What Christians Live For: The Redemption from Jesus Christ (Journeys 58-60)

The Time had come for Jesus Christ, in which He was to die on the cross. However, Jesus knew it was for redemption’s sake He was to do this. For this is a special occasion, one in which His humanity sorely rejected, but His Spirit fully rejoiced. This momentous occasion was to bring the full redemption of the sins of God’s People, and was to win the victory over Hades and death.

SCRIPTURES: Mark 15:20-16:11; Matthew 27:31-28:15; Luke 23:26-24:12; John 19:16-20:18

Via Dolorosa from Pilate’s Praetorium to the cross

In a nutshell: Friday before 9 am, Jesus is mocked, clothed with His own garments, and then led away to be crucified. Simon of Cyrene, a passerby, is compelled to go with them to bear the cross of Jesus. A crowd follows and the women bewail and lament Him; Jesus gives warning. The crucifixion at Golgotha, by the Romans soldiers, between two thieves, about 9 am. Golgotha is the Aramaic word for “skull,” and Calvary is the Latin expression. Jesus is offered a drugged up wine, but rejects it, because He wanted to endure the crucifixion entirely for the sins of humanity.

The Proceeds of Jesus’ Death

Golgotha was the place of Jesus’ crucifixion where He was led, to which was before 9 AM probably. They took the robe off Him and put the raiment on Him. The man named Simon of Cyrene was someone they asked to carry His cross for Him. He was given vinegary wine to drink and gall to eat, to which He did not want. Jesus turned to them and said to the daughters of Jerusalem not to weep for Him, but to weep for themselves and their children. He Prophesied to them that one day they would suffer.

(The Romans would later attack Jerusalem, to which, women that are now sad about not having children would be safer than the others, for they would not have to see their children being crushed in the onslaught from the Romans. The brutal punishment on the innocent Jesus shows that the Romans would be far more brutal on the sinners/guilty.)

The first three hours on the Cross: From 9 am until noon on Friday. It is not easy to tell the precise order of events during this period of three hours since the Gospels do not present them in the same detail or order.

The four soldiers who carried Jesus decided to throw dice for Jesus’ personal possessions. They hung Jesus upon the cross, and then placarded a sign above His Head that announced the charge that He was condemned so that passersby knew what He was guilty of. Many people, including members of the Sanhedrin, insulted Jesus. Jesus was crucified next to two other criminals. Everyone mocked Jesus for His claiming to save others but He could not save Himself. However, if Jesus saved Himself, He could not save sinners. One of the criminals realized His Divinity, and repented, thereby receiving the saving power of Christ that very day.

While on the cross, He prayed for enemies in Luke 23:34, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” He made a promise to the repentant robber next to Him in Luke 23:43, “…Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” He also made a charge to His Mother and to His Beloved Disciples, John in John 19:26-27, “…[To Mary:] Woman, behold thy son!… [To John:] Behold thy mother!” John was instructed by Jesus to take in His Mother to his own home.

Three hours of darkness: The time is from noon to 3 pm.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, followed Him to the cross, and had comfort from John and three other women: Salome (Mary’s sister) the mother of the Disciples James and John, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Mary Magdalene. They came closer to the cross.

During the last three hours, a strange darkness overspread the land, as the wrath of God fell upon Jesus. The veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom. Jesus had a cry of desolation, and wanted His final words to be heard by enough people around. He asked for something to moisten His Mouth; therefore, He was given a little vinegar from a sponge, and then He cried out “It is finished.” He has completed the Work that God sent Him to do!

While on the cross, Jesus spoke a few more sayings. First was His cry of desolation in Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46, “…My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He soon cried in physical anguish in John 19:28, “I thirst.” After that, He cried in victory, “It is finished.” Then was the cry of resignation before giving up the ghost in Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

At 3 pm, Jesus died.

Jesus has died, and it is important to note that the veil was rent from top to bottom and an earthquake occurred at the moment of Jesus’ death. This demonstrated that the Jewish religious system has ended and that there is an opening of the door to God’s Presence. The earthquake even caused graves to break open, and certain believers of the old era to be raised to life, which showed the dramatic Triumph over death that Jesus won!

The centurion in charge was filled with wonder at what he saw, for he was convinced that Jesus was truly as He said, and others even changed their attitudes toward Jesus. Many who came as spectators returned with sorrow and fear, and wondered what all of the signs had meant. The phenomena that occurred was atypical of normal death scenarios. Possibly there was an omen that certain things would happen upon the death of an important person, and therefore, many had likely recognized this.

The Burial of Jesus

Friday Afternoon before 6 pm, soldiers pierce Jesus’ side with a spear. Joseph of Arimathea obtains permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Joseph buries Jesus’ body in his own new tomb. Nicodemus adds spices for his burial clothes.

Per the request of the Jewish leaders, Pilate had the tomb guarded with Roman soldiers to ensure no one could remove or mess with Jesus’ Body. The tomb was sealed with a huge stone that blocked the entrance so that no one could enter, even if they tried by force and got by the Roman guards. They secured it so well, because they knew this was a Powerful Man!

The Resurrection & 40 Days

Beginning on the day of Resurrection, there is a 40 day period, the last period of Jesus’ Life on Earth. We detail part of this now, and in one final blog post for the Journey with Christ series. Jesus appears in Judea and Galilee. Of this period, we see that He remained at or near Jerusalem for a week. Then, He probably left at once for Galilee. In the month that followed, we cannot fix the exact time of the events that occurred in Galilee, but just at the end of the forty days, we find Him again in Jerusalem.

Three women appear to see Jesus at the tomb: Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome.

Bible notes: Matthew only records two of the women from the cross of that group, Mary the mother of James and Mary Magdalene. However, Mark records Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome in the group.

The three women at the cross were also the three women that were in a group together, as they had went to gather spices for anointing Jesus. They bought the spices and were ready to journey back to Jesus.

And then the earthquake erupts…

The great earthquake resounds scaring the watchers at the tomb, as the Angel of the Lord descended to roll away the stone. His countenance was described as lightning and His raiment as white as snow. The watchers of the tomb looked like dead men, because they were so astonished.

The women arrive at the Tomb followed by His Disciples

The time is about sunrise Sunday Morning. The women arrive at the tomb. There were the three: Mary Magdalene, Mary Mother of James, and Salome. Other women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee followed these women.

The three women found that an Angel had removed the stone. Mary Magdalene hurried to tell Peter and John. Meanwhile, Mary the Mother of James, Salome, and the other women arrived at the tomb, entered the tomb, and saw the Angels who assured them Jesus had risen. They ran from the tomb in fear and joy to inform Jesus’ Disciples. Jesus had already risen at early dawn on the first day of the week.

He was buried shortly before sunset on Friday, and at sunset, the Sabbath began. So He lay in the tomb a small part of Friday, all of Saturday, and 10-11 hours of Sunday. This corresponds with the seven times repeated statement that He would, or did, rise “on the third day,” which could not possibly mean after 72 hours. The phrase two or three times given, “After three days,” naturally denoted for Jews, as for Greeks and Romans, a whole central day and any part of a first and third, thus agreeing with, “on the third day.”

Even the “three days and three nights” of Matthew 12:40 need not, according to known Jewish usage, mean more than we have described. It is a well-known custom of the Jews to count a part of a day as a whole day of twenty-four hours. Besides, the phrase “on the third day,” is obliged to mean that the Resurrection took place on that day, for if it occurred after the third, it would be on the fourth day and not the third.

The women quickly went to the Disciples proclaiming the news, to which, Peter and John were the most anxious to see for themselves (as they knew the women were not telling idle tales). They all ran back to the tomb to see that Jesus had been indeed raised. They all believed that Christ had risen after going into the tomb.

Mary Magdalene returned to the sepulchre and stood, “without at the tomb weeping.” She stooped to look in the tomb and saw the two Angels. Then, turning around, she thinks she sees the gardener, but it is Jesus. He gives her a message, and she takes the tidings to the Disciples. There are five appearances given as occurring on the day of Jesus’ Resurrection and give other appearances occur subsequently during the forty days.

The five appearances of Jesus after His Resurrection:
  1. To Mary Magdalene
  2. To the women returning from the tomb with the angelic message
  3. To Peter
  4. To the Emmaus Disciples
  5. To the absent Disciples

Mary Magdalene is seen weeping at the sepulchre and stooped to see the two angels. She was told by the angels that Jesus has risen, to which she turns around and sees Jesus standing there. He asks her why she weeps and whom she seeks. She supposes Him to be the gardener and wondered where Jesus was. As Jesus spoke to her telling her about the ascension being nigh, she knew it was Him. He told her that there was no need for her to cling to Him in this way, for He will be ascending soon and will not be upon them physically anymore. She should go and tell the Disciples what He told her.

Jesus has appeared to the other women of that group (Mary the mother of James and Salome), as they were on their way to tell the Disciples of the discovery. He encourages them to carry on with telling them that He is coming to Galilee and they should go there too to see Him.

The Roman watchers went into the city to speak to the Chief Priest and recount all that had happened. Upon this, a meeting with the Sanhedrin convened, and the soldiers were bribed and persuaded to give the story that, while they were asleep, the Disciples came and stole the Body of Jesus. Therefore, they took the money and did as they were told. This is the same thing that is reported to this day among the Jews.

Here are the truths that could have been found out that would have proved these soldiers wrong for their claims the Disciples took the Body of Jesus:

  • The fact that there was a death penalty for guards that fell asleep while on duty… were these men sentenced to death then?
  • They surely could not have stayed asleep during the moving of the stone and Body, as there would have had to be quite some noise on moving it (it likely could not have been moved so quietly).
  • If they were asleep, how could they have known who had taken the Body of Jesus?

Thoughts about the Death, Burial, & Resurrection of Jesus Christ

It’s not good for us to forsake God’s Will just for the sake of others or for our own comfort. It is important to be attentive to God’s Will at all times, and follow through with it no matter what. If we forsake His Will for the sake of others, we let others convince us not to obey Him. If we forsake His Will for our own comfort, we are intentionally disobeying Him. Jesus proved His obedience by ignoring the mockers and His own comfort. He was perfectly obedient unto God’s Will!

Not only did Jesus transcend His own comfort, but He also transcended death by declaring victory. We must learn from this that we must overcome our fears, anxieties, and comforts so that we may do His Will and finish the race that is set before us!

Let us seek to glorify God through our true repentance and helping others repent of their sins. We must live sober, righteous, and Godly lives, because we have the right to because of the death of Christ! We see His Love for us, so that we may repent and be prepared for the Kingdom.

Let us prepare our hearts daily for Christ to Minister and encamp within us that He may overfill us with His Love so that we may spread His Love around rapidly to people. May we adorn ourselves with the love of God (just like the spices to His clothing) so that people may know of His Love!

Many people guard their hearts and put walls up so that the Lord may not enter therein with His Love. We must remove the barriers of our hearts so that He may encamp within with His Overflowing Love!

Love for Him always draws us closer to Him, because He desires that we draw to Him, for He is ready to continue expressing His Love. Let us fall down and worship Him for His Great Love for us! He has come to give us Redemption. Let us give thanks! Glory unto God! See that His Work is finished, see His Love for us, go and tell people all around of His Work, for He did it to redeem us of our sins and give us Eternal Life. Don’t wait around… go and tell people everywhere! Glory in the Heavens, He is Risen! Hallelujah!

Jesus is arrested and is tried by officials (Journeys 56-57)

We are reaching a critical juncture in the Life of Christ. Because Jesus was betrayed by Judas, officials are aware of His whereabouts, and are seeking to take Him in for questioning.

SCRIPTURE: Mark 14:43-15:19; Matthew 26:47-27:30; Luke 22:47-23:25; John 18:2-19:16

First: Jesus is betrayed, arrested, and forsaken – Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before being taken to Annas, the ex-High Priest… It is Friday, long before dawn, the day of Suffering; and this has become, for the Christian, the Day of the cross. It is in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus is betrayed, arrested, and forsaken.

Jesus’ arrest

Judas knew of the garden, for He went there often with His Disciples, to which, Judas led the guards to seize in arresting Jesus. This is the betrayal by Judas (with a kiss), to which, Jesus needed no one to defend Him. The men that came with Judas fell to the ground upon meeting Him, but Jesus surrendered unto them, especially hoping that His friends were not harmed. The Disciples tried to fight; however, Jesus told them that if they practiced violence, they would also suffer violence. If Jesus wanted help, He would draw it supernaturally; however, this was not necessary as He was fulfilling Prophecy. The soldiers grabbed a person that followed Jesus, but he escaped. The Disciples fled once a fight broke out.

The Jewish trial comprised three stages:

  1. The preliminary examination by Annas
  2. The informal trial by the Sanhedrin, probably before dawn
  3. The formal trial after dawn

Jesus was taken and bound, being led to Annas first, and then to Caiaphas. Annas was the previous High Priest, and could give Him a preliminary examination, before His trial. Jesus noted that He spoke no evil, for they would have to give proof. Otherwise, why smite? Jesus noted that His teachings were known by many and they did not have any evil. Therefore, Jesus was taken to Caiaphas the High Priest next.

Jesus before Caiaphas

A gambit: It was illegal for the Sanhedrin to meet at night; however, they considered this an emergency.

Jesus was brought before Caiaphas, where he had called the Sanhedrin together to condemn Jesus immediately. They teased Him, telling Him to prophesy who struck Him in the face (as He was blindfolded during this encounter). Nonetheless, the leaders desired for Jesus to say something of blasphemous intent, so they could condemn Him to death. They were satisfied as Jesus said He was the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son of man—to which, He was about to receive the Glorious Kingdom of God. They suddenly abused Jesus violently and condemned Him to death.

Peter denies Jesus Christ

Discussion of interpretation: At the Court of the High Priest’s residence, Friday, before dawn during the series of the trials, we are seeing the unfolding of Peter’s denial. There is something interesting here… Each of the four Gospels record three denials. But the details differ considerably, as must always be the case where in each narrative a few facts are selected out of many sayings and doings. John gives only the first of the three stages, Luke only the last, Matthew and Mark the second stage fully, and the third is mentioned briefly.

Peter recognized

If Peter’s denials ran through all three (Luke says in verse 59 that there was an hour between his second and third denial), then not one of the four Gospels could give each of the denials precisely at the time of its occurrence, and so each Gospel merely throws them together. We attempt here yet another way: We bring them together in one section. There is no difficulty about the substantial fact of the denials, and we must be content with our inability to arrange all the circumstances into a complete program.

The story: Peter was in the courtyard while Jesus was being tested. A servant girl recognized Him as a Disciple, and asked if he had any association, to which he denied. A bit later, another person recognized him and told the people standing near, and again, he denies Christ; however, this time with an oath. About an hour later, some of the bystanders had approached Peter again, wondering if he was sure he wasn’t a follower… Peter denied emphatically. Soon, the cock would crow, signifying that Jesus was correct of what Peter would do. It reminded Peter of his folly, to which, Jesus saw Peter, and Peter was filled with grief and began weeping bitterly.

Jesus is then condemned by the Sanhedrin at the Residence of Caiaphas

It was a long night for Jesus, which included the Passover, the Lord’s Supper, the washing of the Disciples’ feet, the long discussion in the upper room, the walk to Gethsemane and the agonizing prayer time in the garden, the arrest, and then the questioning that contributed to the rough handling of Him at the high priest’s house.

Jesus before Caiaphas again

Now that it was a new day, judgment could be passed to Jesus by legal sentence, to which He was made to stand before the Sanhedrin for a brief repeat of the investigation the previous night. The leaders could make a formal charge against Him to present to the Roman authorities, so they had to come up with something to convince the governor what He had done and why He needed execution.

Judas ends it for himself: Judas, the betrayer, “repented himself” and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the Chief Priests and Elders. Judas went out and hanged himself. He returned the thirty pieces of silver, and this was the money used to purchase Potter’s field where Judas was buried.

Jesus appears before Pilate

The process of the Roman Trial:

  1. The first appearance before the Roman Procurator Pilate
  2. The appearance before Herod Antipas, the native ruler of Galilee appointed by the Romans
  3. The final appearance before Pilate

The time here is Friday, early morning. Jesus is taken to Pilate the first time.

The Jewish leaders were attempting a formal charge against Jesus so they could convince the Roman governor of His deserving of execution. Bringing Jesus before Governor Pilate, they had to go to Jerusalem into his Praetorium. The Jewish leaders took Him to Pilate early in the morning to have Him dealt with before festivities started (again, as reviewed earlier to avoid a riot since Jesus was so remarkably influential).

Pilate isn’t sure, so Herod should see Him

The Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy, as He called Himself the Son of God; however, when they took Jesus to Pilate, they twisted the situation and the charge that not only did He claim to be God, but also to be above Caesar. Suggesting Him to be a political rebel, they tried to lead Him as a messianic uprising as if He would overthrow the Roman’s rule to set up an independent Jewish province. Pilate then attempts to dismiss the case, probably waiving Him as just an annoyance; however, the Jewish leader pressed upon their charges further.

Jesus then explains to Pilate the true picture that His Kingdom was not concerned with political power; therefore, He was not trying to create an uprising. Rather, it was a spiritual kingdom that was based upon truth. Pilate did not understand Jesus; however, he did understand enough to be convinced that Jesus was definitely not a political rebel, and thus, suspected that the Jews handed Him over for judgment because of jealousy of the remarkable following that Jesus created. He decided that Jesus should see Herod.

Now before Herod

Pilate soon learned that Jesus was from Galilee and that since he did not control relations in Galilee, he sent Jesus to the Galilean governor, Herod Antipas, who happened to be in town for the festivities as well. As Jesus came before Herod, He refused to speak to Herod (He was just silent the whole time), and did not attempt to defend Himself against the false accusations of the Jewish authorities; therefore, after mocking Him ridiculously and adorning Him with a gorgeous robe, Herod sent Him back to Pilate. Apparently, through this, Herod and Pilate became friends after having hostility for so long.

Again before Pilate

Herod returns Jesus to Pilate. The time is now Friday toward sunrise. John uses Roman time with the hour starting at 12 midnight and 12 noon, as is done today. However, the Synoptics use Hebrew reckoning, beginning with sunrise (6 am to 7 am being the first hour, etc.). This is apparent from the care with which the Gospels specify particular hours in relation to the crucifixion. Jesus was put on the cross at 9 am (“third hour,” Mark 15:25). Darkness was over the land from noon until 3 pm (“sixth till ninth hour,” Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34; Luke 23:44). Thus, the “sixth hour” mentioned in John 19:14 could not be Hebrew time (noon) but rather 6 am, “when morning was come,” according to Matthew 27:1-2.

The choice was: Free Barabbas or Acquit Jesus

They said to free Barabbas

Pilate slowly and reluctantly, and in fear, surrendered to the demand of the Sanhedrin for the crucifixion of Christ. He could not escape full legal and moral responsibility for his cowardly surrender to the Sanhedrin to keep his own office. Both the Pharisees and Sadducees unite in the demand for the Blood of Jesus. It is impossible to make a mere political issue out of it and to lay all the blame on the Sadducees, who feared a revolution. The Pharisees began the attack against Jesus on theological and ecclesiastical grounds. The Sadducees later joined the conspiracy against Christ. Judas was a mere tool of the Sanhedrin, who had his own resentments and grievances to avenge.

Mockery begins…

The time is Friday, between 6 and 9 am. The Roman soldiers mock Jesus, just as the Sanhedrin had done during the trial at the residence of the High Priest, Caiaphas.

Some soldiers were preparing for the crucifixion, and some in Pilate’s Praetorium were mocking Jesus as “King” and putting old soldiers’ clothes on Him. They adorned Him with a royal (scarlet colored) robe and a crown of thorns. They even hit Him over the head with a stick that was His “sceptre.” After that, they spat in His face and punched Him.

Then they shout at Him:

“HAIL! KING OF THE JEWS!”

Jesus is now prepared for His Crucifixion process, and we will be covering that in the next blog.

They prepare Him for crucifixion

What can we learn during this process?

We must keep in mind to not be as the Disciples who fled, but be the people who continually follow Christ, even through troubles. We should be faithful in following Christ, because turning back is a sin (similar to those that put their hand to the plough, but look back are not fit for the Kingdom of heaven/God). Many evil people shut their eyes to the truth, and will not listen to reason, because of the wickedness in their hearts. Let us confess Christ’s Name, even in reproach, because He will confess us before the Father! No matter what we are to endure, as long as we do it for the Glory of God, nothing can stop us, for He will be with us to strengthen us the whole way through.

Wicked men must answer to the consequences of their evil deeds; therefore, it is always best to repent of your sins before you reap the consequences. This reminds us to bring more sinners to Christ so that hell does not have its way with them in death. His People must realize and begin thinking about Kingdom things rather than worldly things, so that we may be prepared and look forward to His Coming Kingdom!

Therefore, in the face of our accusers, as Jesus was in the face of accusers, we must stand firm and allow the Lord to lead us on what to say, what not to say, and how to work out a situation for His Will. Jesus knew He could speak to Pilate, but speaking to Herod was not going to be a good idea, as even though Jesus did not speak to him, he still mocked Jesus. The Lord knows when people will understand and when they will not, and He will lead us on what to say, for we have the Comforter and the Teacher to guide us. Christ did God’s Will so that He may obtain the joy, Glory, and completing of the purchase for us Eternal Life. We must do the same that we do God’s Will so that we may do it for the joy of the reward we will receive for Eternity!

Jesus prepares His Disciples for the upcoming tragedy (Journeys 52-55)

Jesus is preparing His Disciples for the coming trouble related to His Death and Resurrection work on the cross. Adversity is about come mightily and will not waver for anybody.

The incredibly long preparation can be found in the following Scriptures, which you may use for reference purposes: Mark 13-14:42; Matthew 24-26:46; Luke 21-22:46; John 12:2-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

We see the following in preparation: Occasion of the Prophecy about the destruction of the Temple; inquiry for further light from Peter and James and John and Andrew on Christ’s Second Coming and the End of the World; Sign for the destruction of Jerusalem:

  1. False Christs;
  2. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ (The Parable of the Fig Tree).

Readiness is urged by a series of Parables:

  • The Parable of the Porter
  • The Parable of the Master of the House
  • The Parable of the Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant
  • The Parable of the Ten Virgins
  • The Parable of the Talents
  • The Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Picture of the Judgment)

The Whole Story on Eschatology

Jesus explains what we need to know, which is what He taught to His Disciples in regards to eschatology. This was serious, as Jesus told them the time is near. Let’s explore…

Jesus had spoken through Parables and other teachings about going away and Returning in Glory, to which would be the climax of the age introducing the Triumph of His Kingdom and Final Judgment. His Disciples have connected the dots on these events well, and know about the predicted destruction of Jerusalem. However, they connected the Second Coming of the Messiah with the predicted destruction of the Temple. They asked Him what significance these events would occur before these final events of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age.

Jesus told them that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple were not (necessarily) connected with the Return of the Messiah or the end of the age. They were not to believe rumors they might hear occasionally about the Messiah had already returned, because there will always be false prophets that try to attract a following for themselves; therefore, they were not to think that all wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. were sure signs of the end times being near.

The end would not come, nonetheless, until the Gospel had spread through the entire world, and this goal would be reached only after much opposition (persecutions). God’s servants would endure persecution, be betrayed by friends, and many would be killed. Only by love and faith in God would people be able to endure their trials; however, even if their sufferings resulted in death, God would preserve them for His Heavenly Kingdom.

The people of Jesus’ day would probably not see the final events of world history; however, many would see the foreshadowing of such events and witness the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem. Seeing the Roman armies approaching the city, people would run in horror without even taking their stuff. They would escape and try to get away even in winter or harsh weather conditions that would just slow them down. They would even escape on the Sabbath (even if restricted).

Women and children would suffer especially, as the enemy’s savage attack would be the most terrible and destructive than anything they have ever known, and if God did not stop them, no one would be left alive. The event would repeat the atrocities of Antiochus Epiphanes, but worse (the abomination of desolation).

Anyway, false prophets would continue to draw Jesus’ Disciples into their group with clever tricks and comforting words, assuring them that he was the messiah who had returned and was hiding in a safe house. The Disciples of Jesus were not to believe these rumors, because Jesus’ Return would be sudden, open, and startling just like lightning. When God intervenes, He will do so greatly, and it will be obvious! The Present Age will end as Jesus Returns in Power and Glory to save His People and judge His enemies.

Just as the first leaves on the fig tree indicate summer’s arrival, so it will be when the Disciples see the false messiahs come, as well as the persecution and approach of the Roman armies—to which, they will know the Destruction of Jerusalem and the nation is upon them. People of Jesus’ day would see this fulfilled in their lifetime.

As far as the day when the Lord Jesus Christ would Return in His Kingdom, no one knows when that will be except for the Father in Heaven! People will be carrying on with their routines, ignoring God’s warnings just as the people did in the days of Noah when the Lord was working through him. However, just as the flood came, which was God’s means of judgment on those people, the same will be with Jesus’ Return when He brings judgment on sinners and Salvation to His People. It will be unexpected just as a thief would be breaking into a house while the owner sleeps. The Disciples of Jesus Christ must be fully prepared for His Return all the time, and must not settle down to a life of self-pleasing; however, we must all live faithfully for Him.

(Soon, we see three stories recorded from Jesus that give a discourse on what He just taught. He would be leaving the Earth for an unknown amount of time, and then Return in Glory. Those who had prepared themselves for His Return would enter His Kingdom with joy, but those who did not would lose out. Three reasons for people’s failures are detailed as thoughtlessness, laziness, and/or indifference!)

For the first Parable… At a marriage, a bridegroom with his friends brought the bride from her father’s house to his own house, where a feast was being held for the wedding. This was the procession that the ten girls had met; however, some of the girls were foolish and did not consider that the bridegroom might not come at the time they expected. When his arrival was delayed, they were unprepared. Soon, he arrived, but there was no time for preparations; therefore, the foolish girls were locked outside of the house with no further chance of getting into the wedding feast. In this same way, because of carelessness, many people would not be prepared for Jesus’ Return, and therefore, they would miss out on the blessings that the Kingdom brings.

For the second Parable… A businessman went on a journey, but left his business in care of three trusted workers. He gave money to them, which varied according to their abilities. Two of them worked well and made good profits; however, the third one was lazy and did nothing. Once the owner returned, he was pleased with the first two men whom he rewarded; however, the third one (lazy) tried to excuse himself by saying he might have traded at a loss so he didn’t want to anger his employer. He received a reply that if he thought his employer was so hungry for money that he looked only for profits and was uninterested in honest work, he would have just put his money in the bank. Then he would have at least gained profits through interest.

The meaning of this is that God gives people different skills and abilities, and they need to use these in the business of expanding His Kingdom. Those using their gifts will be reward with increased abilities; however, those that neglect such gifts would become useless. The Day of Reckoning will bring joy for some, and disappointment for the others.

The third Parable… He talks about His Return in Power and Glory to judge the world. His Judgment is revealed for anyone—not just specific people—for there are only two types of people in the world: sheep and goats as typified in this story. The “sheep” are God’s People, who have given proof of this by practical love shown to others, even at expense of convenience or comfort, which is from their ability to be selfless. They may not be aware of the good things they do or what appreciation people have of them. However, Jesus does notice and has identified Himself with the needy, because He sees the kindness done to them as if done to Him.

The “goats” then are those who are selfish—always looking out for their own interests, but lacking interest in the misery and suffering of others. In this, it shows their lack of love for Jesus, as they know nothing of His Character and have not learned to deny themselves for His Sake. There is no place for them in His Kingdom, for their punishment is certain. Just as in the story of the ten girls or the three employees, people condemn themselves by failure of doing good things rather than just being deliberately wrong in actions and deeds.

Jesus predicts His crucifixion two days hence

On Tuesday Evening, the beginning of the Jewish Wednesday, Jesus predicts His crucifixion to take place, “after two days.” This would be the Jewish Friday. The rulers in Jerusalem plot His death. The time for a greater deliverance has now arrived, as Jesus would die as the true Passover Lamb that would bear the penalty of sin to release sinners from bondage. People in Jerusalem were excited as the festival approached, and the chief priests planned to wait until it finished before arresting Jesus, because they did not want a riot on their hands.

While Jesus “was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper (former leper for Jesus had healed him), as Jesus sat at meat,” Mary anoints Jesus for His burial. This anointing has nothing in common with that given by Luke 7:36-50, except the face of a woman anointing the Savior’s feet. The name, “Simon,” was common among the Jews. The first anointing was in Galilee; this anointing is at Bethany, near Jerusalem.

Take special note that Mary here in Bethany is anticipating Jesus’ speedy death and burial, of which, there is no distinct mention in the Galilean anointing. In view of all these differences, it is absurd to represent the two anointings as the same.

Judas (Iscariot) objected that the use of this expensive perfume was a waste of money; however, Jesus told His Disciples that He would be with them only a little longer before crucifixion. Therefore, Mary’s act of devotion was the symbolic anointing of His Body in preparation for burial.

Judas bargained with feast rulers to betray Jesus

Judas, stung by the rebuke of Jesus at the Feast, bargains with the Rulers to betray Jesus, “And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver.” He could advise them of His movements so that they could arrest Him quietly without the people knowing about it.

Paschal Meal Prep

The day is Thursday Afternoon, a day of preparation, the preparation for the Paschal Meal at the home of a friend. (It is possible that it was at John Mark’s parent’s home.) Thursday was spent wholly with the Disciples until the arrest in Gethsemane after midnight.

It is usual that the Jews would kill the sacrificial lamb on the afternoon of Passover day, and eat it altogether on that night. Jesus knew He was to die as the sacrificial lamb on Passover day, and therefore, He prepared the meal a day earlier. He would eat it with His Disciples the evening before Passover, but probably without a lamb, since He was to be the lamb.

Jesus knew the Jews had sought for Him; therefore, Jesus made careful arrangements for the feast, so that no one knew where it would be held, except for two unnamed Disciples who other Disciples did not even know. This prevented Judas from sharing any information to the Jewish leaders, to avoid immediate threat. Two Disciples met two others and prepared the place for the Passover (“Upper Room”), as well as the food and drink for the meal.

Jesus eats the Paschal meal

It is Thursday Evening after sunset, the beginning of the Jewish Friday. Jesus partakes of the Paschal Meal with the Twelve Apostles and rebukes their jealousy. Jesus has sat down at the table with the Twelve Apostles with Him. He had wished to eat with them before He was to suffer, as He would not eat it again until it is fulfilled in His Kingdom. He was about to break bread with them.

Then washes the Disciples’ feet

When they were gathered for the meal, Jesus became the servant and washed the Disciples’ feet. This would typify His humility and that He would cleanse people from sin. Peter did not understand this and therefore he objected. Jesus told him if he refused to let Jesus cleanse him, he could not be Jesus’ Disciple.

By the cleansing, Jesus referred to cleansing from sin, which is something that Peter would understand in its fullness after His death and Resurrection. Peter thought if he was to be cleansed for his feet, maybe all over would suffice better. However, he again did not realize what Jesus was doing. The Disciples (except Judas) were cleansed all over, and needed no further cleansing. The feet cleansing was not for actual cleansing (according to the Law), but it was symbolic for humility.

Jesus gave the Disciples an example that if He, their Lord and teacher, had humbled Himself by washing their feet—how much more should they, His servants, humble themselves to serve each other. Jesus knew of the traitorous work of Judas; however, the rest of them were His servants and messengers who received Him and His Father!

Aha! Judas is the betrayer

The Disciples were astonished that one of them would betray Jesus, because they did not know of any treachery among them. Some of them thought that one of them might do so carelessly; however, Judas knew what Jesus meant and asked Him if it was he, and Jesus said it was so. Jesus then honored Judas by dipping a piece and giving it to him, hoping to change his heart on the matter; however, Judas’ heart was already locked in evil plans. Jesus seemed to only know Judas’ intentions, so the others did not suspect him. Judas departed from the room soon after, which made the death of Christ certain.

Disciples warned against desertion

Judas had departed from them quickly. Meanwhile, they become aware that Jesus’ death would Glorify the Father in Heaven, as He showed His immeasurable Love on display for sinful people. However, they were to show no bitterness in any grief they have about His death, but rather, a forgiving love. He repeats that they should love one another as He has loved them. People should know of His Disciples by the way that they love!

Jesus knew that they would all run away and leave Him in His final house, as sheep that scatter in panic when the shepherd is killed. Peter boldly assures Jesus that even though the others leave Him, he would never do so. However, Jesus knew Peter better than he himself knew, and told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed.

Peter reassured Him that He would not deny Him. However, Peter would do great things in the future to help the Disciples. Jesus told them to prepare for the new life ahead, which is tougher than anything they had previously experienced, as they would have to preserve their lives. However, the Disciples misunderstood Jesus as well; however, Jesus felt He said enough and left them to think about it.

The First Communion

Jesus took some of the bread and wine, gave thanks, and then gave it to the Disciples as symbols of His Body and Blood being offered in sacrifice. His Blood is the sealing of God’s Covenant, which is the unconditional promise of forgiveness and Eternal Life to all those who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Just as the Israelites kept the Passover as a remembrance of God’s Gracious Work in saving them back then, Jesus desires the Disciples to keep the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of the One through whose death they are saved of sin and given Eternal Life. Eventually, when Jesus Returns, there will be no more need of bread and wine remembrance, as He and His People will be together in His Eternal Kingdom!

What is vital here: His Body and His Blood are our food for the soul. It is to be a Remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made to redeem us of our sins. By partaking of the Bread and Wine, we are celebrating and remembering what He did on the cross, which allows our hearts to remain focused on Him with gratitude and hopeful sincerity. Paul warns, however, that one must do this remembrance in sincerity, as taking this is as taking Him as our Lord and Life! If there is any insincerity, it should not be taken, because the heart must be open to remain in touch with His Redemptive Work, so that we may receive the blessing of this sacred ordinance.

Discourse in the Upper Room

Jesus was surely about to die and the Disciples knew this. He comforted them by saying He was going to the Father to prepare a permanent place for them that they can dwell, so that one day, He will return to take them with Him forever! As His Loyal Disciples, they would share in His Final Victory!

Thomas, however, misunderstood, and thought Jesus was speaking of a physical location and journey; therefore, he wanted Jesus to show them the way so that they would have no difficulty in finding Him later at the right time. Jesus explained that the way to the Father was only through the Son, and that Jesus had brought the truth of God and Eternal Life to mankind. To know Him was to know God.

Philip misunderstood, as he wanted special revelation of the Father, even though he clearly knew the Father and the Son were inseparable. Everything Jesus did were directly from the Father’s deeds and words. When Jesus returned to the Father, He told them that they would receive the Holy Ghost, and that, through the Power of the Spirit, they would do even greater works than Jesus had done. His Ministry was limited to a few years around their general regions; however, the Disciples would be able to travel near and far to reach the world for God! A new era was about to encompass them as Jesus returned to the Father!

When Jesus returned to the Father, He would send the Holy Ghost as the Helper, counselor, guide, and one to help instruct and strengthen them. Those that did not believe in Jesus would not be able to understand how this Helper worked, because their understanding was limited to worldly things. Soon, Jesus would leave the world, but not desert His Disciples, because He would live within them. He would continue to love them, and they would love Him.

Judas Thaddeus (not the betrayer) was still thinking of His Physical Body, and could not understand how the Disciples could see Him, but no one else could not. He replied that not only the Son, but the Father also, would live with them, as long as they gave proof they loved Him by obeying Him, especially with help from the Teacher, the Holy Ghost! Jesus saw the Disciples’ continual confusion, to which they were promised peace. Jesus did not mean they would live perfect lives without trouble, but that they would have more inward peace, even if they were outwardly affected.

The Disciples should not worry over His coming death, but be glad that by His death, completion of the Work of the Father would happen. Even though Jesus was sinless and not under the devil’s power, He would allow satan’s servants to betray and kill Him, so that through His death, He might fulfill the Father’s Will for Salvation!

Discourse on the way to Gethsemane

All that a believer in Jesus Christ has comes from Jesus Christ. He is like the vine, and we are like the branches, which mean that they can bear spiritual fruit only as they are united in Him. As believers allow the Father to remove hindrances, such as sin, from their lives, they will bear even more fruit. Those who do not bear fruit are like the dead branches of a vine—as they are not attached to it, they receive no life from it. They may say they are Disciples of Him; however, they have no union with Him and will be destroyed in the end, just as Judas Iscariot was.

If people claim to be His True Disciples, they must prove it by their spiritual fruits that result from union with Christ, such as obedience, love, joy, good prayer, etc. Jesus wants them to serve Him willingly, with love and understanding. This is why He chose the Disciples, because they were trained to know God’s Ways, and if their service was based on the knowledge of God and of love, they can expect lasting fruit.

Union with Christ brings suffering, however, and because of their relationship to Him, they would be hated by the world. Loyalty to Christ brings persecution, and Jesus’ teaching and work clearly showed His Divinity. Those that saw and heard Christ had no excuse for unbelief, for their clearer knowledge increased guilt in their lives, to which, they may have claimed to worship God, but they hated Jesus, which also meant they hated God.

The Disciples believed upon Christ, and would receive the Spirit and His Help during the difficult times ahead. They could expect roughness ahead, and therefore, when Christ departed, the Holy Ghost would come and help the Disciples in defending them and opposing the persecutors. He would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This means sin is the cause of unbelief in Christ, and that Jesus’ death is the way to God, which is proved through His Resurrection and Ascension. Judgment for sinners is certain, because satan has been conquered by the death of Jesus.

Jesus could not speak much more to the Disciples, because of how grieved they were. After He left them, the Holy Ghost would come unto them and help them understand. The teaching brought to them could concern the present and the future; therefore, it should confirm things for them. Jesus would soon be taken from them, but return in a few days. Their sorrow will become joy just as a woman’s pains before birth are replaced with joy after the birth when she sees her child. Jesus’ victory through death and Resurrection would bring confidence in God that they had never partaken before. Jesus would be the mediator or intercessor that they can pray through to the Father and receive His Blessings!

Many of the Disciples would understand completely what Jesus has been saying all along after His Resurrection, which would speak of the purpose of His Mission. They would no longer depend upon Jesus to pray for them; therefore, they would have to learn to pray personally and with confidence (especially based upon the instructions that He gave them concerning prayer). This is only possible because of who Jesus was and what He had done!

Jesus’ words had strengthened the Disciples’ faith; however, they failed to realize that a few hours later, their faith would be tested, as they would be frightened and confused on forsaking their Lord in His final hours. The lapse in faithfulness, nonetheless, would only be temporary, as through His Victory, they would Triumph!

The Intercessory Prayer

Jesus now prays before the Lord God fervently, in reflection of the Triumph of the completed work. He begins by speaking of His relationship with the Father, and that His Will was to reveal God to the world so that people could receive Eternal Life through Him. He prays to the Lord that by dying on the cross and thus finishing the work successful, He would Glorify God. This is also in hopes that Glory would be found in Christ through this, as He would ascend to His Father and sit at His Right Hand where He belonged originally.

Only some believed in Him and knew He was God and that He had come from the Father to make Him known. In other words, Jesus came to reveal the Father, and in doing so, was rejected by most, but acknowledged by some. That remnant would be His People—His True People that is, who are going to share in His Coming Kingdom that He will Rule in Eternally.

Next, He prays that His Disciples would live in a way to show His Glory to the world, so that their unity will display a similar unity as the Father is to the Son. He wants His Disciples to remains as faithful to Him as possible so they will not be defeated by evil in the world. He wants them to share with Him the Triumph and Joy that shall come through the completion of the Will of the Father. As Jesus leaves the world, His Disciples will continue the work. He prays that they will not be discouraged by hatred or even corrupted by sin. Jesus gave Himself to God to carry out His Work, so He desires that His Disciples would give themselves to God to spread His Message in the entire world.

Finally, Jesus prayed for those that would believe through the preaching of that first group of Disciples and become God’s new people, the Christian Church. He prays that the same unity that exists between the Father and Son would bind all of the Disciples together in one family so that through them others would believe as well, to which in the age to come enjoying of the Glory that was His before the world began. Those that have trusted in Him will be there with Him in the Triumphant Kingdom of God that He will Rule and Reign over! Meanwhile, even though there is unbelief in the present world, many people will come to Christ and share in the Love that the Father has for the Son (by being joint-heirs in a way). The world will begin to know God when the world sees the Love of Jesus in His People!

Jesus’ Agony!!

The Synoptic Gospels do not give the great discourse of Jesus in John 14-17. Hence they represent Jesus as going forth to Gethsemane after the institution of the supper. The time was probably not long, and they apparently sang the hymn (probably one of the Psalms; Mark 14:26/Matthew 26:30), as they rose to leave the Upper Room in John 14:31. Thus, the passage in John 15-17 comes in between singing the hymn and reaching Gethsemane. Gethsemane was an open garden, between the Brook Kedron and the foot of the Mount of Olives. It is late in the night introducing Friday, and Jesus suffers long and in horrible agony.

All of them sung a hymn, as they departed to the Mount of Olives and then into Gethsemane. Coming upon Gethsemane, it is about midnight when He and His Disciples arrived. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him and moved to a spot to which they could be alone. He was filled with anguish and horror as He saw what death meant for Him, as the others sympathized with Him. He had to battle temptation to avoid suffering that lies ahead; however, the battle was something He had to fight and win alone. The “cup of suffering” that caused Jesus such anguish was not just about a physical suffering event, but rather, also an inner agony as He, the Sinless One, was to take upon Himself the sin of human creatures, and bore the wrath on their behalf.

No one else could know the pain, but Christ, as He had a human will, and knowing that He must complete the Father’s Will; therefore, conflict arose within. He fought against temptation in avoiding the cross, and his agony was so intense that He had sweat blood. However, He won the battle, and was determined to do the Father’s Will. Jesus saw the weakness that the Disciples had, and told them to be alert and pray for strength, as they would be tested soon. They would face a temptation to deny Jesus so that they may save themselves.

What do we learn here: We may come upon battles that are tough, even to win on our own; however, we don’t have to fight them alone, for He provides the strength we need and will assist us when we call out to Him!

The Barren Fig Tree that Jesus cursed and the critics & powers that be (Journeys 50-51)

We have landed at a point in history in these discussions where we see Jesus doing very odd things that most people would find unorthodox. Since Jesus was so unorthodox, he attracted a severe amount of unwanted attention; however, Jesus remained calm, which is hard to imagine.

The Scriptures for all of the narratives covered today are in Mark 11:12-12:44; Matthew 21:12-23:9; Luke 19:45-21:4; John 12:20-50. Jesus traveled from Bethany to Jerusalem, returning to Bethany, and then repeating it the next day (Monday-Tuesday). He frequently was in the Temple in Jerusalem during these encounters.

The Barren Fig Tree

In the morning, as Jesus and His Disciples walked from Bethany again to Jerusalem, they passed a fig tree that Jesus saw as a symbol of the Jewish nation. Therefore, He approached it looking for fruit, didn’t find any, which was similar to His looking for spiritual fruit in the Jewish nation, and didn’t find anything despite their outwardly religious acts. They may have done many good works; however, they were spiritually barren (bearing no fruit). This caused the fig tree to dry up.

Soon, Jesus cleanses the city again, which showed God’s Judgment on those that forgot why certain religious establishments existed, as they wanted to use them to make money. God was more pleased with Jesus’ healings of the blind and crippled than He was in the religious activities of the Jews.

By Being ‘Lifted Up,’ He will Draw All Men Unto Him

Some of those that visited for the Passover were of Greek origin, and had joined themselves with the Synagogue communities. However, they wanted to see Jesus. When the Lord learned of this, He wanted to announce that the climax of what He came to do has arrived, and He was now about to lay down His Life. He saw the Greeks as the Firstfruits of the Gentiles’ harvests, and knew that it would result from His death.

Grains of wheat died and were buried before they could grow up to produce harvest. Just the same, Jesus had to die so that the multitudes of all nations would find Eternal Life. This marks the principle of “death before life”—which applies to those who follow Jesus. For His Sake, they must sacrifice their self-serving in life so they can be fruitful for Him. It’s not about self-pleasing, but about giving and serving. People would despise the Gentiles just as they despised Jesus; however, God would honor them.

Jesus trembled at the thought of suffering, but knew that His time has come, therefore, He prayed that His death would glorify the Father, to which, His Father replied in a voice from Heaven that His Prayer would be answered. Many people looked on as they wondered what they just heard; however, Jesus told them that the time of satan’s defeat is approaching, and that through Jesus’ crucifixion, people of all nations would be delivered from satan’s power to be brought into the freedom of the Kingdom of God.

Many people were confused at His statements however, He spoke of Himself as “the son of man,” but if He used “The Messiah,” then how could the Messiah die on the cross? They thought of the Messiah to be One that would live forever. Jesus had no more time to reason with them; however, He did urge them to believe in Him immediately so they might walk in the light while He was still on Earth—otherwise, darkness would come upon them that they would be lost eternally.

Most Jewish people were stubborn in unbelief, just as Isaiah prophesied, for anyone that believed in Him were afraid to openly say it, because they feared of not being able to enter the Synagogue. In His final words to the crowd, Jesus explained that to believe in Him was to also believe in God; however, rejecting Him would be rejecting God as well. Jesus came to save, not condemn, and therefore, the words He spoked were of Divine Origin (from God) and on the Day of Judgment, the same words would be a witness of the condemnation of those who rejected Him.

What Jesus is trying to teach us: We must avoid self-pleasing things, but give more and serve more unto people. This will help His Gospel continue to spread, because as people see our kindness, they will be more open to receive the Gospel!

The Barren Fig Tree Withered

Jesus answers the Disciples, as they were asking why the fig tree withered, to which, He told them that if they were to have faith, they could say to something to be removed and cast into the sea, and it will be done. All things that someone believes in prayer they will receive. Have faith in God and believe in what He can do so that He can give unto us what we ask. We must also forgive others so God would forgive us!

Jesus is questioned at the Sanhedrin

IN A NUTSHELL: The Synoptic Gospels gives more details of the teaching of Jesus on Tuesday in the Temple, and on the Mount of Olives than for any other single day. It is a day of controversy. The ruler formally challenges the authority of Jesus as an accredited teacher. It was very common to test a Rabbi with hard questions. The Sanhedrin was within their rights in challenging the ecclesiastical and scholastic (scribal) standing of Jesus. Jesus did not dodge in His answers. Jesus bases His human authority on John the Baptist, His forerunner who baptized Him, and demands the Sanhedrin’s opinion of the Baptism of John. This pertinent counter-question paralyzes the Jewish leaders, and Jesus drives His argument home by three Parables: The Parable of the Two Sons; The Parable of the Wicked Husbandman; and The Parable of the Marriage Feast of the King’s Son.

The story: As Jesus returned to the Temple, Jewish leaders swarmed in to question Him, hoping to find something that could trap Him. They asked Him on what authority He acted upon, especially overthrowing common Jewish practices of the Temple. Jesus turns the question around asking them the same, and they saw how difficult it was to answer. He was not avoiding the truth; but rather, He wanted them to see the truth for themselves, because if they gave them the correct answer to His question, they would have their answer.

Jesus’ question had concerned authority of John the Baptist, to which, if they acknowledge John was sent by God, then Jesus had to also be sent by God, because John’s message announced the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah. As the leaders refused to answer, Jesus illustrated something to rebuke them again for their refusal to repent of their sin. He likened sinners, such as tax collectors and prostitutes to a son that at first he disobeyed his father, but then changed his mind. The sinners repented of their ill acts and wrongdoing, and therefore, they entered His Kingdom. He then likened the Pharisees to another son, who pretended in obedience, but he did not obey. The Pharisees claimed to be obedient to God; however, they had refused obedience in John’s call to repentance.

Soon, He told a Parable of Wicked Vineyard Keepers, to which this parable pictures Israel as a vineyard, God as the owner of it, and the Jewish leaders as tenants who had looked after it. Just as the tenants beat and killed the servants that the owner sent to them, this was the same way the leaders persecuted and killed God’s messengers (from the Old Testament Prophets up to John the Baptist). Now, they were about to reject God’s Son. By rejecting Him, the Jews brought punishment upon themselves; therefore, God would take away the privileges from Israel to give to the Gentiles.

Then, Jesus likened Himself as the cornerstone of a building. In rejecting Jesus, the Jews were just as the builders were who had thrown away the cornerstone. God now took this rejected stone and used it in construction of a new building—the Christian Church. This new community would be of mostly Gentiles, to which, all of it was built around and into Jesus Christ! People’s attitude toward Jesus had determined their destiny, for those that rejected Him were guaranteeing their own destruction.

He also told them that God sent His messengers to Israel, but the people just ignored them. God was as a king was who had invited people to a wedding feast for his son, but when the time of the feast arrived, they refused to come. This was just like the refusing of the Jews to accept His Message and invitation to God’s Kingdom. Their rejection of Jesus would bring God’s Judgment upon them and result in the destruction of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the invitation that the Jews refused went to the Gentiles instead, and this brought a great response—though only some were sincere. Some were like the man that thought he wanted to go to the feast, but was either too lazy or just too busy to prepare himself properly for it. The king issued the invitation to all, but he denied entrance to those who just wanted benefits of the feast without changing their self-centeredness. Jesus invited all to enter His Kingdom, but there was no place for those who had said they believed; however, they showed no change in attitudes or behavior.

Through these Parables, the Jewish leaders knew He was talking about them; therefore, they wanted to arrest Him, but they did not want the crowd to riot.

But “Rabbi” – What about paying tribute to Caesar?

The Herodians and Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus in yet another question, this time about Jews paying taxes to Rome. If He replied “yes,” He would be considered a traitor before the Jewish people. If He said, “no,” then the Herodians would accuse Him for treason before the Roman authorities. Jesus replied that duty to God and duty to civil authorities were not in opposition, because people owe to each a debt for services and benefits received; and thus, should give to civil authorities what is due them, and to God what is due Him!

The Sadducees ask Jesus about “resurrection”

Next, a group of Sadducees came to Jesus with a question regarding the Law of Moses, to which a man dies childless that his brother would have a temporary marital relationship with the widow to produce an heir. The question was concerning the unlikely situation where a widow would meet seven husbands, all brothers, in the resurrection. Since the Sadducees did not believe in any form of life after death, they did not intend to make fun of Jesus or the Resurrection; they really wanted to know.

He tells them their question means nothing, because Israel’s laws only apply to life in the present physical realm. Life in the age to come is not a continuation of the present, Earthly life. It is completely different overall, which is typified by something they could not deny that Jesus quoted in the book of Exodus. Moreover, long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died, Scriptures spoke of God having a living and personal relationship with them. They must have still been living, even though their bodies were dead nad buried. Some of the Scribes were impressed by His answer, and pleased that the Sadducees were silenced.

A Pharasaic lawyer asks Jesus a legal question

A teacher of the Law asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment. Jesus answered vastly, and told them that all of the commandments of the Law could be summarized under the word, “Love.” A person’s first responsibility is to love God, and the second is to love one’s fellows. People are commanded to love, which shows that love is the primary means of doing things (not feeling), for it is an attitude of loyal obedience that governs a person’s mind, will, and emotions.

What Jesus is instructing: This shows us that the most important thing is love, and that love is the fulfilling of the Law!

Jesus silences His enemies

Some questions that people asked Him were pointless. Jews understood the messiah to be a son of David, but thought of him as a political figure that would rule Israel in a golden age. Jesus wanted to show them that this was an inadequate view, for the Messiah was far more than a son of David. He then refers the audience to Psalm 110, the one the Jews regarded as Messianic. It was written a thousand years earlier and sung by temple singers in praise of King David after his conquer of Jerusalem to establish his throne there.

However, the person who wrote such words was actually David and Jesus noted that it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in praise of the Messiah, meaning the opening words of it where people called David, “my lord,” were the same as David expressing it to the Messiah. The Messiah, the one whom everyone knew as David’s descendant, was also David’s Lord. The Messiah was not just Earthly, but also Divine.

Some understood what He said, and did not want to ask any further trick questions. He was telling them that His work was not to revive and expand the old kingdom of Israel, but to establish the Eternal Kingdom of God—something completely different.

In His last public discourse, Jesus solemnly denounces the Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus has been criticized for lack of self-control in this exposure of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. One must bear in mind the tremendous sins of which the Pharisees are guilty. The very teachers of righteousness are now in the act of rejection and finally crucifying the Son of God!

These people desired to kill God’s Messengers, and would even kill the Messiah Himself. Therefore, God’s Judgment was coming against murderous people, including those that had not received it yet. They would live to see the place destroyed and national life ended (which is a prophecy of the 70 AD collapse on Jerusalem). In rejecting Him as the Messiah who came unto them, the Jews were rejecting their only hope (of Salvation), to which they would not experience God’s Blessing until they acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah and as their Savior!

What we must learn: We must not only keep ourselves from false teachers and false prophets, but also we should do our best not to keep others from Christ. We must minister Christ, and speak about all of His Good Works to save people! Many people will not desire Salvation, but if we encourage them anyway, we could easily sow seeds that would bring a great harvest later.

The poor widow’s gift

This was the last occurrence in the Savior’s Public Ministry, except the trial and the crucifixion. This is the last appearance of Jesus in the Temple. His public teaching is over, except for his words of defense in His trial and the seven sayings on the cross. The Pharisees and Sadducees had withdrawn in terror at the explosion of the wrath of Jesus, and even the Disciples were at some distance as Jesus sat alone by the treasury. It is useless further to plead with His enemies. The task now remains to get the Disciples prepared for the Master’s death, and the time is short. As of yet, they have completely failed to grasp the fact of the significance of His death and the promise of His Resurrection on the third day.

In one of the courts of the Temple, there were large offering containers where people dropped their gifts of monies. They were in an open places where onlookers could see how much people put inside the containers. Those who gave in abundance could easily draw attention to themselves, and Jesus had noticed that some of the rich gave generously, but there was a poor widow who gave an amount so small it was almost no value.

Jesus, however, was more concerned with how people gave rather than the amount; therefore, He considered the widows had given more than anyone else had, because He measured the gift by the degree of sacrifice of the contributor, not of its value. A heart of true commitment, not money, was a prized thing in the Kingdom.

What can we learn from her gift? We should not forget that Jesus still sees the treasury and knows how much men give to His Cause. He looks at the heart of the giver, not the amount for crying out loud, because He expects that people give based on their heart. If someone sincerely gives an amount they believe they can give, it is better than those who give just because they feel they have to (grudgingly). We should give what we feel we can give, not a set amount necessarily.

Jesus arrives in His Triumphal Entry (Journeys 48-49)

Jesus arrives at Bethany, near Jerusalem, the Friday afternoon just before the Sunday of His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Many common people, learning of His Presence, came to see Him. They also came to see Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. It was yet six days before Passover.

We are reading in John 11:55-12:1, 9-19; Mark 11:1-11; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:29-44. Back in Jerusalem, people from the area arrived for Passover, and many were uneasy if Jesus would come to the festival. Jesus came back to Bethany, to which Jesus came around. A crowd gathered, mainly the curious ones; however, some were sincere believers. The Jewish leaders thought His raising of Lazarus would attract attention to Jesus, and they were right. Therefore, they wanted to kill Him even more, as well as kill Lazarus.

The Triumphal Entry

The time has arrived for Jesus to challenge His opponents by posting a clear demonstration that He was indeed the Messiah that has come from God. The Jewish leaders desired to arrest Him, but when they were told where He was, they feared in taking any action, as they were unsure of His support He had around. To make sure nothing stopped Him from making His bold entry into Jerusalem, Jesus made a secret arrangement with a few unknown villages to provide a donkey, and have a “passphrase” so that two of His Disciples would pick up the donkey and bring it to Jesus.

As the Messiah, Jesus entered into Zion not on a horse but on a donkey as the King of Peace. He did not come as the conqueror, but as the Peaceful One. People in Jerusalem during the Passover welcomed Him as the Messiah and were enthusiastic He had come. Many shouted “Hosanna.”

Soon, the Pharisees would be annoyed at the welcome that He received, and therefore tried to persuade the people to silence, which did not work. As the news of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus had spread, many more people flocked to see Him, which is what the Pharisees had feared the most.

Jesus, then, was not deceived by such welcome, because He knew that when people would understand His Messiahship fully, they would just turn on Him. The nation overall would reject Him. The problem with rejecting God, is that Jerusalem would be destroyed in judgment. With Jesus entering Jerusalem, it was not a political thing, but a spiritual thing; therefore, He did not visit the palace, but the Temple He did visit. He noted what happened there, and went with His Disciples to stay in Bethany for the night.

What can we learn from this?

Jesus showed that He was not afraid by coming into Jerusalem boldly on a donkey. A donkey is a humble animal. When He entered, people were so full of joy. We must realize that we need to not be afraid as well of going into potentially dangerous places, because we can hope in Christ’s protection that will provide for us the assurance of His Presence. We may very well be shocked upon arrival that many people receive us, and may be able to improve our mindset and faithfulness in His Divine protection, as we are doing what He has called us to do.

Bartimaeus healed & Jesus visits Zacchaeus (Journey 47)

Jesus continues to do His ministerial work, as He journeys from Perea to Jericho. We are reading this time in Mark 10:46-52; Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-19:28.

Matthew mentions two blind men, while Mark and Luke describe one, probably the more conspicuous one (Bartimaeus). Jesus heals them. There seems to be a discrepancy as to the place of healing (“As He went out from Jericho,” and “as He drew nigh unto Jericho”). This is best explained by the recent suggestion that the healing occurred after He left the old Jericho, and as He was approaching the new Jericho, which Herod the Great had built at some distance away.

Jesus has healed several blind beggars while passing through Jericho, and the men were determined to attract the attention of Jesus, so they called out loud to Him by His title, “Son of David.” Jesus called the men to Him, and clearly saw their need, so He asked them what they wanted. He wanted them to decide their own faith boldly to strengthen it. In response to their faith, Jesus healed them.

Visiting Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector of Jericho and he was a wealthy man. He wanted to see Jesus and Jesus wanted to talk to him; therefore, Jesus went to his house, even though the locals didn’t like it. The outcome of His visit with Zacchaeus was that he repented and believed on Christ Jesus.

To show his repentance as sincere, Zacchaeus repaid those he had cheated and gave freely to those he had not cheated. Because he was so despised by fellow Jews, he was not worthy to be called a “son of Abraham.” However, that was not a reason for him to be excluded from Salvation, as sinners such as this were just the people that Jesus came to save. Once he was saved, he was a true “son of Abraham.”

What can we learn from this?

Those who sincerely desire Christ will break through opposition, including persecutions, to see Him in His Glory and accept His Grace! Christ comes to us and opens our heart so that we may receive Him more! Let’s always receive Him joyfully and help others do the same!

Jesus teaches about family and then foretells His Own Death & Resurrection (Journey 46)

Jesus is beginning a round of teachings associated with family life, and then we will see Him instruct the Disciples about His Death & Resurrection. This is a multi-account story-line, and can be read in the few Synoptic Gospels. We are reading in Mark 10:1-45; Matthew 19-20:28; Luke 18:15-34. You will only find the teachings about Divorce and Marriage in the Matthew and Mark Scriptures just noted; just in case you decide to read one or all of the accounts for this blog post.

Jesus left Galilee at the beginning of this journey, crossed the Jordan into Perea, probably in the company of many Jews from Galilee (who regularly went this way to Jerusalem), and will now soon cross the river and reach Jericho.

Jesus teaches on Divorce and Marriage

The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus in more errors, and asked Him about divorce. There are different viewpoints among the Jews that caused arguments. Jesus referred them back to His original standard, which was that a man and woman live together, independent of their parents, in a permanent union.

Moses placed out laws to limit divorce, and introduce order to the disorderly community; therefore, he permitted divorce not because of approving it, but because people created problems through their disobedience. Under usual circumstances, divorce is to be highly avoided; however, in the case of adultery, an exception can be made.

The Disciples thought that if a man was bound to his wife in that way, it would be better not to marry; however, Jesus replied that marriage was normal for adult life, but not a necessity for everyone. Some people may choose not to marry, probably because of troubles in their life or that they would like to serve God without hindrances caused by family responsibilities.

Jesus shortly speaks about the little children

Many people had thought that they could gain entrance into the Kingdom of God by their own efforts; however, Jesus referred to the children gathered around Him to illustrate that this was not so (that they could be let in by their own efforts). People had to realize that they were to be as helpless and dependent as children were, and that there is no room for those who are haughty of themselves, or those who think they could gain Eternal Life through good works and wisdom.

“The Perils of Riches” and “The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard”

A wealthy young man came to Jesus and asked what special things could grant him eternal life, such as good deeds. Jesus replied that there was no need to ask Him, because God told him in the Ten Commandments what he should do. The man boasted he kept most of the commandments; however, Jesus said that he failed in the last of them that says “Do not covet.”

While people around him were suffering, and were in hunger or poverty, he was busy building wealth. His desire for comfort and prosperity kept him from giving himself unto God, which prevented his receiving Eternal Life. If he truly wanted Eternal Life, he would have to get rid of things in the way.

Wealth causes people to become independent of others, which is why the rich find it difficult to acknowledge that they are not independent of God. Such people’s wealth makes them no better than  anyone else in God’s Sight, and because of this, few rich people enter the Kingdom of God. No one at all could enter His Kingdom without His Help. By grace, He accepts those who humble themselves before Him.

Those that sacrifice for Jesus will find that they receive a great reward in eternity that is so much greater than anything lost in the present world. They might have to sacrifice wealth, status, family, friends, or other things; however, in the Age coming, they will reign with Christ.

Jesus then told of the story of workers in the vineyard. He was not setting rules for wages or employment, but He was illustrating God’s Grace, as He takes pity on the needy world and generously gives Salvation to all who accept His offer. For example, at the beginning of the day, a landowner hired people to work at his vineyard for agreed wages, to which at several times during the day he hired additional workers, and then paid them at the end of the day.

Those that had worked all day found that the landowner paid the same amount to latecomers as he paid to the ones that began early, to which they complained. The landowner reminded them that he paid them the amount they agreed to, and if he paid the others the same, that was his concern, not theirs. The issue was not injustice in the landowner, but because of jealousy of the other workers.

He notes the blessings of the Kingdom are the same for all who enter, whether Jews who worshiped God for many years, or Gentiles who just were saved from heathenism, or Scribes that studied God’s Law for many years, or tax collectors who just repented, or those who served God for a lifetime, or those converted in old age, etc. Those that didn’t think they were worthy would be included, but those who think they should be included because they thought they were so righteous will be excluded.

What does Jesus want you to know? Those that are wealthy have a harder time recognizing the value of the Kingdom of God, but if they humble themselves before God and be helpful to others, they will be included.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

As Jesus went toward Jerusalem, He foretold His death and Resurrection again, but His Disciples misunderstood again. They were still thinking of the Earthly Kingdom. James and John came to Jesus to request high positions in His Kingdom. Instead of answering them, He uses the words, “cup” and “baptism” to show them symbols of His suffering and death. He showed them that He had to suffer and died before He could enjoy the Triumph and Glory of His Kingdom.

Still misunderstanding Him, they stated they were prepared to suffer with Him, but Jesus said they would suffer for His Sake indeed (just not with Him necessarily physically). He said their position in the Kingdom was dependent on the Father alone, for He showed no favoritism. James and John probably thought of Peter, but all the other Disciples were angry when they discovered what they were asking.

Nonetheless, people in the world compete with one another for power, but in the Kingdom of God, true greatness comes from humble, willing service, to which the perfect example is Jesus Himself who was about to lay down His Life so that people in bondage to sin could be freed.

Jesus raised Lazarus & Healed 10 Lepers (Journeys 44-45)

Now that Jesus has had some “fame”, He is about to gain much more fame, which means that the Sanhedrin is watching Him closely. Whenever one becomes a celebrity, many eyes are on them — some good & some bad. Don’t be mistaken, Jesus may have had fame, but His primary concern was still compassion for His People.

We are reading in John 11 and Luke 17:11-18:14, as Jesus journeys from Perea to Bethany and then to Ephraim. Bethany was near Jerusalem and Ephraim was near Judea. Jesus was apparently at a distance of two or three days’ journey from Bethany (verse 6, 17). He was probably in Perea. The visit to Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem, may be that to which Luke pointed in 13:22. It was here that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This was a long travel for Jesus; however, He needed to evade the authorities of the Sanhedrin to avoid being taken in too soon, as the time had not drawn near just yet for His Redemptive Work.

Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead

Jesus was still in the region around Jerusalem, when He heard about His friend, Lazarus, had been seriously ill. Lazarus lived in Bethany (with Mary and Martha). Jesus knew that Lazarus was dead, so He did not hurry over there. He planned to raise Lazarus to life, to give evidence of His Divinity.

Jesus went out after two days for Bethany, to which, the Disciples tried to stop Him in fear that the Jews of that area would try to kill Him. However, Jesus assured them the time was not ready yet.

He travels over safely walking normally; however, as He walked in God’s Light, the powers of darkness could not harm Him. His raising of Lazarus would give people proof of His Power over death and strengthen the Disciples’ faith. He gave the Disciples the courage to go with Him, even though the dangers.

Along the way, the distressed Martha talks to Jesus and believed that it was too late to do anything, because He is dead. Jesus is sure that He can call on God’s Power to bring Lazarus back to life!

Martha already knew that Lazarus would be resurrected at the end times; however, Jesus comforted her by saying He is the Resurrection and the Life. Those that are spiritually dead may have Life in Him and will have Eternal Life, even if the physical body dies. Martha fully believed this, and confessed Him as the Messiah, Son of God, and Savior of the world. She hurried home and brought Mary so they could all meet.

When Jesus talked about Eternal Life to Martha, He did not want her to think He negated his physical death as no concern, but rather, He fully intended to bring Lazarus back. Death is an enemy of satan and it was to be destroyed. When He saw how satan used such weapon to fill His friends with grief, He was filled with sorrow and also anger (good, righteous/Godly anger).

To win the victory over satan in this case, Jesus went to the tomb, and before raising him from the dead, He first thanked God for always hearing His Prayers. Soon, Jesus called with a loud voice unto Lazarus, and He was miraculously resurrected.

After Jesus raised Lazarus, He became more famous, which brought attention from the Sanhedrin that He might cause an uprising against Rome. The outcome could be the loss of the Jews’ religious privilege, and could cause the destruction of the Temple. High priest Caiaphas, also the president of the Sanhedrin, suggested to dispose of Jesus quickly before Rome gets involved, so that if He dies, the nation would be saved.

Of course, Caiaphas did not know what his words meant per the Prophecy of Jesus Christ, for His death would save the masses. People of every nation would eventually believe in Him. While the Jewish leaders plotted to dispose of Jesus, He took His Disciples and went away to a quiet place from the crowd.

What can we learn from this situation?

Let us not toil and strain over death of the physical body, if we know eternal security for Eternal Life is grasped. We must be so sure that He is the Resurrection and the Life that we have the ability to fearlessly walk each day in the Light of His Presence knowing that His Hand is upon us. Death of the physical body is but sleep, for we are retiring from worldly cares and proceeding into the Heavenly realm to serve the Lord Jesus!

Ten Lepers Healed and the Nature of the Kingdom of God Explained

Many people have become so used to receiving His Blessings that they forget to thank Him. Others who have not known God previously might display true gratitude the first time when they are aware of His Goodness unto them. This was demonstrated when He healed the ten lepers and then sent them to the Priest as the Jewish Law required. However, none of the Jews in that group returned to thank Him. The only one thanking Jesus was a foreigner.

The Pharisees were still looking for visible signs of the Messiah’s Kingdom, so they could work properly. Jesus told them that He was the Messiah living among them. The Messiah’s Kingdom has begun. Jesus then talks to His Disciples, and said that He would be taken from them soon. In their longing for His Return, they should not pay ear to false prophets and false teachings, because His Coming will be unmistakably visible.

Just as the days of Noah and Lot, people will carry out their everyday duties when His Judgment will suddenly fall on them. At that time, it would be too late for people to save themselves, and therefore, there will be a separation between those who lived selfishly and those that put God first. God will intervene in our affairs on Earth worldwide, and wherever there is sin, divine judgment will fall.

Parables about Prayer

Because of the apparent delay before His Return, Jesus told a parable to encourage His Disciples, to which, they may suffer injustice and other persecutions who despise the Gospel. Therefore, they should persevere in prayer, and be confident that God will hear their prayers. If an ungodly judge gives a just judgment to a helpless widow just to rid her of the pleading, how much more would God answer the cries of His persecuted people. The world might be unbelieving in its ways; however, the Disciples of Jesus Christ must persevere in faith!

In the second story, Jesus rebuked the law-abiding people who thought themselves righteous in their prayers with God. The Pharisees would recount their good deeds, and expect God’s reward. Pharisees despised tax collectors and were all sure that God did as well; however, the tax collectors would not try to impress God. Tax collectors knew they were sinners and felt that no one could help them but God, so they would ask Him for mercy. God accepted those who humbly repented and rejected those who just boasted of good virtue.

Jesus Teaches Salvation, Stewardship, & Discipleship (Journey 43)

As Jesus rounds out much of His Teaching, He continues the process of Salvation, stewardship, and discipleship to prepare His Followers for ministry. Jesus was intended on having the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to overspread the world, and He prepared the right people at the right time to carry out the Great Commission – but we’ll get to more of that at a later time.

Jesus is journeying in and from parts of Perea before He is to head off in His next journey to Bethany. We are reading in Luke 13:22-17:10 in today’s journey.

Teaching in Perea

Jesus is moving through several towns around the Jordan Valley, to which, He stresses to people that they should believe in Him immediately, because they would not have the opportunity to hear from Him again. Many were concerned with the discussions and other questions about Salvation; however, Jesus explained that people should be sure of their own Salvation individually, because on Judgment Day, many who thought they were in God’s Kingdom will find themselves outside.

Some Jews boasted of their ability to enter the Kingdom of God since they were descendants of Abraham, while others had eaten with Jesus and heard Him preaching in different places. All of them would find themselves condemned, however, if they did not repent of their sins. Their places in the Kingdom would be taken by Gentiles (whom they despised).

Soon, certain Pharisees tried to scare Jesus with a threat by Herod, to which Jesus was traveling through his territory. However, Jesus knew already that Herod did not want Him around; therefore, He replied He would continue His Work until it was finished in Jerusalem.

The city that Jesus loved is now rejecting Him, which would guarantee punishment for the city. The nation had become spiritually desolate now, and once the Romans were finished with it (later; 70 AD destruction prophecy probably), it would be physically desolate as well. There is no blessing for any Jew who fails to repent and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah!

Jesus heals again on the Sabbath while dining with Chief Pharisee

Jesus visited a prominent Pharisee’s house on the Sabbath, to which, His critics were awaiting to see if He would heal the sick man that was there. When Jesus asked them if healing on the Sabbath was okay in the Law, they did not answer. Jesus told them they were hypocrites for those that took care of animals on the Sabbath but not people.

As soon as it was time to eat, Jesus noticed some guests choosing their place of honor at the table. He warned those that sought status or prestige were in danger of humiliation, because God exalts those who willingly take the lower place. Jesus warned the host similarly, because his reason for doing good things should not be to win favor from people who cannot help him, but rather, he should do good things out of a sincere love that does not expect anything back.

One of the party’s guests heard Jesus’ illustrations about feasting, and therefore tried to impress Him with a comment about the coming great feast in the Kingdom of God. Jesus told a Parable in reply that was appropriated to make the man and the other guests recognize that many who thought themselves assured of a place in the Kingdom would miss out, because the Kingdom is like a feast to which many are invited, but for many reasons they all refused.

Of course, such refusal is just as the Jews are treating for Jesus, is that He is inviting them, but they ignore His invitation or despise it. The Jews were haughtily self-righteous, and decided that they have no need of repentance, to which, they were left out of the Kingdom. However, outcasts such as beggars, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. were included in the Kingdom. Gentiles in far off places even accepted the invitation that the Jews had refused.

Counting the Cost of Discipleship

Crowds that followed Jesus though He was on His Way to a Throne; however, He was actually headed to a cross, and if they wanted to follow Him, they needed to understand what His Kingdom was like and what they can expect, because they had to love Him and be prepared for self-sacrifice or even death. Just as a farmer that builds a tower or a king that goes to war, the person wanting to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ must first count the cost and what it involves. If people were not prepared to give everything for Jesus, their lives are useless to Him, just as useless salt is that has no taste.

The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son

Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes three stories to answer their complaining questions, because He was mingling with tax collectors and other low class people. More respectable Jews sneered low class people as being unworthy of God’s Blessings. They were angered with Jesus, because He showed interest in them and many responded.

The story of the lost sheep and the lost coin had shown that God not only welcomes sinners, but also goes looking for them. When they repent, He rejoices. The Pharisees, however, did not consider themselves sinners, and therefore, they had “no need to repent.” This did not pleasure God.

In the story of the lost son, there is a difference shown between those who considered they were right in everything they did that they needed no repentance (older brother). Those that were obvious sinners knew what they were (younger brother). There is a difference shown between the pardoning love of God (symbolized by the father welcoming the rebel home) and the cold but merciless attitude of the Pharisees (the older brother that was angry because of the welcome of the rebel was received).

The Pharisees knew God’s Law, but they had no advantage over the tax collectors, because they were self-righteous and never saw themselves lost or dead. They would not come to God in repentance, because they feel they are already good enough. They, then, would be left out of the Kingdom; however, sinners entered in.

Parables on Stewardship

A story was told to the Disciples of Jesus that concerned a clever businessman whom the owner of the business chose as a manager. In this business, deals were made by an exchange of goods rather than a payment with money, to which, allowed the manager to cheat the owner. When the owner found out, the manager was dismissed.

Soon, the manager thought of a plan to ensure he didn’t become poor by seeking help from his friends of the business to reduce the amounts owed so they could pay debts quicker. They would feel obliged then to return a favor to the manager after he had lost his job. The owner was a scoundrel as well and appreciated the manager’s cunning.

Jesus said this is how the world works. If His People had the diligence and foresight in spiritual matters that others have in their worldly operations, they would be a better people and enjoy a more lasting reward. Therefore, if they used their material possessions to help others, they would gain true friends now and a lasting prosperity in the life to come.

His People answer to Him how they use their goods and money, because, in God’s Sight, they are not the true owners of such things—He is. If they are generous in using what God has trusted them with, God will reward them permanently. If they are selfish, however, they will have no reward, but have become slaves to money. This brings disloyalty to God.

The Pharisees considered wealth as a reward for keeping the Law, and sneered at Jesus’ Teachings here. However, He replies that God is not impressed with their “righteousness,” for He saw their prideful hearts. They did not realize that the old era of the Law has passed now, and the Kingdom announced by John’s preparation has arrived now. The only ones that truly understood the Law are those who are in the Kingdom. The godly are the ones zealous on entry into His Kingdom.

Whether it is money or any other matter that could cause temptation, Jesus’ followers must not cause younger ones to sin. They must actually try to correct those who have done wrong to them, and at the same time forgive them—no matter how many times one is offended. Concerning faith, they should remember that God is not as concerned with how much they have, but more so with whether they have placed it in Him sincerely.

Lastly, there is the reminder that those who serve Jesus should not feel proud of themselves, as if their master has any obligation to give them some reward or something. Their good works are their duty, and no matter how much hard work they may do for anyone, they do still owe God more!

What can we learn from Jesus’ teachings as noted above?

  1. Those that determine in their heart not to follow Jesus, they only condemn themselves. This is why much of the world around us will be condemned, is because they have not either heard of Jesus, or they have heard of Him but have failed to repent. Many will decide to turn and repent; however, others will not.
  2. This is true: We must be willing to give up everything for His Sake, because He is the most important and we need to be of use to Him all our days. This is not a part time job… it is full time to be a Disciple. We will battle things daily, and have to deal with trouble wherever we go, but this is only preparing us for the Kingdom of God that we are about to partake in.
  3. We should never consider ourselves too good for God’s Grace, or too righteous. This is because we must be able to humble ourselves to accept His Grace. We should take care to know He is willing to help us, and He wants to have a relationship with us. This shall be based upon our trust in Him. When we have repented, we have acknowledged that we have sinned and that we need a Savior, therefore, He is willing to help us!
  4. We must be good stewards of what He gives unto us, be generous as needed and as He leads, and do not become prideful over what we have, or who we are in Christ, because people need much help in this world! We must not deal falsely with people, but be true and generous sincerely.

The Feast of Dedication (Journeys 41-42)

At this time, Jesus is not ready to declare Himself as Messiah, as we are reading in John 10:22-42. The Feast of Dedication celebrated the rededication of the Temple in 165 BC, which was after the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes. It was usually held about two months after the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), and was the Jews’ only winter festival as well (10:22).

Many Jews were wanting Jesus to make a clear and public statement that He is the Messiah, to which, Jesus replied that His Works are clear enough proof for people; however, the Jews refused to acknowledge them. Some of them, however, did accept and follow Jesus, which were His True People. They are the ones with Eternal Life, and God and our Savior Jesus Christ, whom is both united inseparably, guaranteed their eternal security.

The Jews again burst into anger at Jesus, claiming that He was blaspheming since He was claiming to be God. Jesus replied to them that one Old Testament passage declared Israel’s rulers as “gods,” but because they exercised God-given authority. How much more than should the One who was united with the Heavenly Father call Himself God—as He has the authority to do so! Jesus did not want the Jews to excuse their unbelief by just arguing over mere words, because Jesus’ Works were enough proof of His Divinity. This made them so angry that they tried to take Him; however, He escaped quickly.

Then, Jesus withdraws from Jerusalem and goes to Bethany beyond Jordan. Here, many believed upon Him.

What can we learn here? Those that are His True People have Eternal Life and have eternal security hereupon, to which when a person honors the Son, he also honors God! We never know where people will accept Christ, but we must let Him be the judge of that while we do the work.