. The questions would come, perhaps he was a fraud, and he really did have eyes. Nay, this guy was not “blind” in the sense of having eyeballs, but not being able to see, he didn’t have eyeballs, he was no fraud. The Pharisees are in big trouble, if they say this guys a fraud, who then gave him the garment? If not, who then gave him eyes? They ask him how this happened, he tells them, and they get mad. The area of “belief” is important, and even with evidence in front of them, the Pharisees refused to believe.
The religious rulers then used manipulation and the threat of rejection from the temple to make the people lie, and say the man was never blind. No way, the man knew what he knew, and he said, “look, all I know is this, once I was blind, now I see”. The man left the temple and ran into Jesus, and Jesus asked him, “do you believe on the Son of God?” (Jn 9:35). The man said, “Who is He, Lord, that I might”. See the difference, this man didn’t need a bunch of papers, or other proof, he was willing to believe, the religious rulers had proof, but refused to believe, who then was really blind? Some of the Pharisees come out of the temple and heard Jesus talking to the guy, and said to Jesus, “are you blind also?”. Jesus said, “If you were blind, you should have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains” (Jn 9:41). Okay, what was that? They said the man was blind, then they said he wasn’t, just so they wouldn’t have to admit they were wrong about Jesus. The man couldn’t see, then could, but more important he was willing to believe even when he couldn’t see. The disciples and the Pharisees were looking for the “sin”, Jesus was thinking “miracle”. The disciples wondered, “who sinned him or his parents?”, the Pharisees rejected the miracle, but Jesus wondered, “Wonder how can God be glorified here?”. Three didn’t thoughts about the same event, and only Jesus was looking to make the man better.
With all this Jesus will begin to explain how He is the good shepherd, and how He cares for all of us in His flock. Jesus will tell us there is a Door to the House of God, and before Jesus came no one could enter that Door. Under the Old Testament there was the Window, and God would pour out the blessing from the Window, but still no one could enter the House by the Window. Who would try? A thief, one who takes the blessing from the Window, but refuses the call to knock on the Door to receive Jesus. Jesus is the Door, and there is one who stands at the Door, and you must pass by Him, who is He? The Holy Ghost, so the way to enter into the Door is to be Born Again by the Spirit, for that Born of the Spirit is Spirit.
There was another blind man of some importance, a man by the name of ‘Bartimaeus”, who is called “blind Bartimaeus” (Mark 10:46-52). Bartimaeus had his “beggar’s garment”, and heard about Jesus coming down the street. Well he shouted, “Jesus, have mercy on me”. The people around told him, “shut up man, He doesn’t have time for you”. Bartimaeus shouted the more, “Jesus have mercy on me”. Jesus heard him, and asked him, “what will you have Me do?”. The guy is blind, what would Jesus think? Wait, this wasn’t for Jesus, it was for Bartimaeus. When Bartimaeus knew Jesus heard him he tossed away his “garment”, which was the same as saying, “I won’t need to beg anymore”. Bartimaeus told Jesus, “that I might receive my sight”. Jesus told him, “go your way, your faith has made you whole”. What faith? What did he do? Tossed away his garment, the one thing that gave him the right to beg. His faith was in his actions, and faith is not always what we say, it is also what we do.
Then comes the Feast of Dedication, and we can see how that links in with all this, the blind man, the Light, the Door, and the Oil. Oil? So what? Oil is a one of those metaphors again, and Oil stands for the Holy Spirit, so we use oil to anoint others with as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s desire to see us whole.
At this point in time Jesus continued to teach on being the Good Shepherd, and gave us the assurance, if we believe, then we are glued to the Hand of Jesus, and Jesus is part of the Hand of the Father, and no one can remove us, no devil, no one else. So, if that is the case, who are the Wicked? Ahh, no one else can remove us, and really it takes some work to remove ourselves. It’s not going to be a one mistake thing, or a two mistake thing, it takes a real effort to separate ourselves from Jesus. This closeness is so close Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” (Jn 10:30). That means we can say, “Jesus and I are One”. Neat huh?
There remained another sign, one that the Jews would be hard pressed to ignore. Jesus had some friends who were not disciples, among them was Mary, her sister Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus loved them all, but Mary and Martha were different, both sisters, but we know sisters can be different. Mary wanted to show her appreciation toward the Lord in worship, Martha by works. Martha at times thought Mary should be more like her, but Jesus would tell Martha how we each have our part, and we do our part, and come to Jesus as individuals.
Anyway when Jesus was some distance away from where Lazarus and the sisters lived something happened, Lazarus got sick. Word was sent to Jesus, “come quick, Lazarus is sick” (Jn 11:1-3). Jesus told His disciples, “this sickness is not unto death” (Jn 11:4), but Lazarus died, so was Jesus wrong? No, Jesus had a plan in this, and the disciples had another “sea crossing” test, would they believe what Jesus said, no matter what the circumstances looked like? Or would they believe the circumstances? Jesus waited two days, wow some love. Purpose, Jesus had a purpose in this. The Jews believed the soul of a person hung around for three days after they died, then on the third day their soul would either go to Abraham’s Bosom or hell. If someone just died, and were raised, they could accept that, since the person’s soul was still around, but three days? No way. Of course the soul leaves the flesh the second the flesh can’t house it, but the Jews had all sorts of “traditions of men”, but so do some Christians. Anyway, Jesus had a reason to wait, He knew Lazarus was going to die, but He also knew Lazarus would be raised from the dead. The reason wasn’t to show off, but to show us death is not the end, there is more. However, the disciples didn’t understand, and they though Jesus was messing around, wasting time, or that He really didn’t care. Not understanding what God is doing causes us to think all sorts of things, and we may even think those things are “true”, but they’re not. Jesus and the disciples were about one day’s journey from where Lazarus was, but Jesus waited two days before going. Then He said, “Let us go into Judea again”, which was where Lazarus was (Jn 11:7).
Judea was the place where the blind guy got his eyes, but it was also the place where the religious rulers threatened Jesus, so the disciples said, “Master, the Jews seek to stone you to death, yet you want to go there?”. Jesus had all ready told them about the Cross, and Resurrection, but they thought man had more power than God. Jesus knew not one stone would hurt Him, and no one could do a thing to Him, unless they had permission from the Father.
Then Jesus told the disciples, “Lazarus sleeps”, and they thought, “well, if he is sleeping, then he will get better”. Jesus then told them plain, “Lazarus is dead” (Jn 11:14). That caused the disciples to wonder the more, If he is dead, why go? There is danger there. There was a purpose, and not only would the miracle show Jesus has more power than death, but it would be a sign to the religious rulers, Jesus is the Son of God. No one had ever done the things Jesus did, the evidence was there, if they couldn’t believe Jesus, at least believe the works.
Lazarus and his sisters lived in Bethany, which was real near the city of Jerusalem. Therefore, no matter what Jesus did in Bethany, those in Jerusalem would surely hear. Would the religious leaders come and kill Jesus? Perhaps the disciples were wondering, like many of us, Sure, Jesus will make it, but what about us? Some times we think God loves someone else more than He loves us, and of course they will be blessed, but what about us? We look at the Gospel and see how Jesus loved Lazarus, and how He took John, Peter and James to places He didn’t take the other disciples, so did Jesus love them more? No, their training took more. Just because Jesus spent more time with John, Peter and James didn’t mean He loved them more, in fact Jesus loved them all, even Judas.
When Jesus gets to Bethany the first person to meet Him was Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Martha went to meet Jesus and said to Him, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (Jn 11:21). The word Martha used for the word “died”, means dead forever and ever. Then she told Jesus, “but I know, what even now, whatsoever You will ask of God, God will give You” (Jn 11:22). Some of us would call that “faith”, but it wasn’t, it was manipulation, using words to get what she wanted. Jesus told her, “Your brother shall rise again” (Jn 11:23). Martha said, ”I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”. Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn 11:25-26). She will say, “Yes Lord”, but she just said her brother was dead, dead, dead. Why didn’t she ask Jesus, “Lord did You come to raise Lazarus? Could you Lord? Will you Lord?”. She was testing Jesus, yet the very purpose Jesus came was to raise Lazarus. So would Jesus? After all Martha might have tossed a monkey wrench into the thing.
Jesus stood still, He didn’t move at all. Martha ran to Mary, and told Mary, “The Master is come, and calls for you” (Jn 11:28). Did He? Sure, He came to Bethany, but did He ask about Mary? No, Martha was trying to get some help here, if she couldn’t move Jesus, maybe Mary could. But she didn’t tell Mary “all the truth”, in fact she added some things to trick Mary into talking to Jesus.
Mary went to Jesus, and said, “Lord, If You had been here, my brother would not have died” (Jn 11:32). That sounds like the same thing Martha said, but it’s not. The word Mary used for “died” means temporary, or for a little while. Mary knew Lazarus would be raised again, but she was sad that he was gone now. When someone dies it’s sad, they are no longer with us. Jesus didn’t have to tell her about the resurrection, she knew, and believed, but she missed her brother. Jesus now moves, and asks, “where have you laid him?”. Martha’s words didn’t get that reaction, rather her words caused Jesus to stand still. Don’t play word games with Jesus, they never work. Be open, honest and He will move for you.
Jesus went to the grave site and said, “Loose him, and let him go”. Who was He talking to? Was there some guy in the tomb holding on to Lazarus? No, He was talking to Death, not only did Lazarus have “grave clothes” on, but death had a grip on him. What are “grave clothes”? Ever see a picture of a “mummy”? You know, those guys all wrapped up and buried in tombs in Egypt? What the Jews would do was like that, and some think they picked it up when they were captive in Egypt under Pharaoh, others think Pharaoh picked it up from the Jews. Whatever, they did it, and the Jews would take all sorts of herbs, flowers and things like that and cook them until they became like a paste. Then they would wrap the body with strips of clothe, and they use the paste. Then they would take another wrap and cover the body. Lazarus was all wrapped up, and when Jesus said “Loose him”, the body of Lazarus jumped to the opening of the grave, then Jesus told the people to unwrap him (like a Christmas present).
Lazarus was alive, so is this a “resurrection”? Or a sign of the resurrection? We would think Lazarus was resurrected, but he came back to the same body and life he had. When we are Resurrected we get a new body, one that we will know like this one, but one that can’t feel pain, sorrow, hurts, and one that is pure. Jesus is the first person ever Resurrected, and that’s why we call His resurrected the “First Resurrection”. When we receive the Spirit of Christ, that same Spirit will raise us too, and we will join to that First Resurrection. Not scary, but something we hope for.
The same Lazarus who was raised from the dead, was also the Evidence of the miracle. Some who call themselves “followers of God”, hate to see the miracles of God, or the evidence of those miracles. They want to control their religion, and they don’t want anyone doing what they can’t do, or better, what they refuse to do. When someone gets healed, they get mad. Why? Jealous, they refuse to deal with the old devil Jealousy. The Jews wanted to get rid of Jesus, but they also wanted to kill Lazarus. Perhaps they figured if the could kill Lazarus a second time, he would remain dead. Whatever, the Pharisees and religious rulers put out the word, If anyone knew where Jesus was, they were to tell.
Guess what? Jesus was right there in Bethany, in the house of Simon, and in that same house was Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Who was Simon? This Simon was called, Simon the Leper, who was also the father of Judas. Judas’ last name was Iscariot and Judas is short for Judea, and Judea means Praise, but Iscariot means “city of the self”, so Judas was one who praised his self.
This begins the week of the Cross, that one week in all history that would change things forever. That one week that opened heaven for us, and saved us from the darkness. Many things will happen during this week, and really it’s nine days, beginning on a Friday, a special Friday, in the house of Simon the Leper.
Mary and Martha were in the same house, Mary had a pound of that very special oil, so special she had been saving it for years, and it was worth a lot of money. She took that special oil and began to anoint (put on) Jesus, and she worshiped Him. Martha was fixing the gang something to eat, and thought Mary was messing around, she just didn’t understand, but Jesus loved her too. Martha again plays a word game, and instead of telling Mary, “Mary, come on, I need some help here”, she tells Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the work? Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus tells her, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things”. Which means she is worried over things that have no real importance. Whenever we catch ourselves playing these word games remember “Martha, Martha”, and say it to yourself. When you hear it in your head, you will know, “I’m being a Martha, Martha”.
Now Judas was a different story, and we are told about Martha and Judas so we can see the difference. Martha was confused, she thought taking care of the gang was more important than taking care of Jesus. John tells us this is the difference between our First Love, which is our Love for the Lord, and our Second Love, which is our love for people. We can so hung up on our Second Love, we forget about our First. That was Martha’s problem, she wasn’t trying to get Mary away from the Lord because she was jealous, she was trying to get some help. To her it seemed like the right thing, if not she would never have asked the Lord to make Mary help.
Judas will play another type of mind game, and he sees all that expensive oil, and thinks, Man that is money, money I can use. See, Judas was the guy who kept the money for the ministry, and he was stealing bits here and there, and he thought no one knew. The other disciples didn’t, but Jesus did. So, why didn’t Jesus just take the money from Judas, and tell him, “I know you steal, so I’m taking away the temptation”? Opportunity, Judas had to make the choice, steal or give. Jesus gave a “good gift” to Judas, the gift of having an important office it the ministry, but in order for it to remain Good, Judas had to keep it that way.
Judas, Simon’s son said, “that should be sold, and given to the poor” (Jn 12:4-6). Sounds good, we’re suppose to give to the poor, and here was some oil that was going to be used once, and never again. Why not sell it? Jesus tells Judas, “the poor you have with you always, but Me you have not always” (Jn 12:8). What does that mean? There would always be the opportunity to give to the poor, but there would be only once to do what Mary was doing. Jesus wasn’t putting down the poor, or Judas, He was showing they were witnesses to an event that would only happen once.
This first day of the week of the Cross begins with Jesus being anointed for His burial, Judas thinking only of money, and the religious leaders thinking only about how they can kill Jesus and Lazarus (Jn 12:10). This is the time of the Cross, the most important day in all of mankind, yet we find three groups. Those with Jesus, who know the importance of what is happening, those with Judas who are only looking for some way to make money, and the those with the religious rulers who want to stop what God is doing. Which group would you like to be with? Jesus? Well, that’s great, let’s continue on.
The next day would be a Saturday, and to the Jews that would mean it was Sabbath Day. What is that? The Law of Moses not only called for the Sabbath Day being on Saturday, but it said if you wanted to keep the Law of Moses, you had to keep the Sabbath Day. On the Sabbath Day no one was permitted to work, which means no cooking, house cleaning, store business, or mall business, or any business at all. The only ones allowed to work were the priests, and only for certain jobs. The idea was simple, the people were blessed, but would forget who blessed them, and God picked one day a week for the people to think on Him. So, is that self-centered? After all putting one day a week a-side just to honor God!!! No, it was to keep the people from thinking their blessing was by their own hand. What happens when we think it’s by our hand? We give the devil opportunity to come and destroy the blessing. Keeping the sabbath day was good for these people, but if you have Jesus in your heart how many days to think on Him? Everyday! For us, Jesus is our Sabbath (rest).
However, since this day of the week was a Saturday, and a sabbath day it would mean the people were not allowed to work. On that day Jesus came into Jerusalem, and the people cut down palm branches from the palm trees, and laid them before Jesus as a type of street. The Palm Branch stands for Peace, and Jesus being our Prince of Peace had a road of Peace. Well, the religious rulers had a fit, all these people working on the sabbath, but wait, were they? The purpose of the sabbath was not just to rest, but to consider God. What were they doing? Considering God, they were doing the purpose of the sabbath, the religious rulers kept the day, but failed at the purpose. We can go to church every Sunday, and miss the reason for going.
On the same day Jesus entered the temple and found all sorts of people who were like Judas, that same thinking of how to make money off the things of God. Jesus got mad, and told them, “It is written, Me house shall be called the house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves” (Matt 21:13). As the bad religious rulers were selling things, Jesus was healing people.
The next day would be Sunday, and Jesus and the disciples were on their way from Bethany to Jerusalem, and Jesus saw a fig tree. The Fig Tree was a symbol of the religious order of Israel, and don’t forget the day before Jesus saw all those religious people selling things in the Temple, so this fig tree was just a “sign”. The fruit of the fig tree grows funny, the first fruit that appears isn’t very good to eat, but the second fruit grows over the first and it is good. Are we as Christians also like the “Fig Tree”? No, Jesus compares us to the Olive Tree. The Olive Tree and the Fig Tree are way different. You can eat a ripe fig right off the tree, but you can’t eat an olive. The olives have to be picked, then soaked in a real strong solution. To get olive oil you have to press the olives in a big press, and we will see where that plays a part in all this soon.
Jesus walked up to this fig tree, and the first fruit was there, but not the second, so the tree lacked good fruit, but Jesus said, “Let no fruit grow on you forever” (Matt 21:19). Oh, poor tree. No, not the tree, but the religious order that was rejecting Jesus. Jesus went right into the temple and the was questioned by the priests, and the religious rulers set all sorts of traps for Jesus. Word games, and questions to see if they could find something in what Jesus said to accuse Him with. They were the fig tree, and they were dying at their first fruit, and would not bring forth the second fruit. However, there would be “leaves”, that would come much later. Huh? Jesus will tell us how the fig tree will look dead, but then one day there will be leaves, and when we see the leaves, we will know the end is near. So, do we run out and look at real fig trees? No, He is talking about Israel. Jesus will tell us the city of Jerusalem will suffer many things, first the Temple will be destroyed, then the city itself will fall into the hands of the Gentile. Jerusalem before that time had been attacked when God allowed it, and the people had been taken captive by other kings, and even during the earthly ministry Rome governed the people, but Jerusalem was still in the hands of the Jews. Jesus said the city itself would fall into the hands of the Gentiles for many years, then as “leaves” the Jews would take it back. Has that happened? Sure, the Dome of the Rock Mosque is in Jerusalem, and as long as it remains, the city belongs, at least in part to the Gentile. The Mosque is the place where Muslims meet and pray, and the Muslim is a Gentile religion, it has no Jewish roots at all.
The reason this is happening is because the religious rulers are rejecting Jesus, and in so doing they are rejecting their protection. God will preserve them for a purpose as a people, and Jerusalem will play a part in the Judgment of God, but God has a different city for His Salvation. What city is that? New Jerusalem, heavenly Jerusalem, and it begins in our hearts with the Spirit of Christ.
Jesus would tell the people, and the religious leaders many parables on this Sunday, all of which was warning them of what they were doing. God doesn’t sit back and watch His people destroy themselves, He sends prophets, and others with the Knowledge of God to warn us, but we must listen.
As Jesus was leaving the Temple His disciples looked back and said, “Check it out, look at how beautiful and big the Temple is”, but Jesus said, “See you not all these things? Truly I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt 24:1-2). Did that happen? Yes, 70 years later a Roman soldier was drunk, and tossed a torch into the temple, and set the place on fire. At the top of the Temple there was gold, and the fire caused the gold to melt, and run down between the stones. The Romans tore the temple apart, stone by stone to get to the gold. Not one stone remained on another, just as Jesus said. Did this make Jesus happy? No, He cried over the city, and the people.
The Next day would be Monday, and Jesus and His disciples again were headed to Jerusalem from Bethany, and they would pass by the fig tree, and when they did Peter said, “Lord, that fig tree You cursed…” (Mark 11:20). Did Jesus curse the Fig Tree? Or did it curse itself, and Jesus merely said what He saw? Peter, being Peter messed it up, and Jesus never cursed a thing, He just saw something, and said what He saw. Jesus told Peter, “Have faith in God”, then He told Peter to talk to a mountain. What? We’re talking about a fig tree, how did a mountain get into this? Oh, wait, this mountain sits on us, it’s something that causes us to see things not as they are, just like Peter. Peter said, “cursing”, Jesus said “have faith”; two different things.
In order to gain all we can here we have to travel back to a time when Jesus was talking to His disciples about something called “The Church”. One day prior to the time when Jesus was Transfigured, Peter and the disciples were with Him, when He asked them, “What do the people call Me, the Son of man?”. The disciples said, “Gee Lord, some say you John the Baptist, some Elijah, others say you’re really Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matt 16:13-14). Some use these verses to show the thought of “reincarnation” is real, and “reincarnation” means flesh again, or coming back in a different form. However, Jesus didn’t say, “Oh wow guys, you know that could be”, and if we look at it for a second we would see how Jesus is only “One”, He is not a bird come back as the Christ, nor did He even suggest to the disciples or anyone else, “you will get another chance when you come back as a bird”. Also how could Jesus be John the Baptist? John was the one who baptized Jesus.
After the disciples told Jesus what the people said, He then asked them, “But who do you say I am?”. That not only means who did they believe Jesus was, but what do they tell the people? Are they the source for some of those false rumors? Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16). Peter’s smart huh? Oops, Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you….” (Matt 16:17). Okay, the guy’s name is Peter, who is this Simon fellow? Before Jesus changed his name to Peter, he was know as Simon, but why go back to the old name? Jesus is going to make a point, and it helps us see there is a difference between the Body of Christ, and the Church. The name Peter means “a piece of the Rock”, or as we know it, “Rocky”, and Simon means Hearing or To hear. Maybe to get a better grip on this we should know how the city of Jerusalem was built on a mountain, and they called the mountain Zion, or the Rock. That tells us God made the mountain, man made the city, but is that the way it is in the Kingdom of God? We will see. Peter didn’t learn this information from some school, or hear it from some man, rather he “heard” it from the Father. If we want to remain in faith, one thing we have to know, if it’s Good, it came from God, and sometimes when God gives us something and the people go “wow, right on, that is great”, we get all full of pride, and say inside, “yeah man I’m something all right”. Wrong, God gave it, give Him the glory.
Jesus then tells Peter, “You are Peter (a piece of the Rock), but upon this Rock (Large Rock, made up from pieces) I will build My Church” (Matt 16:18). This is interesting, was Peter “the Rock”? Where does the name Simon fit now? Oh wait, the name Simon means Hearing, so Peter “heard” from the Father, and now he needs to “hear” what Jesus is saying. Peter being a “piece of the Rock” shows the Rock is built up from people who have accepted Jesus. Was Peter Born Again at this time? No, no one was Born Again until after the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus didn’t say “I am building My Church”, He said He would build it. We can see the disciples were the start of the Rock, and each of them was a “piece of the Rock”, and after they were Born Again Jesus would take from the Rock, and build His Church. So what is the difference between a Church and a Synagogue? The Synagogue was where the Jews would meet, and the word Synagogue means “gathering”, or “to gather”, but the word Church means “called out ones”, or those called out from something. We enter the Body of Christ when we accept the Cross of Jesus, and at that time we are set free of the darkness, the binding hold of the devil, and the choking hold of sin. Then we enter the Power of the Resurrection by accepting the Spirit, and then Jesus begins to build us into His Church.
The point being Peter was not “The Rock”, he was one piece, the disciples made up other pieces, and you and I two more pieces. The Rock is the Body of Christ and it was being put together before the Cross, but the Church would come after. Got it? Good. So, when did Jesus begin to build the Church? After the Resurrection, so we have the Body of Christ made up from all those who accept Jesus as their Savior, and then we have the Church, made up from those in the Body who have accepted the Spirit of Christ, and made Jesus their Lord. We find someone can be in the Body, but not Born Again, or in the Body, but have not made Jesus their Lord. We also find Jesus builds the Church, we build the Body. We are the “fishers of men”, but Jesus is the Builder.
All this connects to “have faith in God”, since Jesus also told us how He would give us the Keys to the Kingdom. Here we find another division, Jesus will build the Church, but He gives us the Keys. What are keys for? To gain entry into a place that is locked. What are the keys Jesus is speaking of? The ability to deny the self, and pick up our cross, which always begins with “forgiving others”. This is another area of that Binding and Loosing, if we want Heaven to open for us, we better forgive others.
As far as denying the self, no one could do that until Jesus made it possible. Why? We would use the self to deny the self, and that goes no where. We can have “faith in God” to bring all this about, and we can be rid of the mountain, yet gain the Kingdom. That Mountain sits on us, it’s between us and heaven, and it’s full of hate, bitterness, bad feelings, wanting to get even thoughts, and the thing of the world. Like the blind man who had to “say” to Jesus, “That I might have my sight”, Jesus is telling us, “if you want to be free of that thing, say so, and then believe I am able to remove it”. That’s important since Jesus is telling us, “don’t try to change, let Me change you”.
When Jesus said, “Have faith in God”, He also told us to do something, so Faith is based on an action, and don’t forget Faith is something we believe now, with the result in the future. Jesus told us to say to that mountain, “Go”, and then believe we have received (Mark 11:22-24). This could get us into trouble if we mix it up, we didn’t say, “come here mountain”, what we said was “go”, so this means we shall have what we said, and we said “go”. For some reason we mix that up and think, “If I say I have it, I got it, so I will ask for a house, a car”. No, that is not what Jesus is saying, when we tell the Mountain to Go, we believe it shall go, but we also believe it takes time. If we mix this up, we could think it means we can get things, but it shows we can be rid of things that stop us from walking with Jesus.
The Keys are explained again, as Jesus tells us what that Mountain is. When we stand praying, we Forgive, and when we do our Father in Heaven will Forgive us (Mark 11:25-26). However, if we refuse to forgive, then our Father can’t forgive us, and the mountain remains. Our Faith then is knowing God is forgiving us, because we want to forgive others, and the more we forgive, the more we are forgiven, and the more we are forgiven, the further away that mountain goes.
Peter looked at the Fig Tree and thought Jesus cursed it, but that is not the case, Jesus merely saw something, said what He saw. Now Jesus is telling Peter how to get rid of that “cursing attitude”, that attitude of always seeing the bad things, rather than the good things. That Fig Tree was merely a sign of what Jesus found in the Temple, the unfruitful ways of the Pharisees, and other religious leaders. That tree did nothing wrong, it had the right fruit for the right season, but the fruit was weak, bad tasting, and had twisted itself from it’s purpose. Jesus sees the Fig Tree as a sign of what was going on in the Temple, and simply told the disciples what He saw. For that reason we are like unto an “Olive Tree”, one that makes Oil.
The Mountain was sitting on Peter and making his sight see things that were not true. The Fig Tree was unfruitful, but it wasn’t time either. What kind of Lord would look at a tree in winter and say, “so no apples, you are cursed you wicked tree”? Not our Lord, that’s for sure. The Fig Tree was just a tree, the lesson went to the religious rulers, and then Jesus then tells us to watch for the time when the Fig Tree produces Leaves (not fruit), and then we will know the time for us to see Jesus face to face is near (Matt 24:32-35).
On that same day Jesus would again be faced with questions by the unfruitful religious leaders, yet He would answer every one. Why not say, “you unfruitful fig tree, no shall eat of you again”? Because that is different than Jesus “feeding” the fig tree. Here Jesus is feeding the Fig Tree (religious rulers), and what they do with that food is up to them. They just allow it to fall to the ground, showing the “type” of fruit they are. When Jesus looked at the real Fig Tree, He saw the religious rulers, and Peter thought “bad fig, bad fig, no one wants you, you nasty thing”. Peter needed to have faith in God, and this shows us our faith must know whatever God does, it’s always Good.
The chief priests ask Jesus, “By what authority do you do these things?”, and the “things” was cleaning out the temple the day before. Jesus knew their hearts and asked them, “The baptism of John, where did John get his authority? From heaven? Or man?”. The priests knew if they said “man”, the people would get real man, but if they said “heaven”, they would be in trouble too, since they came against John, so they said, “we don’t know”. Jesus then told them, “then I don’t have to tell you by what authority I do these things” (Matt 21:23-27). Why? Jesus knew they really didn’t want to know by what authority, they just wanted to get into an argument, get Jesus mad, then trap Him.
Then the question of the taxes, as some came to Him and asked, “tell us, is it lawful to give tax to Caesar (the government)?”. That’s a good question, since today we find some saying they are a “church”, and don’t have to pay taxes. Some governments agree, and say if the money is used for religious purposes, then they don’t have to pay taxes, but if they use the money for other means, or cheat people, then they must pay taxes. Anyway, Jesus asked for a coin, and they handed Him one, and on it was a picture of Caesar, and He asked, “whose picture is here?”. They said, “Caesar”, and He said, “give to God, the things that belong to God, and to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar”. We are not to cheat God, nor are we to cheat the government and claim we’re doing it for God.
Jesus taught many things on that day, and on the next day Judas would go to the religious leaders to make a deal. Judas thought he could make Jesus take over the temple, and make Jesus rule all the world, and then Judas would be in charge of all the money of the world. In order to do this Judas had to form a plan, and then put that plan into action. When the plan was still in his head, he had time to come to the Lord and talk about it. If he would have, he would have found the plan was from the devil. Remember when Jesus told Peter, “blessed are you Simon, for flesh and blood has not told you this, but My Father”? Well, in the case of Judas it was, “cursed are you, for flesh and blood didn’t give you that plan, but the devil”. Judas had as much training as any of the other disciples, and in many cases more, since he was first with John the Baptist. Judas went to the religious rulers and did the one thing they couldn’t, betray Jesus. None of them could touch Jesus, it would take someone from the inside, and so it was, a traitor forever by the name of Judas. How many kids do you know named Judas? Now you know why, no mother wants her kid named Judas.
The religious leaders promised Judas 30 pieces of silver, and from that time on the saying, “thirty pieces of silver” means selling out your best friend.
The Passover was near, and it would fall on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week. Passover, like the Day of Atonement had what are called “High Sabbaths”, and they can fall on any day, but the weekly Sabbath could only fall on Saturday. Like Sunday is church day, but our birthday can fall on any day. Why? Our birthday is based on a date, like December 3rd, but Sunday can be any date. Also we keep time from midnight to midnight, but the Jews kept the day from sunset to sunset. That means after the sun went down, that began a new day. Wednesday really began when the sun went down on Tuesday.
Jesus had the Passover with His disciples in a room, and there are two views of the way they would eat. One says they sat at a big table, perhaps you have seen the picture that shows them all sitting at a table. However, they would eat by sitting on the floor, in a more relaxed position. They would have a table, but it was low to the ground, and they would sit around the table on the ground. The meal was special too, like we have special meals for Thanksgiving, or some other holiday, but each piece of the meal stood for something. The Passover went back to the time when the children of Israel were held under the power of Pharaoh, and God set them free. Jesus is our Passover, He has set us free, and taken us from the captivity of the world. They also had some cups, four in number, and each meant something. The first cup stood for Moses, and the time when the were set free, and entered the Wilderness. The second cup was the Cup of Separation (Luke 22:17), which stood for the separation from the world. Then the Third Cup which the Jew called the “Elijah Cup”, that cup was the Cup of Promise, the time when they would be free indeed. Then the Fourth Cup, which was the Cup of God’s wrath for those who refused the first three cups. They also had Bread, and to the Jew Bread was “life”, it was the very source of the “grain”, and without Bread, they felt they had no life. Jesus took the Bread, and broke it, and said, “This is My Body”, and we know now He was also saying, This is the Rock. Then He took the Third Cup and said, “This is the Blood of the New Testament”, and we know that to be The Church. So, why not say the Bread is the New Testament? The Bread is that place between places, like the Wilderness, it’s not the World, but it’s not the Kingdom of God either, it’s the Kingdom of Heaven. Heaven is a Place, God is a Personage, two things. We live in a house, but we are not the house.
What is this New Covenant? Under the Old our sin was still there, the sacrifice just balanced things, under the New we have the doing away of sin, and more important the doing away with that which causes us to sin. We have the cleaning of the Blood of Jesus that removes us from sin, unrighteousness, and evil thinking, then we gain the Spirit of Christ and have a mind that thinks like Jesus, then God looks at us as if we never knew sin, which is a far better deal than Adam had.
To top that off, God says we’re no longer “of the world”, but “of heaven”, and we don’t have to go to hell, we don’t have to be under the power of the devil, we don’t have to be sad, mad or unhappy, we always have a reason to be glad. Our faith tells us Jesus has won, and as long as we seek after God, and believe that God is always in our life, then God will reward us. We are citizens of God’s heaven, and holders of the Grace of God. Jesus tells us God is Spirit, which doesn’t mean God can’t come in the flesh, it simply means God is first and foremost Spirit minded, Spirit thinking, and Spirit seeing. We are Born Again of the same Spirit, and by that Spirit we are sons of God. Not a bad deal at all, no sir, not at all.
Now we can see where the Rock fit in, and why the Cross had to take place. The Rock was in place, Peter was a piece of it, James another, John another, and so on, but the Church was not built yet, and could not until the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. There are no Tares in the Church, but there are in the Rock. Judas was also of the Rock, but he was never of the Church, and he was the first Tare, the very first Wicked one in the field of God, and he began something know as the “son of perdition”. Okay fine, what is that? The term Son means someone that comes from something, and Perdition means the world, so instead of being Born Again of the Spirit, they end being born again of the world. The Rock will be divided, or broken, and that is why Jesus said His body (bread) would be broken, and why He said the New Covenant is in His Blood. The Body or Rock is that place where we are free from the devil, and really it’s having a place like Adam held before the fall, but the Church puts us higher, in a place where God was before the fall. Much better to allow the Spirit to form us into the Church, then to remain in the Rock.
At the meal there was Judas, and he still had a chance to stop his plan, but when he made up his mind he allowed Satan into his heart (Jn 13:2 & 13:27). Jesus told the disciples there would be one among them who would betray Jesus, and Peter told John, “ask Him who it is”. John asked Jesus, and Jesus said, “He who puts his bread in the same dish as I do”, and right after that Judas did, but did Peter, John or anyone else catch on? No, you see Judas was a “nice” guy, even when he said the anointment should be sold, the other disciples said “yeah, that’s right”. Simply because someone is nice, doesn’t mean they are Good, and it doesn’t mean they love the Lord.
Jesus then looked at Judas and said, “What you do, do quickly”, but the other disciples thought Judas was going out to feed the poor. They still thought Judas was a nice guy, and was so nice he was going out to feed the poor, but he was going to the religious leaders, and selling out his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.
That’s not all that happened, Peter was told he would deny the Lord three times, but Peter said, “Lord You don’t know what You’re talking about. I will die for You”. What is the difference between denying the Lord and betraying Him? Peter isn’t selling the Lord out, he will get real scared and say he never knew the Lord, but he won’t hand Him over to be killed. Judas on the other hand isn’t scared, and he is attempting to use the Lord for personal gain.
Peter was told before the “cock crow” he would deny the Lord three times. So what does that mean? The saying “cock crow” didn’t mean a chicken would crow, it was a term used for those who would call out the watches. They didn’t have clocks, so a Roman solider would call out when it was midnight, and again when it was 3:00 AM, and again when it was 6:00 AM, and again when it was 9:00 AM.
Jesus and the disciples left the upper room and went to a garden, one some call “Gethsemane”. Gethsemane connects to that fourth cup, and the word Gethsemane means “Wine Press”, or A place of pressure that brings out the oil (anointing). In the Book of Revelation we find the fourth cup is called the Cup of God’s wrath (anger), and it’s the cup that brings Judgment. The Third Cup is the one we take, and it holds Salvation. Jesus gave us the second and third cups, but He was going to have to take the fourth. When they entered the Garden Jesus told Peter, John and James to sit, while He went and prayed. Then Jesus said something strange considering He knew the Cross would bring Salvation. What was it? Jesus said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, wait here, and watch with Me” (Matt 26:38). Why would He be sad if the Cross would bring Salvation? Because the same Cross would also bring Judgment. You can’t have Salvation without having Judgment, just as you can’t have a Law without having a punishment for violating it.
Jesus prayed, “Oh My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but You will”. What Cup? The Fourth one, Jesus already gave us the second and third, and Moses took the first, which means the only one left is the fourth cup. Jesus wanted to die for all, even if they didn’t receive Him, but the Father knew man had to accept the Son of God, or face the wrath of God. Jesus prayed again saying, “O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt 26:42). He prayed this prayer twice, so it’s not wrong to pray the same prayer more then once, if you mean it.
While in the Garden Jesus also taught on things to come, things of the Church. Jesus told the disciples when He goes then the Holy Spirit will bring the Spirit, and then man can be Born Again. The Spirit then will lead us into all Truth, protect us, and instead of the devil being our guide, the Holy Spirit will guide us. We can have Peace with God, and those who have Peace with God, are not at war with God (makes sense).
Judas made his deal, but the Garden was dark, how would the religious leaders know which one was Jesus? Judas told them, “The one I kiss, will be the Lord”. Jesus and the disciples were in the Garden there came a noise of people approaching, it was Judas and the religious leaders, and Judas kissed the Lord, with the kiss of betrayal. The temple guards started for Jesus, and Peter went for his knife, the fishing knife he kept under his rope, and he lashed out at the first man who attempted to take the Lord, and cut off the ear of a guy named Malchus. Jesus reached down, picked up the ear, and healed the man. Wow, will the religious leaders see this healing and let Jesus go? No, they arrest Him, and all the disciples run away.
Jesus is taken to the house of the high priest, and stood before a man named Annas, who was the father-in-law of the high priest. After that trial Caiaphas (Ki-pe-as) the high priest took over and the second trial was held. It was against the Roman Law for the Jews to hold a night trial, and more important it was against the Law of Moses for them to have a night trial, and more so it was against the Law of Moses, the Laws of Rome, and their own traditions to have a trial without sound evidence.
Back many days prior the religious rulers were gathered and had their meeting, and in it they formed a plan to get Jesus. Nicodemus, the one who was taught by Jesus about being Born Again (Jn 3:1-21), was also a Pharisee, and was at this meeting and he stood up and said, “Doesn’t our Law say we can’t judge a man until we hear him, and know what he has done?”. The religious leaders got mad, and really they didn’t care what the law said. The evidence shows they were hypocrites, they were breaking the Law, yet claiming Jesus was. The funny thing was the evidence showed they were breaking the Law, but there was no real evidence showing Jesus did. They were holding the “Innocent” of all time, and that made the guilty of all time.
At the meeting when Nicodemus stood they got so mad at him they told him, “Are you also form Galilee? Search the Scriptures, look for yourself, for out of Galilee there never came a prophet” (Jn 6:45-53). Well they were wrong, for Jonah came from Galilee and he was a prophet (II Kings 14:25). When they made the plan, it was illegal, then they held their trials, which were illegal, yet they claim Jesus did something wrong?
The trials in front of the religious rulers lasted for a few hours, and it was now about nine in the morning, and they took Jesus to Pilate. Pilate was a Roman, and was placed in Israel to keep the peace, but he was concerned about Roman Law, not about some religious violation of the Sabbath.
While this was going on Peter was going through his own trials, while the religious rulers were having their trial Peter was just outside of the house of the chief priest and a woman came up to him and said, “you are also with Jesus, aren’t you?”. Peter said, “No, I don’t know what you’re saying”. Then he went to another area around the house, and another gal saw him and said, “This fellow was also with Jesus”, and again he denied knowing Jesus by saying, “I don’t know the man”. Then after a short while someone else looked at Peter and said, “you are also one of them: for your speech is like them”. Peter cursed, and said, “I don’t know the man at all”. Peter then knew what he did, he thought he was a brave man, he thought he would stand next to Jesus, but he got scared, and denied the Lord. This would be about 6:00 AM, and when Peter heard the “cock crow”, he knew what he did, and he began to cry, he cried so hard his stomach was hurting. Have you ever hurt someone so bad, you felt awful, so awful you cried and cried? Well Peter did, Peter found out he wasn’t who he thought he was, and really without Jesus no one knows who they are.
Judas on the other hand was sorry things didn’t turn out the way he wanted, and he went back to the religious leaders and tried to give them back the thirty pieces of silver, but he never wept, or felt sorry for what he did to Jesus. Judas did what is called “self-repentance”, he was sorry, but only because it didn’t turn out the way he wanted. There is also “social repentance”, and that comes when someone important gets caught doing something wrong and they tell everyone they are sorry, but the only reason they are sorry is to get the public to feel sorry for them. They are only sorry, because they were caught. Our repentance happens inside, when we know we’ve done wrong, and no one has to tell us, then we ask God to forgive us, and give us the strength to resist making the same mistake again.
Peter wept, Judas hung himself, Peter would be restored to the ministry, and Judas would be known forever as the Traitor, the man who sold out Jesus.
Jesus was taken to Pilate’s house, and Pilate asked, “what has this man done?”. Then he asked Jesus, “What have you done?”. Yet Jesus never said a word, He was not about to make up stories, or say anything. This would be the third trial, and Pilate wasn’t too sure he wanted anything to do with it, so he sent him to Herod. Herod was a Jew, who was given some authority just to keep the Jews happy, but he was also the one who cut off John the Baptist’s head.
Herod heard of Jesus, and wanted to see some miracle, and really the “Herod type” is just looking for “Jesus Christ and His puppet show”, they want to be entertained, they want a show, and they could care less about what the Lord wants. Jesus didn’t say, or do a thing, and the soldiers of Herod spit on Jesus, beat Him, put a crown of thorns on Him, and a robe, and them mocked Him.
Then Jesus was taken back to Pilate for the fifth trial, and all this was on a Wednesday, the Passover day. Pilate had a prisoner by the name of “Jesus Barabbas”, and Barabbas means “Son of a father”, so we have Jesus The Son of The Father, and another man named “Jesus the son of a father”. Pilate knew this Barabbas was a killer, and a mean man, so he felt he had a plan. If he put Jesus the Christ on one side and this Barabbas on the other, and asked the people which they wanted to go free, surely they would pick the innocent one. Surely. So he did, and guess what, they wanted the innocent one to die, and the guilty to go free. Pilate didn’t want to put Jesus to death, but we find that while Jesus was in front of Herod, the religious rulers took Pilate to one side, and simply told him, if he didn’t play ball with them, they would see that Rome found out he let a guy go free who said he was a “King of the Jews”. Something Rome wouldn’t like, but Pilate still was looking for a way out of this, and asked again, “What has He done?”. No one answered what He did, but they did shout the more, “Crucify Him”.
So it was, Pilate didn’t want to do it, so he told the Jews to. At that time it was against the Roman law for a Jew to kill anyone, but Pilate didn’t want anything to do with it, yet it took his permission to do it. Even though Pilate didn’t lay a hand on Jesus, he nonetheless was part of the crime. So, is there any good news here? Sure, there always is. Jesus knew Pilate, Rome, the religious rulers, the devil, or hell itself could do nothing to Him unless it was granted from heaven. The Cross was in the plan, and even talked about in the Old Testament (Ps 22). Also, if Pilate was not involved, then the Gentile could never claim the Cross. Pilate didn’t know it, Rome didn’t know it, but this day was seen in the eye of God before God said, “Let there be light”.
That doesn’t take away any of the pain Jesus suffered, but it does show He suffered for us, not for Himself. It would be one thing if He did something wrong and was being punished for that. It would also be something if they were punishing Him for something He didn’t do, but He had gotten away with things in the past. However, Jesus was always innocent, He never did anything to be punished for, He and He alone is the most Innocent of all time. Sure, there are times when we got punished and didn’t do anything, but there were more times when we got away with stuff. Jesus didn’t fit that at all, He never did any sin to be punished for. Also, only the Jews could kill the Passover Lamb, and Jesus being our Passover had to be put to death at the hand of the religious leaders of Israel, or the whole thing wouldn’t work. All this and more made the plan a Plan of Salvation.
It was still Wednesday, and they made Jesus carry the cross piece to the cross, while they fixed the upright piece in the ground. There are several different types of Crosses used, some were just one piece of wood, like a telephone pole, and they were used outside of towns, and they would keep the person hanging on them for days, and they would slowly die, and the person would have a sign around them saying what they did. Think about it, if you entered a town and saw some guy hanging on a cross with a sign that said, “He went over 50 miles an hour”, you would think twice about speeding.
The Cross that Jesus was put on was for one reason, to cause a quick and very painful death. They would take the person’s hands and turn them palms toward the wood, twisting the wrist, and then driving a nail, about the size of a railroad spike through the back of the wrist into the wood. Then they would take the feet and turn them toes down, one foot over the other, and drive another spike through the top of the feet into the wood. The person would use their feet to push up, and take the pressure off their arms and shoulders, but sooner or later they would slowly slip down, and then their shoulders would pop out of joint, and the bones would slam against their neck and they would choke to death. For any other person beside Jesus that would be bad enough, but Jesus had the power to stop it at any time. All He had to do was say, “No, they are not worth it”, but what did He say? “Father forgive them they know not what they do”. He took that pain for you and I, and He saw us, and took on our sin, and the Ten Commandments and any curse, and any Law that said, “You are judged” was nailed to that Cross.
Jesus was on that Cross for several hours, and the next day would have been Thursday, the Day of the Feast Of Unleavened Bread, the High Sabbath day for the Passover feast, and it would begin when the sun went down.
There were two others on crosses that day as well, both thieves, and both knew what they did. One called out to Jesus, “save us and yourself”, but the other said, “Man, we deserve this, He doesn’t”. Then he looked at Jesus and said, “Lord remember me”. Jesus then told the man they would meet in Paradise.
The soldiers came around to see if any were close to death, and what they would do was break the legs of the person if they were not dead, and that would cause them to drop down, and the bones in their shoulders would come out of joint, and slam against their neck and choke them to death. The came to Jesus, but didn’t break His legs.
The sun was setting and the High Sabbath was drawing near, and a man by the name of Joseph of Arimathaea had a tomb (grave) near by, one that no dead body had ever been in before. He and Nicodemus hurried to take the body of Jesus down from the Cross, and they rushed to get the body into the grave. In those cases they would simply cover the body quickly with a clothe, and then with a paste of aloes. Then a great big stone was put in front of the entrance to keep animals and people away.
The next day would be the High Sabbath, and on that day the religious rulers went to Pilate, and said, “Look, this guy’s followers heard Him say how He would be raised on the third day, so we want you to put a guard on the tomb”. Pilate said, sure, and put a small groups of his soldiers standing guard.
The next day would be a Friday, and the Jews called all Fridays the “day of preparation”, which means they would fix more food on Friday, since Saturday was the sabbath day according to the Commandment, and they were not allowed to cook on that day. The women who followed Jesus used that day to fix the burial mixture of herbs, aloes, spices and ointments, which take a real long time. Then they rested on Saturday the weekly sabbath (Luke 23:55-56).
Jesus said He would be in the grave for three days, and three nights, and if He said so, so it was. What would those days be? Wednesday wouldn’t count since Jesus was on the cross, but that night would be the first night, then Thursday the first day, that night the second night, Friday the second day, that night the third night, and Saturday the third day. That would bring us to Sunday Morning, the “Day of discovery”.
The first people to reach the tomb would be the women who prepared the spices and such on Friday, and when they got to the tomb they could the stone rolled back, and the tomb empty. One of those women was Mary Magalene, and she ran back to the disciples and told Peter and John the tomb was empty. Both John and Peter ran like the wind, and Peter ran out of wind right at the entrance, but John went inside and found the grave clothes, but no Jesus. This would be Peter’s first chance to say, “He is risen”, but instead he went back to the house wondering. Then Mary Magalene saw the Lord, and the Lord told her, “go tell My brothers to go to Galilee and they shall see Me”. Mary reached out to touch Jesus, but Jesus said, “Touch Me not” (Jn 20:17). Wow, some Lord. Wait, there was a reason, the Law said that no one could touch a holy thing before it was sacrificed and live. Jesus had to give another part of His sacrifice, you see the Cross took care of the Rock, or things of the earth, but there was yet the Cup and Heaven to deal with. Jesus as our High Priest gave Himself before the Father in our place, so we can stand here alive, yet say we are dead in Christ, so we can live the life of Christ. In other words here is the problem, no person can have the Spirit of Christ, while they are human beings with fleshly bodies, but no one can sit with God unless they have the Spirit of Christ. That is a no win thing, no matter how you cut it. We can’t peel off this flesh, and if we die it’s too late to get the Spirit. What to do? Ahh, Jesus has it all figured out, He died in our place, so we could get the Spirit, so when the day comes when we really do die, God says we’re all ready dead in Jesus, and filled with the Spirit of Christ, and His son. That is a Win – Win deal.
It wasn’t that Mary was unclean, or that since she was a woman she couldn’t touch Jesus, rather no human could, He was the holy thing yet to be presented before God.
Well, Mary took the news back to guess who? That’s right Peter, and again Peter takes off like a rabbit, and again no Jesus. Now he is really wondering, “Is Mary playing with my mind?”. Really this is the second time Peter has the opportunity to say, “My Lord is risen”, but he didn’t.
In the mean time Jesus meets two guys on a road, and begins to talk with them. As it turns out they were talking about the terrible thing the Romans did to this guy named Jesus. As they walked along Jesus reminded them of how the entire Old Testament (except for the history of the Jews) talked about this very thing, the Son of God being sacrificed for all of mankind. Then the two guys opened their eyes for real, and saw it was Jesus. Well sir, they rushed back to the house where the disciples were at and told, guess who? Yeah, Peter, and this would be the third time Peter would have the opportunity to say, “The Lord is raised from the dead”, but did he? No, and remember he denied the Lord three times, he had three missed opportunities, and who could use a guy that kept missing it? Who indeed, for the Lord has plans for Peter, since Peter is still a piece of the Rock.
Jesus appears in the house where the disciples are, and this is still Sunday, the Day of Discovery, and now you know why you go to church on Sunday. The only disciple not in the house was Thomas, and Jesus appears and tells the disciples to forgive, that would be the most important thing they could do, and it would be the Key to whether they are able to receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:21-23).
Of course when Thomas returns the disciples tell him, “the Lord was here, He is risen!”. Thomas says, “huh, yeah, right, I tell you what, when I can put my hand into His wounds, then I will believe”.
Eight days later, which would have been after Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice in heaven, He appeared again to the disciples, which would be His second appearance before them. This time Thomas was there, and Jesus told him, “Touch me”. Oh man, busted. Now we know Mary wasn’t suppose to touch Jesus because the sacrifice wasn’t given, but Thomas would be eight days later, and after the sacrifice (Jn 20:26). Thomas is told to touch, but he knows better, he fell down and said, “My Lord, and My God” (Jn 20:28). Jesus then said, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed, blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29). We believe because the Bible said all this happened, and when we believed something happened on the inside that began the Blessing of all blessings.
By this time Peter is feeling low, very low, he blew it more times than all the other disciples put together, and he figured, “you know what? I guess I’m not called. I’m just a fisherman, and it’s back to fishing I go”. Well he did, and you know what, he fished all night and didn’t catch a thing. As they came close to the shore and there is Jesus on the shore, and Jesus had fish, and was cooking them. Jesus calls out, “have you any fish?”. Which many people did as the fishermen came into shore, but they had no fish and Peter yelled back, “No”. This wasn’t “No sir, I’m sorry”, it was a nasty “No”. Then Jesus said, “cast your net on the right side of your ship, and you shall find”. They did, and Bang, a 153 fish, a record breaking catch, and as it turns out there are 153 blessings in the Law of Moses. Peter then knew, It’s the Lord, and into the water he went. Did he walk on the water? No, he swam like anyone, he wasn’t playing faith games anymore, in just those few days Peter grew in the Lord, and knew who he was, and who he wasn’t.
When Peter gets to the shore Jesus asks him, “Peter, do you love me more than these?”. Not only did that mean the fish, but the blessings of the Law as well, did Peter love the Lord more than the blessing? That’s a good question, and a hard one to answer. When we are blessed we’re real happy, but are we as pleased with the Lord, when there is no blessing? Peter doesn’t know what to say, but he does say “Lord I love you like a real friend”. Jesus says, “Feed my lambs”, which in this case means take the people to a place where they can hear about Jesus.
Next Jesus asks Peter again, “Simon, do you love me”, and the word Jesus keeps using for Love means a deep, driving love that forsakes all other things. Peter doesn’t want to lie, so he keeps saying, “love like a friend”, since he knew he blew over and over again. This second time Jesus says, “Feed my sheep”, which this time means “you are a pastor”.
Peter isn’t sure about all this, and Jesus isn’t let him get away. Again Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, do you love Me”, only this time He used the same word for Love that Peter was using, so this could mean, “Simon do you love Me as a friend?”. Peter was grieved because he was on the spot, and he answered the way most of us would, “Lord you know all things, you know if I love you or not, and to be honest I’m not too sure”. Jesus tells him, Feed My sheep, and this time it’s a combination of words meaning “Peter your are a pastor, feed and teach My people”.
Peter really don’t know if he can, but then comes the Power as Jesus promises him another Comforter, the Spirit of Christ will guide him, and give him the ability to be a pastor, and to go to places where he would not, for that same Spirit will give him courage (Jn 21:1-19). Then the one call that connected back to the mountain of Transfiguration when Peter heard, “Hear ye Him”, as Jesus told Peter, “You Follow Me”. What does that take? Denying the self, and picking up our cross. Peter was doing that now, before he was trying to keep Jesus off the Cross.
There was a hint for Peter in all this, and one we could miss or one where we can gain a great lesson. Knowing the Lord is for us helps in all events, but there are times when we can miss the blessing because we forget the Lord is for us. Before Peter was called by the Lord his name was “Simon”, and he was the son of a man named “Jonas”, so here we find Jesus calling him, “Simon son of Jonas”, but didn’t Jesus say we could be Born Again and become sons of God? Was it over for Peter? Was Jesus done with him? Now he can’t even make a good living fishing, what can he do? Oh poor Peter, but wait, there is a something here we can’t overlook. Remember the guy who got swallowed by the whale? Yeah, his name was Jona (Jonas) too. He was also a prophet, and also called of God, and he also tried to run from God. However, the name Jona means Dove, and there is the key to this. Remember the Dove is a symbol of the Holy Ghost, and Jesus is talking about A Comforter guiding Peter, so Jesus is showing Peter, “Yes Peter, without the Holy Ghost you can’t do it, but you see before you thought you could do it without the Holy Ghost”. Peter had to learn that he was not who he thought he was, and the lesson was Good, very, very Good. We have to know the only way we can do the things of Christ, is with the Spirit of Christ in us.
Peter was excited, out of his mind excited, and he saw John, his old buddy, and asked Jesus, “what about him?”. Jesus said, “what do you care about him, you follow Me”.
Jesus spent the next forty days teaching the disciples about the Kingdom of God, which means He was teaching them what to expect when the Spirit of Christ is released from heaven. There are fifty days between Passover and the Day of Pentecost, Jesus spent three of those in the earth, and fighting in hell so we never have to go there, the next seven before the Father giving the sacrifice that opened heaven for us, then forty days with the disciples, counting for all fifty days.
Then Jesus took them to a place and gave them instructions, they are to do many things, and when they do them, many other things will happen. However, the Spirit would not be given until Jesus went to be with the Father. Why? Time and purpose, if Jesus is here, you don’t need the Holy Spirit, but if Jesus is gone, then we need the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus into our hearts.
The Book Of Acts And Beyond
The Day of Pentecost was a holiday that pointed to the giving of the fruit of the land, and God would use to give us the fruit of heaven. We just saw Peter, and how he was told he would have another Comforter to guide him, but would the lesson sink in? Perhaps, and perhaps not, we will see.
On the Day of Pentecost in the morning the disciples and Jesus, and Jesus told them they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the “Promise of the Father” which He had been teaching them about for the forty days, or better, wait for the New Birth with the Spirit (Acts 1:4). It was time for Jesus to build His Church, and time for the disciples to build the Rock with more pieces of the Rock.
The Promise was also preached by John the Baptist, and we get another good lesson. Remember John was in prison when Jesus came out of the wilderness, so there were many days between that time and the Cross, somewhere around two years, then the fifty days from Passover to Pentecost, and now Jesus reminds the disciples what John said, “you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). No one could be Born Again until Jesus was glorified, and Jesus was glorified by the Resurrection and Ascension to the Father (Jn 7:39).
There were other instructions, but the key one was to Wait for the Holy Ghost, not to preach, or do anything but wait, and Waiting always included prayer.
The first instruction after receiving the Holy Spirit was to Follow Jesus, and to remember how the Psalms, Law of Moses, and the words of the Prophets all pointed to Jesus, He is the reason for all things. We are to preach the man should repent of his sins, and then receive the remission of sins through the Blood of Jesus. Two things, repentance is the step into the Rock (Body), but remission is the acceptance of the Blood of Jesus. Then when we preach, and the people believe, the signs shall follow them. They are to be baptized in water, and by the Spirit, one is no greater than the other, and we need both. For that reason Jesus tells us we are given All Authority in heaven and earth to teach, baptize, make disciples, and teach some more. We do not have authority to cheat people, rob them of their money, sell the dove (things of God), or use the people of God.
After all this the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, will You now restore the Kingdom to Israel?”. The disciples had it backward, and some of us get it that way too. They thought Jesus would make Israel the center of Salvation, and then allow the Gentile in, but Jesus tells them there is a Time and a Season. We are of the Day, the Kingdom of God is the Spirit in us, this is the time of Salvation, and there is no wrath of God for the Day. It’s for that reason it appears like some people get away with bad things in the “Name of God”, but that doesn’t mean God’s wrath is stayed forever, and ever. Remember Jesus took that Cup, it will be poured out, but when? Long after we’re gone out of here. The Night is the time of Judgment, and you can see things better in the Day, than the Night, but you can see things in the Night, you can’t see in the Dark. There are the “Judas types”, called by Paul as the “Wicked”, or those who “lie in wait to deceive”, which means they make plans to trick us, or make plans to attack us, like the Pharisees did to Jesus, but they are the ones who go into the Night, they will be the ones that cause God’s Judgment and Wrath. However, we are not appointed to the Wrath of God, we are appointed to the Saving Grace of God. That is the point Jesus is making, sure there will be a Judgment, but as for us, “you shall receive Power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses unto Me” (Acts 1:6-8). People should know the Truth of the End Times, but we shouldn’t use that information to beat them half to death with.
We have two areas again, being a Witness, and the Word of our Testimony. A Witness is what we say about someone else, in this case it’s what we say about Jesus. The “Word of our Testimony” is what people say about us, do they say, “Man you tell they know Jesus”? Or, do they say, “It’s really hard to tell they are a Christian”?
It was time for Jesus to go, and it would be better for the disciples if He did. What? Sure, if Jesus doesn’t go, they could never be Born Again, there would be no “Day of Salvation” for anyone, so Jesus was going that we may have that great and wonderful Promise of the God’s Grace (Spirit).
A “cloud” came down from heaven and Jesus was “taken up”, so do we look for a cloud? No, that is one of those metaphors. The word “cloud” in this sense means “witnesses”, like the phrase, “a great cloud of witnesses”. See when Jesus was in the grave for those three days He wasn’t resting, there was work to do. Remember the robber on the cross? And how Jesus said “today you will be with Me in Paradise”? Well Jesus went into Paradise and preached the Good News, and all those who accepted it, entered the “Cloud”, and then Jesus went into hell, and took the power of death from the devil, and then preached the Good News again, and all those who accepted it joined the Cloud, so we find they were Captive, but Jesus took Captivity Captive. What? He took them from one captive place to another? Yes, but they were no longer in Paradise, or hell, they were now under the altar of God in heaven waiting for the day when we join them in the “clouds”.
The Book of Revelation is a very complex book, but it’s also very easy. It warns us, and tells us why there must be a “fear of God” in us. That fear is not to think God is going to beat our brains out if we blow it, but it reminds us there is a time of Judgment coming. When will it come? The Bible says it’s appointed unto all men to die once, then comes the Judgment. If that is so, when will it be? When all humans are dead. So we understand the process the Holy Spirit had John use all sorts of metaphors, and show us there is a Door into heaven, and we who are Born Again have a right to enter the Door. God will pour blessings out of the windows, but that is “out of”, and no one can enter the house by the window, a thief will try, but they can’t. The day will come when there will be a great earthquake, but before that time hits, in less time than it takes for the light to travel we are taken off the earth in what is called in the Latin language the “Rapture”, or the “catching up” in the English. For that reason we find we are to take part in the Resurrection of Jesus, thus the Rapture is not another Resurrection for us, but the time when the Resurrection of Jesus is complete. We have the same Spirit in us, that raised Jesus from the Dead, and the Resurrection of Jesus proved He is the Son of God, and when we are taken up it will prove we are sons of God. At that time the earth land masses will join together, and the weather will change, and it will be like it was in the days of Noah, and in the days of the Garden of Eden. People will live a long time, there will be no sickness or disease, and God will pick 144,000 from the tribes of Israel, and call them “Philadelphia”, or a city of brotherly love, which city will be Jerusalem of the earth. If it’s all Peace and Safety, how can that be Judgment? Easy, it’s the test to show mankind how greedy and evil they are. Those Wicked Judas like people who didn’t go in the Rapture, and were like the “rocks” left behind, will join together, and go after the 144,000, they want to control God, control religion, and be the masters of the people. They are called in the Book of Revelation the “beast of the earth”. The “woman” is the city, and the city is Jerusalem of the earth. The time will come when another group shows up, one that thinks it’s rich and in need of nothing, and they allow the Wicked to bring idols into the temple in Jerusalem, and to force people to bow to the idols, or die. Then they take the Law of Moses and the Prophets, the Two Witnesses for the Night, and toss them into the world, and mock them, and they kill anyone who holds to the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, or the words of the Prophets. Then comes the plagues, and they attack the “sea” (world, or Gentile world), “earth” (kingdom), and the air, and then the earth turns inside out, and the earth becomes a lake of fire, and then comes the Judgment. All that is the Night, and now we see wars, rumors of wars, pestilence, and famine, but Jesus said these signs are not the end, the signs of the end would be “Peace and Safety” in the world. Why does it seem backward? Easy, this is the time of Salvation, the world is suppose to look like it does, so we are driven to the Cross. In the Night when no man can be saved there is no need for wars, or the such, in fact they will take the weapons and beat them into farm tools. Of course toward the end they take those same farm tools, and make weapons out of them. During the time of the Night the devil will be bound, but why not now? Because we’re here, and the devil has no power over us, unless we give it to him. However, when the Wicked cause the people in Jerusalem to set up idols, and worship them, then the devil is loosed. That principle keeps us from binding the devil, rather we know he is defeated, much different. You can bind something, but that doesn’t mean it’s defeated, and according to Scripture, the second idol worship comes into play, the devil is loosed. For that reason we find people having to “bind the devil” everyday. If the devil is under our feet, that is where he is, under us. Anyway, that is the Night, and we will read how the Day began, and how it will continue until that day of the Rapture.
All the disciples, Mary, and the other women were all in the house of Mark’s mother, a place called the Upper Room. They were to Wait for the Power from on high, they were not to do anything else but wait. So why go over this again? Good old Peter decided to fill the spot of Judas, just to show the people how they not only forgave Judas, but how Judas didn’t stop the plan. However, Jesus never told them to hold a meeting, to fill the slot of Judas, or to appoint anyone, they were to wait. They picked two guys they thought would fit, since they felt the person would have to come from John’s ministry as did Judas, and walk with them, as did Judas. They prayed, got nothing, then they cast dice to see who would win, like a lottery, or something just as goofy. Was Peter just stupid? The other disciples joined him, and not one of them thought what they were doing was wrong, but not one of them said, “Yeah, wait, what did the Lord tell us to do? Wait? Then let’s wait”. They wanted to get things going, and they went beyond what the Lord told them. When we are told to wait, there is a reason. The disciples didn’t have the “mind” to pick the right person, they needed the Spirit of Christ. They didn’t have to wait long, just wait. How long? No more than a half a day. How do we know? It’s fifty days from Passover to Pentecost, Jesus was in the grave for three days, before the Father for seven, and with the disciples for forty more, giving us fifty days. Jesus wasn’t asking them to wait for days, just a little while. However, one thing we know, Waiting is hard.
When they were done, the promise of the Holy Spirit came, so they’re fooling around didn’t stop the Holy Ghost, and much later when it was time to add to the Apostles, the Holy Spirit would say, “Separate unto Me”, much different than tossing dice. Voting is for the world, hearing God for us.
Not only did they receive the Power (Born Again), but they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in other tongues, something that was never done before. So what is that? It’s a language of the Spirit, one that only the Spirit knows, and one that only the Spirit can tell us what it says. The language is not like Spanish, or Greek or any earthly language, since those languages are “translated”. What does that mean? Translation is taking a word from one language and telling someone in another language what the word is. For instance someone who is Greek says, “Phileo”, and we wonder, “what does that mean”, and someone else who speaks both Greek and English tells us, “he said Love”. No he didn’t, he said Phileo, oh in Greek the word Phileo means Love. The language of the Spirit tells us something different, it tells us the Interpretation, and Interpretation is the meaning of something. We go to a place and there is a painting on the wall, and the person who painted it is standing there. We look at the painting and it has lines all over it, and blots of paint, and we say, “what is it?”. The person who painted us tells us what he was trying to say by the painting, and that is interpretation. The Spirit will give the Interpretation to someone else, or to us, and on the Day of Pentecost we find exactly that.
There were three groups that day, those who spoke, those who received the Interpretation, and those who didn’t get a thing. If the speaking was some earthly language, then all would have understood, but God made sure that was not the case so we could see what was going on. There were 120 people in that upper room, and they all received. God didn’t “pass over” one of them, He didn’t say, “Oops, Peter, you’ve been a bad boy, no tongues for you”. No sir, they all asked, they all received. Out side of the house there were men of every nation on the earth, and many of them heard the “noise” and in their minds they received words, or the Interpretation, and it was “the wonderful works of God” (Acts 1:11). This language isn’t going to tell us our “wonderful works”, it will Witness of Jesus, and tell us of God. There were others who thought the disciples were drunk, all that mumbling, and no sense talking, my goodness, and here it was early in the morning. Early in the Morning? Sure, they didn’t have to wait long, all they had to do was wait. However, they got it anyway, didn’t they?
Peter this moment when the Promise was given Peter would say what he thought, and he never knew where the thoughts came from. Remember when Jesus asked him, “Who do you say that I am?”, and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”? Jesus told Peter, “flesh and blood has not given you that knowledge, but My Father who is heaven”. The source or the one who gave the knowledge to Peter’s brain was God, not a bad deal hey? Well right after that Jesus talked about the Week of the Cross, and how He was to suffer, but be raised on the third day, and Peter said, “Be it far from You Lord, this shall not be unto You”, which is a saying that means, “Have pity on Yourself, make God stop it” (Matt 17:22). Instead of Jesus saying, “Blessed are you”, He said, “Get you behind Me Satan”. Wow, was the devil standing behind Peter? No, Jesus said that to Peter (Matt 17:23). Why? Peter had a thought, it sounded good to his mind, and why go to the Cross, things were cool, they were eating good, had a place to stay, people were getting healed, the ministry was going along just fine in Peter’s eyes. Not so, the disciples needed more Power and Authority to do the Greater things of God. What Greater things? To see people Born Again, to be able to think like Christ, and speak like Christ. Peter had two thoughts, one from God, and one from the devil, and he couldn’t tell one from the other. How about the voting thing? Same thing, they thought what they were doing was “ministry business”, but it wasn’t. Now things are all different, they will have that Other Comforter, that New Mind, that Guide and Instructor, that Mind of Christ to guide them as Jesus did. Great, no more mistakes, right? Wrong, they will still blow it from time to time, but they will be quick in seeing how they blew it. One time Peter thought he was protecting the Jews and the Gentiles, and to keep from hurting either, he would sneak to the houses of the Gentiles. He was holding one group over another, and treating one different than the other, and that was wrong. The Holy Spirit had Paul come to him and rebuke him for his wrong, and Peter was quick to see it, quick to repent, and quick to get back on the right path.
To show how fast this Power and Authority came Peter stood up that day when some of them said, “these guys are drunk”, and he preached a Holy Ghost filled sermon, the first just sermon spoken by a mortal human being. Jesus did many times, but Jesus is the Son of God, Peter was just like us. The Power of the Promise had come, and to the religious rulers it was nightmare. Before they had one Jesus, now they were all over the place, this guys sounds like Jesus, that guy sounds like Jesus, they all sound like Jesus.
To keep from forming classes within the Body, the Lord had them all put their goods together, so all could share. No greed, just need. The Rock was growing, and the Church was being built. One day to show just how things and people change when Jesus comes into their heart, Peter and John were on their way to the Temple and there was a lame man outside. The lame man was begging for money, and Peter told the man, “look on us”, and when he did, he knew he was about to receive something. In his case he thought money, but at least he was ready to receive. Peter then said, “Silver and gold have I none, but that which I do have, I give unto you, in the Name of Jesus, raise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). They took the man by the hand, and pulled him up, and the power of Christ filled the man and he was healed. So much so, he took of dancing and leaping and praising God. He knew who healed him, it wasn’t Peter or John, it was God through Peter and John.
All the people looked at the leaping guy who was just outside and lame, and wondered, “what is this?”. Peter again delivers words by the Spirit, which shows us again how he had changed. However, the religious leaders were not real pleased, and they called Peter and John before them. Both Annas and Caiaphas were still in charge, the same two who put Jesus on the Cross, and now Peter and John were facing them. Remember when Jesus was facing the trial, and Peter denied he even knew Jesus? Well things are different now, Peter is Born Again. Peter filled with Holy Ghost told the religious rulers, “you rulers of the people, and elders of Israel. If we this day be examined of the good deed done, and by what power this lame man was made whole, be it know unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the Authority given us by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, but who God raised from the dead, even by Jesus does this man now stand, and is no longer lame”. (Acts 4:9-10). Wow, what a change, no more denying, no more running, courage he never knew he could ever have. How? Born Again, the Spirit of Christ in him.
Of course the religious leaders said, “Oh Peter, you are so right”. No, they got real mad, and said, “we forbid you to speak, or teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Then Peter said, “whether it be right in the sight of God to listen and obey you more than to obey God, you judge”. Why say that? Because the rules the religious leaders lived by said the disciples could speak and teach, as long as they were giving God the glory.
Things changed for sure, and the left and went back to the other disciples to report all that was done. And they all gave God the glory. Peter didn’t say, “you see my prayer made that person whole”, or “you see what power I have”. No, they knew it was God in them.
Was everything find and going smooth? No, there were problems, but the apostles had the Spirit now, and knew how to deal with problems. Was everyone Born Again who was of the Body? No, some were not, but should have been. Why? Guidance, knowing right from wrong in their heart. A perfect example is a man by the name of Ananias, and his wife Sapphira, but to understand their failure, we must look at Mark’s uncle, Barnabas. Barnabas was Born Again, and would join with Paul in bringing the Good News to many Gentiles, but we also find the man was honest, and trustworthy. None of the people were required to give anything, they gave because they wanted to. Barnabas has some land, and he sold it, and brought all the money and gave it to the apostles for the work of the ministry. That was a very good deed, but Barnabas didn’t go around saying, “Look what I did, God will bless me now, I’m such a giver, don’t you know”. He was humble, which means he didn’t go about bragging on himself (Acts 4:35-37).
There was another guy named Ananias, and he sold a possession as well, and promised to give all the money to the ministry. No one told him to, no one said he had to, this was something he said. We are told about Barnabas, so we can see that Ananias was only “saying” he was going to give, his heart had other plans. Ananias kept back some of the money, and lied about giving it all. He thought he lied to Peter, but Peter tells him, “why has Satan filled you heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and keep back part of the money?”. How did Peter know? Did he have detectives? No, it was the Spirit of Christ in Peter. Peter now had the “Mind of Christ”, and the Spirit was telling Peter what Ananias did, and what was in the heart of Ananias. Peter reminded Ananias when the property was still in the hands of Ananias, he could whatever he wanted; he could keep the property, sell it, keep the money, or keep part of it, or whatever, but he “said”, or made an open vow before God that he would give it all, and then he lied, and allowed his greed to control him. Peter also said, “you have not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4). Ananias then fell to the ground dead and “gave up the ghost”, which means his soul left his physical body, and he died. If Ananias would have been Born Again we would find several things we don’t see. The wording would be different in reference to his death, and his heart would have convicted him (put pressure on him for the wrong), but none of that happened. Ananias was trying to impress the apostles, God and himself, and his heart wasn’t in “giving”, but in “getting the glory”. Several lessons for us are found here, first what we say, we do. Next to ever lie to God, He knows our hearts. Next don’t try to impress God, we please God, but we don’t try to impress Him. Lastly, don’t go about boasting about our greatness, or what we think is our greatness. If we did something “Good”, then it was God who did it through us, give God the glory (credit).
Ananias had a wife by the name of Sapphira and she wasn’t there when Ananias feel down dead, but she did know about the plan to hold back some of the money. About three hours after Ananias fell down dead Sapphira showed up and Peter asked her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” (Acts 5:8). Set-up. Set-up. No, Peter was giving her a chance to repent and confess the wrong. Would she? No, she said, “Yeah, for so much” (Acts 5:8). Peter told her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?”. She then fell down dead, and they carried her out to bury her. She had the opportunity to repent, and the lesson we find with her, is take the opportunity when it’s there, it may not come again. When confronted with Truth, repent, admit it, get it out and the open. Will you fall down dead if you don’t? No, but a little part of you will die each time, and each time you will choke out more of the Spirit of Christ. It’s simply not worth it.
What would make us lie, when we are caught? Afraid of punishment? Perhaps, but more important is knowing it’s the old enemy Pride. Pride, anger, bitterness are like Joy, Peace and Faith, in that they must be fed with their own doings in order to grow. We feed Joy, with more Joy and it grows. Just as laughter grows with laughter. However, Pride grows when we feed it pride.
The apostles did many signs and wonders, and the Body was growing, and Jesus was building the Church. Things got so busy the apostles just didn’t have enough hours in the day to all their work. What work? Oh, they were told by Jesus that the “rulers” in the Kingdom of God are really servants, and that is true, so they were waiting tables, and cleaning up. Apostle? Sure, it’s a joy and a pleasure to serve the Lord, by serving His children.
Anyway, things piled up, and one day the apostles said, “wait, we have to appoint people to take care of these tables, and we need to read the Bible, and pray”. They were right, the Body was growing and nothing, even being a servant should rob us of our time in the Bible, and our time of prayer. They were going to appoint, but would they do it in the same way as they did way back when they tossed the dice? No, not at all, and they were not going to appoint Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors of Teachers, only Jesus can do that. They were going to open another area, one called “Helps”. Within the Body of Christ we have three areas, and Jesus may call you to any, or all three. There are the offices, Apostles, those who begin churches where there are none, and who bring us Commandments. Then Prophets, who give the Body the Word of the Lord when the Lord is directing us as a group, and they deliver doctrine (rules on what to teach). Then the Evangelist, the one who goes out to get the “fish of the sea”, and bring them into the Body. Then the Pastor, the one who watches over people, and makes sure they are free to worship, and praise the Lord. Then the Teacher, the one who teaches us the things of God. Helps has areas and leaders as well, and Helps carries out the deeds to be done. There are the Deacons, and over the Deacons are the Bishops. Then the third area are the Elders, those who have shown us they walk in the Wisdom of God. Elders give leaders suggestions, so let’s put some of this together.
Perhaps there is a problem, some people think we should keep the sabbath day, after all Christianity did come out of the Jewish faith. Wrong, Christianity is the New Covenant, it is not an extension of the Jewish faith. Anyway we can see how this would be a problem, so the question would go before the Apostles, Pastors and Teachers. They would make a decision based on prayer and what the Holy Spirit shows them in the Bible. The Elders would listen and give their Wisdom on the matter, and all of them would agree without tossing dice, barking at the moon, or fighting. Then the Prophets would take that decision and make sure all the local churches had that information. The Evangelist would know that was almost a big problem, and when he speaks to converts he makes it clear, Christianity is the New Covenant.
Then we have Helps, and without Helps those in the Government wouldn’t have time to make decisions. The Deacons make sure things run in order, the chairs are in the right place, and other things are all set up. The Bishops watch over the Deacons and make sure all the areas are working in order, and functioning correctly. All these areas work together, and one can be a deacon, and an teacher, or they can be an apostle and an elder. How do we know which we are? Often it’s what’s in our heart, what we like doing, and the joy we get in doing it for the Lord.
The apostles then picked seven men for “helps”, and they had to be known for being honest, something Ananias wasn’t. They had to have the evidence of being full of the Holy Ghost, or better, show how they were Born Again, and they had to have Wisdom. Among the Seven was Stephen, and Philip. This Philip was not the same as Philip the Apostle, this is a different Philip, and he will show us how anyone can hold more than one position.
Stephen was a man full of faith, he believed no matter what God was with him, and God did many miracles through him, so miracles are not something only Apostles do. One day Stephen was caught in a debate with some Jews. Although he was full of faith, and had wisdom, the people who were debating him were hard headed, and hardhearted, and Wisdom often bounces off people like that. Stephen began to preach to them, and talk about Abraham, and others who trusted God, yet these people were living in a time when Jesus, the very Son of God walked in their land. Then they mocked him, and mocked Jesus, and Stephen said, “You stiff-necked (proud), and uncircumcised of heart (hardhearted), you do always resist the Holy Ghost, as your fathers did”. Well they got mad, real mad, and they picked up stones and were about to throw them, but they needed permission. There was a man by the name of “Saul” standing by, who held their coats, which is just another way of saying he gave them permission to stone Stephen. The stones were hitting Stephen, and he knew he was about to die, and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”, and he kneeled down and showed his faith by saying, “Lord, do not hold this sin they are doing against them”, and he died (Acts 7:1-60). Stephen was the first Christian (other than Jesus) who killed for speaking the Truth of Christ.
This Saul who gave permission to have Stephen killed would end being the “treasure” in this, and the words of Stephen will play a big part in Saul’s life. Who was this Saul? We will see in just a little while, but first let’s look at Philip. Philip is the only person in the Bible called an “Evangelist”, and he like Stephen did many things, casting out devils, healing the sick, and many other things.
Philip was a deacon, but Jesus called him to the office of Evangelist, so the man was able to hold more than one office. Paul was a teacher, apostle and prophet; John was an apostle and elder, so if God calls you to be a Pastor, and a Bishop, that’s fine, that is what He knows you can do. That’s the important part, some of us think, “I wish I could be this or that”, and we really don’t know if have what it takes to do the job, but God only calls those He knows will receive from Him the Power and Authority to do the job.
Philip went to the city of Samaria, so how can that be the work of an Evangelist? Wasn’t Jesus in that area once with the woman at the well? Sure, but this is after the Cross and Resurrection, and going back to Acts 1:8 we find the disciples had a road map to follow, first they were to preach in Jerusalem, which they did, then in Judea, which they did, then in Samaria which Philip is doing, and then to the uttermost part of the earth, which means beyond the Jews to the Gentiles. They could not open the door to preach to the Gentiles until they followed the road map, and Philip was breaking new ground for the Body, which is the role of the Evangelist.
Philip was busy, he was preaching casting out devils, healing the sick, and water baptizing the people. In those days they made sure people were water baptized, and immediately they laid hands on them, so the people could receive the Spirit. Now wait, only Jesus can baptize them with the Spirit, so what is this laying on of hands thing? The laying on of hands is merely the presenting of the person to the Lord, not that the laying of hands does the baptizing in the Spirit. However, Philip was so busy he didn’t have time to lay hands on anyone. Peter and John came down to help him (not to boss him), and asked what Philip needed. Philip said he had only baptized them in “the name of Jesus”, which we know now means by the Authority of Jesus, and for those who confess that they do believe in Jesus, and believe that He was raised from the dead, and believe that the Father will forgive their sins, as they forgive others, and they vow to forgive, which identifies them with the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In all this there was a guy named Simon of Samaria, and this guy used to use witchcraft and tricks to fool the people, and he bragged in himself all the time, telling everyone what a big shot he was. Simon saw the miracles, and believed and was baptized by Philip in water. Simon only believed based on the miracles, he was lacking a belief in Jesus. When he saw people getting the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, he wanted the “Power”, not because it would bring people to the Lord, but because it would make him look like a hot shot. He offered money to Peter to get the power, and Peter said, “Your money perish with you, because you thought the gift (Grace or Spirit) of God may be purchased with money. You have nothing to do with this, your heart is not right, repent, and pray that God may forgive you” (Acts 8:19-22). Simon asked Peter to pray for him, and that sounds “okay”, but Peter told Simon to pray for himself. If Simon was so wicked, did Philip blow it by water baptizing him? No, remember there are Wheat and Tares in the Kingdom, we are never to keep anyone out, but we can draw line on “laying hands on them”. Some we have compassion on, knowing when they came into the Kingdom there was a change in them, and they truly love the Lord. On others we must be careful, we bring them in, but they still love the flesh and are more into this for power and money, then for their love toward the Lord. Some do love money more than they Love Jesus, and it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. What is that? You love something you worship, honor, or think you can’t do without. Money is a tool, it’s not a god.
So did Simon finally pray and get it right with God? No, history shows he bought a slave girl, and called her the Holy Ghost, and made himself out to be the Holy Spirit, and he became know as the “father of all heretics”. What is that? It’s not a “hairy tick”, but a “heretic”, and it means someone who is full of opinions, on what they think God meant, or what they think the Bible says. They are not led by the Holy Spirit, but they tell everyone they are. They attempt to bring in the Old Testament, or attempt to make us fall for things like “self-righteousness” (works to obtain our standing before God). They twist the Scriptures to their own ruin, and seek the Power of God, so they can appear famous and powerful.
Philip wasn’t done with his Evangelist work, an angel spoke to Philip and told him, “Get up, go toward the south”, and he did. On the way he ran into an Ethiopia, who worked for Candace the queen of the Ethiopians. The Ethiopians were not Jewish, so this would be the first real Gentile, which means it was the first step into “the uttermost parts of the world”. The Ethiopia was reading his Bible, and in those days buying or having a bible was not something everyone had. In fact they were all hand written, and very rare. The Ethiopia was reading Isaiah, and wondered who was Isaiah was walking about. The Spirit of the Lord took Philip to the very spot where this Ethiopian was, and Philip asked him, “Hey man, do you understand what you’re reading?”. The Ethiopian said, “How can I, except someone teach me?”. The Ethiopian was reading the part where it talked about a lamb being lead to the slaughter, which we know was a prophecy about Jesus, but it seemed a great mystery to the Ethiopian. The Ethiopian asked, “who does he speak of? Himself, or another?”. Philip went on to teach the Ethiopian about Jesus, and how Jesus was that lamb Who went to the Cross for us. The Ethiopian listened with an open heart, and believed, and then asked, “here is some water, why can’t I be baptized?”. This was a big deal, no Gentile had been water baptized before, only the Jews, and the Samarians. However, Philip knew the road map, and knew Samaria was the last stop before “the uttermost”, and he knew he was lead to this Ethiopian by the Spirit, so he baptized the man in water.
One of the keys to understanding the phrase “baptized in the name of Jesus” is here in Acts 8:37. John’s baptism was that the people should believe, since it was before the Cross, and they had nothing to put their belief in. See, belief is based in our now confidence in something that has happened, but faith has a now confidence in something that will happen. Both depend on our Now, but belief is based on something that has happened, and faith on our hope of something that is going to happen. The Ethiopian was asked if he believed, but he didn’t see the Cross, he hadn’t see Jesus, so how could he? The Cross was something that did happen, and he believed what Philip told him.
In Acts 8:40 we find Philip went to Caesarea, and there he made his home. Later in Acts 21:8-9 we find Philip still in Caesarea, and there we find his title is “Philip the Evangelist”, who was one of the Seven Deacons, and who had four daughters who did prophesy. Philip gives us the role of the Evangelist, and how he opened Samaria, but he didn’t start any churches there, he called the people into a church that was all ready going in Jerusalem. The same with the Ethiopian, he didn’t start a church, he brought someone into the Body.
The door was cracked open to the Gentile, but we don’t see where Philip laid hands on the Ethiopian to receive the Spirit. That doesn’t mean he didn’t, only that the Holy Spirit is showing us the door to the Gentiles didn’t rush open, it opened little by little. Some times we want God to go “Bang” and do something all at once, but God has His time. He may do it all at once, or He may take time to do it, but our faith knows He will do it.
There are times when the what is going on just doesn’t seem to have any purpose in God’s plan, take the death of Stephen, what good could come out of that? Remember that Saul guy? The one who gave the other men permission to stone Stephen, well Saul was a Jew with a high ranking in the religious order. He went to the Jewish religious leaders and asked for letters of permission so he could go and catch all those “Christians”. You see Saul thought the Christians were against the Jews, and that he was doing God a great and wonderful service by getting rid of the Christians. Was he wrong? Sure, we know that, but he didn’t. He got his letters and was on the road that went to Damascus, with his mind set on catching and putting Christians in jail. However, what he didn’t plan on was Stephen’s last words, and the Lord. Remember how Stephen’s faith came to the surface and he asked the Lord to forgive those who were throwing the stones? Well that prayer was true “warfare”, it brought a war against the evil around Saul, and set Jesus on the path to get Saul’s attention. On that road to Damascus Jesus appeared to Saul and asked Saul, “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). No, Lord, you must have it wrong, he was out to get Christians, not You. Oh, we get it, if you attack Christians, you attack Jesus, and He takes it real personal. Good lesson, don’t attack Christians, and if you as a Christian are attacked, you pray for those who attack you.
Saul didn’t know what to do, but he did the smartest thing he had ever done in his life, he surrendered to the Lord and said, “what will you have me do?”. Jesus told him to go to Damascus, but there was a problem, the bright light round about the Lord blinded Saul. The men with Saul took him by the hand and lead him to Damascus. In the mean time there was a disciple of Jesus in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord came to him in a vision and said, “Get up, and go to a street called Straight, and ask at the house of Judas for a guy called Saul of Tarsus, for he has prayed, and has also seen a vision of a man named Ananias coming to him, and laying hands on him so he could see again” (Acts 9:10-12). This is not the same Judas as the one who betrayed Jesus, this is a different Judas. A nick name for Judas is Jude, and this Judas could very well be the Jude who wrote the Book of Jude. Ananias wasn’t so sure about this though, and like any of us who might have heard of someone going about putting Christians in jail, we might want to ask Jesus a few questions. Ananias answered the Lord with, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, and how much evil he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). Ananias heard of Stephen, it was news everywhere in the Christian community, and here Jesus is saying go to this Saul? Hold on now, wait, faith where are you? Jesus then tells Ananias, “Go, it’s okay, for Saul is now a chosen vessel unto Me”. Man what a lesson, and why we can’t go about saying someone is so evil God can’t use them. Here was the most evil person toward the Christians, and within three days he becomes a Christian and a chosen vessel for the work of the Lord. From sinner to saint in three days, nothing is impossible for God is it?
Ananias now knows it’s okay, and off he goes, and finds Saul, and says, “Brother Saul” (Acts 9:17). Brother Saul, because the Lord told Ananias Saul was chosen, Ananias accepted Saul as a Brother. How cool. Not only did Saul receive his sight, but he was also filled with the Holy Ghost, and was then baptized.
Saul spent some time with the disciples in Damascus, and we have to remember Saul was not just an common Jew, he was one of those who was taught the entire Old Testament, and had it to memory. It wasn’t like Saul didn’t know anything about God, it was he just wasn’t able to put two and two together so he could see how Jesus was the reason for the plan. The Holy Ghost taught him, but the Holy Ghost taught him through the disciples he was hanging out with. The real “revelation” of Jesus in his life was different, just as it is for all of us. The Revelation, or Jesus know to our hearts comes from inside, but we still need to be taught the Bible, and the things of God.
Good old Saul took off preaching, but remember he was a Christian hunter before. On one hand a lot of Christians were afraid of him, on the other the Jews thought he was a traitor to them. The more Saul learned of Jesus, the more confidence he had, and the better he preached. The Jews got ticked, and made plans to kill him. They “laid in wait” to kill Saul, which means they made plans to trap him, and later when talking about Warfare this same Saul, who will become Paul will talk about those who lie in wait to deceive. Here they were laying in wait to kill, but the idea is the same. It means those who sit around and dream up plans to stop, destroy or get rid of the preachers of Truth.
Did they get Saul? No way, the Lord watched out for him, since Saul had a great deal of work left to do. If we look at our walk with the Lord, and what He has called us to do as a big lake, we can see how at times there will be storms that may appear to stop us, but Jesus said we will get to the other side, and our faith reaches to the other side, and we know we can make it. Saul escaped when some of the disciples put him in a basket, and lowered him down a wall. What? A man of faith running? A man of spiritual warfare taking off? You bet, there are times to stand, and times to get out, in this case it was time to get out (Acts 9:24-25).
Damascus was several miles from Jerusalem, and Saul knew he had to go to Jerusalem, and make himself known to the apostles, and elders. Now these apostles and elders are all people of faith, all hear God, but when fear stands up, our ears to hear God sit down. So it was, when the apostles and elders heard Saul wanted to visit, they hit the panic button, because they were afraid. But Barnabas knew Saul had been touched by Jesus, and he took him to the apostles, and told them all about the story of how Saul came face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and how Saul was now going around preaching Jesus (Acts 9:26-27). Okay, that’s different, welcome to the family of God brother Saul. The apostles accepted him, and Saul grew the more and preached Jesus in Jerusalem.
Of course the religious rulers of the Jews were so pleased and happy to see how Saul could preach. Not! The went about seeking to kill him, but they couldn’t, and Saul preached the more.
What was Peter doing all this time? Preaching, and one day he came to the small town of Lydda, and there found a man by the name of Aeneas, who had been crippled and in a bed for eight years (Acts 9:32). Think of it, eight years, by that time you stop thinking of being healed, and just give up, right? No, never give up. You never know when God will send someone, and as Aeneas was in his bed Peter showed up and said, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ makes you whole: arise, and make your bed”, and Aeneas rose up healed, and all those how lived in Lydda, and the next little town of Sharon saw Aeneas walking and praising the Lord, and they turned to the Lord as well.
Peter then came to another town called Joppa, and there was a disciple there by the name of Tabitha, who was full of good works, because she was Born Again and loved the Lord. However, she got sick and died. What you say? Sure, Christians get sick, but in this case we find it wasn’t time for her to die. Peter kneeled down next to her body and prayed, and then he heard from the Lord, turned and said to Tabitha, “Arise”, and she opened her eyes, and rose up whole (Acts 9:36-43).
All these people were from the Jewish faith, and we recall how Philip cracked the door open for the Gentile, well Peter is about to see it open the more. All these things were News, and News travels, even without television. There was a Gentile named Cornelius, who lived in Caesarea, and he was not only a Gentile, he was Roman centurion, but he also feared God. He would give to the poor, but he didn’t go around bragging about it, and even though he was a Gentile, he prayed to God. He wasn’t going to be held back from God, he knew to do right, he had love in his heart, and sought after God. When that happens, we know God will seek after him, and He did.
One day Peter was praying, and he had a vision. He saw a big sheet knit at all four corner let down to the earth, and in it were all sorts of animals, and wild beasts, and things a Jew wouldn’t touch, much less eat, and then Peter heard a voice saying, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat”. Peter was in his vision, and said, “Not so Lord, for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (Acts 10:13-14). The word Common means Worldly, or natural, and this doesn’t simply mean “unclean” like in the Law of Moses, it also means unclean as far as any of us are concerned. Let’s face it there are things out there that are wild, or creep along the ground that we wouldn’t eat or touch either.
Peter heard the voice again, only this time it said, “What God has cleansed, that don’t you ever call common”. The sheet that held all these things came from heaven, not up from the earth, whatever they were, they had been in heaven, and therefore clean. God had touched them, but was Peter still to eat bugs and things? The vision had a purpose, and soon there was a knock on the door, and there were some Gentiles from the house of Cornelius, who asked Peter to come to the house of Cornelius and talk about Jesus. Peter knew, although the Jew considered the house of a Gentile unclean, God had touched Cornelius and his house, and Peter knew it was time for the command, “all the world”.
Ever since the days of Abraham the Jew was knew, and had been told by God how they were the only family on earth that God was dealing with. There were only two types of people according to the Jew, the Jew and the Gentile, and according to the Jew, the Gentile had no part of the dealings with God. When Jesus said “all people”, or “all the world”, that showed things changed, God was reaching out to the entire world. In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, just those in Christ. There is no race or color, just those in Christ.
Peter went to the house of Cornelius, and began to speak about Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and BANG the Holy Spirit fell and Cornelius and those with him were filled with the Holy Ghost. Peter didn’t expect that, but he didn’t try to stop it either, he knew when God was working. He looked around and said, “can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”. Everything changed, these Gentiles were not baptized in water, but they just got baptized with the Holy Spirit. It was just as important to see they were baptized in water, we can’t forsake one baptism for another. “Yeah, that may be, but I heard a gut talking about the One Baptism, so what is that?”. Good question, in the language used for the Bible there are two words for our English word One. One of those words means One and only One, like One God, but the other means One made up from parts, like the Body of Christ. There is only One Body, but we know it’s made up from all sorts of people. Take a baseball, it’s one baseball, but it has two pieces that make up the jacket, the string inside, the hard ball in the center, and all the thread that holds it together, so there are many parts to that One baseball. So it is with Baptism, we know John baptized, and preached of the Baptisms of Spirit and Fire, and we know about the water baptism in the Name of Jesus, there are many Baptisms, but they all have one purpose, Jesus.
Peter was amazed, God had just opened the door to the Gentile, and Peter was part of it. He had to stick around and see what else God was going to do, and besides he had to teach these people so they would have a foundation. A few days passed, and Peter went back to Jerusalem, but news of how he was staying in the house of a Gentile got to Jerusalem before he did. That doesn’t mean the disciples were still under the Law of Moses, it means they kept it so the Jews would accept them. They were still preaching, and reaching for the Jews, and if they didn’t keep points of the Law, the Jews would have nothing to do with them. Anyway, Peter told the apostles and elders in Jerusalem how the Holy Spirit came, and all that happened, then the apostles and elders knew it was God, and they accepted it without any further questions (Acts 11:1-18).
News about the way Stephen died traveled, and not just the way he died, but what he said when he died. That was a witness, how could someone so innocent be so forgiving when they are dying? Most would he fighting back, or cursing the people, or yelling, “you’re coming against the anointed of God, you will pay for this”, or something like that, but to speak of forgiveness? There had to some great power in a person like that. Those who wondered stopped Christians and asked, and the door was open to preach Jesus the more.
The apostles send Barnabas to help in the preaching of Jesus in the area of Antioch, and the Gentile door was open for sure. Barnabas was the uncle to Mark, the same Mark who wrote the book of Mark, and the same Mark whose mother owned the upper room, so Barnabas was no stranger to the things of God. Remember how he took Saul into the apostles? Well he hadn’t forgotten about Saul, and Saul was still in the area of Tarsus, and Barnabas went looking for him. Barnabas found him, and said, “how about coming with me to Antioch”, and Saul did, and they spent a year there teaching and preaching.
While Barnabas and Saul were preaching in far away Antioch something terrible was going on in Jerusalem. Mean old Herod got it in his evil heart to come against the Christians, and he killed James the brother of John, yes the same James that hung around with Peter and John. James was the first apostle killed, and when Herod saw how the Jews liked this persecution he was doing, he felt important, and took Peter and tossed Peter in jail.
While Peter was in jail the disciples went into warfare, and prayed without ceasing for him. That night as Peter was sleeping an angel of the Lord came to him, and the chains that held Peter fell to the ground, and he was free. The angel told him to put on his shoes, and get ready, he was going home. They walked out of the jail, as if it wasn’t even there, and he went to the house where the disciples were praying. The house was the same house as the upper room, or Mary’s house, the mother of Mark. Peter knocked to get in, and a gal named Rhoda was at the door, but she wasn’t going to open it to some stranger. Then she heard the voice on the other said and knew it was Peter, but instead of opening the door for him, she took off to tell everyone. Peter was still standing outside, wondering what is going on, and they opened the door and there he was. He told them all that happened, and they all praised the Lord.
Back at the jail Herod came in to see Peter, but no Peter< Herod questioned the jail keepers, but they didn’t know what happened, so Herod had them killed. Later Herod would be sitting on his throne, all dressed up, and the people were all impressed with him, and shouted, “it is the voice of a god, and not a man”, and he loved it, but immediately he fell to the ground, and worms ate him all up.
Barnabas and Saul were in the church in Antioch, and there was a prayer meeting. There were prophets and teachers, and as they prayed the Holy Ghost said, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to” (Acts 13:1-3). That is a bunch different than tossing dice, and wondering. Here is the way it’s suppose to be, Jesus puts those He wants into the jobs of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher and Pastor, and all we do is “amen” those He picks.
Barnabas and Saul wouldn’t always get along, they had some problems, Mark being the source of one of them. Barnabas was Mark’s uncle, and being an uncle put up with more of Mark’s youth, than say Saul. In fact Saul about had it with Mark, and when it came time to go out again, Saul said, “Mark isn’t going with me”. Barnabas was able to put up with Mark, so Barnabas and Saul went two different ways, Mark with Barnabas, and Luke with Saul (Paul). So were they enemies? No, not at all, they knew it was best to do it that way, and later Saul (Paul) would send for Mark, and talk about how much he loved Mark.
However, when they were still working together they came to a place called Paphos, and there was a sorcerer, who was also a false prophet by the name of Elymas, who was also a Jew. The deputy or governor of the place was a guy by the name of Sergius Paulus, who really wanted to know about Jesus, and he sent for Barnabas and Saul to find out more.
When Barnabas and Saul got there old Elymas resisted them, and Saul, who is also called Paul (Acts 13:9) was filled with the Holy Ghost and told Elymas, “oh you, who is so full of lies and evil, you child of the devil, you enemy of righteousness, will you not stop to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a season” (Acts 13:9-11). Immediately Elymas was blind, and the darkness he used, overtook him. The Lord didn’t have to make him blind, he was all ready blind because he was in darkness, all the Lord did was remove “light”.
The reason for this? The deputy, the one who really wanted to know more about Jesus. When he saw how Light had the power over darkness, he knew Jesus was the Son of God, and he believed. Another thing happened here, Saul will no longer be called Saul, from this point on he will be Paul, the called Apostle.
Paul began to preach to the Gentiles more and more, but the man’s Jewish roots kept pulling him to the Jews. The Holy Spirit had separated Paul to preach to the Gentiles, but he would attempt to win the Jews, but why? Because they would appreciate him? Nay, because they had more money? Nope, it was because he loved them. He knew the truth of the End Times, and knew this was the greatest time for anyone to be born into the world, it was the Time of Salvation, that part of time where God was reaching out to all people to be saved. However, the next Season would be much different. Oh sure, it would appear like the Garden of Eden, no sickness, no bad water, or bad air, no wars, no crime, no one poor, or hungry, but that is all to show man even with all those things, man’s heart is still evil, for man will turn on God anyway, and attack the people of God, and set up idols, and mock God. Having said that, what about the “mark of the beast”? Since Hollywood has made such a big deal out of it, and mislead many. There are two Beasts of an evil nature talked about in the Book of Revelation, one is from the sea (world), the other is from the earth (kingdom of heaven, which is on the earth). The Beast from the sea has power, authority and a throne, but they were given to him by the devil. Some call this beast “Satan”, Paul called him the “old man”, and really he is the old nature (attitude) of being self-centered, and seeking self-importance. The beast of the earth is different, he had a chance in our season to be saved, but he was in it for his own self-interests, just like Judas. When the time came for us to leave this earth, they remained behind, and become the very reason for the Judgment. That still doesn’t answer the Mark thing does it? Anyway there is the Mark of the Beast, the Name of the Beast, and the Number of the Beast, three things all relating to the nature of man. A “Mark” is something that identifies us to the product, like a package on a box of cereal, we know what kind of cereal is in the box, but the package. In the world that mark is how the world looks at, and uses money. In the Book of Revelation it tells us no one can Buy or Sell without the Mark, so we know it has to do with money. Does that mean we can’t buy anything? No, the word for Buy means to do business as the world does, for the same reason and motive as the world. For that reason Jesus got real mad when the religious rulers sold the things of God. The Number of the Beast is when we are found in the same system, with the same thinking as the Beast. Then comes the Seat or Throne, and that means when we use Power as the world does. Paul knew these three things would overcome those without God, and knew after our Season of Salvation is complete, there will be no Holy Ghost on the earth, no one will be Born Again, no one will be able to withstand the evil of the wicked people. For that reason he truly wanted all the Jews to receive Jesus, and be free of the time to come. Not a bad reason at all, in fact it’s a very good one. Only problem was he was not called to preach to the Jews, and every time he did, they would reject him (Acts 13:13-51).
There were times when some of the Jews did believe, and that was enough to keep Paul going. One time while he and Barnabas were in Iconium they preached to both Jew and Gentile, and some of the Jews believed, but the unbelieving Jews went about bad mouthing Paul, and what Paul was preaching. Did Paul run this time? No, the Lord was with him, and he preached the more, and the Lord did many signs and wonders through their hands (Acts 14:1-3). Then came a time when the people in the city were divided, some sided with the Jews, some with the Apostles. When the wicked Jews caused the people who didn’t believe to form a mob and come after Paul and Barnabas, they left the city and went to the cities of Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14:4-7). That is why we must always listen to the Lord, there was a time to stay, and a time to leave, and Paul didn’t mix one into the other. “No, brother I will stay, the Lord has told me to stay”. “Yeah, but didn’t the Lord just tell us to leave?”. “Oh brother, I feel the anointing, I will stay”. Soon he will feel the rocks bouncing off him. Listen to the Lord, He is always wiser than we.
Because Paul listened to the Lord and left Iconium and went to Lystra the anointing remained with him. For there was a man in Lystra who was weak, and a cripple from the time he was born. This same guy heard Paul preaching, and Paul looked at the guy and knew the man had faith to be healed. How did this man’s faith build? It’s called the Manifestation of Faith, or when the Holy Ghost preaches through us, and someone else hears, believes, and their faith grows to the point they can receive from the Lord. The man was healed, and the news went throughout the city.
Like some people, these people went a overboard, and got weird. They thought the “gods” came down, and they called Barnabas, “Jupiter”, a Greek god, and they called Paul, “ Mercury” another Greek god. That was bad enough, but then the idol worshipping priests wanted to make sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas were broken hearted, here they preached Jesus, and these people were still hung up on idols, and then wanted to make Paul and Barnabas idols. Paul then preached like never before, and told the people to turn from the idols, don’t make more, and don’t make men of God idols. Then Paul rebuked the people, and would not allow them to make idol sacrifices toward Paul and Barnabas. All was fine, until there came some unbelieving Jews who turned the people against Paul and Barnabas. These unbelieving Jews caused the people to stone Paul, and the disciples took Paul out of the city, and they thought he was dead.
Later Paul would write to the Corinthians about this very happening, and told them how he was taken to the Third Heaven, and saw things that the language of man simply couldn’t describe. Was it because they were bad things? No, was it because Paul didn’t want anyone to know? No, it was because the things Paul saw were so great, so wonderful, so much like God that if he tried to describe them in his language, he would not do it right, and end not being able to tell how great those things were. Paul then knew heaven was far greater than the earth could ever be, even in the time to come.
Barnabas and Paul had a disagreement over Mark, you see Mark was young, and on one of the missions he got tired, and wanted to go home. Paul didn’t like that, and didn’t want to happen again, so he suggested that Mark stay home until he grows up. Barnabas was Mark’s uncle, and he felt the only way Mark was going to learn was to go. So, did they have a big fight? No, they were friends, and more important they were Christians, so they settled the matter. Barnabas took Mark, and Paul took a prophet by the name of Silas (Acts 15:36-40).
Barnabas and Paul knew how to deal with conflicts, and we will have problems with some people, and we will have problems pop up with people we love, but we must deal with those things in a Godly manner. Why? Because God wants us to? Sure, but more important is when we deal with people and events in a Godly manner we will always feel better in the end, and others will know we love God. We will have difficult times with our brothers and sisters, other family members and our classmates, but we must never allow anger to control us, or pride to take over, we deal with reaching the solution so that God is pleased, and when God is pleased, so are we. When Barnabas took Mark and Paul took Silas they really covered more territory than Barnabas and Paul could have together.
Paul and Silas went into all the Gentile lands, including Philippi. Later Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians, and some of Paul’s letters ended up as Books on our Bible. Did Paul know that? No, he didn’t sit around and say, “Hey guys I have to write this just so, you know it will be Bible some day”. He wrote as the Holy Spirit guided him, and later the same Holy Spirit moved on the hearts of men to put those letters in our Bible. Those letters not only show us there are all sorts of people in the Body, but they show us the mistakes others made, and the victories others had. The Philippians were Givers, they made sure Paul had things, and even when Paul was in Corinth they gave to him. That was important since the Corinthians had some real “soul” problems, they were Carnal, or kept thinking like natural self-centered people. Why didn’t they just get the Spirit? They had the Spirit, they just didn’t want to walk in the Spirit.
Another issue is that of girls, does God use girls? We may have heard some tell us Paul said, “keep your women silent”, or “your women should remain silent in church”, and then we figure God doesn’t like girls. Just because some misuse the words in the Bible, doesn’t mean we have to. Paul used “metaphors”, remember them? To Paul a “wife” was someone in the Body of Christ, and the “husband” was a leader in the Body. Paul told the Corinthians Christ or the Anointing is the head (authority) of the husband (leader), and the husband (leader) is the head (authority) of the wife (congregation). If we think this means husbands and wives like mommy and daddy we have some real problems. First where are all the single girls? Next that means we have to cut the head off some husband and glue it on his wife, what a sight that would be! The Corinthians had problems in leadership, and because of that there were always questions, and Paul told them to have the congregation remain silent, but why? Because when the leaders are out of order, the authority is out of order, and when the congregation (wives) pray, they shame the leaders. Philippi was much different, in fact they were so in order they knew how to set things right. They had a couple of guys who had problems with each other, one was named Euodias, and the other was named Syntyche, and Paul told them to be one the same mind, and didn’t mean just to find some compromise, but to find what God wanted (Ph’l 4:2).
Paul also told the Philippians to “beware of dogs”, so were there mean wild dogs around (Ph’l 3:2). No, that was another metaphor, and we’ve heard someone call someone else, “oh you dog you”. Does that mean they person turned into a cocker spaniel? No, and when Paul used the metaphor “dog” it pointed to those who are wicked, and go about bringing strife in the Body. One could say a “dog” would be one who taught others that Paul was telling us to keep women silent, since that teaching would not only be wrong, but it causes many problems. First it divides, and sets one group above another, something Jesus didn’t do, or like (James 2:1). Another problem it tells someone who has the anointing in them, and the drive of Christ in their life to preach, they can’t just because they are a female. Next it pits a husband against his wife, something Jesus never intended. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells them their leadership is our of order, and it would be best in their case if their congregation (wives) would remain silent, not because the congregation was stupid, or loud, but because the leaders were off base. Another evidence of how never intended to keep “women silent” this is Paul himself, when he was Thyatira. While there they ran into a woman named Lydia, and she was in business for herself, and sold garments and materials, and she worshipped the Lord, and she asked Paul and those with him if they wanted to stay are her house. Paul didn’t say, “Oh no, we don’t believe in woman working, must stay home and remain silent you know”. He went and not only stayed there, but he baptized her (Acts 16:11-15). One of the lessons Jesus taught us was never to hinder anyone, and telling someone because they were born a female means they can’t preach to teach is hindering them.
Is it important to keep our faith in God? Oh man is it, but keeping faith in God during the good times is easy, it’s when things don’t look so good that the test of our faith comes. Paul and Silas stayed with Lydia, and she was a good woman, but later both Paul and Silas would run into another woman, one not so good. There was a certain young woman who had been playing in witchcraft, and ended up possessed with a devil. Two men found her and used her to play with people’s minds, so they could make money. This demon possessed young lady had a way to gain someone’s confidence, and then capture their mind, and use them as a puppet. She followed Paul and Silas around trying to get into their mind, and she kept saying, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16:16-17). Were Paul and Silas men of God? Sure, was their purpose to show the way of Salvation? Yes, so what was wrong with what this young woman was saying? She was attempting to gain their confidence, and then use them, and Paul by the Holy Ghost saw her intent, and cast the devil out of her. Well she was glad, but the guys who used her to make money were not to happy about this. They took hold of Paul and Silas and took them to the marketplace, and tossed them to the judges, saying “These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble out city, and teach things which are not lawful for us, since we are Romans” (Acts 16:19-20). However, the people joined in and the judges ordered that Paul and Silas be beaten. After beating them, they tossed them in jail. Wow, some reward for serving God, but wait this isn’t over yet. At midnight while Paul and Silas were tied up in jail they decided to have a praise meeting, and they started to sing praises unto God. The other prisoners heard them, but suddenly there was an earthquake, and the prison started to shake, and then the doors of the jail flew open, and the everyone was set free. This wasn’t a jail break, it was a full pardon by God.
The keeper of the prison in those days was more than a little responsible for the prisoners, if they lost any they had to pay the government, and they lost all, they might be put to death. The keeper of the jail saw all the prisoners gone, and thought it was all over, and was about to kill himself, when Paul cried out, “Don’t do it man, no one has left, we’re all here” (Acts 16:25-28). God didn’t want the man to hurt himself, but He did want them to know they couldn’t hold the people of God.
The keeper of the jail grabbed a light and saw all was well, and he knew God was more powerful than the Roman government, and he looked at Paul and said, “What must I do to be saved?”. Paul said, “believe on the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved”. Paul then taught the keeper and his family about Jesus and the Good News (Gospel), and they were all baptized.
The next morning the judges didn’t know anything about what happened, but God was able to move on their hearts and they told the keeper of the jail, “let those men go”. Wow, but that still isn’t the end of it. The keeper told Paul, but Paul said, “wait, they beat us openly, and they think God is going to let them slip us out of here?”. This all fit into Paul’s family order, Paul was not all Jew, his mother was a Jew, but his father was a Roman. This strange combination couldn’t be better for his calling. In order to be a Roman, ones father had to be Roman, but in order to be a Jew, ones mother had to be a Jew. By this strange order we find to the Romans, Paul was a Roman by his dad, but to the Jews, he was a Jew by his mom.
This would be one of those times where that would pay off, and from the mixed marriage of Paul’s parents would come a blessing. You see no judge can beat a Roman citizen without a trial, but they often beat those who were not Roman citizens. Remember there was no trial, and remember the two guys who turned Paul and Silas over to the judges said Paul and Silas were “Jews”. Well, Paul goes to the judges and tells the, “Is it lawful for you to beat a Roman citizen? Well I’m a Roman citizen”. Yikes, when they heard Paul was a Roman they really got scared, for they could end up not only being beaten themselves, but put to death. The judges took Paul and Silas and treated them like long lost buddies, but asked them Nicely to leave the city. Paul and Silas went back to the house of Lydia, and said good-bye to all the people in the town, for they would obey the judges and leave.
Paul then goes to a place called Thessalonica, and he also would later write them two letters. The second letter was to square away all the questions that came up from the first. The Christians in Thessalonica were worried about the people who received Jesus, but for one reason or another, not their fault didn’t receive the Holy Spirit, and were not Born Again. Paul tells them those who are Born Again will not rob those others of their reward. Then he points out there are three groups in the Body of Christ, those who are “dead in Christ”, or who are Born Again and have received the Resurrection power of Christ by having the Holy Spirit, then those who will “Sleep in Jesus”, and they are those for one reason or another, not their own fault, who didn’t become Born Again. Later in the Book of Revelation John calls them those “who are dead”. Then the third group, those who are Wicked, they are in this for money, or for self-importance, or they love to have people think of them as being moral and holy, but inside they haven’t changed one bit, and Paul calls them the “drunken” who go into the Night. Thank God we are not of them, since we do love the Lord, and love Him for who He is. Paul reminds the Christians in Thessalonica how he taught them about the End Times, and how those who are “drunk” with power will be revealed as the “son of perdition”, or someone who is Born of the World again. That is much different from someone who doesn’t know a thing about being Born Again, these Wicked know about it, they simply refuse it.
In Thessalonica Paul went into the Jewish Synagogue and preached Jesus, and there were some who believed, but many of the Jews did not. Among the Greeks who believed was Jason, and Paul stayed with Jason for a time. Well, the Jews who didn’t believe hired some real thugs, mean, nasty and very un-agreeable fellows, who would ran through the city saying mean and nasty things about Paul. They couldn’t find Paul, but they found Jason, and brought Jason to the rulers saying he was a friend of Paul’s, and how Paul was saying there was another king other than Caesar, a king names Jesus. The rulers really didn’t want to get involved, but they took money from Jason, and let him go. That may seem like being a friend of Paul’s was “bad luck”, but it wasn’t, since the church in Thessalonica grew and even later was still going, as the two letters that Paul wrote prove (Acts 17:1-9, I Thess & II Thess).
From there Paul went to Berea, and the people in Berea were not “unbelievers”, but they did something that Paul felt was wise. They checked the Scriptures daily to see if Paul was telling them the straight out Truth. They found he was, and between “hearing” from Paul, and “reading” on their own, they became firm believers (Acts 17:10-15).
Paul then went to Athens, and Athens was something now, they had a mountain called Mars’ Hill, and on that mountain was statues of every idol you could think of. They had Mars, Jupiter, all the other idols of man, and then they had a place for the “unknown god”, in case they left off some idol. Paul looked around and yelled “devils, run”. No he didn’t, he wasn’t afraid of devils or idols, he knew he had the Power of Christ in him, and no devil, idol or witchdoctor had any power over him. What he did do, was look around and tell the people, “you people of Athens, I see that you are too superstitious” (Acts 17:22). Then he walked up to the place for the “unknown god”, and preached Jesus. How could he? Using a thing set for idols? The idol is nothing, it’s what people make of it. If someone uses an idol, the person is evil, not the idol, the idol is nothing. Paul knew that, and used that “unknown god” to show them how dumb it was to worship things made by man, but how right it was to worship a God that made man.
Of course Paul ran into some who didn’t believe, but more important he also ran into those who did believe. We can never make anyone believe, but we can give them the Truth, so they can make the decision to believe, or not to believe.
Paul would then go to Corinth, which was something else. The people in Corinth were “carnal”, which means they kept looking at things of the flesh. They judged a person by their smarts, and money, not by God in them. Paul refused to take money from them, since carnal minded people think if they give you money, they own you. The people in Philippi would send Paul money, but at that Paul had other people with him, and he was forced to go out and make tents, just so he could take care of his own. Yet, the people in Corinth didn’t have any trouble in having Paul teach them, and spend hours, days and even months with them. Did Paul get mad at them? Nay, he kept teaching them, and kept praying for them. They are an example of those who have many problems, and really have a hard time seeing the things of Jesus. They had the Spirit, but they were not “spiritual”, or better they were not thinking like Jesus.
As strange as it seem, and considering as much trouble as Paul had with the Jews, it would be in Corinth that a guy by the name of Crispus, who was the chief ruler of the Synagogue would believe on the Lord, as well as his entire household. When many of the Corinthians heard of this, they too were baptized.
Paul was there for a year, and later would write two letters to the Christians in Corinth. In those letters we find out many things, among them how a person can have the Spirit, but not be spiritual. Also we find those who have the Spirit have the Ability to allow the Spirit in them to come forth and minister to people. We may get a word of knowledge, which a something to “turn on the light” on some subject, and help someone else. We may get a word of wisdom, which is a word telling someone just how to deal with a person or some event. We may be talking to someone, and the words we say gives them the faith they need to do something they couldn’t do before. We may feel like we should lay hands on them for a healing, or something else, and that is the Spirit “manifesting”, or coming forth to prove who we are. The Spirit will never accuse Jesus of any wrong, or bring a curse, so a person who says they are speaking “by the Spirit” who does accuse Jesus, or brings a curse, are of the wrong spirit. No one who doesn’t have the Spirit can really call Jesus their Lord. Why? They can’t act like Jesus is their Lord, they may say, “Jesus is Lord”, or they may even say, “Jesus is my Lord”, but they talk ugly about the people of God, and that is “accusing” the Jesus in them. The Corinthians did that to Paul, but he didn’t write them and say, “Now people, you are no longer Christian, I reject you”. No, he kept reaching out to them. They were a “thorn in his flesh”, which means they kept on him with all their nasty words and nearly caused him to fall to the flesh in dealing with them, but before he said anything to them he would go to the Lord, and find Grace (The Spirit) is always sufficient.
Then Paul would go to Ephesus, and Timothy was the pastor there. Timothy was young, and in his excitement to do the right thing he made a mistake. We lay hands on people to present them to the Lord for healing, or for the Lord to baptize them with the Spirit, but leaders lay hands on people to present them to the Lord for some office; like a teacher, or pastor. Timothy found some who knew the Law of Moses, and he felt they would make good teachers, so he laid hands on them, and ordained them as teachers. However, it backfired, and they started to run things, and Timothy got mad, and wrote Paul. Timothy was packing his bags, he was headed out, and down the road, but Paul told him, No, Timothy could gain from this. Paul laid hands on Timothy years prior, and Timothy received the Spirit, so Timothy had what it would take to clear this mess up. Paul gave Timothy some guide lines, and told him if these Teachers want to remain Teachers they had better agree to live a firm Christian life. Of course they knew the Law of Moses, but lacked the Spirit, so there was no way they could live that life, so they would have to give up the position. This wasn’t blackmail, Paul was saying how a person should live if they have the Spirit. They should have one mate, they should be an example of Christ, by allowing the Christ in them to come forth. Paul told Timothy not to lay hands so quick on people, but go to the Communion Table, and remember the Blood of Jesus (Wine), and how the Grace of God is mixed with the Mercy of God, and how we must listen to hear the Holy Spirit say, “Separate unto Me”.
Timothy figured that was a good idea, but he made another mistake in his attempt to fix the first one. He took the guide lines Paul gave him, and used them in a “spirit of fear”. Okay, what is that? Manipulation, using something to control people, or using something to scare them. We have not been given the spirit of fear, so don’t use it, or accept it when someone else uses it.
Ephesus would be a test for Paul, and he would come face to face with some real “warfare”. Timothy had to face his own warfare, and not use the spirit of fear. In Paul’s case it was others using the spirit of fear against him. The idol Diana was real popular in Ephesus, and there were all sorts of workers who made little silver idols of Diana, and sold them. It’s bad enough to worship an idol, much worse to make money off of them. Anyway as Paul preached Jesus, there were some of those idol makers who got mad, and felt Paul was about to put them out of a job. They got together, and their leader, one Alexander the copper-worker started all sorts of ruckus. However, the ruler in Ephesus saw this was just a bunch of people out of control, and outside of the law, and put a stop to it. God can work on those who don’t know Him, and God puts who He wants as leaders of nations. Now wait, you mean Hitler? Sure, even Hitler. Was Hitler good? Not for a second, but Hitler presented an evil, and those who joined to that evil judged themselves. Also we know by what Hitler did the Jewish people demanded and got their own land. God uses the leaders to punish the evil doers, and if the leader is an evil doer, they have judged themselves, and will pay the price of their wickedness.
Paul them travels to Macedonia, and remained there about three months. Paul didn’t hit a town, preach an hour, and hit the road. He stayed to make sure the Word preached would be mixed with faith.
It was about this time that the Christians in Jerusalem were going through a hard time. So, does that mean the Christians in Jerusalem lacked faith? Not hardly, their pastor was James, the same James who wrote the Book of James, and Peter was also among the congregation there. Faith is not going to remove us from trouble, it will remove the Trouble from getting to us. Faith gets us through and around events, but whether through or around we can hold a joy knowing God has a plan. God will not force us to Love Him, and He will not force us to follow Him, but He is always there for us. Paul had a driving desire to see the Jews all saved, but he was sent to the Gentiles. That drive got him in trouble more than once, yet Jesus never said to him, “Paul that’s it, that is the last time, I’m telling you, you’re done for boy”. No, Jesus was always there for Paul, and He is always there for us.
Paul was taking up a collection of the saints in Jerusalem, and even wrote to the Corinthians about it, and they jumped up and said they would give tons to help. Of course what they said, and what they did turned out different. You see, “carnal” people will say anything to get the attention, but when it comes to the “doing”, they only “do” if they get the credit. Nearly a year after they said they would, they hadn’t and Paul wrote them Second Corinthians, and explained how a “cheerful giver” is loved of God. Of course if one pays under the Old Covenant, God will honor their effort, but that doesn’t mean they are “cheerful”. A Cheerful giver doesn’t need a promise of some return on their money, and neither does one have to twist their arm to make them give. Their very love nature is to give, and Paul tells the Corinthians they were quick on mouth, and slow on wallet. He was going to send Timothy to make the collection, and he expected them to do “as they said”. Have you ever had someone tell you they were going to do something, then find out they didn’t? It hurts, and the same is true for us as well, when we say we are going to do something we should make every effort to do it.
Paul and his desire finally caught up to him in Jerusalem, only this time he wasn’t preaching, but he was “set-up”. Why back in his journey he had a guy by the name of Trophimus join him (Acts 20:4), and later Paul would say he left Trophimus sick in Miletum (II Tim 4:19). Why would a guy known for healing the sick, leave someone sick? We’ll find out.
From the day that Paul said he was going to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit through many prophets told him not to go. Paul was determined to go, and the Spirit went so far as to tell him, “the Jews will bind you, and deliver you into the hands of the Gentiles” (Acts 21:11). Paul had the desire to preach to his brothers the Jews, that desire was so bad even the warning from the Holy Spirit didn’t stop him. The disciples knew it was the Spirit, and they begged him not to go, but Paul said, “Why do you cry? I am ready not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem”. Then the disciples with him said, “The will of the Lord be done”, and it was (Acts 21:10-15). Was Paul bad? No, not really, he wasn’t going to Jerusalem to boast in himself, he wasn’t attempting to make a big man out of himself, he wanted to see the Jews saved. When he writes his letter to the Romans he tells them how he is willing to give up his own Salvation, just to see the Jews saved. That’s heavy, and Jesus said greater love has no man then to lay down his life for his friends, but Paul was going to lay down his life forever for a people who kept mocking him.
When Paul got to Jerusalem he heard how the Jews were coming to the Lord by the tons, and he also heard how some of them heard about Paul’s preaching and felt Paul was taking the “Jew” away from being Christian. Paul decided to take a vow, and show the Jews he was still a Jew by birth. He went into the temple, and it was against the Jews law to take a Gentile into the temple area. The Gentiles had their area, which was outside of the area for the Jews. Well, someone thought Paul took Trophimus into the Temple, and Trophimus never said “No, that’s not true”, in fact we find Trophimus may have betrayed Paul, thus Trophimus fell sick, and like Judas he had to pay for his betrayal (Acts 21:29). We never want to turn someone who is Godly over to the ungodly.
The Jews grabbed Paul and took him before the Romans, and the Jews made it sound like Paul was some weird nut. They put Paul in chains, and the Roman captain was there, and Paul asked him in Greek, “May I speak unto you?”. The captain said, “You speak Greek?”. Paul then told the captain that he was Paul, a Jew from Tarsus, and he wanted to speak unto the people. Paul then spoke to the people in Hebrew, and told them how Jesus came to him on the road, and how he lost his sight, but gained it back, and was baptized, and many other things he told them about Jesus and how Jesus saved him. The Jews had a fit, they didn’t want to hear that, and the captain took Paul into the jail area, and beat him with a whip. Then Paul told the captain, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman who was not be convicted by trial?”. The captain was more than a little confused, first he thought this guy was an Egyptian, then Paul said he was a Jew, now he says he is a Roman. Paul explained how his mother was a Jew, and his dad a Roman, so he was born a free Roman citizen, and a Jew.
The next day Paul had to face the religious leaders, and Paul knew they were divided, some were Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection and in angels, but some were Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection or angels. Paul knew as long as he spoke on the appearance of Jesus, and on the resurrection the house would be divided. Only it really got bad, and it was a near riot, and the captain feared for Paul, and took him by force. Paul was in big trouble now, he used his “natural” position one too many times. It seemed like Jesus wasn’t with him anymore, was he lost? No, the night following Jesus came to him, and told him how he was going to Rome to preach more.
The Jews wouldn’t give up, they wanted Paul punished, but he didn’t do anything. They even went so far as to plot his murder, but Paul’s nephew (his sister’s son) found out, told Paul, and Paul told the Romans, and they were able to get Paul out of the city to safety. However, Paul remained in jail in the area for over two years. Finally he ended up in front of one of the big bosses, a guy named Festus. Festus heard Paul, and asked if Paul wanted to be judged in front of him in Jerusalem. Paul by this time had heard all these complaints about him, yet there was never any proof, not one witness, not one shred of evidence, so he made the claim of being a Roman, and wanted to stand before Caesar in Rome.
Paul finally got his wish, he would go to Rome. The trip had to be done by boat, and by this time the stories had gone out, “ Paul did this, Paul did that”, and from the Second letter he wrote to the Corinthians we can see how they were questioning Paul. Paul even tells them how he has wronged no one, nor done anyone any hurt (II Cor 7:2). Those who were walking in the Spirit still loved Paul, and still stood with him, but the Corinthians were looking for any excuse not to do what Paul told them to. They wanted to remain carnal, yet say they were “Christian”. When we hear the “wrong of correction” it’s for our own good, the Corinthians never did do much for Jesus, they felt faith was something God gave them so they could be pleased, they kept looking for what they could get, rather than what they could give.
Nonetheless Paul was on his way to Rome, and on a boat headed for danger. Before sailing Paul had a word of “knowledge” and told the Roman soldiers watching over him, “Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the cargo, and the ship, but to us”. The captain of the ship felt it was going to be okay, so the centurion was faced with two words, one from Paul, the other from the captain of the ship. On the natural said one would think the captain knew more than Paul, but on the Spirit side we know the Spirit speaking through Paul knew more than the captain. Nevertheless the Roman centurion believed the captain, off to sea they go.
A storm came up, a big storm, and the ship started to fall apart. Three days this thing lasted, and they were tossing cargo overboard to keep the ship afloat, but it was going. After some time Paul went to the centurion and said, “You should have listened to me” (Acts 27:21). A little late, yeah, sure they should’ve listened. The lesson for us is always to give the words of a person who walks with God more weight than the words of the so-called “experts”. Paul’s lesson in this? Great, don’t forget Paul got into this fix when he went to Jerusalem after the Spirit told him not to, and after he made his plea to be judged in Rome. All the judges before were willing to let him go when the heat died down, but he kept saying, “I plea to Rome”. One would think the Corinthians were right, Paul has lost it, but not so. God has a Plan, and the Plan for Paul included all this. Remember when the Lord came to him “the night following”, well we know Paul was repenting, and knew Jesus had a Plan. When our heart is to do good, yet it turns out bad, Jesus has a plan to make the bad good. Paul told the Corinthians how God is faithful, and God will never allows us to suffer more than we can bear, and God with the temptation will always make a way for us escape (I Cor 10:13). It wasn’t Paul’s fault that the ship was breaking up, but some would say, “well there you have it, what Paul sowed he is reaping”. Repentance changes that saying, to “what we would have reaped, will not because God is faithful to forgive us”. It looked like God’s justice, or some might even say the devil was attacking them, but Paul told them all, “There stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying Fear not, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar: and lo, God has given you all them that sail with you” (Acts 27:23-24). The Lord has spoken they will be saved. This is like being in the boat in the middle of the lake, and here comes the storm. Jesus said He would meet us on the other side, so storm or not, we’re going to make it.
The storm didn’t stop, and on the fourteenth night the storm was still going strong, but the shipmen knew they were coming close to some land. They were about to jump overboard, but Paul told the centurion, “Except they stay here with the ship, they cannot be saved” (Acts 27:31). Paul was still hearing from God, and still reaching out to save. Jesus said He would not leave us, and that is the story in all this. Sure Paul blew it, but Jesus didn’t leave him, or forsake him. Why? Paul’s heart, he wanted to do good, it just got all messed up.
This time the centurion listed to Paul, and they all took bread and Paul gave thanks to God in the presence of them all. They had faith to survive, because of what they saw in Paul. Two hundred and seventy six people were saved, because they listened to Paul, the prophet of God. They set for the land, and the ship hit bottom, and it would seem they were doomed, but they had a word from the Lord. Some swam to shore, others grabbed boards, and pieces of the ship that would float, and they all escaped safely to land (Acts 27:44).
They were on an island named Malta, and the people there started a fire and warmed all those who escaped the ship wreck. Paul gathered up some wood, and in the midst of the wood was a snake. The snake bit Paul on the hand, and the island people thought, “this man is a murderer, and he may have escaped the sea, but vengeance will take his life” (Acts 27:4). What were they saying? Whatsoever Paul sowed, that he is reaping. That saying is true, it’s Bible, but it’s not for the people who have Christ in them. Paul shook the snake off into the fire, and went about his business. Well now, the people on the island had a different story, and they changed their minds. Paul didn’t die, didn’t get sick, and now we know he hasn’t been abandoned by God.
They stayed on the island, and in the house of Publius, and it came to pass that the father of Publius got sick, and not only had a fever, but a real nasty looking sore. Paul went to him, prayed and laid his hands on the man and he was healed (Acts 27:8). God was still using Paul, and really this was a very good experience. Paul was going to write many letters, most of which ended up making our New Testament. The experience of Paul made him see many things, obedience unto the Lord is something we can’t take lightly. Whatever God says do, do, but whatever God tells us not to do, don’t do.
Paul ended up in Rome, and stayed in a little room. He could have visitors, but he couldn’t leave. Some of the Jews in Rome heard about Paul, and wanted to hear for themselves. They came and listened to Paul, and some believed, and some didn’t. Paul knew he wasn’t going to bring all the Jews to the Lord, it was not his calling. Paul then gave a message of messages. Paul tells them and us, how the God will bring in the Gentiles, and build the Body from Gentiles. The Gospel then became Gentile centered, and all Grace, without any works of the Law of Moses.
What about Peter, and the others? They all went on to build the Body of Christ, and Jesus continues to take from the Body and build His Church. Peter wrote two letters, and told us how we are Born Again of the Seed (Spirit) of God, we are special in God’s eyes, and God’s Purpose for us is the salvation of our souls. That takes some “schooling” in God’s School, and we as obedient children will reach the end of our faith even the salvation of our souls.
We as the children of the Almighty God can trust in Him, follow Him, and know He is always with us. We can talk to Him, ask Him anything, and know He will always understand. We talk to our friends everyday, and God wants to be our friend. When we wake up, He is all ready awake and waiting for us. When we go to bed, He stays up watching over us. When we go here or there, He is with us. It may not always appear that way, but it’s true, He is there. Just as He was with Paul, He is with us. Trust Him, and He will bless you. Love Him for who He is, and know before we loved Him, He loved us. May the Lord of all glory bless you, and keep you, may He watch over you, and may you know the Love that He has for you.
Read your Bible, pray, and if you haven’t asked for the Spirit of the Lord to come into you, do so now. How? Just ask, it worked for us, and it will work for you. God Bless.
By Rev. G. E. Newmyer – © 2003