A Bible study

Luke's Objective 11-4
Birth of John Foretold 15-25
Mary Believes Gabriel 126-38
Mary Visits Elizabeth 139-56
John Baptist Born 157-66
Zechariah Prophesies 167-80
The Genealogy of Jesus 323b-38
Jesus, Born in Bethlehem 21-7
Shepherds See and Rejoice 28-20
Obedient to the Law 221-24
Simeon Sees the Saviour 225-36
Anna gives thanks to God 236-38
Early Years 239-52
John Prepares the Way 31-22
Tempted in the Wilderness 41-13
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth 414-30
Jesus Calls 4 Fisherman to Follow 51-11
Teaching at Capernaum 431-44
The Sermon on the Mount 
      The Beatitudes 
      The Law and the Prophets 
      Seeking Justice 
      Love Enemies 
      Two sections on Prayer 
      Your eye - Good or Bad? 
      Your Heart - What is it's Goal? 
      Do not Judge 
      Fruit - Good and Bad 
      Foundation of Obedience 
Jesus Heals One Covered with Leprosy   512-16
Centurion's Servant 71-10
Widow of Nain's Son Raised 711-17
The Cost of Following Jesus 957-62
Two Possessed Gadarenes Delivered 826-39
Paralytic Healed and Forgiven 517-26
Matthew Called 527-32
Fasting and Dancing 533-39
Ruler's Dead Daughter Raised
and Woman's Bleeding stopped
Named and Sent Out 612-16 91-6
Fear! and Fear Not! 121-12
The Rich Fool 1213-21
Separation, not peace! 1240-53
Interpreting the Times 1254-59
Repent, or Perish! 131-9
72 Sent out and Return 101-24
John Baptist 718-35
Kingdom of God Preached 81-3
3 Unrepentant Cities 1013-16
Mary and Martha 1038-42
Crippled Woman Healed on Sabbath 1310-17
Jesus and Beelzebub 1114-32
The Sign of Jonah 1129-32
Appearances 1137-41
Obedience 84-21
Mustard seed and Yeast 1318-21
Jesus Calms the Storm 822-25
Herod desires to see Jesus 97-9
Jesus Feeds 5000 910-17
Peter says who Jesus is 918-21
The Cross for Jesus, and his Disciples 922-27
Transfiguration 928-36
Boy with Demon Delivered 937-45
Who's the Greatest? 946-48
Those Not Against Us 949,50
The Good Samaritan 10 25-37
The Narrow Door 1022-30
The Cost of Discipleship 1425-35
Lost and Found 151-32
The Dishonest Manager 161-15
The Rich Man and Lazarus 1619-31
Jesus at a Pharisee's House 141-14
Jesus Resolves to go to Jerusalem 951-56
Jesus Again Predicts His Death 1831-34
Ten Lepers Healed 1711-19
Blind Bartimaeus Sees 1835-43
Zacchaeus Saved 191-10
10 Minas and the Kingdom of God 1911-28
Jesus Enters Jerusalem  1929-44
Temple Cleared 1945-48
Authority Questioned 201-8
Wicked Tenants Punished 209-19
Paying Taxes to Caesar 2020-26
Marriage in the Resurrection 2027-40
Whose Son is the Christ 2041-44
Beware of the Teachers of the Law 2045-47
Widow's Offering 211-4
Sorrow for Jerusalem 1331-35
End of the Age 
      Deception, War, Disasters 
      Jerusalem surrounded  
      The Times of the Gentiles  
      Redemption Near  
      Be Careful
      Messiah will come like Lightning 
      Keep Watch,  Be Ready  

Jesus taught at the Temple 2137,38
Persistent Widow 181-8
Humble will be Exalted 189-14
Unfaithful Servant 1235-48
Jesus Anointed 736-50
Judas Becomes Betrayer 221-6
Preparations for Last Supper 227-13
The Last Supper 2214-38
Jesus Prays 2239-46
Jesus Arrested 2247-54
Peter Disowns Jesus 2254-62
The Trial 2263-2325
The Crucifixion 2326-49
Laid in a Tomb 2350-56
Jesus Died and Now He Lives 
      Early on the 1st Day of the Week  
      We had hoped ...' If Only ...  
      Jesus Opened Their Minds  
      What About the Future?  


Introduction       [Contents]

These studies are used in conjunction with the Chronological Combined Gospel. As none of the gospels are written chronologically, the order may not be precisely accurate; but this should not allow us to infer any doubt as to the truth of each event. In describing the crucifixion, Mark says 'with a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.' Luke tells us what he said; 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' Matthew and Mark reveal the very significant cry of the Redeemer as he took our sin upon himself, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' He knew the answer: it was the very reason that he came to earth as a man. John alone tells us of two other things Jesus said on the Cross. 'I am thirsty' and 'It is finished'. Combining the gospels we have a greatly enriched account of the life and work of Jesus Christ. In these studies we are only looking at Luke's account, but keeping in mind what the other Gospels say.

Another value of combining the gospels is that it often gives a better context for each event, thereby increasing our understanding of it. For instance in the famous parable of the Sower, Matthew tells us that it was the same day as the incident in which Jesus' mother and brothers wanted to see him. And pointing to his disciples he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." The Sower parable gives the same instruction; we need to hear and with perseverance obey for there to be fruit. Then Mark and Luke continue with the parable of the lamp that must be put on a lampstand, where Jesus concludes, "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear. Consider carefully what you hear ..."

All quotes are from the Gospel of Luke using the NIV unless otherwise stated.

Luke's Objective    11-4       [Contents]

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not political or religious rhetoric.
Neither is it a theological treatise.
Faith is based upon facts: events which actually happened.
Luke records the clear indisputable truth given by 'eye-witnesses'.
Many 'facts' were as prophesied in the OT.  '... the things that have been fulfilled among us.'
Why significant? God always keeps his word. His word is true.

Luke gives a 'carefully investigated' and 'orderly account'.
Not given to the exaggeration by much repeating, nor the distortion of time.
Word of mouth is usually subject to additions and alterations.
      He made sure of the evidence from at least two witnesses.  Deut 1915
This reliable evidence of the kindness and grace of God is overwhelming.
Of the 211 events recorded in the 4 Gospels, Luke tells of 140  and 37 are unique to Luke.
'Orderly' here means ordered by subject rather than chronologically.
This is readily apparent when viewing the Combined Gospel Index.

The apostles and witnesses are described as being 'servants of the word'.
Their preaching contained no vain deceived philosophy of men.
Unlike the Apostles, many ordained men have since with regret exalted both themselves and their office.

When there is scripture we do not understand or it seems inconsistent,
      the fault lies not in the written Word, but in ourselves.

Luke probably envisioned a wider audience than the 'most excellent Theophilus'.
The prologue of Luke and Acts are not like the epistle addresses;
      but are more like the formal dedication in a modern book.

The scripture Luke wrote is 'able to make us wise unto salvation.'  2 Tim 315
And God will use it to keep us from falling.  Jude 124

In these studies we will be going through Luke in chronological order.

Birth of John Foretold  15-25       [Contents]

'In the time of Herod king of Judea ...'  15
What was the current political and moral situation?
Rome under Pompey had conquered Judea in 63 BC
Herod the Great (son of Antipater) showed such zeal and force in Galilee
      that he was made 'King of the Jews' for 33 years. But he was an Edomite.
In spite of his power he suffered great personal insecurity:
He built Caesarea to gain favour with Rome, extended the 2nd Temple to please the Jews,
      built Masada for his own emergency fortress, and killed the babies in Bethlehem to protect his own kingship.
Rome allowed the Hasmoneans (Maccabees) to continue as High Priests,
      but power and self-righteousness had corrupted them. Despised.
Jews hated Roman rule: subservience, taxes, heathen ways and rough justice.
These difficult days were endured, hope was low, and few men sought God.
Why should we think it any better in today's world? Man has not changed.

In that unhappy nation God had prepared two people, Zechariah and Elizabeth.
      'Both of them were upright in the sight of God.'  16
This not just the opinion of man, but is the verdict of God, who sees all of a man.
How were they righteous? There is only one way for all men of all ages;
      by faith they all looked to the day of Jesus Christ.
They did not earn their righteousness by their obedience;
      they were obedient because God had given them new birth.
Did it mean that their life was easy and triumphant?  No!
Was Job's life easy?  Far from it.
His friends were in error when they insisted that his disaster was because of his sin.
Trials are common to all men; let us not be surprised if we are afflicted.
They are given to discipline us and teach us to trust in the Lord.  Heb 58 12
They will most often drive us closer to Christ and prevent complacency.

'They were both well on in years' and had probably given up all hope of a child.
They had prayed and wept before God to no avail; but they were not bitter.
How long is it before we give up praying for something or someone?
Why does God seem to be deaf?! When does something seem too difficult?
Is God saying 'No' or 'Wait'?
Most barren women, Jews or Christians will blame themselves, and ask why God is so displeased with them.
It can be because of sin, but it is definitely not necessarily so.

God's answers often come at an unexpected time and in strange ways.
God had been silent since Malachi, over 400 years earlier.  (Though they always had the Word of God)

Why was Zechariah burning incense? And what were the people doing outside?
Just in front of the veil every morning and evening a priest would take in
      live charcoal and incense after the sacrifice had been offered.
The people prayed and hoped that God would accept it.
Burning incense today is not necessarily wrong just because the RC's abuse it.
      In Rev 84 it is used to represent the prayers of the saints.
Each of the 24 divisions would serve only twice a year;
      so each priest would only serve once or twice in his lifetime.
God knew when Zechariah's turn would come (by lot) - he had planned it.
      But Zechariah had no idea what was about to happen.
When he entered, would God be angry or gracious?
To be suddenly confronted by Gabriel would frighten any man.
God has sent angels to men many times. They are wonderfully real!
      e.g. Abraham Gen 18,   Jacob Gen 32,   Moses Exd 3,14,   Gideon Judges 6,
            Samson's parents Judgs 13,   David 1 Ch 21,   Daniel Dan 6,   Zech 3-6, Is 3736 ...
Now it was to Zechariah, and to Mary, the Shepherds and to Joseph.
Each of them trembled with fear and needed comfort; why?
      Inward sense of weakness and corruption.
If the righteous tremble before the angel of the Lord; what will the ungodly do?
Their fear will be well grounded and eternal.

Gabriel's detailed message - not platitudes or vague generalities:
'Do not be afraid
Elizabeth will bear you a son...
You are to give him the name John
He will be a joy and delight to you
Many will rejoice
He will be great in the sight of the Lord
He is never to take wine
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth
He will bring back many to the Lord their God
He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord'  113-17

This was far beyond their earlier dreams of parenthood.
Never give up on prayer, however unlikely the request may seem.
It is God who decides the what and when of the answer.
John = grace, gift or mercy of the Lord. This was God's plan/hope for man.
They had no idea that God's time for the coming Messiah had arrived.
The 'weeks' for the coming of the Anointed One had been fulfilled. Dan 925
Abraham's promised 'seed' was about to appear. Gen 123 2218
He would bless all nations.
Characteristics of Messiah's reign: justice and peace, righteousness and truth,
      willing obedience, generosity and joy. Is 35 Is 22-4
Many try to anticipate this today; but do so wrongly:
Seek peace, but not reconciliation with God through Christ
Seek freedom but unwilling to obey the Good Shepherd
Seek happiness more than holiness
Seek security but think it is gained by wealth
Seek knowledge but not wisdom.
'A wise son brings joy to his father.'  Prov 101
New birth is far better than an honours degree.
Receiving the mercy and grace of God is better than position or wealth.
Salvation brings more joy than any other: pray this for them above all else.
Nazarite vow. Num 61-21   Separated to the Lord. Willingly, not forced.
Samuel (1 Sam 111) took the vow and kept it - unlike Samson (Judg 1617)

'Filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth'
How does this affect our theology?!
With God all things are possible.
A heart is never too young to sin, nor too young to repent and believe.
John would prepare the people as prophesied in Mal 31 45,6 How?
They needed to be expectant and earnest in seeking righteousness.
He would be a sure sign that the promised Messiah was about to come.
Later, Jesus confirms that John was the Elijah to come.  Math 1114
Preparing and turning hearts must be the prime task of any minister.

Zechariah's response: 'How can I be sure of this?'  118
      Or how do I know you're telling the truth and not kidding me?
      Elizabeth and I are much too old now.
Gabriel's words did not initially meet with faith, but only with reason.
The shock was too great. c.f. "We had hoped ..." on the Emmaus road.
But God knew his man - faith would blossom where hope had once died.
Gabriel reveals who he is - an archangel, no less!
The same angel who had appeared to Daniel.  Dan 816 921
He gave him a sign - struck dumb for 9 months! - a daily reminder that his unbelief had offended God.
God's word would still 'come true at the proper time.'  120
Zechariah learned his lesson: do we?
Righteous believers can still be plagued with unbelief: beware.

The people wondered why he was so long.
They wondered even more when he came out dumb!
When his week of service ended and the scripture simple says,
      'He returned home ... his wife Elizabeth became pregnant.'  123,24
How easy it is in God's way and at God's time.
How may we know what God's way is in our day?
Elizabeth remained in seclusion for 5 months, and God took away her disgrace.
      then ... 'in the sixth month ...'
The moment came that God (and the righteous) had waited for.
      All those generations from Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses ...

Mary Believes Gabriel126-38       [Contents]

In the 6th month of Elizabeth's pregnancy Gabriel is sent by God to another lady, Mary in Nazareth.
Angels delight to obey all God's commands. O that men would do the same.

The text twice mentions that Mary was a virgin. Why important?
      Jesus could not have been the Son of God if he were Joseph's son.
      If he were the son of Mary and Joseph, he couldn't have been the perfect sacrifice that God's justice required.
This is no trivial matter or an interesting subject for debate. It is absolutely vital for the salvation of man.
The blood of bulls and goats can never take away my sin.  Heb 99
All the OT sacrifices only looked to the day of the one perfect sacrifice.
God's plan from the dawn of time was about to be fulfilled. (4000 years)
By one woman sin came into the world, and death;
      by one woman God himself came into the world, and eternal life.

She was "a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph."
God's provided a protector for her in her time of vulnerability and need.
God sends an angel to assure Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful;
      but that her child was 'from the Holy Spirit' (no small matter to believe this)
      and he would be Yeshua, the Christ, (again, God's choice was right)
      who would save his people from their sins. Math 118-25

God sends his greetings! God is most gracious.
'You are highly favoured!' Yes, indeed so, but why?
Her special task of bearing the Son of God; and that 'the Lord is with you.'
God's announcement of the coming of the Saviour of the world
      is made to a poor young lady in an obscure Galilean village.
He could so easily have chosen a queen in a Jerusalem palace.  2 Co 89
How different from the ways of man.
For God to be willing to become a man, even a king, is condescension.

Mary was highly honoured and remains so; but she is never to be worshipped.
Nor is she to be prayed to, as if Jesus were too busy. How insulting!
Like Elizabeth, Mary was a righteous lady, but being born of man and woman she could not have been immaculate.
Neither is there any evidence that she was resurrected like Elijah or Enoch. Roman Maryology is a devilish doctrine.
Later in the ministry of Jesus a woman cried out, "Blessed is the woman who gave you birth."
      But Jesus replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it."  Lu 1127,28

As with Daniel and Zechariah, Gabriel's mission was to explain God's plan.
Mary had no inkling as to what was about to happen.
It is not surprising that 'Mary was greatly troubled.'

Gabriel's message - the most important announcement of all time:
      Do not fear Mary.
      You have found favour with God.
      Your child will be the Yeshua, the Messiah, Son of the Most High.
      He will sit of David's throne and reign for ever.

Fear can easily destroy faith.
Gabriel repeats the gracious and comforting words of God - 'Do not be afraid.'
Then comes the surprise bombshell. She, Mary, was to bear the Messiah!
      The King who will reign for ever with power and justice and righteousness.
Soon all who believe in Jesus will exchange a cross for a crown, but not yet.
Jews over many generations had earnestly longed for him to come.
      And not just to remove the Babylonian, Greek or Roman subjugation.
They longed for his reign that ends all wickedness and brings real peace.  Dan 924
Mary would not only see him, but he would be her child.
The surprise of this announcement cannot be over emphasised.
This 'throne of David' is not the office of Saviour to Gentile believers,
      but 'King of the Jews' (and Gentiles) when he shall come again.  Jer 308,9

Mary's sublime response:
'How will this be, since I am a virgin?' Or is there anything I need to do?
This is quite different to Zechariah - 'how can I be sure you're telling the truth?'
Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit would come upon her. That's all!
He gives her the example of Elizabeth for 'nothing is impossible with God.'
Jeremiah saw this too 600 years earlier.  Jer 3217
Our faith at best is feeble and our knowledge at its highest is clouded
      but the grace of God is always sufficient and his power greater;
      He will certainly fulfil all that he has promised.  2 Co 129  Heb 613-20 Math 2435  Ro 831  Zech 47
'I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said,' says Mary.
No further questions. Absolutely amazing.  Her 'blind' faith is staggering.
What about her reputation? What will Joseph say?
All will laugh at her preposterous claim.
But she accepts the honour, knowing God will answer the many difficulties.
Gabriel's mission accomplished, he leaves; there is nothing more to say.
You don't always have to understand how to be obedient.
At Cana Mary didn't know what Jesus would do; just obey she said.  Jn 25
She had learned herself that understanding often follows obedience.
      But sometimes what God does remains a mystery.
Note that mystery does not nullify the vital fact of the incarnation.
"Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man." C.Wesley
What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit ?
      He Convicts.  Jn 168
      He Reveals.  Dan 228 Amos 413
      He Comforts (strengthens).  Jn 1416,17

Mary Visits Elizabeth  139-56       [Contents]

Why was Mary in such haste to see Elizabeth?
Thrilled when Gabriel told her that her elderly relative was 6 months pregnant.
Miracles can build faith and expectation.
Without this visit, Elizabeth may never have been so filled with the Holy Spirit
      and Mary may never have sung such a great song.
Real Christian friendship is rare, but of inestimable value.  Prov 2717 (AV)
"Happiness communicated doubles itself.  Grief grows greater by concealing; joy by expression."
The result of Mary's visit was that Elizabeth, her baby and Mary were each filled with the Holy Spirit.
No wonder Elizabeth prophesied, "Blessed are you among women, and the child you will bear."
      An understatement! No other woman has, or will be so blessed.
Note how Elizabeth blesses Mary, but she does not worship her.
      Unlike her child, Jesus who is always to be worshipped - but so rarely is.
He would bring more joy and truth than any man, before or since,
      in heaven as well as on earth - a multitude no man can number.
He would be the 'Good Shepherd', the Saviour Redeemer, the King of Kings.
All the longings of man (and heaven) would be fulfilled in Mary's child, now just a few dozen cells in her womb.
Then comes Elizabeth's reaction, "But why am I so favoured ..."
Why should God choose to give me salvation? I cannot answer.
      It is certainly not because of anything I am or have done.  Deut 77,8  96

'The mother of my Lord'. This indicates Elizabeth knew the profound significance of the babe
      that both she and especially Mary were carrying.
      Two unimportant country ladies bearing the Messiah of the world and his Forerunner.
The Holy Spirit revealed this to her (and to us), and they believed.

Faith is not striving to believe the unbelievable, or trying to do the impossible.
How may a man have faith?  Many ask, but do not like God's answer.
"Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  Ro 1017
What is the message? How is it heard?
      It is a treasure sought and a gift received.
      It is being sure that was who he said he was
            and thoroughly achieved what he and the prophets said he would -
            i.e. Redeem us and bear the just punishment that we deserve.

So as Elizabeth reveals to us,
      "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
All that the Lord said was accomplished. i.e. The birth of the Son of God.
Herod would try to destroy him.
Islam, and even some Bishops, may deny the Saviour's sonship.
      But it happened just as God had promised and exactly when he planned it.
All that the Lord has said concerning our salvation will be accomplished.
And all that he has promised of Israel and the end times will happen on time.
See what the men in Heb 11 achieved.
      They each had faith in God fulfilling what he had promised.
When we are set before the great throne of God,
It will be faith that is valued, not gold or knowledge or position.
Mary confirms this in her beautiful song: brilliant, spontaneous poetry and music.
She begins with humble worship to her Lord and her Saviour.
To the one who extends his mercy to her and to all who fear him.

Let us daily have the deep conviction that we are debtors,
      and every day we have far more mercies that we deserve.
Mary is deeply aware of detailed Jewish history and God's promises as she says:
      He has been mindful ... He has performed mighty deeds ...
      He has brought down rulers ... He has filled the hungry ...
      He has helped his servant Israel ... Even as he said ...
No wonder she began, "My soul glories in the Lord ..."
She sees what Jesus would do as already fulfilled.
      But she did not yet know the costly sacrifice it would require.  235b
It is obvious that the OT Scriptures were well known to Mary.
      See similar thoughts in Hannah's song.  1 Sam 21-10

John Baptist Born  157-66       [Contents]

Although elderly there were no complications when Elizabeth gave birth.
Neighbours shared her joy on 8th day.
      Covenant of circumcision c.f. Christening / Dedication .
Let us 'rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.'  Ro 125
Jesus went to a wedding (Jn 2) and to funerals. (Jn 11 and Lu 711-16)
At one point during the naming the neighbours seemed to be taking over.
But first Elizabeth and then Zechariah said firmly, "His name is John."
Obedient to Gabriel's instructions. What's in a name?
John = grace, gift or mercy of the Lord.
It aptly describes John's 'preparation' ministry.
Also 'The Lord's hand was with him' (John).
That did make his life easy, but it did make it righteous and effective.

Zechariah speaks again. People wondered.
But it would be over 25 years before they would see the answer.
Being dumb in last 9 months encouraged obedience.
Never despise affliction - it works for our good.  Job 425
The sorrow that humbles us and drives us nearer to God is a blessing.
      c.f. King Ahaz who turned even further from the Lord.  2 Ch 2819-23
Zechariah had learned from his folly of questioning an Archangel.
It led to his being filled with the Holy Spirit so that he prophesied.
      (Partly spontaneous and partly carefully thought out during affliction)

Zechariah Prophesies  167-80       [Contents]

There are many similarities to Mary's song.

Part 1 Concerns the Saviour.
Begins with praise, quite rightly. Why? What for?
God has come to redeem his people. (Note tense)
This is the crying need for all of us. God had to do what we cannot do.
But remember Christ was not yet born (only 3 months conceived)
He longed for and saw the day of the Messiah, however imperfectly
Horn of salvation = strength, effectiveness.  2 Sam 223,4
Salvation from a descendant of David.
As promised. e.g. Covenant with Abraham.  Gen 123 228,14 174
Covenant with David. 2 Sam 712-16 Prophesied.  Gen 315 4910
      Is 97 5310-12 Jer 307-11 Dan 924 Ezek 1662,63 Zech 99 Mal 42 etc
Zechariah's only warrant for hope was on God fulfilling his covenanted word.
His faith may well put us to shame,
      who know of the historical facts of Christ's birth, his death and resurrection.
God's faithfulness to his word is of equally vital importance today.
The last days are in God's hand, not Satan's nor man's.
What God has done for the Jews (and us) he will surely complete.  Phil 16
Rescue from enemies.
Heathen Rome and also from Satan's grip.
Wickedness will no longer prosper, and temptation will loose its enticement.
Serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness.
What better life goal? What greater joy?

Part 2 Concerns John
He will be the fore-runner, the preparer, the 'Elijah who is to come'.
Man's first sin led to the knowledge of good and evil.
John would give knowledge of forgiveness and salvation (sacrifice for sin).
The Messiah alone would bring peace. Peace and reconciliation with God.  Col 113  Lu 1942
Do we know this forgiveness and peace? Are we sure?
What does our certainty depend upon?

The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he lived in the wilderness ...
Zechariah and Elizabeth probably died while John was still young, and he went to live with the Essenes.

The Genealogy of Jesus  323b-38       [Contents]

      (also Math 11-17)

1. Math begins with Abraham and goes forward to Joseph.
Luke reverses the order and goes back to Adam.
2. Math and Luke are different from David onwards.
    Math traces the line of Joseph the son of Jacob - the legal line.
Luke traces the line from Mary's father Heli - the blood line.

3. The English translations can be misleading as it seems that Luke is suggesting that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Clearly he wasn't. When Gabriel was explaining to Mary about the son she would conceive he records, You will be with child and give birth to a son) and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." "How will this be?" Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come I upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."  Lu 131-35
The Greek has no definite article in Lu 323
Jesus ... was (the) son) so it was thought, of Joseph ... the son of HeIi.
It could therefore read, Jesus ... was the son of Mary, the son of HeIi (though many supposed he was the son of Joseph)

4. There is a further difference in the two genealogies concerning Shealtiel.
On God's instruction, Jeremiah cursed the line of the evil king Jehoiachin, saying that his line of descent would cease. None of your offspring will prosper none will sit on the throne of David.  Jer 2230
This too was fulfilled. The blood-line was broken after Zedekiah, when Nebuchadnezzar killed all Zedekiah's sons.  2 Kgs 257
Jesus could never have been born into a cursed line. Thus Shealtiel was the son of Neri, not Jehoiachin.  Lu 327  Math 112
After the Babylonian exile, the signet ring (the kingship) was passed to the new and righteous 'king'. 'On that day,' declares the Lord Almighty, I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,' declares the Lord, 'and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the Lord Almighty.  Hag 223

5. Mary and Joseph were both descended from David.
    Mary was descended from David through his son Nathan.  Lu 331
    Joseph was also descended from David, but through Solomon.  Math 16
    As always, God kept his promise to David.  2 Sam 712  Lu 1838

6. Jesus was descended from Judah not the priestly line of Levi.
    He was priest of a different, eternal order.  Heb 711-28

What do we know of these long lists of names; their joys, fears, plans, hopes, faith... are lost in time.
Each were born and then died. c.f. Jesus, who said,
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
     and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
 Jn 1125,26
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  Jn 1419

Jesus, Born in Bethlehem  21-7       [Contents]

Census brings Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.
Joseph was obedient and did not divorce Mary. Still 'pledged', so not yet married.  Math 118-25
      (Quirinius was governor of Syria 6-9 AD - 2nd census in 6 AD)
      (He led a campaign in Asia minor before being Proconsul of Asia in 3 BC )
Micah prophesied his birth in Bethlehem because God knew and ordained where his Son would be born.
The end of the 9 month pregnancy was fulfilled the very same week as the Roman census.
      Augustus Caesar never realised the import of his ruling.
      Some find it surprising how God can use the decisions of heathen men.
They were both descendants of David, and thus from Bethlehem.
Today it would be considered unwise to walk / donkey ride the 120 miles!
The likes of Rome do not allow such problems to excuse men from their law.

A clean manger (used for food) is an excellent crib.
It is nonetheless a most humble place for the Son of God to be born.
Even the best palace would be a vast condescension.  2 Co 89
Note that wealth ruins far more souls than poverty.
The 'stable' was more likely to have been a cave than a wooden building.
As with Elizabeth, there were no problems in his birth.
Very few would recognise who it was that Mary held in her arms.
Even fewer knew why the Son of God had to be born - to pay the price for my sin.
"Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man."
And at this time no one yet realised what it would cost him - Crucifixion.
Over 30 years would pass before anyone understood or believed this.
Why did God choose this moment in history?
      (Why does he still graciously wait before coming again?)
      In his wisdom God had prepared and waited for the very best moment.
Babylon, Persia and Greece had been defeated.
The 4th 'Beast' was now in power and would soon fade, but not be extinguished.
This Baby born would begin a new Kingdom that would never end.
The Magi would be the first kings to bow before the 'King of Kings'.  Math 21-12
Most would never willingly do so.
At the beginning the murderous Herod fails to kill him.  Math 213-23
      And in the end of time men will even dare to attack him.  Rev 1919 208,9
Many thought the sceptre had departed from Judah; not so!  Gen 4910
In Egypt the 'first-born' die, but here in Israel this 'First-born' brings life to a stricken world.

Shepherds See and Rejoice  28-20       [Contents]

Many shepherds in Israel. Not despised as in Egypt. James 25
      Abel, Moses and David were shepherds.
Of all people on earth, they were the first that God told about the birth.
God knew that most religious leaders would have scorned the announcement.
Shepherds watched for thieves, predators, wanderers, sickness - day and night.
How does God watch over his people? No one could take greater care.
      c.f. Men with great power who usually destroy, enslave.
An angel appears, brilliant glory - why terrified? It doesn't happen every day!
"Fear not ... good news ... great joy ... for all people ... the Christ is born!"
Long expected, hoped for - men have always yearned for utopia, but sadly not for God's peace.
'Peace ... goodwill'. Not a universal declaration of peace toward all humanity.
      Nor is 'peace' a reward for those who have good will for others.
It is a gracious gift to those who are the objects of His good will.  Eph 15,9 Tit 34,5
It is the result of justification by mercy and grace.  Ro 51 Lu 322 1232
      i.e. 'peace toward men on whom God's sovereign pleasure rests.'
'City of David' = Bethlehem.  Lu 24 211
'Saviour'  Lu 211  is only used here and in Jn 442 'Saviour of the world.'

How did the Jews think the Messiah would appear?
Not as a helpless baby born to a poor maiden!
Heaven and all God's angels were thrilled; and showed it.
If only men would respond with the same joy to God's good news.
Upon whom does God's favour rest?
      Abel, Noah, Lot, Moses, Samuel, David, ... and now upon all who sought.
            Lev 261-13 Job 3314-29 Ps 841-12
At last 'Satan's head was about to be bruised'.
The Word had become flesh; no longer just 'types and figures'.  Jn 114  Heb 11
Salvation was to be opened to all men, not just Jews.
The world could receive no better news. It was indeed 'good tidings'.

How would the coming of Christ bring 'Glory to God in the highest'?
The world would see the depth of patient love in the birth of his Son,
      true holiness in his life,
      power and compassion in his miracles,
      wisdom in satisfying justice through his atoning death,
      the mercy of God in his willingness to forgive the repentant believer,
      and the power of an indestructible life in his resurrection.
      God's plan fulfilled.
Creation glorifies God, but the redemption of man does so even more.

The shepherds respond immediately and with discerning faith.
They  said, 'Let us go and see the thing that HAS happened',
      Not 'Let us go and see IF this thing is true'.
And they found it be exactly as the angel had told them.   As if they would lie!
      Angels are holy, heavenly beings, not politicians or common men.
The shepherds did not debate nor did they question who would care for the sheep in their absence.
      They committed the sheep to him who called and obeyed.
They returned to their sheep.
Now was not the time to follow as the disciples did later.
      But they could still treasure their sight of the Messiah.
For them, shepherding would never be the same again.
Some may well have lived another 30 years and become disciples.
How many of their countrymen would believe their testimony?

Matthew tells how the Magi came seeking the Messiah.  Math 21-12
What prompted them to come to Jerusalem?
Where did they come from? Probably from ancient Babylon, at the teaching of Daniel.
Even out of the camp of evil, idol worshipping men, God can save some!
Likewise today some are being saved from Islam and from Western greed.
How can so many remain so totally and tragically deceived?

Obedient to the Law  221-24       [Contents]

Because Joseph and Mary were obedient to the Law, they and others were blest.
Because Mary had given birth to the Son of God,
      she did not say that she didn't need to keep the Law; quite the reverse.
Jesus came not to annul the Law, but to fulfill it.  Math 517

1. Circumcised on 8th day - sign of everlasting Covenant.  Gen 1712
In obedience to the Angel Gabriel he is named Jesus (Saviour) (Heb Yeshua)
      (Note Angels on British stamps this Christmas (1998) are all female - none are in Bible)
Could have be named Prophet, King or Judge, but chose Saviour.
How wise and precious is God's choice to all believers.  Prov 1810
Public testimony to all that he was born a Jew, a son of Abraham and David.
Though above the Law, he was willing to be born 'under the Law'
      in order to free us from the Law's condemnation.
The uncircumcised could never teach in Synagogue or in the Temple.
Jesus submitted to this as he later did in his baptism.  Math 313-17 1 Co 919-22

2. Purification after 40 days.  Lev 124,6,7

3. Firstborn males redeemed, consecrated to the Lord.  Exd 131,2,11-16
A sign of deliverance from slavery at first Passover.   Jn 832,34
Poor were allowed to bring 2 pigeons c.f. Lamb + pigeon.  Lev 128

Simeon Sees the Saviour  225-36       [Contents]

Simeon was righteous. Why/How?
Devout = religious, implies consistency and zeal.
Righteous. Only one way. Same as Noah and Abraham.  Gen 69 156  Ro 41-6
Though one of the dark times in Jewish history, God had some righteous men.
God had promised him his great desire to see the Messiah. So he waited.
His desire was not just for himself, but for Israel to be 'consoled'.
Do we have a consuming goal or hope?
The Holy Spirit was active in the OT, before Calvary and before Pentecost:
      Moses and 70 Elders  Num 1125   Bezalel Exd 313   Joshua  Deut 349
      Moses Neh 920 Is 6311   Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson  Judg 3-15
      Saul 1 Sam 106 1614    David  1 Sam 1613    Jahaziel  2 Ch 2014
      Zechariah  2 Ch 2420   Elijah and Elisha 2 Kg 29   Elihu and Job  Job 328 334
      Coming Saviour  Is 112 611  Lu 418  Ezekiel 22 83 115 371 1831 3626  Mic 38
Many others, for no man can even believe God except the Spirit quickens.
What is his work? Conviction, revelation, wisdom, skill.
      c.f.  today's emphasis of the 'gifts of the Spirit'.
Simeon was obedient to the moving of the Spirit and went to the Temple.
The consequence is for God to determine.
Simeon finds the child and prophesies - as did Zechariah and Mary.

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."   Lu 229-32

Begins, "Sovereign Lord ..." Like Ezekiel who used this expression 210 times,
      he saw God was king, not Rome, nor the Edomite Herod or false Pharisees.
This is a great truth when we see wickedness prevail in the world.
As always, God is faithful to his word. Fulfilment brings peace and release.
Simeon is completely delivered from the fear of death.  1 Co 1555-57
He longed for the 'better city', and was certain of it.  Heb 1116,1
Prepared Salvation will be seen by all (but not believed by all).
Gentiles are to be included. Few saw then what God had told Abraham.  Gen 123b
Salvation is not by learning or choice, but by revelation that brings faith.
Israel will one day be truly honoured. (even the Church has rarely done this)

Then Simeon says (prophesies) to Mary:
(Joseph would not live to see the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus)

"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."   Lu 234,35

This Child will 'cause the falling and rising of many in Israel'.
God reverses worldly positions and values.  Lu 152 1619-31  Ps 10740,41  Mk 1031
Also Jesus would 'fall' bearing our sin and rise again.
All believers must first fall in repentance to be given new life.
Religious leaders would speak against and deny resurrection.
The Cross of Christ has always been a dividing sword that reveals what is really in the heart of a man.  1 Co 118,23  Jn 847
Why was it necessary?
They hated me without reason.  Jn 1525
Despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows ...  Is 533
Mary, you will witness this event. It will pierce your soul.
      But John will care for you, and God himself will heal the wound.  Jn 1926,27

Simeon 'saw' much in the little child he held.
Like many before him he believed what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him.
He would not live to see the ministry of Christ fulfilled.
But this righteous man greeted God's promise.
"In history, Simeon and Anna blaze, as the match blazes before it passes responsibility for light to the candle."  J.Wilson

Anna gives thanks to God  236-38       [Contents]

A prophetess, but little indication of what God had revealed to her.
Prophets interpret the past, discern the present and predict the future.
Asher was one of 10 tribes carried into captivity in 722 BC
Married 7 years then about 60 years (maybe 84) in the Temple - she never left.  Ps 84
Never underestimate what such women achieve by prayer and fasting.
It never fills the newspapers, but God treasures such and will reward them.
She too immediately recognised the child as the Messiah. Her present reward.
She knew many who longed for the Saviour.  So she told them that their Redeemer was born.
Not told how many, nor of their response.  Heb 928
'By the mouth of two witnesses ...' (Simeon and Anna)  Mal 31b
Who expected the Messiah to be a baby?!
Some 30 years later John Baptist would also be a herald.  Jn 129

Early Years  239-52       [Contents]

Luke leaves out the flight to Egypt to escape the murderous Herod.  Math 213-23
Joseph was instructed by God in a dream - to go and to return.  They obey.
Mary must have told Luke how Jesus grew strong, wise and gracious.
      And she wasn't just biassed!
Mystery of being God and man. Jesus had to grow and learn maturity.
He knew every temptation, but he never sinned.  Heb 415
They went to Jerusalem every year for Passover.
No small undertaking. Nearly 100 miles there and then back again on harsh mountainous tracks.
Determined to obey God and do what he wanted - whatever the cost.
At time of Jesus' bar-Mitzvah Jesus remained in Temple courts.
In the travelling 'company' men often gathered together and likewise the women.
      At 12 (transition year) Mary thought he was with Joseph. And vica-versa.
Found after 3 days frantic searching. Mary's remonstration is hardly surprising.
But she made a small and vital mistake. (She honestly told Luke this story too)
Referred to Joseph as his father. Difficult not to. What would you call Joseph?
Jesus gently corrects her. Refers to Temple as 'my Father's house'.
And it should have been the first place to look!
Note that Jesus was not 'up to mischief' or in unprofitable company.
Mary and Joseph were astonished to find Jesus in the Temple. Why?
Neither did they understand what Jesus said.
Perhaps 12 years of 'Your father and I ...' had blunted the truth
      that God was his father, not Joseph (only his legal father).
What had Jesus been doing there for 3 days?
Asking questions. And telling them the answers!
He had learned in 12 years more than they had learned in a lifetime of study.
      Revelation + right foundation (God within)
The Son of God had to learn 'morning by morning', 'line by line'.  Is 504
Was he ever distracted? Was time short after Joseph died?
They went home and Jesus continued to be obedient to them.
He grew in wisdom and stature. God was pleased, and so was Nazareth.
The challenge of a good example in one thing, but the challenge of a necessary salvation is quite another.
Nothing more for 20 years, during which Joseph died.
Brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas plus sisters.  Math 1355

John Prepares the Way  31-22       [Contents]

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar - when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene - during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.   31,2

None of the these great names were known for their righteousness.
The Messiah came in days of great wickedness. (2nd Coming will be too)
Jesus chose to come when hope was low and holiness unpopular.

To whom did God choose to give the incredible revelation that the Messiah had come?
      Was it to these 'bigwigs? No.   The religious leaders? No.
He sought out an elderly minor priest and his wife, a peasant girl, an unknown bunch of Bethlehem shepherds,
      3 foreigners, an old man of Jerusalem and an even older woman of the Temple.
Not exactly those you might expect to set the world ablaze!
God wisdom is so different from ours. But God was right. He always is.

Some 30 years had passed since those busy days for Gabriel.
God had not been idle.
Jesus had 'grown in wisdom and stature' and God had prepared John.
Now he spoke to him. Where was he?
His elderly parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth had probably died years earlier.
John was 'in the desert'; very likely he was with the Essenes.
They practised water baptism and frequent ritual cleansing.
      They also taught and longed for the Kingdom of God on earth.

Never has it been more necessary that ministers hear the word of God themselves
There can be no greater privilege for man that God should speak to us.
What was the 'word of God that came to John'?

He went into all the country around the Jordan,
preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God's salvation.'"   33-6

Or as Matthew and Mark record, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
This was God's best way to prepare for his coming - it still is!
It remains an unpopular necessity.

Repentance is not 'turning over a new leaf'. It is:
      Hating the sin that God has revealed
      Crying to God for forgiveness
      Seeing and receiving the gift of God's salvation.
Baptism is useless without true repentance.
And even repentance cannot atone for sin. Only the blood of Jesus can do this.
We cannot deserve God's grace; there is nothing we can do to earn it.
We are accounted righteous only by faith in what Christ has done for us.
Repentance remains a vital necessary part of being saved.  Lu 133
Repentance and faith must always walk together.
In John's gospel we read:
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light,
so that through him all men might believe.
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  Jn 16-8
John bore witness to Jesus, the light, the one who was to come,
      that men may believe and find the forgiveness of God.
The pinnacle of his ministry was when the day came and he was able to say,
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
This is the one I meant when I said, "A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me."
I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.'  Jn 129-31
The 'word that came to John' was that the Saviour, the longed-for Messiah, had come.
      But in spite of John's witness, many did not recognise him.  Jn 110

The world desires a Messiah to relieve pain, suffering, poverty, injustice;
      but how many cry out for a Saviour? One who will deliver us from sin.
The word that came to John prepared the way by revealing the truth.
The Lord would come and comfort Israel.  Is 403-5
      A highway for the lost to find their way home.
      Valley's raised to encourage the depressed.
      Mountains made low; the proud humbled.
      Rough ground levelled so the troubled and grieved are comforted.
      Rugged places a plain;  the overworked find relief.
      The glory of the Lord will be revealed.
Lord, 'Come quickly'! We so long to see all this fulfilled.

The Word of God that came to John was a trumpet that both heralds a great event and warns men of trouble.
He preached 'a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.'   Lu 33 176-79
John fulfilled the prophecy his father gave some 30 years earlier.
He did bring the knowledge of salvation to men.

John became famous; all Israel had heard of his preaching.
The Pharisees were curious and had to check out if he was the Messiah.  Lu 315
John was irritated by their questions. To him it was irrelevant who he was.
His purpose wasn't to attract followers, but to prepare them to meet the Messiah.
He did not claim to be God's representative on earth.
Considered himself not even worthy of a servant's feet-cleaning task.  Jn 127 330
No false modesty here; for John was no weakling.
He was not a reed shaken by the wind.  Lu 725
Nor a well-dressed "yes-man" in a king's court.
God trusted him with power to attract huge crowds and to sway them,
      but it did not corrupt John or change his message.
The Messiah is coming very soon. Repent now or die!  Math 32
His message was vital and urgent - not for half-hearted followers.

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."   37-9

Many were baptised ,but others rejected God's plan for them.  Lu 728-32
Indeed, Jesus said there was no prophet greater than John;
      he was the last of a long line that God had graciously raised up.

John was not a diplomat! He was bold, direct and truthful.
God may call a few to jolt us into hearing the truth using John's style.
But all ministers should be plain-speaking.  Lu 626  Is 3010  Math 530 1028 2333
Let no one imitate today's politicians and their 'spin' to gain popularity.
From the start Satan has tried to tell men 'they will not surely die'.  Gen 34

There is a coming wrath, and the world needs to be warned.  Ro 118 25  1 Th 110
Who will tell them? Who will warn men that all is not well.
No man will 'flee', unless he first sees there is great need to do so.
Religion in most Western Churches is too comfortable.

It was also true then too. Thought God's wrath was reserved only for Gentiles.
Blind to history: Israel's permanent exile and Judah's exile to Babylon.
In those days too there were those who 'made decisions' or had some experience,
      but whose lives failed to reflect a new birth they claimed by bearing fruit.
Our words must be accompanied by deeds.
Faith without works is dead.  James 122 217  Math 721
Good works can never save, but they can show that true faith is alive.
Repentance is not only sorry about the consequence of sin,
      it learns to hate the sin itself. And it is starved to death!

How did the people react to John's message - then and now?
a) John is a real 'nutter', only the Messiah, only God, can take away sins.
b) "Oh no, not again, he's always on about sin - what about love?"
c) Afraid or Embarrassed - so change the subject, or tell the latest joke.
d) Intellectual diversion. "Really, how interesting, what is sin? Why a Lamb?"
e) "What do I have to do? How? Please, tell me now!" - The truth at last!
      Now I can know the forgiveness of God, and be accepted by him
f) Others thought they were already 'chosen' or 'saved', sons of Abraham.
      True by lineage, but regrettably not spiritually.  Jn 833-41
      Regrettably they thought they were ok. Did their best. No one perfect ...
      Attendance at Church or belonging to a Christian family is a great privilege,
            but it never automatically ensures our salvation.
      Abraham's blood in a man's veins cannot save him,
      He must have Abraham's faith and trust in the blood of Jesus.

God is the Remover of sin as well as the Giver of blessing and strength.
When was I first aware of sin against God?
We do 'wrong' against others, but as David said in Ps 514
"Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight."

What is the consequence of sin?  Is it really death?
God told Adam and Eve that if they ate from the forbidden tree they would die.
And they did; although they still went on walking and talking,
      but their relationship with God was broken; and that is death.

Sin cannot just disappear like a common cold.
Sin needs to be 'surgically' removed and redeemed.  Heb 922  1 Jn 17 - 22
Does God ignore my wilfulness, greed, half-truths, lust, impatience, and pride?

Jesus is clearly concerned about all our sins;
But he was crucified to defeat the principle of sin, from which all wickedness springs.

'The axe ...' John saw the consequence of their rejecting the Messiah; and it was not revival!
This was no trivial warning.  Eternal fire is no joke.
So many are deluded into thinking they can safely ignore God's Word.
The future of every man is either the bliss of heaven or the fire of hell;
      there is no other alternative and it is eternal.
This awful truth gave John his urgency and directness.
No time to waste; no opportunity to be missed.

God is not only able 'to raise up stones' but has graciously done so.  Lu 1940
Many Gentiles have found salvation in the Jewish Messiah.  Ro 98  Gal 27
It should be noted that John does not say that the profession of the tax collector,
      the soldier or even the publican is wrong.

Some of the crowd asked him what they should do:
      Share your clothing and food.   Be honest financially and not greedy or abuse power.
They even wondered if John were the Messiah;  this had to be quickly scotched.

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, "I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.   315-18

The people were 'waiting expectantly'.
Any congregation with this attitude will grow rapidly.
Most men do not reject Jesus; in ignorance they ignore him.
John awakened men to seek God.

He made it abundantly clear that he was not the Messiah;
      not even worthy to be a servant of the Messiah - and he meant it.
The test of any ministry must be, "Is Christ exalted?"  "Do I learn and experience more of Jesus?"
Man can easily experience water baptism;
      but only God can baptise with the Holy Spirit and assure men of the forgiveness of their sin.

He must become greater; I must become less.  Jn 330
Very few will exalt another at their own expense, but John was glad to do so.
Few would say 'burning with unquenchable fire' was good news!
But to be able to be baptised with the Spirit, to receive his revelation,
      to be gathered wheat, and separated from chaff and weeds,
      this is surely good news to all who have learned to hate sin.

The visible church today remains a mixed bunch.
Only the unerring judgement of God can separate the wheat and the chaff.
Let us be diligent and honest in judging ourselves that we may not fear that day when Jesus threshes the harvest;
      burning the chaff and gathering the wheat.
Some are shut in,  while others are shut out. No grey area.
How do we respond to exhortation?   Lu 318
Are we earnest in spreading the Good News?

John was the final 'stepping stone' in preparing the way,
God had been preparing for this great day for 4000 years. How?
He gave Adam and Eve skins, and drove them out of Eden. One day to return.
Then came Noah, Abraham and the Patriarchs, the Covenants, the Law, Exodus, the promises, sacrifices, feasts,
      even exile and return, all the OT prophets.
All these years God was preparing for this great day

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.   321-23a

John was initially unwilling to baptise Jesus.  Math 314
If John preached a baptism of repentance, and Jesus was without sin, why did he seek to be baptised?  Math 315
1. While sinful men all need to repent, Jesus didn't.
      There are two parts to repentance; a turning away from sin and a desire to do the will of God.
      Here Jesus is publically affirming he will do what he and Father had agreed.
      To be the 'Lamb of God', the 'Good Shepherd' who lays down his life for us.
      No wonder it so obviously please his Father.
2. There is also the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Fire.  Lu 320
      What is the work of the Holy Spirit and the fire?
      He reveals the truth, good and bad.  Lu 226 1021-24  Is 531  Jn 131  1 Co 29-12 313
      He is the Comforter, the one who strengthens and enables.  Math 411  Lu 2243
      The fire refines. Zech 138,9 Mal 32-4 Dan 128-10

The Holy Spirit comes to Jesus at baptism; but it should be noted well that the Holy Spirit was always with him.
It was a special occasion so that all would know this truth.

What is baptism for us?
Baptism is not an initiation ceremony. Not for infants, nor for adults.
It is the public testimony of what has already taken place.  Ro 61-14
It witnesses to a death that has happened which then leads to life; a life set free from sin's dominion.
There is little evidence for the baptism of infants by John or the Apostles.
It is much better left until adult years, and should never be without proof of faith.
If Jesus thought it 'proper' to be baptised, who are we to lower it's importance?

Seeing the dove descend confirms the identity of Jesus to John.  Jn 132,33  Ps 27,8
Like Elisha seeing Elijah ascend - and for same reason.  2 Kg 29-12a
Note that the heavens were opened 'while he was praying'.
Probably committing his ministry life and asking what was first on the agenda.
Father, Son and Spirit were each so looking forward to man's reconciliation.
God delights in prayer; formal and informal, regular and spontaneous.
Why do we so often neglect this great privilege?

This passage clearly reveals the truth of the Trinity of God.
The Son is baptised, the Father speaks, the Spirit descends as a dove.
All three together are equally concerned to deliver us from hell.
Though the enemies of our soul are many and powerful;
the Friends of our soul are mightier.  Ecc 412b

Jesus was 'about 30 years old'.
To work in the Tabernacle men had to be 30 - 50 years old.  Num 43
Jesus waited till the right time. He was subject to the law he gave to men.

Tempted in the Wilderness   41-13       [Contents]

After blessing and assurance at baptism, God tests Jesus. 'at once' (Mk 112)
Blessing and testing are often only a short step apart.
Jesus was willingly obedient. Would we be?
The 'temptations' must be included in 'this all happened at Bethany'.  Jn 128
And the 'next day' (Jn 129) refers to after his return from the desert.  (John does not record the temptations)
Jesus is tested by God - knew Jesus would win.
Like he knew that he would win with Job.
Jesus is tested by Satan, who saw his domain threatened so contested and fought.
At the end of the 1000 year rule of Christ he will fight.  Rev 207,8

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'"   41-4

'Full of the Holy Spirit'. How manifest? Wasn't he before?
The result? Led to fast 40 days in the desert. Not undertaken lightly.
Not known what God said during the 40 days. At the end he was hungry!

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"   45-8

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.   49-13

How was Jesus tested?
1. Bread. For me, now. I need it, I deserve it. Indulgence, self-gratification.
Do I seek an easy life, or seek to serve whatever the cost?  Math 2028  Lu 922-25
Priorities. What comes first? The goal c.f. the present perceived need.
a) Tried to sow doubt, to question what Father had said.
      Same as with Eve. 'Did God really say ...?'  Gen 31
b) 'Because you are the Son of God ...' If you don't, it's because you can't!
c) Tried to cause doubt in God's provision.
      God will not help you, you must help yourself.
The glad testimony of God was - "This is my beloved Son ..."
      c.f. Sneering suggestion of Satan, "If you are the Son of God ..."
Jesus was not taken in for a moment. Satan's seed never even germinated.
Jesus used the Word of God immediately and accurately.  Jn 432,34  Math 44b
Eve was also tempted to eat unlawfully - and  she fell.
God faithfully supplies all our needs (what is best), but not all our wants.
      e.g. manna in Sinai, Elijah fed at Cherith, Jesus fed 5000 and 4000.

2. Dominion. Material goods and worldly power.
Was the kingdom Satan's to give away?
A prince cannot give away the property of the King.  Jn 1430 1713  Dan 1013
He has been given limited authority.
Jesus is King now but his kingdom has not yet come.  Jn 1231  1 Jn 519 J n 1836
He taught us to pray that it would be soon.  Lu 112  Rev 2217,20  Ro 819-25
Jesus king of this world in Millennium.  Rev 204,6
Seek first God's kingdom of righteousness and truth.  Math 633
Rich fool of Lu 1213-21  c.f. In Christ now.  Eph 21-7 Col 113

Satan adds a terrible condition - to worship him!
God to worship Satan; ridiculous!
Jesus didn't contend his false claim and attempted bribery.
Again he used the Word of God 'It is written ...'  and defeated him.
It is God whom we worship - no other, and not ourselves.
The promise to Eve of wisdom was also false.

3. Spectacular.
Repeats 'If you are the Son of God ...' Tries again to introduce doubt.
Misuse of scripture. Many cult leaders also do this.
Just think what a spectacular miracle would do!  Notoriety, Popularity.
To jump would have killed him. How Satan hates our Saviour.
Jesus was not fooled by false use of Scripture.
Would that Christians today were less gullible.
Many try to make Christianity popular with signs and wonders.
They try to prove their ministry by 'signs following'.  Wrong motive.
Nothing wrong with miracles; but they are not a tool for us to use.
Healing is motivated by compassion; not desire for the spectacular.
God performs miracles at his own time. Dan 317,18
Why was Satan's quote so wrong?  See the context.
      Ps 91 is about trusting God who is faithful.
It is not for man to test God and see if he will keep his word!
God protects our life with him, our dwelling with him.  Ps 911,9
Not our mortal bodies - sometimes he does this too.  Dan 317,18
      These three di not presume God would save them.
Some will die in persecution, but God will honour them.
There is no protection for reckless, self-promoting spectaculars.
Satan is told that it is not for man, even the Son of Man, to test God.
Again 'It is written ...'
[Note that Luke reverses the order of the 2nd and 3rd temptations]

Satan had done his very best - and failed.
Like Antiochus when he left Egypt, he was angry and frustrated.
And longed for his next opportunity.
He greatly enjoyed the spectacle at Calvary - but he failed there too!

A) Only Jesus could have revealed these events to the disciples. He told them for our learning.
      1. How does Satan tempt? What lures does he use? What methods?
      2. Jesus reveals how to defeat him.
B) These temptations took place in the mind (the hunger was physical)
      Temptations usually begin in our thoughts.
            "I'll enjoy that, I'll buy that, I'll do that. That's cool!"  2 Co 105 97
C) Jesus shows us the high value of knowing the Bible.
      It's meaning, goal, example and use.
      Jesus quoted x3 from Deut.  How often do we read this book?  It is more than dull 'Law'.
D) The unwearied malice of Satan.
      Let us be unwearied in our resolve to resist him. Use the Word. James 47
      Put on the whole armour of God.  Eph 610-18
      Do not be surprised if we are tempted. Expect it and be ready.
      God remains faithful.  1 Co 1013
E) Jesus endured suffering when tempted, how much we will never know.
      But he defeated his enemy, and ours.  Heb 214-18
      Jesus is not austere, but full of compassion.  Heb 415
      He knows and feels our every pain and trial
      He endured trials too - and far greater than any of ours.  Heb 58-10

Jesus returned to Jordan. John pointed him out as being 'the Lamb of God'.
Jesus met Andrew and Peter.
When John was imprisoned ,Jesus went to Galilee.  Jn 129-51 Math 412 Lu 319,20

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth  414-30       [Contents]

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."  Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.   414-22a    (Is 611,2)

Synagogues originated during the Babylonian captivity after the Temple was destroyed.

This was not the first event after the victory over Satan's temptations.
423 refers to what he had already done in Capernaum.
414 tells how he taught in their synagogues and news about this had spread.

Jesus was obviously an honoured citizen of Nazareth and welcomed in the synagogue.
The people had seen his godly character and how well he had looked after Mary
      and his younger brothers and sisters after Joseph had died.
'Everyone praised him' - but not for long.

A wonderful choice of scripture.
Note that Jesus stopped before the end of Is 612
The time for Judgement would come later at his 2nd Coming.
Scripture chapters and verses were inserted much later (1528 AD Pagnini)
How easily God's word is misinterpreted.
What does "the year of the Lord's favour" mean?
Why did Jesus choose this passage?
In their sad trials he wanted to tell them their Messiah had come!
    The Anointed One promised to Daniel by Gabriel had arrived right on time.
    The One who alone can deal with sin and bring in righteousness
        and the longed-for everlasting Kingdom of God.  Dan 924,25
True anointing is of the Spirit.  Lu 321,22
'Good news to the poor'. There weren't many rich in Galilee.
The good news is for those who see their own poverty of spirit.  620
Jesus came to make them eternally richer than they had ever dreamed.
Likewise the imprisoned are those held fast by bad habits and evil thoughts.
Sin is a cruel master which brings only misery.
And the blind are those deceived by Satan; those who hate the light of God
      because their deeds are evil.  Jn 319 2 Co 44
The "Lord's favour" was not to bring release from Rome, but from sin.
But the people of Nazareth didn't understand this.
They saw the prospect of riches and freedom.
They were delighted at the hope of utopia; especially when promised today!
How quickly they changed when the truth was revealed.
There would be no relief from the daily grind.  Jn 415

"Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.   422b

They were so wrong on this vital point too.
Jesus had grown up with Mary and Joseph and they assumed that 1 + 1 = 3 !
Get this wrong, and Jesus is not the Son of God but just another man.
A very good man, but not the perfect Saviour Redeemer we all need.
The men of Nazareth had known Jesus for 30 years. How could he be Messiah?
He is good and kind, yes, but Messiah? Never!
They could not admit that they had been wrong all those years.
He had seemed so 'ordinary'.
Much of what was said is not recorded, ('he began by saying ...'  421)
      but it is clear that he challenged their beliefs and their need of salvation.
His clear claim that 'Today' I fulfill these words, they rejected: then ...

Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'" "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his home town. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed - only Naaman the Syrian."   423-27

These people wanted proof.
Very few accept the word of God as the truth.
Jesus shows us that the OT is truth, God's Word, and not a collection fables.
Jesus did not say these things to antagonise.
Although they were in synagogue, like their predecessors they had little heart for God.
They did not realise their desperate eternal plight.
This truth challenged their hearts.

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.   428-30

Their response was typically murderous. Why?  Ro 87
They were also offended that God, their God, should choose two Gentiles, rather than them.  Math 2010,11
Men are always offended at the sovereignty of God.
It would not be the last time men reacted like this.  Jn 837,40,44,59 730 1039 etc
On that occasion they also tried to kill him, but God protected him.
Note that these are the correct fulfilment of Ps 9111 c.f. Lu 411

As Jesus walked away from Nazareth, he must have wept.
Why are men so stubborn, so foolish as to reject the finest gift of God.
Why so arrogant that they think they know better.
Jesus wept, but he did not give up.  2 Co 49,10

John records the wedding at Cana and water to wine as the 1st miracle.
Luke records that Jesus drove out an evil spirit in Capernaum and healed the sick,
      including Peter's mother-in-law, then called the Apostles.
But Luke's Gospel was not written as a chronological history,
      so we will assume Mark's order of the calling of the Apostles next
      and then the driving out of the evil spirit from a man in Capernaum.

Jesus Calls 4 Fisherman to Follow   51-11       [Contents]

Luke alone tells us of the occasion when Jesus needed to teach the crowds.
Simon launched his boat that was pulled up on the shore.
When he finished teaching he told Simon and Andrew to go out from the shore and let down their nets.
They caught a huge shoal of fish and needed help from their partners, James and John.
Matthew and Mark then take up the story a day or two later.
This time Simon and Andrew were fishing and Jesus called them to follow him.
All three gospel writers say that Jesus told them not to be afraid for he would make them fishes of men,
      and how they immediately obeyed, leaving their boats.

Thus there were three stages in the calling of these 4 fishermen:
      They met Jesus when they were with John Baptist at the Jordan river.  Jn 135-42
      Jesus taught the crowds and they caught the great shoal of fish.  Lu 51-10
      Jesus called them to leave their boats and follow him.  Math 418-22  Mk 116-20  Lu 511

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.   51-10a

The people crowded round him, hungry to hear the truth.
He did not teach the latest philosophy, but the Word of God.
He did not teach 'high-brow' theology; ordinary fishermen understood, and longed for more.
Like at the well, Jesus asked a simple favour - this time a boat.
Very practical. He could sit and all the crowd could both see and hear.
Jesus did not need a consecrated building or a special pulpit.
Any place, any time; so long as hungry people could hear the Word of God.
No record of what he taught on this occasion but the theme was:
      'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'  Math 417
Jesus saw that Simon and his friend were weary and sad - no fish.
He had compassion and wished to thank them for the use of their boat.
It was a catch that would provide for their families.
And a story that would surpass all fisherman tales!
It was their first lesson, a revelation that God knows best.
If only all men could see this.
We see the reward of instant and willing obedience when it seemed foolish.
It also clearly shows that the Son of God has authority over all things.
The creation came into being at his command; and it always obeys him.
      Frogs, lice, locusts, Red Sea, Manna, Ravens ...
This miracle was later repeated for a post-resurrection breakfast.  Jn 216

Simon Peter spoke for them all - as usual!
He was not only amazed, but realised he was in the presence of the Holy One of Israel.
A big burly fisherman on his knees crying out his need before Jesus.
Knowing his sinfulness, he thought that God would slay him.
      Jacob Gen 3230   Menoah Judg 1322,23   Job 425,6
Later, transformed by his Saviour and Lord he would write with confidence.  1 Pe 13 321 and 2 Pe 13,4 Also Heb 1019-22

Then Math and Mk tell how a few days later Jesus sees them fishing and he calls them to follow him.
They obey, and leave their boats.

Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.   510b,11

Why were they afraid?
Leaving their boats and livelihood?
Wondering what was before them with Jesus?
Did they understand what Jesus meant by 'You will catch men'?
But they soon would.
This was said first to Peter and the other 3 fishermen,
      then also to all who follow and believe in salvation only through Jesus.
Did they feel weak and inadequate?
Jesus would train and prepare them.
Even now they would start 'catching'.
They were useful from the beginning, from the time of their birth.

Teaching at Capernaum  431-44       [Contents]

Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" "Be quiet!" Jesus said sternly. "Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, "What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!" And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.   431-37

Not the first ministry in Capernaum.  423
Jesus spoke with justified authority , not uncertainty. Unusual.
A man possessed by an evil spirit. Then and now.
Signs of possession - 'Not himself', 'can't control himself', hates Jesus, lies ...
Note the scorn of the evil spirit. He didn't know what was in store for him!
Evil spirits lied. Jesus had not come to destroy the man, but the demons.
He came to deliver the man into freedom.
The evil spirit spoke the truth. Jesus is 'the Holy One of God'.
But it was totally without faith or repentance.
Knowledge without trust, dependance and gratitude is mere religion.
Pharisees then and now have knowledge, but do not come to Jesus for life.   Jn 539,40
The Test: Does our knowledge of sin cause us to hate it?
Jesus rebuked the demon 'sternly' - "Be muzzled!" (= Mk 439)
Why? He did not want or need the testimony of demonic spirits; even if they said what was true.
He didn't make any pact with them, but showed complete power over them.
How do we deal with a mixture of good and evil?
The demons tried to destroy the man when they left, such is their hatred.
But in this too they failed.

The people were amazed at his teaching before he delivered the man.
Healing and deliverance must be motivated by compassion, not the desire to 'prove' your ministry.
Jesus had shown his love for men and now his power over rebellious men, water, fish and evil spirits.
"Christ is the true and only remedy for all the soul-ruining mischief which Satan has wrought upon mankind." J.C.Ryle
Though common in his ministry, it is no small thing to heal like Jesus did.

Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.   438,39

It all seems so easy when Jesus healed.
Though the fever was 'high' and threatening, she was healed instantly.
Fevers normally leave one weak. This healing of God was complete.
Why did this fever need rebuking, rather than healing?
Note that Peter was married. c.f. foolish Roman practice of celibacy for priests.

When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.   440,41

Why at sunset? After the Sabbath was over.
No one went away disappointed.
No one was refused.
No sickness was too difficult.
No demon too strong.
No one had to come back next day or next week.
Why did he stop the demons from making it known who he was?
Again, he did not want or need the testimony of demonic spirits.

At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.   442-44

Even the Son of God needed to seek a quiet place to pray. Why?
To be refreshed and directed. He delighted to be alone with his Father.
Jesus did so more than once.  Lu 516  Math 1413  Lu 612
How much more do we need and desire this?
No man should be so busy that he cannot follow this example.
Why does prayer remain the 'poor relation' for so many Christians?

Their trying to stop him leaving is understandable, but selfish.
Why did Jesus have to leave? Directed by his Father.
He had to make a very important choice. Like when choosing 12 Apostles.
The principle task of Jesus was not healing, but preaching.
Down the years preaching has always been God's prime instrument for awakening sinners and edifying saints.
'Faith comes by hearing', not by healing.
He refused to be distracted from this.
But it never did stop him having such compassion on the sick and suffering.
They had few medicines or effective treatments, and no hospitals.
All too often sickness ended in death, and a painful death at that.
They probably asked him to stay more because he healed their sick, than because he preached repentance.  Lu 1013,14
Paul followed his example. He did not stay long in Antioch, Ephesus or Corinth.

Jesus didn't cease to have compassion on the suffering people.  Math 423-25  Mk 145
Dr Luke records many healings. 15out of 23 in the Gospels (>Math or Mk)
He would be amazed at today's medicines.
But he was even far more amazed at the instantaneous healings by Jesus.

The Sermon on the Mount       [Contents]

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.   617-19

If Jesus had continued only with this most popular healing ministry, no one would have objected.
      (so long as it was not too often on the Sabbath)
BUT Jesus never let his ministry to be 'success driven'.
His principle purpose was to bring salvation to fallen man, and he never allowed himself to be side-tracked from this.
He needed to expand their minds and longings beyond this short life on earth.
His compassion was for now and for eternity. So he taught them.

The Beatitudes  620-26       [Contents]

Looking at his disciples, he said:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you
      and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
      For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.   620-23  (also Math 53-12)

At first sight this is a wonderful promise of a better future for those suffering now.
But it is much more than 'Pie in the sky ...' (Nothing now, all later)
Jesus says, 'Yours is the kingdom of God' not 'will be'.  Lu 1829,30

These 'Beatitudes' are the steps required to become a Christian.
'Poor' - I recognise that I am poor, lost, there is something missing in my life.
'Hungry' - Long for God to fill the aching void.
'Weep' - Because there seems no way of bridging the gap.
      We cannot find heaven, but Jesus came to find us!
      We cannot win God's approval, but Jesus died to satisfy God's just punishment for my sin.
      Matthew adds :
'Meek' - Begin to learn the truth, which replaces Satan's lies.
'Merciful' - Because we have received mercy, we become merciful.
'Pure in heart' - As promised God gives us a new heart and a new spirit.
'Peacemakers' - We have been given peace with God; at a price.
      (Not pacifists - the fight has just started against all the wiles of Satan)

The result is inevitable separation and persecution.
The rejection is on account of Jesus, not our foolish ways.
The world rejected Jesus because his righteousness showed up their evil ways.
We too will be a challenge to unbelievers, who may well be offended.
Jesus tells us to rejoice at this expected reaction.
It proves the effectiveness of God's operation on our hearts.
We aren't alone. The Prophets were persecuted, and our Master was crucified.

What did Jesus promise here?
'Kingdom of God'
What God has sown within us grows.  Mk 426-34  Lu 1721  Ps 1265,6
Open to all, but there are conditions.  Jn 33-8 Lu 1824 810  1 Co 69
'Righteousness, peace and joy'.  Ro 1417
Requires the power of God.  1 Co 420
'Satisfied' (Filled), 'Laugh'
See 'kingdom of God' above. c.f. despairing, hopeless, disillusioned
'Persecution' and 'Reward in heaven'
A privilege!

[The 'Beatitudes' and 'the Sermon on the Mount' were not given on only one day.
They would have been preached several times to different crowds.]
Luke then reveals a major challenge of Jesus to modern western Christianity.
But this part is rarely read or considered. Usually choose Matthew account.

Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when all men speak well of you,
      for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.   624-26

What is the chief problem that Jesus highlights in these 3 verses?
Is it sinful to be rich, well fed and happy?
Abraham was, also Job in early and latter days and many others.
Men are not saved because poor, neither are they condemned because rich.
Why does Jesus so clearly warn those who are rich, well fed, happy and popular?
Because they are content without God.
See story of rich man and Lazarus.  Lu 1619-31
No man can be more deluded, more hood-winked than to think that his riches,
      food or happiness in this world is secure or will last for ever.
Note that Rev 317 was written to the church in Laodicea!
Most men seek wealth and happiness, power and security.
They will fight, steal, divorce, murder, cheat and lie to gain what cannot last.
Compare this with what the martyr Jim Elliot wrote:
      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
And even if they get wealth or power, they will always want more.
They will probably be deaf to the words of Jesus, 'You fool, ...'  Lu 1220
How sad it is when a man clings to his riches preferring them to eternal life.
See the challenge in Lu 1818-25 (and Riding Lights Video - the Appointment)
'No one is good', said Jesus, (nor can he be so however hard he tries)
How hard it is for the rich and famous.
Note that no rich man is saved by what he gives;
      for all, it is only by what Christ has given him and offers to all men.

How can we make others hungry for the Kingdom of God?
How can we help them avoid this awful condemnation of God? 'Woe to you ...'
What compromises or 'economy of truth' have to be made to be popular?
"Politicians work for the next election, statesmen for the next generation - where are all the statesmen?"
How are so many fooled by 'image' or 'spin'?
The National Lottery says enticingly, "It could be you!"
The Son of God says, "It will be you unless ..."!
He offers us the only true happiness now, and even more later.  Rev 18  c.f.  21,22

The Law and the Prophets  1616,17       [Contents]

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.   1616,17

What did the Law and the Prophets consistently proclaim?
Man had fallen and his natural nature is to sin.
He needs to be told what was right and wrong.
He needs power and a new heart to be able to do so (even if he wants to)
      [Each of these is now hotly denied.]
No one has yet been able to obey all the Law!
Only Christ can transform us and give us new birth.  Gal 324
'The Law and the Prophets' both loudly proclaim Christ, the only Saviour.
Man's need and God's provision.
'Proclaimed until John' does not make it redundant, but fulfilled.
What the Law sought to do (to reveal the need for Christ), it still does.
Christ has come; the door has been opened; the prophesied One is here.
Some OT men saw their need for a Saviour and rejoiced. e.g. Abraham.  Jn 856

But now 'everyone' was clamouring to enter. (Though some stood back)
But the Messiah was here; the great day of opportunity had arrived.
Jesus was busy preaching that the Kingdom of God had come.
So eagre, that like earnest wrestling Jacob, they were 'forcing' their way in.
Do we enter eagerly, or kicking and screaming?
Some enter easily, for others it is a long search.
It is 'good news' only to those who are 'poor in spirit' and admit their need.
Praise is not so much an offering, but the ongoing heartfelt gratitude for God's gracious forgiveness and life.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not abolish it.  Math 517
The Law says, 'The soul that sins shall surely die' - as Adam and Eve did.
The daily sacrifices all pointed to a perfect sacrifice
      who would one day remove all sin from all who believed.  Gen 228
This 'Law' - the law of death and the law of life in Christ - still stands.
Laws concerning animal sacrifices that 'pointed' to the sacrifice of Christ, have now lapsed -
      They have been fulfilled.
There is no need for any further sacrifices (or a third Temple).
What about the dietary laws? Do some apply only to 3000 years ago?
      e.g. pork that required refrigeration especially in hot climate?
But we should not eat blood with the meat.
Jesus kept all of the written law of Moses, but not the 'oral law' added by man.
      e.g. Jesus kept the Sabbath. He kept it holy and did no work.
      but he rejected the 1500 additions made after the return from Babylon.

What is the 'Law' that imprisoned us and from which Christ has released us?
'The law of sin and death'.  Ro 81-4 614,18
This law or principle says that all men are slaves to sin and cannot escape.
And the result is inevitable death.
Christ alone can set us free from both the slavery and the consequences.
Beware of claims that 'freedom' makes the law redundant.  Ps 197-14  Gal 51,13
Our wayward minds will always need discipline and restraint.

Jesus here makes it clear that the fulfilled Law still stands.
      It remains our 'schoolmaster that leads us to Christ'.
      It reveals what God says is right and best, and what is wrong.
Only the foolish ignore it. Sadly today, most men are foolish!

What is wrong with the Commandments? Nothing!
Why are they rejected? Because man is naturally rebellious and lustful.
The Law remains whatever man's reaction. (Ignored or rejected or diluted)
'A man reaps what he sows.' 'The wages of sin' remain unchanged; death.

Jesus met with Moses and Elijah (Law and Prophets) on the Mt of Transfiguration.

Seeking Justice  1257-59       [Contents]

Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.   1257-59

The world often fares better in the civil courts than a Christian.
They are not averse to bending the truth, or being 'economical' with it.
The Media delights to promote the wrong 'spin'. They love 'church' scandal.
So the Lord and his church will usually be dishonoured.
Jesus does not say Christians should not seek justice in court.
But they should make every effort to avoid it, even if it costs.
What is the motivation for going to court? Justice or pride, gain, revenge?

The context of this passage is 'interpreting the present time.'
i.e. the presence of the awaited Messiah had come, but they could not see it.
Jesus is pointing to the Divine Court! Make every effort to be reconciled to God.
What would happen if they ignored this day of opportunity?
Jesus pleads with them to be sensible, to 'judge what is right'.
The alternative is horrendous. There no escape or end to that prison.
Matthew Henry writes (slightly adapted): "By our sin we have made God our adversary and he has both right and might on his side; so that it is foolish to continue the controversy with him either at bar or in battle. Therefore let us give diligence to be delivered out of the hands of God as an adversary, into his hands as a Father, by repentance and faith through Christ, for it is impossible for any man to pay even the first penny. Let us now be reconciled with God while we may. If we refuse, our prison will be hell for ever."

Divorce  1618                   [Contents]

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.   1618

This is a difficult matter which cannot be ignored. See also Math 531,32 + 193-9
It expresses God's ideal. But the tangled lives of men (especially before being saved) are inevitably less than ideal.

Love Enemies  627-36       [Contents]

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.   627-36

Here is a challenge for all.
As Chesterton said,
      "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been tried and found difficult!"
Some people are easy to love, but others I naturally dislike. Why?
They often display what I hate about myself.
How do we react to being hurt? Do I have a propensity for hurting others?
"To dwell above with saints I love, for sure that will be glory.
To dwell below with saints I know, well, that's another story!"
It reveals how much we need the life and grace of God if we are to become like him.
See how Jesus treated Judas at the last supper, and how he wept over Jerusalem.
But note that this does not make Jesus a 'soft touch'.
Jesus was not weak with his critics; he was truthful and compassionate.
The 'Faithful and True' will return with a sharp sword and make war.  Rev 1911-21
Many may think his judgement is severe; but it is always just.
All nations will attack Jerusalem; Jesus will destroy them.  Zech 121-9 141-15

See how Jesus kept what he preached.
He loved his enemies and gave them every opportunity.  Jn 1836
At his mock trial, he did not retaliate with '12 legions of angels.'  Math 2653
He gives to all us undeserving who ask. We can never repay his grace.
While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.  Ro 58 (RSV)

Two sections on Prayer  111-13       [Contents]

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'"   111-4

Hearing Jesus pray was stunning; his disciples wanted to learn to pray.
Not told any details , except when in Gethsemane.
Jesus often prayed: Luke records 5 special occasions: (as well as daily prayer)
      at baptism 321
      wilderness temptation 516
      before choosing apostles 612  
      before Peter's revelation 918
      at transfiguration 928

John also taught his disciples this most necessary devotion.
How do parents, churches and schools teach their children today?
Often sadly neglected or just formal. The disciples earnestly sought to learn.
Jesus was glad to lead by example and give them a masterly form.
See the great importance of prayer for ourselves and for others.
How else can we share in the longings of God?
What better way is there to express our gratitude?
God does not expect us to grieve alone over the world's wickedness.
Never neglect prayer.
No man is richer than one who is the subject of consistent prayer.

Lord's Prayer
Probably most well known Bible quote; often said, but rarely prayed.

Father (in heaven)
Be aware of whom we are addressing.  Ps 2222
He is Almighty God, but also he has become our Father.
Special relationship. Respectful, but don't have to be careful what we say.
Expect to hear as well as speak.

Hallowed be your name
Honour the Lord. Always remember the price he paid for our redemption.
O that all men would praise him and see his grace, holiness and truth.  Jn 1228
What is man compared to God and all his creation?  Ps 8
Yet most men ignore their Maker, they see no need for God.

Your kingdom come (your will be done)
What a mess man has made; how great is his rebellion?
The resulting problems and suffering are unsolvable.  Ro 818-27
Come Lord, with righteousness and justice and overcome all wickedness.
That this earth may become like heaven. Honour, love and obey you.  Heb 811

Having seen something of God's Name, Kingdom and Law,
only then are we instructed to pray for our own needs -
bread and forgiveness and protection.

Give us each day our daily bread
May we not go hungry. And how can we help those who starve?
Lord, we rely on you, not the local supermarket, and are grateful.  Ps 104, 145
May we be neither fearful of too little nor complacent with too much.  Prov 308

Forgive us our sins, for (as) we also forgive everyone who sins against us
Make our spirits sensitive to anything offensive to you. Remove any blindness.
O to be like you. Please train and direct me in the way of truth and holiness.
By your grace help me not to harbour any resentment or hurt.
Forgiveness is conditional upon our forgiving others.
Never excuse sin (especially my own). Never say it doesn't matter.

And lead us not into temptation (but deliver us from evil)
Lord, I want to hate all sin, not just the ill effects.
May I not even desire what Satan offers, what 'seems good'.
And if I do, please protect me from evil and from myself.  1 Co 1013  Jn 1715
The most dangerous state is not to know of feel our spiritual danger.


Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"   115-13

Who is the request for? A journeying friend of a friend, not for himself.
Request was not due to negligence, but compassion for unexpected visitor.
Jesus portrays God as men see him - mean or reluctant.
Why do men see him so? Dissatisfied with their 'lot' .
They do not seek what God delights to offer - forgiveness and life.
God is not reluctant to answer. He is most gracious and generous.  Eph 17,8
Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  Joel 232
And all heaven rejoices.  Lu 157,10

Jesus emphasises the Father relationship.
Jesus promised the Apostles the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit.
He kept his promise (in 'how much more' style).  Act 2
And he still does.
What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
The Revealer, the Comforter, the Convictor!  Jn 167-16

We are told to ask, seek and knock. Also  Is 551,6  Rev 216 2217
Persist in prayer; never give up.  Math 1521-28

What should we ask for?
What is the subject of our longing?
Is there any limit?
What is the motive?  James 42b,3

See how God cares and answers prayer:
For 40 years he gave the (rebellious) Jews in Sinai.
Food, water, clothing, direction, timing, power in battle, sea and river divided.
Woman at well led by Jesus to develop her request.  Jn 4
Many sought healing and deliverance. Given!
Inheritance (wrong motive).  Lu 1213
Mary and Martha sought help for Lazarus. (answer delayed)  Jn 11
Jairus (nothing too difficult).  Lu 841 (Note 851)
Crippled beggar got more than he bargained for.  Act 31-10
God seals the grieved; no tears wasted.  Ps 119129-144  Ezek 94  c.f.  Amos 66
David thirsts for God; not just his blessing.  Ps 422
Solomon seeks discernment (given, but ...)  1 Kg 31-15

God is far more ready to give than we are willing to engage in prayer.
But he does not give us what we ask if it is not the best. e.g. Paul.  2 Co 127-10
(though there are exceptions to this. e.g. Hezekiah.  2 Kg 20
And he does not always give it to us immediately.  1 Kg 1841-46
Jesus taught persistence.  Mk 1333
He waited all the time from Adam to John before the time was right.
The fulfilment of our prayer may even be after our lifetime!
Persist in what you know to be the will of God.
The chief enemies of prayer are laziness, unbelief and distraction.  Math 2641 1 Pe 47 Ro 1212
We are reminded that man is naturally evil.  Gen 65
We are shown that God delights to give his best - himself, the Holy Spirit!

Your eye - Good or Bad?  1133-36 1613       [Contents]

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.   1133-36

Our 'eyes' determine whether we are filled with light or darkness.
Not only what we see, but how we respond to it.
When God shows us the truth, it is not just to be assented or admired.
Good eyes rejoice in it, obey it and ever seek for more.
The more we learn, the more we see that there is to learn.
Consider carefully how we 'see' or 'listen'.  Lu 818  Mk 423-25
Power and influence of Advertising - subtle, expensive. Profit motivation.
'News' doesn't just tell us facts that have happened, but seeks to influence what we think about them.
Media, Soaps, Internet etc each shape national morals, attitude to authority.
TV and videos are watched in private; no fear of public shame.
Many respectable men who do no glaring sin flatter themselves.  Jn 539,40
They do not think their eyes are bad, or that they are full of darkness.  Rev 317
"What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over" is true spiritually.
It is vital what we see. Rightly does God say men are blind.  Jn 941
Any threatened exposure of sin is offensive and rejected.  Amos 712,13
Note. Prophets are often called 'Seers'!  1 Ch 2929
How can our eyes be made good? Only Jesus Christ can do this.
For our ways are not God's ways; neither are our 'eyes'.  Is 558,9
Learn to 'walk in the light'.  1 Jn 15-10
Honesty with God, with yourself and with others. No pretense.
KJV says 'when thine eye is single'. One purpose, without compromise.  Lu 1613
That 'eye' sees the kingdom of God as more important than everything else.
No luke-warmness. Popularity and success are discarded.  Lu 1042 Ps 274

How can the 'light within you' become darkness?
When we start calling bad good and good bad.  Is 520  Jn 941
The 'light' here is not the Word of God, but is our perception, revelation.
To whom are the secrets of the kingdom of God revealed?
To those who seek wholeheartedly.  Jer 2913 (quotes Deut 429)

Matthew adds the following verse to this teaching. Luke includes it later.
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.   1613

Compromise is always to be dreaded. It will never bring the peace promised.
The 'eye' needs to be kept pure, single. Motives, hopes, goal, priorities.
How? See 'consider carefully ...' above.
What we think today we will be tomorrow.

What has compromised righteous men in scripture? Was there a solution?
      Saul, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Balaam.
      (This is not to criticise them but is given that we may learn and avoid the pitfalls)
What has compromised men throughout history?  Money, sex and power.
      Mixed motives?

Your Heart - What is it's Goal?  1222-34       [Contents]

Worry or Trust, and Priorities

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   1222-34

Does not mean that we don't have to work for our food.
And does not mean there will never be shortages. e.g. Jacob endures famine.
But God provided Joseph and ample food through Joseph in Egypt.
He commanded ravens to feed Elijah; he controls his creation.  1 Kg 174
Priorities. Workaholics who burst their boilers trying to overtake the Jones's.
God says put first things first. What is most important?
      e.g. Do we delight to keep Sunday holy, not just 'special'?  Amos 85
Do we trust God for food (or for money to buy food < disposable income)?
Today very few are reliant on growing their own food.
Being distanced from agriculture, we just expect food to be in the shops,
      so sadly only children bring gifts at Harvest Festival.
What then does modern man worry about?
Health, pension money, life-style, loyal friendship and especially family.
Humanism thinks men can do anything and so God is irrelevant.
Father gives us all we need. Easy to say when in plenty; difficult in poverty.
Woman who gave 2 pennies gave most.  Lu 211-4
Beware of "seed faith". (= bribery - wrong motive)
Emphasis here is on giving, not receiving easy lifestyle.
'Name it and claim it prosperity gospel' - but is it for me or others?
Giving up the right to self is not a sacrifice, but a great relief!
Whatever we have, hold it lightly. We are stewards, not owners.
He left all, to give his all. Amazingly, we are his 'treasure'!
The unchanging purpose of Jesus is that his life and nature may be formed in us,
      and that we may make disciples that are righteous and ready.
Where is my heart? What is it's real goal?
God himself. And his kingdom on earth. How forwarded?
Desire to see this world as God sees it.
What will he do about the gross wickedness? Revival or tribulation?
Seek righteousness, justice, truth and holiness.  Is 1   Pe 113

Do not Judge  637-42       [Contents]

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.   637-42

Jesus tells us not to judge, yet life is full of judgments.
Employment, Jury service ...
We are even told to learn to 'learn to judge rightly'.  Jn 724
So what is the 'judging' referred to here?
Eternal condemnation. We are not in a position to judge because:
1. Our knowledge is incomplete.
2. Our own lives and thoughts are imperfect.
God alone is the true and just judge.  Jn 815,16, and 27

Why did God choose Jacob and not Esau (like Isaac did)?
Esau was muscular, 'macho' man, and a skilful hunter; but Jacob was a 'Mummies boy'.
But God foresaw the day at Peniel when the fearful Jacob would cry wholeheartedly to God. Esau never did.
Jesus is not telling us to stop writing to the Times, the Government or the BBC.
Nor stop supporting Care Trust or 'Viewers and Listeners'.
But a hostile, critical attitude to others is harmful.
Do not allow personal preferences to become 'right and wrong'.

New Age and others are very quick to quote the phrase, 'do not judge'. Why?
Claim god is in everyone and only they can decide what is best for them.
But we can know the Truth, and be certain of it.
And we must warn others of danger, even if it means saying they are wrong.
It will often be vehemently rejected.
The Cross is always offensive to natural man. Why?
      Because it clearly says all are wicked (not 'little gods') and no one can win God's approval.
      We all need the Redeemer.

Jesus warns us about listening to false (blind) teachers.  Lu 639  Math 715 23
To discern falsehood requires an accurate 'judgement', based on the whole of Scripture.  1 Thes 521  1 Jn 41
Errors of Toronto, False prophets, Replacement theology must be exposed. (see "Signs of his Coming")
Also Arch Deacon who says we need to be baptised but not 'born again'!
A teacher who does not know his way to heaven will not lead anyone there.
Paul called Jewish believers who insisted on Gentile circumcision, 'dogs'!
Like RC's who claim that the Church's sacraments are essential for salvation,
      they added their tradition to the Gospel.
When RC's threaten excommunication (no longer allowed sacraments),
      they are judging and man and sentencing him to hell.
How we deal with error needs careful consideration; humility, not pride.

Selfless giving 638 - personal and financial - may be admired but not practised, or criticised.
Jesus says here that he is never the long-term looser.
Often in this life and certainly in the life to come.  Gal 67
How may we become so willing to give and not count the cost?
Daily seek forgiveness -no excuses; and see and appreciate the Cross.
How often do we see or practice charity to our enemies?  (In Luke this passage follows 'Love your enemies'  Lu 627-36)
Especially when we only expect abuse in return, or worse.
Is part of the motivation for kindness, our reward? or is it just compassion?
It is easy for NATO to cause men to hate and judge each other. (Kosova)
Who but Christ can bring lasting forgiveness and love?

There is a Judgement.  Lu 1014  2 Co 510
And Christians must warn unbelievers of the eternal danger.
We are not 'judging' them, but Christ will.

The preacher and teacher must be sure to 'practice what he preaches'.
Jesus strongly warns us against any hypocrisy, or hint of self-righteousness.
Any thought of "thank God I'm not like ..."  Lu 1810-14
Remain amazed at God's choice; his continued mercy is totally undeserved.

Fruit - Good and Bad  643-45       [Contents]

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.   643-45

What is the 'fruit'?  Gal 5
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:
      sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage,
      selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like ...
Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Take heed.

But the fruit of the Spirit is:
      love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature ..."

Good fruit is only possible in Christ.
Though many unbelievers may also show much kindness, patience, love etc, there is 'one thing lacking' - holiness.
God desires to see justice and righteousness together.  Is 57
He provides all that is needed, but most only admit to needing a little help.
They find the necessity for Christ crucified and new birth offensive.
'Think before you speak', I was often told.
My speech revealed my heart was so very wrong. (Changed, but not perfect)
No amount of 'spin' can conceal the truth for ever.
My goal is to be like Nathaniel, 'without guile', yet sensitive to other's feelings.
Our conversation and conduct is one indication of our heart condition.
Aim to live a holy life. Be honest, beware of pride, delight in pleasing God.
There is so much in this world for him to weep and grieve over.

Foundation of Obedience  646-59       [Contents]

Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.   646-59

One of the best known parables; and the least understood!
The literal application is so obviously true; it is constantly in use.
Why did Jesus tell it?
Vital to apply and obey all that God tells us.
One of the principle requirements of 'being ready' in the day of trouble.
How can we encourage one another in this?
No sermon or study should end without application of what has been learned.
Jesus had many who followed but few who obeyed.
In was the same with Ezekiel.  Ezek 3331  James 122  Jn 540
A challenge to obey Jesus does not spoil a meeting.
Some go to meetings just to enjoy themselves.
Others slavishly obey their sect leader, fearing to test that he speaks truth.
Professing without practice leads to hypocrisy and proud criticism of others.
Beware of any self-righteousness. Nip it in the bud. (see previous 'Judge not')
A house with good foundations is not built in a day, or without pain.
Discipline and zeal for holiness is a life-long task.
Trial will surely reveal what is in the heart, that only the Lord normally sees.

These last 3 passages on Judging, Fruit and Obedience belong together.
They are symbiotic.

Dr Luke now takes us through a number of particular healings.
They all thrilled him. But these especially so. Each has much to reveal.
Here at last was the Messiah who could do what man could not do then (or now).
Filled with compassion, Jesus was glad to do these miracles,
      but it was not why he came to the desperately needful people he made.
He came to Redeem. Never forget this most import fact as we study the miracles.
The greatest miracle is he loved us while we were still his enemies!  Ro 510-17

Jesus Heals One Covered with Leprosy   512-16       [Contents]

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, "Don't tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.   512-16

Disease and separation from all others made this leper feel no one could care.
This man did not question the power of Jesus; but did he want to heal him?
Did Jesus care about his worthless, lonely, rejected, isolated, hopeless plight?
Today many presume on the compassion (love) of God (rashly);
      but they rarely see their need, and doubt his necessary power.
This incident shows Compassion and Power used well, and in good hands.
Jesus touches the man 'covered' with leprosy. No one had touched him for years.
This act proved that Jesus cared more effectively than a 1000 words.
It gave truth to his gracious words, "I am willing".
At his command the leprosy instantly left him. Authority rightly used.
The leper was transfigured; same rags, but beautiful new skin and new fingers.
Ponder the sheer wonder of this miracle.
Man has neither the power nor the compassion. They are rarely seen together.
We are all spiritually lepers in the sight of God.
      Heart, mind, conscience, will - all corrupt from top to toe.  Is 12-6
Jesus delights to heal this most debilitating 'disease', and it's disfigurements.
For a few p/day MDT can cure leprosy, but only Jesus can remove our sin.
If men remain unsaved, it is never because Jesus is unwilling.  Jn 316  Math 2337
Jesus told the healed leper not to tell anyone. (c.f. today!) Why not?
1. Distraction from his prime ministry. See introduction to these verses.
      The news spread. There was no doubting his popularity.
      But was it desire for healing or for repentance and life?  Math 417
2. 'Show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifice Moses commanded."
      Jesus knew that soon the Temple and the Ceremonies would be no more.
      He knew they were a shadow, a fore-runner of his great sacrifice.
      So why this command? "... as a testimony to them."
      Jesus wanted them to know; to have clear proof that Messiah had come.
He knew most of them were like the scathing atheist, Voltaire, who said,
      "If in the market of Paris, before the eyes of a thousand men and before my own eyes,
            a miracle should be performed, I would much rather disbelieve the 2000 eyes and my own 2, than believe it."
But others were willing to hear. Nicodemus, Gamaliel, Joseph(?)
Do not despise the Law, it is given for our instruction.
"But men who re-institute altars, sacrifices and priests, are like a man lighting a candle a noon."  J.C.Ryle

Jesus often withdrew to pray. Always a vital priority in a hectic world.
The Son of God delighted to have special time alone with his Father.
Prayer is all too often the 'poor cousin' in a busy Christian life.
Why does so much Christian machinery produce so little?

Centurion's Servant  71-10       [Contents]

When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion's servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue." So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.   71-10

Also at Capernaum - before and after:
  Temptations, Nazareth, then to Capernaum Math 413  
1 Man delivered of evil spirit in Synagogue Mk 121-27 Lu 433-37
2 Official (Ruler)'s son healed Jn 446-54  
3 Centurion's servant healed Math 85 Lu 71-10
4 Simon's mother-in-law healed Mk 129-31 Lu 438,39
5 Many healed there after Sabbath Mk 132-34 Lu 440,41
6 Paralytic with 4 friends healed and forgiven Mk 21-12 Lu 517-26
  Upbraided for lack of faith Math 1120-24  
7 Man with shrivelled hand healed Mk 31-5  

One of the 3 Centurions mentioned in the NT.
      Another at Crucifixion Math 1754 and Cornelius in Act 10
This Centurion valued his servant; he didn't just use him.
Unlike most Gentiles he didn't despise the Jewish people, but honoured them.
Rome did not teach him these kindnesses. The Father 'drew him'.  Jn 644
Let us learn to also show such kindness - and not just to friends.  Lu 1412-14
Luke gives a slightly fuller account - mentions sending the Jewish elders.
The Centurion was humble. Considered himself unworthy.
He knew Jesus would be ceremonially 'unclean' if he entered a Gentile home.
Maybe more likely to come if requested by Jewish elders.
But not a manipulative move - the way to get things done.
Elders said to Jesus, "This man deserves ..."   No one can deserve God's grace.
How different is the thinking of God and man.
Foolish, unredeemed man thinks he can win God's approval.
Jesus ignored this and marvelled at this Roman Officer's humble attitude.
Only here did the Son of God 'marvel', and Mk 66 (at their unbelief)
Jesus never 'marvelled' at Herod's Temple, Roman power etc. c.f. men.
'I am not worthy for you to come under my roof'  is rare in any age.
Note it is the master, not the servant, who says this.
He sees it is quite sufficient for Jesus to 'just say the word ...'  Ps 1485
He sees diseases like servants who do what they are told.
He knew of the Ruler's son was healed by the word of Jesus.  Jn 446-54
He needed no further sign to bolster his faith. c.f. Mk 811
Jesus did just speak the word, and his servant was instantly healed,
      without him even being there. (as also at Capernaum)
So far as we know Jesus never did enter his house.
But having faith (commended by Jesus), Jesus did enter his heart.
No trade or nationality debar a man from the kingdom of God.
Let us never doubt that every word of Christ will be fulfilled.
Even when it seems most difficult, when many are deceived, many fall away,
      and many wicked men seem to triumph. The Sovereign Lord remains King.

What is faith?
Why is 'my strong faith' (often = just belief in God) inadequate for salvation.
Faith is far more than wishful thinking or some vague utopian hope.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Heb 111
Like Abel, who despaired of himself and looked for a better sacrifice.
Again, how different from the Jewish elders who requested for this man.
Jesus is not reluctant to praise this Gentile with faith.
What is the nature of our faith? What are we sure of?
What destroys faith? Compromise, laziness, pretence, above all wilful sin.
What encourages faith? Prayer and searching the Word to reveal the truth.  Ps 119130
      Also short accounts with God and men, obedient, aware (alert), righteous,
      honest, testimony, care in leisure time (thought and actions),
      single-minded for goal, good books (biography and history).

For the servant, the intercession of this godly man was of great benefit.
Consider with gratitude the prayers of the saints for us; in good times and ill.
It is difficult to overestimate the value of such prayer.

Widow of Nain's Son Raised   711-17       [Contents]

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.    711-17

Nain is about 25 miles from Capernaum. Why did Jesus go there?
He heard his Father, and went. He exactly right on time.
When Philip was exercising a successful ministry in Samaria,
      God told him to go down to the Gaza Road. He went too.  Act 84-8, 26-40
      As a result the Gospel also went to Ethiopia.
Only when he arrived did Jesus see why Father had sent him.
Jesus saw clearly the plight of the widow with no other sons. Father saw it too.
      (Joseph had died some years earlier. He and his brothers supported Mary)
He knew immediately what to do. There was no uncertain dithering.
His help was neither sought nor expected.
God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  Eph 320
First of 3 raised from the dead. Jairus' daughter Lu 849-56  and Lazarus.  Jn 111-44
But this most wondrous event is only in Luke and Lazarus is only in John.

Again we see infinite compassion and power walking together.
Imagine how cruel it would have been if compassion had walked alone.
Today many 'healers' think 20% success is good. It is for the 20% , but not for the 80%!
Jesus never failed.
There were times when he could do no miracles.  e.g. Math 1358
But then he didn't try. Today even the best men of God seem to be far less discerning.
Why doesn't God heal and raise up all whom we plead for?
This must remain a mystery. And we must remain patient.  Jn 521
There will come a day when tears and sorrow will be no more.
God's compassion is no less today because loved ones die or remain sick.  Math 1128,29

There is no doubt in each case that they were dead.
This is far more than a 'near death experience'.
How did God reverse the brain damage, the congealed blood, start the heart,
heal whatever had caused his death?
God is the Almighty and the Creator.
Like with new birth, it is good to see God do what is totally impossible to man.
Jesus commanded the young man to arise. Bier is more a stretcher, than a coffin.
How did he hear? Also Lazarus.
When God commands, even the dead have no option but to arise.  Jn 528,29
On that great day, it will not be just one man, but all men will rise.
Men may reject God now, but then no one will be able to refuse to obey.
Make sure now, so that on that Judgement day we will not be condemned.
With God, nothing is impossible.  Lu 137 1827
The people of Nain were rightly filled with awe.
None raised from the dead since Elijah + Elisha (850 BC).  1 Kg 17,  2 Kg 4, 13
They and Peter (Act 940) pleaded with God.
Jesus, the Son of God, just commanded!
"The keys of the clouds, the womb and the grave are kept in God's hand alone."
A 'great prophet' had indeed arisen;
and even more, a great Saviour, the Messiah!  Lu 1131,32
But did the people seek wisdom and did they repent? Not mentioned again.
How did they see Jesus? What was the 'news' they spread?
What was the real 'help' the Messiah came to give to man? Eternal life!

Sickness, pain, poverty, war and mighty death all entered the world though sin.
      But the Son of God is mightier than them all.
He alone has the answer to sin and death, this most miserable inevitability.
Let us learn to hate sin that has brought such misery into the world.
Never entertain it or excuse it, but wage a ceaseless war against it.

The Cost of Following Jesus   957-62       [Contents]

Luke compares three different cases

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."   957,58

Matthew says it was a 'teacher of the Law' (a Scribe) who asked to follow Jesus.
Scribes interpreted the Law and stressed keeping it. Lawyers, Judges, Administrators.
What was he doing up in Galilee following Jesus?
It beat his Jerusalem desk any day!
He saw miracles and heard teaching like no one else ever taught.  Lu 246,47  Jn 746
'I will follow you anywhere'. Seemed excellent - few are willing to make such an offer.
But Jesus never allowed men to live in their illusions.
      Or caught up in the emotion of what he had experienced.
He explained the high cost of discipleship.  Lu 923  2 Tim 28-10
He did not discourage, but he brought necessary truth and realism.
Many today 'use' emotional experience (in big meetings) to gain support.
They are 'economical with the truth' concerning rejection and persecution.
      Also discipline, obedience, watching, warfare, wounds ... security and life.
Beware of any who, fearing failure, try to popularise Christianity.
Many left Jesus when he began to speak of the Cross.  Jn 651,66 1518-23
It seems that when confronted with reality, the cost was too high for this man.
      c.f. Ruth and Orpah, her sister, when told to return.
Peter and the disciples did not realise their own weakness either.  Jn 1336-38
When they did, they were able to trust God and to follow.
It is amazing that He who called the whole universe had no home of his own.
      c.f. many of today's Christian leaders (but not all)

He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."   959,60

Jesus asks another man to follow him.  But ...
There is nothing more tragic than to refuse the Son of God.
      He was not the only one.  Math 1916-22
Was it a legitimate reason or a delaying excuse?
He wouldn't have been walking with Jesus if Dad had died that day.
He wanted to sort out his estate. (An obvious half-truth)  c.f. call of Elisha  1 Kg 1919-21
      whose object was to 'burn his bridges',  not to make arrangements for a secure future.
Let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead.

Jesus was not afraid to challenge men with the truth -
All unbelievers are 'dead in transgressions and sins'.  Eph 21-7  Jn 318

What does it mean to 'proclaim the kingdom of God'?  Lu 418-21
Not just preaching, but being a living testimony to the power and grace of God.

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."    961,62

Another was invited by Jesus to follow him - but he didn't either.
It seems amazing that any man could stand before the Son of God
      and refuse such a personal invitation.  c.f. Peter and Andrew  Mk 116-18
To say 'Lord but' is a contradiction. It is the start of compromise.
The rule of God can have no rivals.  Lu 1426,27  2 Co 113
'Remember Lot's wife'.  Lu 1732
Jesus hates a mixture of hot and cold (luke-warm).  Rev 314-16

      'Make me thy fuel'    by Amy Carmichael

      From prayer that asks that I may be
      Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
      From fearing when I should aspire,
      From faltering when I should climb higher,
      From silken self, 0 Captain, free
      Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

      From subtle love of softening things,
      From easy choices, weakenings,
      Not thus are spirits fortified,
      Not this way went the Crucified,
      From all that dims Thy Calvary,
      0 Lamb of God, deliver me.

      Give me the love that leads the way,
      The faith that nothing can dismay,
      The hope no disappointments tire,
      The passion that will burn like fire,
      Let me not sink to be a clod:
      Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

Aim for a single goal. Singleness of purpose.  Lu 951  Ecc 910  Jn 434
What are our priorities when demands are made on our time or finance.
Lord, I ask for an undivided heart.  Ps 8611  Ezek 1119  Jer 3239
      My goal is God himself, not joy, nor peace,
      Nor even blessing, but himself, my God:
      'Tis his to lead me there, not mine, but his,
      At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.
The cost of being a disciple of Jesus has varied greatly with time and country,
      but there has always been the ongoing battle to give up 'self'.
Never give up. By God's grace may he have his way in me.

Two Possessed Gadarenes Delivered   826-39       [Contents]

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.   826-39   (also Math 828-34  Mk 51-20)

The Gadarenes (or Gerasenes) were probably in the middle of E.Galilee.
Modern, 'enlightened' man denies demons or their power over men,
      except perhaps for the Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein ...
Jesus knew better. They weren't just active 2000 years ago either.  See 1st Woe.  Rev 9

Demonic characteristics - what and how recognised?
      Addictive (demons love domination and control)
      People not themselves, taken over (not all the time)
      Violent, strong, destructive (often suicidal)
      Deceiving, deluding (false ideas of grandeur and false hope. Superstition)
      Enticing, intriguing, learn future. Stars, fortune telling, Ouija ...
      Christ crucified for our sin vehemently rejected
      Curse often inherited, but not from genes!
      Satan has more to do with much mental illness, than many wish to admit.
      Freemasonry, Satanic worship, New Age, Humanism, New World Order, Islam
      Not just wrong ideology, but strong evil roots.
      Most are unaware of origin - that is part of Satan's subtle disguise.

How do they enter a man?
      A curse is often inherited, but not from genes!
      The curse of angry word, or ill considered promise. (See 'Blessing and Curse' by Derek Prince)
      Invited in often by curiosity in unknown, or occult.
      Also experimentation (drugs, sex). TV, videos etc
      Most are unaware of the danger. Began with any of aptly named '7 deadly sins.'
            Pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, sloth.
      A 'foot in the door' can easily become a 'take over'.  Keep short accounts.
      Once involved, Satan's evil tentacles become too strong for man alone to break.

Jesus reveals that there is a way of escape, even from the strongest bondage.
He came to 'set the prisoners free' is wonderfully demonstrated here.
No soul is so under the power of Satan that he cannot be delivered.
      Including high-ranking Freemasons and witches.
These demons believed in the torment of hell, even if men choose not to.
Roman Legion = 5000 men.
'Abyss' = the bottomless pit where demonic hordes are imprisoned.  Rev 91-12
Only Matthew mentions a second possessed man.

Again this was no chance meeting. Jesus went to right place at the right time.
      The demoniac didn't come to Jesus; Jesus went to him.
Jesus was not afraid of the man who broke chains and yelled. (as also in Lu 433)
Wonder at the power of the Son of God.
The 'roaring lion who seeks only to destroy' is no match for the Lion of Judah.
Demons knew who he was, and fell at his feet and begged ...
Not just one demon but many. All are commanded to leave.
Given permission to go into pigs - but their time there was short-lived!
      (Pigs are unclean because do not chew the cud. Lev 113,7)

News spread fast. Townspeople 'overcome with fear'. What did they fear?
      Demons can be very frightening, strong and unpredictable.
Jesus was asked to leave because they feared his power more than the demons,
      even though he used his power for their obvious good.
Mark says the herd numbered 2000, so there was a big financial loss too.
If only they had realised who he was and how much he desired their good.

The delivered man remained as a witness.
His healing was complete. No psychotherapy required!
      Note that no man is 'in his right mind' until he sits by faith at the feet of Jesus.
He would need to learn the truth and about salvation.
No doubt Jesus would have seen how this would be fulfilled.
      He was not abandoned so that the demons could return.  Ro 835-39

Paralytic Healed and Forgiven   517-26       [Contents]

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." He said to the paralysed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."   517-26

Pharisees - Zealous, 'chosen', championed equality and keeping the Law.
What drew the Pharisees and Scribes to be there?
      Needed to investigate this new preacher and miracle worker.
Came from whole country - Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem.
And some may even have come to 'hear' because God had made them hungry.

They were witnessing the power and compassion of God at work,
      and hearing the truth as no one had ever told it before.
Galilean houses were small; no room for a stretcher in crowded courtyard.
Loyal friends were not put off by the first difficulty. They are determined, earnest.
They didn't say, 'God has shut the door ... not right time ...'
      They pressed on and showed considerable initiative - and faith.
What did they believe? That Jesus would sort out their friend, not just heal.
Maybe his paralysis was the direct result of sin.
No good if Jesus healed him, but left him with his terrible guilt.
      (e.g. Care Trust with young ladies who have had an abortion)
Every word that Jesus spoke was accurate and important.
'Friend'. Yes, he had friends who had brought him to Jesus,
      but how could God be his friend after what he had done?
He needed to hear this word - friendship of Jesus.
Jesus saw his real repentance (without repentance there is no forgiveness)
He saw him as forgiven by the Father; so he really was his friend.
Nothing of greater value to man than forgiveness and friendship with God.
These most precious words would echo in his heart all his days.
And they are recorded for us to hear also. And to trust.
(See life of John Bunyan. For years he despaired of his sin)

But there was a problem!
Not for the paralytic, who was just learning what is was to be set free,
      but for the witnessing Pharisees and Scribes.
They had never personally heard God say these most comforting words.
They had never really read, and certainly not prayed.  Ps 34 or Ps 51.
In one way they were right. No one but God can forgive sins.
But in spite of all he was doing and saying they did not realise the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.
Forgiveness and new life for man was the whole purpose of God on earth.
      (Few men realise this. So many other things conspire to overshadow it)
Jesus knew all their unexpressed thoughts with total accuracy. Alarmed?!
      We cannot hide anything from God.  Job 3421,22  Heb 413  Ps 1391-18
      And I don't want to try. Quite the reverse; may God reveal my sin.  Ps 197,11-13
      It is one of the many things that prove the identity of Jesus.
"Your sins are forgiven" were not just words which are easy to say.
Never forget the cost of forgiveness to the Son of God.
      Sin is never costless. Someone always has to pay.
      Is it us in the Judgement? Or is it Jesus on the Cross?
To show that they were not the mere words of a man, Jesus does the seemingly more difficult;
      he immediately heals him!
      'For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.'  1 Co 420
It proved that Jesus was the Son of God who alone has authority to forgive.
O that all men would see this desperate need.
Why do they care so much more for their body than their eternal soul?
They had indeed seen remarkable things that day.
It left them open mouthed with nothing to say!  Some praised God.
And at least one man had done more than observe them!

Let us thank God that Jesus not only has compassion for needy men,
      but he demonstrates his power and willingness to pay the price;
      a price far higher that even Bill Gates could pay.
In death we are helpless as a baby; we can take nothing with us to pay for anything.
      Our only plea can be the blood of Jesus.

Matthew Called  527-32       [Contents]

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.   527-29

Publican (AV) = 'tax-farmer' (not an innkeeper).  Lu 312,13
Tax-Collectors (for Rome) were hated and despised.
'Publicans and sinners' or 'Publicans and harlots'.  Lu 530  Math 2131
Nothing is known about any previous contact or seeking.
Again Jesus knew his heart, he called and Levi responded.

Two unusual aspects:
1.  His immediate, wholehearted, costly response. 'Left everything'.
     He didn't ask for time to go away and think about it. He knew!
     No one is too wicked or too hard to hear the call of God.
     Do not give up in prayer if response is not immediate.
     The two words 'Follow me', changed his life.
     When he got up he didn't know what would happen that day .

2.  Like many tax-collectors in his day, he was rich. 'Held a great banquet'.

     'How hard it is for a rich man ...'  Mk 1023
     Here we see God doing the 'impossible'. Heart changed. It was easy!
     Like Mary, it was not difficult for her, or Levi, to give their all.
     No one is ever the looser for giving to God.  Mk 1029,30
     Contrast Levi's response with 3 other potential followers in Lu 957-62
     'Many invited but ...'  Math 2214   No 'buts' here. No compromise or hesitation.
     The banquet he gave was for Jesus!

One usual aspect:
Levi's joy. New birth is always something to rejoice in. Heaven does!  Lu 157,10
He was right to rejoice.  Lu 1532  Is 122,3
Jesus was delighted to attend the celebration. He was with Zacchaeus too.  Lu 196
Zacchaeus was also a rich tax collector who gave a party for Jesus.
The result was the same too ... complaints!
No doubt many thought he was crazy to leave such a good job.
How many of our relatives rejoiced wholeheartedly at our conversion?

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."   530-32

To the Pharisees; tax-collectors were sinners, classed with harlots and heathen.
They did not mix and would not normally have been invited together.
But there were some Pharisees and Scribes there - and they complained.

Who are the sick, who are sinners? Everyone!
Jesus was not suggesting that the Pharisees were righteous.
They were only righteous in their own eyes. e.g. 1811
Jesus longed that they would see themselves as needy sinners too.
Conventional goodness is a great hindrance to the soul's salvation.  Rev 317,18
It is difficult for such to know they are lost, wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
      Needing above all else the mercy of God.

Jesus revealed they needed forgiveness as much as harlots did!
This must have stung them to the quick.
Their so called righteousness was only skin deep.
Later he described them as 'whitewashed tombs.'  Math 2327

Levi is another good example of repentance. A real 'About-turn'!
The first requirement is to be 'poor in spirit'. Levi was; the Pharisees were not.
Jesus remains the best, the only Doctor who can heal man's greatest,
but usually unacknowledged disease - sin.
At this joyful feast, Jesus proclaims the prime reason that he came to this earth.
      To save sinners! Never let this objective be sidelined.
True, there was never a better teacher or a more effective miracle worker,
      but he came to save the utterly sinful and hopelessly lost.  i.e All men!
False hope and self righteousness will always oppose this truth.
'Christ came to call us to repentance, not to sanction our continuing in sin.'  J.C.Ryle

Levi made the most of the opportunity.
He wanted all his friends to know what had happened to him.
He wanted everyone to meet Jesus.

What happened to Matthew (Levi)?
Jesus chose him as one of the 12 Apostles.
He wrote Matthew's Gospel.
Tradition says he became an effective missionary in Ethiopia.

Fasting and Dancing  533-39       [Contents]

They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking." Jesus answered, "Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast." He told them this parable: "No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, 'The old is better.'"   533-39

This criticism of Jesus was soon after the feast Levi gave to celebrate his salvation.
It was made, not by the Pharisees but by the disciples of John.  Math 914
What was the basis of the criticism?
They had yet to realise who Jesus was; though John had told them.
When the Holy Spirit reveals the truth it is so easy to see. Else it is impossible.
Though earnest in their seeking they had yet to be born again.
      So there was little to celebrate.
Like Cain or the elder brother of the 'Prodigal son',
      they didn't realise that their Messiah was there before them.
He seemed so ordinary! No palace, no fine clothes or servants, no army etc.
Jesus was so different from what they expected.
In criticising his disciples they criticised Jesus. Why didn't he 'rein them in'?
All this frivolity seemed so unseemly to them.

What was the purpose of their fasting and prayer? Was it to see and hear Jesus?
He had come!! Why fast when their longing had been fulfilled?
They needed to live according to the time.

What change is good? And what is bad?
Tradition can protect truth from change that would introduce error.
      e.g. Westminster Confession or 39 Articles
The Scriptures remain unaltered since written.
The parable about cloth and wineskins was intended to inform, not obscure.
The main problem was lack of recognition.
      Levi recognised Jesus, the Saviour - John's disciples and the Pharisees didn't.
Jesus was clearly saying, Open your eyes! Hear what I am saying.
I appreciate all your fasting and zeal but I am come!
Today is the day of your opportunity. Tomorrow it will be too late.
There is a time to pray and a time to rejoice.
There is a time to fast and a time to dance.
Jesus did all four at appropriate times.
Today, how should a minister lead public worship?
      It should be planned, but leaders need to 'catch' the mind of God
            as well as the needs and mood of the people.
This is much more than just the emotion of the moment.
What is God saying to his people?
Note what Jesus says in Math 616-18 Fasting is not a photo-opportunity.

There will inevitably be differences on fasting and ceremonies in the Church.
As always, Jesus did not dwell on the insignificant, but on the vital.
A friend of mine believes in the 'Darby' pre-tribulation rapture.
      I think a post-tribulation rapture at the pre-millennium Coming of Christ is more likely.
      If we are to be spared the tribulation and raptured, I will be delighted! Be ready.
      Let not wickedness or disillusionment make our love for Jesus grow cold, if we are called to endure.
      Either way we both rejoice in our ongoing salvation through Christ.

It is easy for older Christians to be overly critical of the young.
A child cannot do a man's work. It takes time and grace to change us.
Jesus takes us as we are, but he will not leave us there. We must grow.
He knows what is important to deal with at any moment.

Jesus calls himself the Bridegroom. Why?
It tells of an intimate union with all who believe.
      More than King and subject, Master and servant, Shepherd and sheep, ...
      The bride takes the name of her husband. (Sadly many don't today)
      The bride shares in all that belongs to the Bridegroom - now and for ever.
He does this even though we are weak and foolish.
He loves us so much; so tenderly!

Ruler's Dead Daughter Raised  840-56
      and Woman's Bleeding stopped

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.   840-42a

Jesus had crossed Galilee twice and returned to the Capernaum area
      before the previous incident with the disciples of John.  See Math 918
Jesus had earlier healed and delivered many at Capernaum.  Lu 440,41
Possessed man 433  Official's son Jn 443  Centurion's servant 71  Paralytic 517

For a synagogue leader to plead before Jesus on his knees is no surprise, given the situation.
      What Dad wouldn't do the same for his only daughter?
To lose your only child is probably worse than never to have had one.
      See widow of Nain  Lu 712 and epileptic boy  Lu 938
Like Isaac, Jesus was also an Only Son - and bore our sin.  Ps 221  (though both had brothers)
This event in all 3 Gospels begins, "And Behold, a man named Jairus ..."
Sadly the NIV leaves out this word; this exhortation to take notice of what happens next.
      The NIV only uses it 4 times in NT (all in Rev).  The AV uses it >1000 in OT and 218 in NT

Ponder again how much misery there is in this world, all because of man's rebellion against God.
Jairus and the woman losing blood were but two of so many in deep distress.
Medical science may have raised the life expectancy, but the world today has greater, rather than less distress.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."   842b-48

We are not told how this Jewish leader reacted to the delaying crowds.
There is no evidence that he tried to hustle Jesus on.
Perhaps he found a measure of peace that it was in the Saviour's hands.  Is 2816b 261-4
Jesus was certainly not harried like we might have been. No 'road rage' here.
He knew his Father's plan, and it would not be thwarted because a few or even a crowd delayed him.

How did the woman jostle her way through the crowd? Determined; she did!
      12 years of constant bleeding must have left her weak and anaemic.
      No iron pills or blood transfusions, no coagulants in those days.
Dr Luke was ready to admit a total medical failure.
It is a picture of many who have tried everything to rid themselves of guilt.
      e.g. other faiths, hedonism, drugs ... All are found to fail.
Christian in Pilgrim's Progress carried his heavy load until he came to the Cross.
      It didn't fall off when he decided to go on pilgrimage.
      Nor at the wicket Gate where it said, 'Knock and it will be opened.'
Unlike the ineffective doctors, Jesus the greatest Physician,
      makes no charge for his forgiveness or his healing.
Come, all who are thirsty, ... you who have no money, come ...  Is 551,2
"Just as I am, without one plea, save that his blood was shed for me."
This woman took the opportunity where many others procrastinate.

Why did she only touch the fringe of his cloak?
Anyone she touched would be ceremonially unclean.  Lev 1525
This 'touching' didn't make Jesus unclean, but it made the woman clean!
She would have been excluded from the Synagogue and ostracised.
She just wanted healing, not a public fuss.
Note too the significance of Tassels (translated 'fringe').  Num 1537-41 also 1 Sam 245,6

Jesus didn't know anything about this healing until it had happened!
Healing requires power.  Jesus felt this immediately.  Lu 619 523  1 Co 420
He called her out, not to make a public spectacle of her, but to assure her of God's acceptance.
      Jesus replaced her trembling with peace and he commended her faith.
Word 'Healed' (Gk Saos) used x3 as 'healed' and x91as 'saved' or 'save'
AV uses 'made whole'. i.e. healed and saved.
Jesus delights to deal with our whole being.

Note that many still follow Jesus, but few 'touch' him.

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead," he said. "Don't bother the teacher any more." Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed." When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother. Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. "Stop wailing," Jesus said. "She is not dead but asleep." They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up!" Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.   849-56

"Your daughter is dead!" What a dreadful word. Death is a cruel enemy.
But it was not the only word. There would be another and greater word.
      "Don't bother ..."  But nothing is too much trouble, nothing too difficult for Jesus.
He encourages Jairus to believe. As with Martha when he raised Lazarus.  Jn 1126

Why only Peter, James and John?  Not room for more.
      Jesus wanted them to witness it. See 'Raising of Dorcas' Act 940

In saying she is not dead but asleep, Jesus is using an expression that sees beyond the present.
      As with Lazarus.  Jn 114,11-14  Also 1 Co 1130  1 Thes 510 etc
The wailing can be a dreadful din!  He tells them to stop.
Jesus wanted their minds to be not on death, but on the power of God.
They scoffed. Men delight to pour scorn on the Lord; until ...   2 Pe 33  2 Ch 2616  Act 1730-32

Ever practical; 'give her something to eat'.  She was no ghost, but alive!
      See Lu 2441-43 Jesus breakfasts with disciples.

How could they avoid telling what had happened?
Miracle was by compassion of God, not to cause additional sensation.  c.f. healing meetings today.
Not secret, else wouldn't be told in Gospels.
"The shallowest streams and the emptiest vessels make the most noise!"  J.C.Ryle
2nd person to be raised from the dead. (1. Widow of Nain's son. 3. Lazarus)
Why did God choose just these three? Mystery. Clearly it couldn't be everyone!
God is the wise sovereign and he knows what is best.

This is no small miracle!
Jesus proves again that he is the only answer to man's sin and distress.
Are we ready for death?  It should not be feared, but eagerly looked forward to!
Jesus destroys the power of death and removes the fear of it.  Heb 214,15  Jn 1125,26  Phil 121-23

12 Named and Sent Out  612-16 91-6       [Contents]

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.   612-16

In choosing the team that would follow Jesus it was a vital not to make a mistake.
It is not surprising that Jesus spent all night in prayer.

Note that the Apostle's role was not to set up an organisation (the Church)
      but to evangelise the world with the Christian Gospel.
Big central organisation only grew after Constantine legitimised Christianity in 312 AD
Power politics and corruption soon followed.
Apostle ='Sent one'

Jesus calls 4 fishermen and a tax-collector to 'follow' him:
      Andrew and Peter, James and John.  Math 418-22  Lu 51-11
      Matthew, a tax-collector.(= Levi, son of Alphaeus)  Math 99  Mk 214-17  Lu 527-32

Jesus appoints the 12.
      Simon (called Peter) and Andrew,
      James and John (he called Boanerges = Sons of Thunder)
      Philip and Bartholomew,
      Thomas and Matthew,
      James (son of Alphaeus) and Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James)
      Simon the zealot and Judas Iscariot.

What do we know about the Apostles as individuals?
Only occasional snippets in the 3½ years of Jesus' ministry.
Acts 9-28 is mostly about Paul's ministry.

Gk Petros or Heb Cephas both = rock.
also Gk Simon or Heb Simeon.  Act 1514
Fisherman from Bethsaida. Disciple of John Baptist
Called by his brother Andrew to meet Jesus.  Jn 140,41
Impetuous , but was also often the spokesman for them all.  Math 1515 1821 Mk 136- 829 95 1028 1121 1429 Lu 55 1241
Walked on water.  Math 1427-33
"I will never disown you ..."  Mk 1427-31, 66-72
With Jesus when Jairus's daughter raised.  Lu 840-56  Mk 521-43
"You are the Christ ..."  Mk 827-30  Math 1613-28  Lu 918-27
Transfiguration of Jesus.  Mk 92-13  Lk 928-36  Math 171-13
Asked Jesus about last days.  Mk 133-37  Math 24, 25  Lu 215-36
Jesus asked him and John to prepare Passover.  Lu 228
Jesus asked him, James and John to pray in Gethsemane.  Mk 1432-42
Continues as leader and preacher.  Act 115- 214- 34- 312- 48- 53- 814- 114-
Healed, arrested, released by angel, spoke boldly and amazed the Jewish leaders.  Act 413 517-42
Others healed. e.g. Cripple, Aeneas, Dorcas.  Act 31-10 932-43
Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit.  Act 814-17
Begins proclaiming 'Gospel to the Gentiles'.  Act 10
Arrested by Herod. Released by Angel.  Act 121-19
Wrote 1st Letter from Rome to Church in Bithynia and Pontus.
Probably died in Rome under Nero about 65 AD.

A Gk name = manly.
Fisherman from Bethsaida. A disciple of John Baptist.
When shown Jesus, he went to fetch his brother, Peter.  Jn 140,41
Told Jesus about the boy whose meal fed 5000. Jn 68,9
Told Jesus that some Greeks wish to see him.  Jn 1220-22
Thus first missionary to a Jew and to Gentiles!
Probably crucified in Achaia (S.Greece).

A Galilean fisherman with brother John and father Zebedee.
One of 'the three' at the raising of Jairus' daughter.  Mk 537
also at Transfiguration and Gethsemane.  Mk 537  1433
Rebuked for asking for fire to destroy the Samaritan village.  Lu 951-56
Jesus called him and John 'sons of thunder'.  Mk 317
He and John wanted to sit either side of Jesus.  Mk 1035-45  Math 2020
Executed by Herod Agrippa in AD 44.  Act 121,2

With Andrew, a disciple of John Baptist.  Jn 135-40
His mother was Salome. (see Math 2756 + Mk 1540 + Jn 1925)
Wealthy family. Father had hired servants.  Mk 120
Salome provided for needs of Jesus.  Mk 1540
One of 'the three' at the raising of Jairus' daughter.  Mk 537
also at Transfiguration and Gethsemane.  Mk 537  1433
Rebuked for asking fire to destroy Samaritan Village.  Lu 951-56
Later ministered to Samaritans with Peter.  Act 814-17
Jesus called him and James 'sons of thunder'.  Mk 317
He and James wanted to sit either side of Jesus.  Mk 1035-45  Math 2020
Jesus asked him and Peter to prepare Passover.  Lu 228
Sat next to Jesus at last supper.
Outran Peter to the tomb on Resurrection morning. He believed.  Jn 202-9
Healed, arrested, released by angel, spoke boldly and amazed the Jewish leaders.  Act 413 517-42
Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit.  Act 814-17
Wrote Gospel, 3 short letters and Revelation.
Died as an old man on Patmos.  Rev 19  Jn 2122,23

Another fisherman from Bethsaida, and a disciple of John.
Brought Nathaniel to Jesus.  Lu 145-51
Greeks come to Philip with request to see Jesus.  Lu 1221
Desired to see the Father.  Jn 148
(Not Philip, the deacon, who introduced the Ethiopian to Christ).

Willing to go with Jesus to Jerusalem and face death.  Jn 1116
Doubted resurrection until he too saw Jesus.  Jn 2024-29
Tradition says he took the Gospel to India.

Called by Jesus to leave his tax-collecting. Did so immediately.  Lu 527-31
Wrote Gospel.

James (son of Alphaeus)
Leader of the Council in Jerusalem.  Act 1519
Wrote Epistle of James

Judas Iscariot
A 'high-risk' apostle.
The only apostle not from Galilee. Kerioth 12m S. of Hebron.
Treasurer. Jn 1329 Love of money also became his weakness.  Jn 126
With other disciples criticised Mary's extravagant thanks.  Math 266-13
But unlike others did not accept the correction.  Math 2614-16
His covetousness led to the entry of Satan.  Jn 132,27
Money remains a danger.

Thaddaeus (Judas, son of James) wrote Epistle of Jude

Of  Bartholomew (= Nathanael) and Simon the zealot, nothing certain is known.

None of these men were rich or well educated. None had any previous training.
but they were the best choice of Almighty God - and he was right.
God's criteria for ministry is so different from man's.
But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles ...
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  1 Co 123-27

Being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, they turned the world upside down!
"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty.  Zech 46

What was the purpose of choosing the Apostles?

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.   91-6

First Jesus prepared and instructed them:
He gave them power - to go out with the full Gospel of the Kingdom.
To preach, to heal the sick and drive out demons.
Preaching requires the power of God - not just personality or oratory.
Sent out in pairs.  Mk 67 (Named in pairs in Math 102-4)
Go first to Israel (Samaritans and Gentiles later).  Math 105,6
Take nothing with you. (Learn to trust God)
Stay with a worthy person; else shake the dust off your feet as a testimony.
      (May sound judgmental but makes the difference clear)
Be on your guard - remember you like sheep among wolves.  Math 1016,17
Be wise and innocent. (trusting, but not 'green'. Do not scheme)
It seems that Jesus did not tell them where to go. Had to seek God themselves.

'They went out and preached that people should repent.'  Mk 612
And many were saved and healed.

What about today?
These instructions have much wisdom for all ministers, preachers and teachers.
What do we expect of our minister and leaders? An example.
Some do not accept the challenge of preaching the full gospel.
Others rejoice in signs and wonders; but neglect preaching the Word, conversion, and forgiveness.
In preaching salvation we must say what we are saved for and what we are saved from!
Beware of excessive emphasis on miracles; they are not the objective.
Salvation is the goal; healing is also part of God's compassion.
But healing remains a mystery. Why some and not others? Is it all on faith?
What were the 'greater things you will do' ?  Jn 1412
The apostles healed the sick; but 1000's were saved.
After the 72 returned rejoicing, Jesus said, "Do not rejoice that the spirits
submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."  Lu 1020

Holiness rarely gets a mention either in preaching or in testimonies, anywhere.
Holy living requires continued discipline, no to self, and much grace.
It is hardly surprising that it remains unpopular.
Becoming like Christ is much more than me have a good, exciting time.
Holiness is not 'kill-joy'. But the joy is Godly, not self-indulgent.
Holiness is heaven on earth! For now it remains a continued battle.

Note that Judas also preached the Gospel, healed and cast out demons!
Two possibilities:
1. It is possible for any man to fall from grace.
Take care to heed God's warnings. Trust the Lord always.
2. It is possible for the unsaved to minister in power!  Math 721-23

A Christian leader may not cast out demons or heal the sick,
      but he should know how to resist the devil, however subtle, obstinate or fierce,
      and have practical compassion for the sick and imprisoned.
            (This was especially so in pre NHS + Welfare days)
Not all leaders and missionaries are 'successful'; some sow and some reap.
But all should be faithful and zealous to their calling.
To be an apostle is a rare and extremely high calling.
As Christian we are not all endowed with power to minister as these 12 did, but we can do many ordinary things well.
Let us not be discouraged if our ministry seems humble.
The following letter was sent to Rob Parsons of 'Care for the Family' from a Canadian friend, is a good example.

"Late December in northern Ontario is traditionally cold and snowy. I remember those winters so well but, in particular, my mind goes back almost thirty years to a Christmas in 1958.

Several miles from our home, deep in the country, was an isolated dwelling inhabited by an old recluse called Percy. Percy was something of a local mystery - most adults found it easier to ignore him and most kids were in awe of him. Rumour had it that if he caught you within a mile of his place you would disappear forever.

My parents had always been generous people, and if my father was scared of Percy he never showed it. In fact every Christmas Eve lie trudged through the woods to Percy cottage to give him some Christmas gifts and just, as he put it, 'to let the old boy know somebody cares".

December 24, 1958 stands out clearly in my mind. The night before new snow had blanketed our valley, when the weather had turned clear and cold. I came downstairs and found my father making breakfast beside the old stove. He turned to me: "In a moment I'm going to make my trip to Percy's place - would you like to come with me?" I said I'd go.

Dad and I set off and, after thirty minutes or so, my father pointed to a thin wisp of smoke curling up from the centre of the wood. We waded through knee-deep snowdrifts and finally knocked on Percy door.

It was not opened by a monster but by an old man with holes in his clothes and a gruff voice that welcomed us in. We entered a one-roomed house that had seen better days and was filled with the smell of a hardwood fire and the unmistakable waft of body odour and old tobacco. Dad set the bags of groceries we had hauled through the wood on a sticky oilcloth-covered table, near where Percy invited us to sit.

Percy and Dad made small talk, discussing the recent turn in the weather and whether there would be enough wood to last the winter. After all the local topics had been well covered Dad said, "Well Percy; Christmas is here again and our family just wanted you to have a few groceries as our gift to you. You know Percy Christmas is important to us because of the birth of Christ.

And then my young eyes saw something that I have never forgotten. A single tear began to roll down Percy face and into a thick bushy beard. He quickly brushed it away with the back of a dirty hand as he mumbled his thanks. My father said that it was time we were going and shook Percy's hand as we rose and made for the door. Just as we reached the step and were about to step out into the snow; Percy reached out and touched my father's arm and said, "Don, you are a bearer of hope".

I will never forget that scene for in a moment of time on December 24, I was taught a great lesson: God softens grizzled old hearts through the kind acts of his people. That was to be the last Christmas Eve journey my father made, for Percy died early the following year."

Fear! and Fear Not!  121-12       [Contents]

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. "I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. "When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."   121-12

What does Jesus do at the height of popularity?
As true Physician, he denounces sin honestly, warns of persecution and teaches about fear.
If only ministers would follow his example.

Starts with 'be on guard against ... hypocrisy'.
How does hypocrisy start?   What is the danger?
Like leaven in dough, false doctrine works stealthy to poison the whole person.
Pretence. Wanting to appear different to what I am;
      Rather than wanting to be different from I am.
Sadly, hypocrisy is not limited to just Pharisees. Self-righteousness is common.
Jesus was not so much exposing the Pharisees, but warning his disciples.
It is an infectious danger to all of us, not just to them.
It is always easier to see in others than in myself!

Why is hypocrisy so foolish?
Because one day all will be revealed. Truly believed, this is a good antidote.
What is the connection with fear?
Because we fear what men think, rather than God who knows.
Whom should we fear and whom should we not fear?
Do not fear men; they can only kill the body. They cannot touch your soul.  Lu 124,5
Beware of doing nothing so that you can have an easy life.
      e.g. Political or media protest. (often discouraging)
Fear rejection or ridicule by friends
To us the physical pain of persecution may seem remote at the moment
But it will not always be so.
Because you will reveal their hypocrisy, you will be persecuted or rejected.
Your body will be threatened; but not your soul, that is secure.
Jesus repeats the only remedy:  Fear him who will sentence all men to either heaven or hell.
Grasp the eternal perspective, not the temporary, temporal view.
This fear remains 'the beginning of wisdom.'
We should both fear and love the Lord God.

Note that Jesus confirms the truth that there is a Judgement and a Hell.
To lose the Advocacy of Jesus in the day of Judgement through cowardice
      is truly a prospect to be avoided.
Let us gladly confess Christ Crucified at every opportunity whatever the cost.
Perfect love drives out the fear of man and even of punishment, 1 Jn 416-18 but not the fear of God.
In God I will trust and not be afraid.  Ps 563,4

Jesus is very practical.
He reveals the most likely times of fear. And how to be on guard.
Even the strongest can baulk at rejection, ridicule, hatred, or persecution.
      e.g. Peter who failed on one occasion.  Mk 1466-72
But he learned well from this lesson, and died a martyr.
Sparrows and hair are not of much value; but even they are numbered.
So remember how much more valuable you are, whom the Lord has called by name.  Is 431-13  Jn 103,4

The next sentence has worried Christians of every age.
What is the 'unforgivable sin'?
How may we blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?
Blasphemy = to show contempt for God, or to curse God.
Christians terrified of this sin are unlikely to be showing contempt!
While "the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin",
      there is also sin against the Holy Spirit that shall not be forgiven.
It is not that God refuses to forgive a truly repentant sinner,
      but the sinner who consistently refuses to repent,
      even when the Holy Spirit has clearly revealed the truth.

Although nominal Christians can be very presumptuous of being forgiven,
thinking 'the God of love' will automatically forgive everyone!
This is very different from deliberate, willful, settled hostility towards Christ.
The attributing of a work that only God could do, to Satan.
e.g. Accusing Jesus of casting out demons by Beelzebub.  Lu 1115  Math 1224
At the end many will curse God - and not be forgiven.  Rev 169, 11, 21

Jesus warned the 12 that persecution was inevitable.  Jn 1520
It was not 'if' but 'when' you are brought before rulers ...
When they do, do not be afraid. God will tell you how to give a good account.
Be prepared, but do not scheme.  1 Pe 315
      e.g. Peter Act 48-13, 19,20 527-33   Stephen Act 7   Paul Act 1625-34 2140-2222 24, 26
God is faithful, always. His Word is true always.
Consider the testimony of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Latimer, Ridley ... and today.
Dr Hooper Bishop of Worcester was martyred in 1555 (needed 3 fires) said,
      "True it is that death is bitter, and life is sweet;
      but I consider that the death to come is more bitter, and the life to come is more sweet."
We may not be called to martyrdom, but we are each called to witness.
      At home, with friends, in street or shops ...
Pray that God will fulfill this promise and the Holy Spirit give us wise words, and right actions.

see also Cost of following Jesus.  957-62

The Rich Fool  1213-21       [Contents]

Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."   1213-21

Only Luke records this incident that goes to the heart of much human conflict.

What was the problem?
Is the plaintiff concerned with justice or money?
Tough brother had taken more than his share.
When 'might is right' rules, how do you get what is yours.  James 42
Contested ownership of money, possessions, and land has always been a big problem.
It would seem that this case was not one of injustice that would lead to poverty,
      but of a rich man who wanted to be even richer.

How did Jesus deal with it?
Jesus could see the problem clearly. So why didn't he give his verdict?
More than 'not his ministry' or 'not wishing to be involved'.
Jesus is the Judge of all men. Jn 519-30   But judgement is reserved until death.
Jesus deals with the bigger problem. The man's eternal destiny.
What was blinding him from seeking God for forgiveness and life.
Like nearly all men, he sought contentment in possessions, not in God.
God calls such men 'Fools!'

Greed's Destructive Grip
"Be on your guard against ..."  Hypocrisy 121  Greed 1215  Deception Mk 135,23
      (Persecuting) men Math 1013 Mk 139  False teachers Act 2030,31 2 Pe 317
No one is immune from Greed.  It is one of the '7 deadly sins'.
No amount of warnings have prevented Christians falling into it's destructive grip.

Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  1 Tim 610b
Greed = "Excessive desire for food, wealth or power."
But when does it become 'excessive'?
When it compromises what God has called us to do or to be.
Is it wrong to have the ambition to better the lot of your family?
      No, but the greater goal must always be their eternal 'lot'.
Children are not the only ones with 'peer pressure'.
Is it all relative?   UK is very different from Mozambique.

How can we avoid or overcome greed?
How can we learn the practice of being content?  Phil 411 Heb 135
Learn how to resist it; be willing to be different.
Practice generosity - regular, disciplined giving + spontaneous giving.
Thinking of their benefit, not your loss; will lead to joy, not regret.  1 Tim 617-19
Note that The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  1 Co 420

See the truth. Like all of Satan's falsehoods - Possessions never satisfy.
      It is always "A little bit more".  Ecc 28-11
The last days will see a rise in greed and all that attends it.  2 Tim 31-5
Heed God's warning.  1 Tim 69,10  Rev 317,18

What should this successful farmer have done?
What would we have done?
Success was an opportunity to share even more of what God had given him.
Is it wrong to have a pension plan?
Responsible provision for the future must never become our goal.
Believers are "strangers on earth ... longing for a better country."  Heb 1113-16
What life-style do we choose to live at now, and later - and for ever!?
What are our financial priorities?

How can we become rich towards God?  Lu 1233
We can delight the heart of God;  but beware, we cannot earn salvation.
How often does the Kingdom of God come before our own ease and comfort?
What do we seek first?  Does God only get the left-overs?  Lu 1231-34
Compare the offerings of Abel and Cain.  With whom was God pleased?
Seek righteousness. Treasure it above all.  1 Tim 611  Phil 38-14
Realise the truth that we cannot love God and mammon.  Lu 1613
Yearn for others to enter the kingdom of God.

Separation, not peace!  1240-53       [Contents]

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.   1249-53

There is a day of opportunity and a day of Judgement.
Much misunderstanding because men fail to see this.
First and Second Coming are separated.  Lu 954  Is 612
What applies to one may not be true for the other.

When is this 'fire on the earth'?  What was the fire that Jesus came to bring?
a. Persecution and division resulting from the preaching of the Gospel.
      i.e. Proof that men are being saved and challenging the unsaved.
b. Fire of the final separation and Judgement.  Rev 209 (at end of the 1000 year reign)
      What will happen then? Satan is thrown into the lake of fire for ever.
      At last! He is sent to join the Beast and the False Prophet.  Rev 1920
      No more will he be able to even tempt man to sin.

Jesus was distressed (constrained), why?
He knew what he was facing a 2nd Baptism.
But this time it would be a Roman Crucifixion.  Math 316,17 c.f. Lu 951
The physical suffering ahead distressed him,
      but not as much as having to bare the full fury of heaven for our sin.  Ps 221
No salvation and no Bride unless the perfect sacrifice is made.  Lu 2215
Never forget Jesus willingly, with all his heart, suffered for us.  Heb 122
See the revealed determination of Jesus to fulfil his agreed task.  Lu 951  Jn 131
The Sanhedrin thought they were doing God a favour in executing Jesus!
Many servants of Jesus would be hated by the world too.  Mk 1039  Jn 1518-25

'Peace on earth.' Who for?
Jesus would bring peace with God to believers, 'on whom his favour rests'.  Lu 214
but believers would not find peace with unbelievers, quite the reverse.
Real Christians are an unpopular challenge; even a threat to wicked men.
We don't have to look for trouble, rejection or ridicule.
For many it means prison or a martyrs crown.
How different was Christ's view from today's compromising, inter-faith leaders.
Right and wrong must be separated. Woe to men who merge them.  Is 520
'Peace is useless if purchased at the expense of truth.'  J.C.Ryle
Where is the church that boldly proclaims the truth and accepting the consequences?
      In China, Pakistan, Tunisia, Sudan, Cuba, Chile, ... but sadly rarely in the UK.
What we proclaim is more governed by popularity than truth.
      e.g. Sin and its real consequence, sodomy, RC errors, other faiths ...
It is little wonder that the Church is largely ignored, rejected or ridiculed.
Lord, give us courage to put our heads over the parapet.

What causes the division Jesus warns of here?
It is about Christ crucified for our sin, not our personality.
The Cross of Christ always divides proud man from repentant man.  1 Co 118
The divisions will be within our family - those who know us best.
Be bold, but not rude. Repay evil with good.
A proud, angry, unrepentant man is like a child who refuses good medicine.
We will have a closer relationship with those who believe than with relatives.

We all need to learn to live differently: 'in the world but not of it.'
It is so easy for atheistic practices and ideas to become common practice.
Creation c.f. evolution, morals, Sundays, discipline, responsibility ...

Interpreting the Times  1254-59       [Contents]

He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time? "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."   1254-59

Why is Interpretation important?
Caught out, unprepared. The consequence is severe.  Lu 1944
Many weird Millennium expectations - not just Y2K, cults that go to Israel, UFO's, false messiahs, NWO ...
      [The Millennium turned out to be a 'non-event' from nearly every aspect]
It wasn't the unknown future that concerned Jesus, but the here and now.

Why did Jesus call them (the crowd) 'hypocrites'?
Pretended to know what was happening, but didn't realise Messiah had come!
He expected them to see the present; the evidence was overwhelming.
What had they seen? What had they heard? How much more proof needed?
      Fulfilled prophecy.
      Born of a virgin.  Is 714  Lu 135  Math 122-25 They scorned this.  Jn 841
      In Bethlehem.  Mic 52 Or from Nazareth?  Jn 146 185 1919  Act 36  Jn 727 cf 929
      Messiah's ministry.  Is 611,2  Rejected claim of fulfilment.  Lu 418-20
            (Much prophecy was fulfilled later when Jesus was crucified)
      Signs, miracles.
      Healed, delivered and raised the dead, (signs of Messiah)
      Transformed water into wine.
      Cleared the Temple (this was probably during last week)
      Forgave sins.
      Wisdom and true preaching - like no other.  Lu 347  Jn 746  Math 1354
      Prophets interpret the past, discern the present and predict the future.
      Like men of Issachar in David's day,  "who understood the times and knew what Israel should do."  1 Ch 1232
So many were blind. Too often we only see and hear what we want to.
We shy away from challenge. Act 2425   Excuses.  Lu 1416-24

What is the relevance of this short parable?
We have an adversary; Satan.
Both he and the Law of God have a good case against us.
So many do not realise their urgent need of salvation.
Get right with God, now!  Soon it may be too late.  Rev 33
Now is the day of opportunity for reconciliation, for pardon and peace.
      Gal 310-14 Zech 31-10 Joshua ('symbolic of things to come' 38) = Yeshua
Yeshua was with them! But then, and now, many do not have eyes to see.
Jesus yearned for them to have eyes to see and ears to hear.  Math 133-24
The implication of 1259 is that those imprisoned in hell have no escape.
Purgatory is another sad error of Rome. (See "RC Errors") Why introduced?
To gain power for the clergy, and wealth through 'sale of indulgencies'.

Are we a discerning people?
Do we comprehend the lateness of the hour?
Do we see what God is doing today?
'Prophesies' range from mighty revival to imminent Judgement.
Which is true? Are we in the end times?
What do the Scriptures say concerning the end?
      Math 24. Deception, war, famine, earthquakes, persecution, false prophets,
            love grows cold, Gospel preached to all world, Then the end.
      Abomination, great distress, signs and miracles that deceive,
            sun darkened, earth mourns, then Son gathers elect.
      My words will never pass away.
      2 Tim 31-9 Terrible times, people will be lovers of themselves ...
      Dan 7, 8, 1136 The boastful, blasphemous little horn.
      2 Thes 23-12 The man of lawlessness exalts himself and deludes others.
      1 Tim 41-3 Some will abandon faith.
      2 Tim 43,4 Reject sound doctrine
      1 Jn 218,19 Many antichrists went out from among us
      2 Pe 33-10 Jude 118,19 Scoffers who follow ungodly desires
      Rev 6-18 The great Tribulation
How many discern the New World Order political agenda?
Always remember that it is God's plan that will be fulfilled, not man's.
Redeem the time. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Learn to live holy and godly lives.  2 Pe 311
Some men have always yearned for the Messiah to bring 'peace on earth.'
Paul's verdict that the time is nearer than when we first believed is still true.  Ro 1312

Repent, or Perish!  131-9       [Contents]

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them - do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?' 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'"   131-9

Why do some suffer and others seem to sail through life?
Some sensitive souls ask why is God angry with me? Is it because of some sin?
When they told Jesus about the Roman atrocity, this question was implied.
Similar to man born blind. "Who sinned, this man or his parents?"  Jn 92
The little question, "Why?"
Jesus took the opportunity to teach some most vital truths.

1. What is sin?   Rebellion against God.
a) We live in a fallen world. Famine, injustice, atrocities, wickedness ...
      Gen 3 is vital to true understanding as to origin and consequence.
      Death (spiritual - relationship with God) spread to all men.  Ro 512
      Natural or human disasters should not be blamed on personal sin.
            (But maybe because of national sin. i.e. Noah's day, Sodom, Babylon)
b) Sin, that infringes the law (lies, murder etc), result from personal rebellion.
      Degrees of infringement, each of which exact varying penalties under law.
c) Jesus did not deal with either of these, but with the 'root' problem / sin.
      ALL have rebelled against God. All have sinned.  Gal 322  Ro 323
      We all deserve the condemnation of God.
It was in this respect that these men from Galilee or Siloam were no worse.
The just eternal punishment for all is the same.
Jesus is not looking at the temporal results of sin, but the eternal.
In Jn 9 Jesus said neither the man born blind nor his parents sinned.
This is not to say they were sinless, but their personal sin was not the cause of his blindness.

2. All will perish. Jesus repeats this warning.
This is a stark, unpleasant truth. Men ignore it at their peril.
It should cause all men to cry, "What must I do to be saved?"

3. "Unless you repent"
There is a way of escape. Jesus reveals the only way of salvation.
It is not doing good for God, nor trying to live a good, moral life.
Even repentance is only by the power and grace of God.
What does it mean to repent? What does it mean to believe?
Knowledge, confession and renouncing of sin.
Remorse is merely sorrow at the punishment or consequences of sin.
True repentance leads to hating sin itself because it offends God.
Without both repentance and faith there is no forgiveness.
A wise saint said, "I hope to continue my repentance to the gate of heaven.
Philip Henry said, "If I should die in the pulpit, I desire to die preaching repentance,
      and if I should die out of the pulpit, I desire to die practising it."

Purpose of the parable?
When God gives us privileged revelation, he expects to see holiness in our lives.
God rightly expected his vineyard to bear good fruit.  Is 51-7
As God gave to the Jews, he has given us the Bible, freedom and the Gospel.
What will he do if he sees only wickedness?
God is most willing to give all men every opportunity to repent.
He delights to show mercy. But if a man still refuses, God will, he must in the end destroy.
See the patience of God with this sin-laden world for so many centuries.
The gardener reveals the value of intercession in the purposes of God.
The 3 years is stretched to a fourth.
In this parable God gives the Jews (and us) a solemn warning.
Note how readily these men speak of the death of the Galileans, but do not consider their own!
In a tragedy, how many say,"It could have been me. Am I ready to die?"
Likewise, men are quick to blame others, but slow to admit their own fault.
In discussing the wicked deeds of others, "There but for the grace of God go I."

72 Sent out and Return  101-24       [Contents]

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.   101-3

Capernaum to Hebron is approx 80 miles (= Cornwall, UK). Imagine 36 teams sent out by Jesus!
Sent out in pairs like the 12 were earlier.
Why do so many evangelists travel alone today?  c.f. Moody and Sankey
The harvest has always been plentiful, and the workers few.
Why do so few churches pray for workers (not numbers)?
Who prayed for these 72?  Jesus.
Prayer is the first essential for evangelism.  James 516  Act 64  Eph 618
Not all have money for missions, few can go; but all can pray.
Lambs are very vulnerable. ('He who dares wins')
Your message will not be accepted.  Ezek 23-7
Jesus does not pretend that the task of an evangelist is easy.
      "Cain will murder Abel, if he can, to the very end of the world."  M.Luther
What did they do and preach?
Healed, delivered, 'Kingdom is near' - 'the Messiah has come!'

First he gave them instructions:

Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. "When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. "When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.' But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.   104-12

Travel light! What did Wesley and Whitfield take with them?  A Bible!
Why not greet fellow travellers? Didn't mean they had to be rude, just urgent.
      No time to stop and gossip or have endless chatter about nothing.
Let no man be over concerned with food, clothing, home.
We are simple pilgrims and strangers and on urgent business.  Heb 11113
Test of peace for house and for the town.
Don't move from house to house. More comfortable bed or better food.
God determines our ways - not 'fate' or 'chance'.
Not a threat or pique, but a straight-forward warning.
If only men realised how late the hour now is.
The message is simple. The Kingdom of God is near. The Messiah is here!
Have done with complex sermons; they may be admired by a few but they convert no one.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."   1017-24

They were so excited about what had happened.
Jesus agreed. He saw Satan fall! And that always gladdens a man of God.

Jesus also saw Satan fall years earlier. Why did he fall?  Pride.
      But how easily man is puffed up with pride. Then and now.
Man's folly is so obvious. When will we learn?
'There are few Christians who can carry a full cup with a steady hand.' J.C.Ryle
Jesus warned them. 'However ...'  the best thing is not your power, but God's gift of salvation.
      i.e. that your names are written in heaven.  Heb 1223-25 c.f. Jer 1713
Conversion brings far greater joy than miracles or deliverance.
      c.f. with Vineyard and Toronto churches. There is needful lesson here.
Satan has intellect, memory, eloquence, logic, and power;
      but he has not a shred of grace for salvation. Take care what we admire.
'Pride comes before a fall'. Take care that the same does not happen to us.
Only Luke records this most important lesson.

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit - especially so here. Why?
Three times Jesus wept; this is the only recorded time he rejoiced.
Nothing gave the Saviour greater delight than saving souls.
Father had chosen to reveal to these men who Jesus was.
The poor and weak who have no pride of knowledge or fancied morality,
      are most likely to have the universal blindness healed.
Here were men to whom the Word had been revealed. What a privilege!
They saw before them what men had been waiting 4,000 years to see.
The Son of God himself, the Messiah, the Saviour and Redeemer.
Happy is the man who admits he is 'wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked'.
He pleads with God for change, for forgiveness, for life, for God himself.
Here is Jesus rejoicing in fulfilling this earnest desire.
What a debt we owe to the One in whom we may trust with confidence.
Remember, to whom much is given, much is required.  Lu 1248

John Baptist  718-35       [Contents]

After the widow of Nain's son was raised and many other miracles,
      it is not surprising that the fame of Jesus spread.
But Jesus did not want fame for himself, but revelation for the people.
"A great prophet has appeared among us,"  716
      and "God has come to help his people," is insufficient to bring salvation.

Word eventually reached the imprisoned John in Jerusalem.

John's disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, He sent them to the Lord to ask, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?" When the men came to Jesus, they said, "John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, 'Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'" At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."   718-23

Could one who had once proclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God", now doubt?
      Prison then was a cruel environment, (not like today).
What did he expect of the Messiah?
Freedom from Rome, Jewish king in Jerusalem, Righteousness and justice.
      But none of this had happened.
Jesus was mostly in Galilee and showed no signs of becoming King.
No rich clothing, no army, no crown, no palace.
He had seen Jesus when he was baptised with the Holy Spirit; but where was the Fire?   Math 311,12
Forthright John sent messengers to ask him directly, "Are you the Messiah?"

There is a better reason why John sent them to Jesus.
He knew his days were numbered, that his ministry was almost complete.
His constant desire was that these last disciples would leave and follow Jesus.
He told them so plainly 'He must increase ...'   Jn 326-30
By sending his remaining disciples, they would hear for themselves.
They would learn the truth about Jesus.

They walked the 80 miles. (Falmouth to Plymouth) And asked.
Jesus could have just said, "Yes," and sent them back!  But he didn't.
He gave them a better answer - the very answer John wanted them to hear.
a) They saw with their own eyes some of the miracles
b) They heard with their own ears the message of 'Good news'.
      (Note he left out 'release for prisoners' - he never gave cruel false expectation)
c) 'Don't fall away' because I have not yet fulfilled the good news.
      What was the 'good news'? The same as John had so eagerly proclaimed,
      "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
      Jesus would surely fulfill this 'good news'.
      It is so vital not to be offended by Jesus.
      Men hate God's truth that we are all guilty sinners who deserve his just judgment.
      They hate the idea that we cannot earn our salvation.
      Blessed indeed is the man who is not thus offended.
Only then did Jesus send them back.

We are not told how John responded.
No doubt he was delighted with their message from Jesus.
And he was delighted that his disciples would not be desolate when he died.
If they didn't know already, he would have explained how perfectly Jesus fulfilled the scriptures.
      Is 611,2 2918,19 Lu 421

Meanwhile, Jesus reveals heaven's verdict on this great warrior for God!

After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.' I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.) "To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.' For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by all her children."   724-35

There is nothing here to suggest John's faith was failing.
Jesus probably saw that the people thought less of John because of his imprisonment
      and the question he sent his messengers to ask.
His defence of John is strong and immediate.

Jesus asked a simple question to reveal their perhaps unspoken motives for going to seek John.
      Obviously reeds do not grow in a desert, nor do men wear fine clothes there.
They went to see a prophet because they were hungry for God.
      (This is just part of the tragedy of today's 'experience' meetings.
      Folk often go, hoping to see the spectacular, not to meet God)
They saw more than a prophet!
Like Methuselah came before Noah, John came before Jesus.
He was promised. John was 'the Elijah who was to come'.  Mal 31 45  Mk 911-13
John was not Elijah returned. (Elijah had not died, but was taken up.)  Jn 121
But he had a similar, powerful, fairly brief ministry.  Lu 117
Also Two Witnesses in Rev 111-14 who brought own fire.  2 Kg 19-12
John was too robust to be blown aside from true faith by a little wind.
Like all martyrs, he was made of wavering unstable character.
John was no lightweight courtier, a 'hanger on' in fine clothes.

Many fine men and women of God are unknown or forgotten, but not by God.
Others were abused and slandered in their day, but were protected by God.
Jesus was determined that all should know this of his friend:
'Among those born of women none greater than John'.
But to be 'born of God' is greater than those born only to renown.  Jn 33  1 Pe 123
Fame and notoriety is one thing, new birth is far, far greater.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins ...   176,77

Old Zechariah had been right; John had faithfully fulfilled his calling.

Many prophets had longed to see what is revealed to post-Calvary Christians.
Jesus has unveiled to us the means of our forgiveness.  1 Pe 110
John and Paul had the same hope, the same goal, the same assurance.
But Paul could describe the reason for his hope more clearly.
Take care that familiarity does not lead to neglect or presumption.

Why didn't Pharisees and Sadducees come to be baptised?
Why don't all men seek Christ before all else in this world?
      They would have to admit their need.
      Needed to repent.
      Hard, unresponsive. Unlike children, they refused to respond, to play 'weddings and funerals'.
      'Unless you become as little children ...' Unsubtle, responsive.   Math 318
      Found fault in everyone but themselves.
      They thought John's effective ministry was demonic. c.f. Mk 322  Lu 202-6
      From the time of Cain, evil men will always find fault with the redeemed.
      Worst of all, they found fault with God himself!

It is a stark warning that every man has the power to ruin his own soul - for ever.
Sadly these religious leaders, and many since, have rejected God purpose.

How do God's children prove God's wisdom is right?
By responding to the Spirit of God.
He convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgement - if we are willing.
But he is not a steamroller, nor a dictator.
Too late, the rich man saw his folly, but the wisdom of Lazarus was proclaimed.
The wicked may seem to prosper; but their end is tragic in the extreme.

The ministry of John, separated and in the desert (like Essenes)
      was very different from Jesus who gladly ate with sinners.  Lu 530 152
But their message, 'Repent or Perish',  was the same.  Math 32 417

Kingdom of God Preached  81-3       [Contents]

After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.   81-3

What is the Kingdom of God? How does it differ from the rule of man?
Twin pillars of:
      Righteousness - loving God with all your heart, soul and strength.  Deut 65
      Justice - Loving your neighbour as yourself.  Lev 1918  Math 2237-40
Who is on the throne of my life? God or me?
How does Jesus become King?
      I must surrender, admit sin, believe Jesus redeems and forgives.
It is 'good news' wherever and whenever Jesus is king.
Jesus was not preaching a medical or social gospel;
      but salvation, peace with God, forgiveness of sin, and new life in Christ.

Who is in the kingdom and who outside?
Math 2131 I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes
      are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (Know sinfulness)
Math 1924 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
      than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Pride)
Mk 1015 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
      like a little child will never enter it. (Responsive)
Math 53 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
1 Co 69 The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived.
      (Obviously not. But not so obvious to many!)
Math 721-23 Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven,
      but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
      (Here is a surprise. Essential to have the right plea and the right Advocate.)
1 Co 1550 Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
      (Original sin. Death spread to all men)

How entered?
Mk 115 The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!
      (This is the only way)
Lu 1324 Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many,
      I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Refuse to repent)
Lu 1720 The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation.
      (It needs the heart as well as the mind.  Jn 539,40)
Jn 33,5 I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again ...
      no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. (Only God can do this)

What happens in the Kingdom?
Math 1228 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God,
      then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Jesus reigns, not Satan - driven out)
Mk 411 "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.
      (All of grace. Revelation of, and by, God)
Mk 426-30 A man scatters seed on the ground ... the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
      All by itself the soil produces grain - first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
      As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.
      (Seed produces harvest, again by grace)
Lu 1721 The kingdom of God is within you. (The mystery of Christ in us!)
Ro 1417 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,
      but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
1 Co 420 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

Also many parables in Math. "The kingdom of heaven is like ..."
Wheat and tares.  Math 1324-30  Grew together until harvest
Mustard seed.  Math 1331,32  Grew from small to great
Yeast in flour.  Math 1333  Affects whole lump
Treasure hidden in field.  Math 1344  Sold to buy
Pearl of great price.  Math 1345,46  Sold all to buy
Net cast into lake.  Math 1347-50  Variety caught, then sorted
Merciful king settled debt.  Math 1823-35  Merciful King, unmerciful servant
Landowner hired workers.  Math 201-16  All paid the same
King's wedding banquet.  Math 222-14 I nvited made excuses

The Kingdom of God is within us already.  Lu 1721,
It is near.  Lu 2131
And it will come.  Lu 1911,12
The kingdom of God will not be fully realised on earth until the Millennium.

Unbelief and rejection did not stop Jesus preaching the 'Good News'.
Let us also be diligent and make the most of the time.

The 3 ladies in this passage gave generously, and followed earnestly.
      Their hearts were warmed by the manifold kindness of God.
Like Mary of Bethany, the Centurian, Bartimaeus, Abel, King David ...
      These women would have had to bear scorn, contempt, ridicule ...
      But it did not put them off. They remained faithful.  Lu 2410  Mk 161
Note. Giving is a good indication, but it is not proof of a work of God.
      [Philanthropy can be man try to earn his way into heaven]
James pleads for works to accompany faith.
Words without action are a hollow profession.  Math 2542

These ladies' reaction was so different from Capernaum's indifference!

3 Unrepentant Cities  1013-16       [Contents]

"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."   1013-16

Even heathen Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah.
Gave his testimony. Spoke God's message.
Backed by total eclipse. God's timing is perfect. Korazin, Bethsaida,
Capernaum - all N.Galilee
Even Jesus found miracles are rarely effective in creating repentance.
Capernaum didn't 'run Jesus out of town'; but were indifferent as to who he was.  Rev 315-17

      "Indifference" Studdert Kennedy.

      When Jesus came to Golgatha they hanged him on a tree,
      They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
      They crowned him with a crown of thorns, red were his wounds and deep,
      For those were crude and cruel days and human flesh was cheap.

      When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed him by,
      They never hurt a hair of him, they only let him die;
      For men had grown more tender, and they would not give him pain,
      They only just passed down the street, and left him in the rain.

      Still Jesus cried, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do,"
      And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched him through and through;
      The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
      And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

God's creation makes us without excuse.  Ro 120 (pre and post Darwin)
So seeing the miracles of Jesus makes for even less excuse.
What had they seen and heard?
See 'Miracles' for the evidence of what Jesus had done among them.

There may have been crowds, but Jesus knew the real heart situation.
They liked his miracles, but rejected him and what he taught about salvation.
They refused to 'listen'. Why?
'Their hearts were far from me.'  Math 158
If they didn't need healing; what did they need?
So many are deluded. They don't realise what they are missing.
Careless, complacent, proud, insulting!  Again Rev 317
How could men hear the Son of God himself speak, and be unmoved?
Reveals the heart of man is naturally so rock hard and stubborn as a mule.
We do not have to be murderers or adulterers to end in Hell;  just do nothing!  Jn 318
How serious is it for a man to reject Jesus in this way? Eternally catastrophic!
O that men would be willing to be drawn by the Father.  Jn 644
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
      He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Pe 39
      (context - not slow in judgement, but patient)

Jesus, who wept over Jerusalem, would have wept over these cities too.  Especially Capernaum.

Mary and Martha  1038-42       [Contents]

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."   1038-42

Jesus went up to Jerusalem several times for the feasts - Jn 51
      Passover Jn 213 64 1155  or  Tabernacles Jn 72
Sometimes he went through Samaria.  Jn 4  Lu 1711  951-53
      and at others up the Jordan valley via Jericho and Bethany.  Mk 1046 111  Jn 11
This incident is only in Luke.
Two later occasions at Bethany:
      Lazarus raised.  Jn 11
      Followed shortly by Anointing by Mary.  Jn 121,2 (6 days before Passover)

This event was their first recorded meeting.
Why did Martha open her home to him?
Hungry or just polite? Much more likely to be the former.
From what happened it would seem that Mary was the hungry one.

Was Martha 'distracted' or just trying to be a good host?
What distracts us?
      Family rush before Sunday church (who are we trying to impress?)
      Christmas (locked into doubtful traditions)
      Eschatology (wrapped up in some particular view)
Jesus saw that Martha was 'worried and upset by many things ...', not just this.
What made her anxious? What peeved her?
What upsets any house-proud, caring, highly strung lady?
Jesus confronts the problem truthfully, directly and lovingly.
It takes courage. But it is well worth the risk. See the successful outcome!

Note: While Prayer, Bible study and evangelism are vital,
      they should not become an excuse for a dirty home or a disorganised life.
Martha was trying to cater for Jesus and all his disciples who were with him.
It was not so much that Martha was wrong and Mary was right;
      but that Martha wanted Mary to leave what was best.
Don't pressure others because you think what you are doing is the most important.

'One thing is needed'. What does man see as needful?
      Health, education, housing, food, prosperity, honour, power, sex.
What does God see as the 'one thing is needed'?
      The salvation of his soul!
How careless and foolish is any man who ignores what God says is vital.
How gracious is our God to so willingly provide what is most needed
      and all else in life for our provision.  Math 628-33
Let us never forget these 4 simple words that Jesus spoke, 'one thing is needful'.
Let him write them on our hearts. They will save us from much trouble.

Mary chose 'what is better'.
Mary later anointed Jesus.  Jn 121,2
The anointing in Lu 736-50 was probably the same incident.
      Luke's account is anything but chronological. He uses the anointing
            by a redeemed ex-prostitute as an example of Jesus, 'the friend of sinners'.
      Mary would thus feel her need far more than Martha.
      Her need was more obvious, but it was no greater than for anyone outside the Kingdom.
      Every man (except Jesus) is born a sinner. Most refuse to accept this truth.
The wisdom of Jesus in dealing with these sisters is clearly seen in the Gospels.
He knew what was most important, and would not be deflected.
Salvation is far more important than a good meal!
Mary's choice is always to be commended to all men.
It sickness and heath, in wealth or poverty, in freedom or persecution,
      in youth or old age, whether honoured or humbled.
Our need is so great; even if few realise it.  Rev 317
Let us value the wisdom and mercy of God far more than man's praise.
Lazarus is not mentioned here, but it was his home too.
He was probably with Jesus and Mary; but took no part in this incident.
Likewise the 12 disciples and maybe others.

At the raising of Lazarus, it was Mary who was 'distracted' by her grief,
      and Martha whom Jesus enabled to have faith.  Jn 1127
What matters is not that Martha was wrong on this occasion,
      but that she clearly learned from the forthright correction of the Saviour.
She would remain a practical lady; but she would not become caught up in 'the affairs of this world' again.
      At least not without these words of Jesus ringing in her ears!

Crippled Woman Healed on Sabbath  1310-17       [Contents]

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath." The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.   1310-17

The divergence of the Sabbath commandment and what is practised is not new.
Jesus always kept the Sabbath as God commanded. (4th)

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exd 208-11

1. What should be 'remembered'?
The Creation by God in six days. And on the 7th day he rested.
Most modern men reject creation by God and substitute Godless evolution.
Just as Peter prophesied.  2 Pe 33-5
When the creation by God is rejected, so is the Sabbath on which it is based.

2. 'Keeping it holy' (= separate)
"Keep Sunday Special" is typical modern 'multi-speak'
To the atheist it may mean 'family day', to the Christian it means 'God's day'.
God says keep this day holy, not just special.
Every day should be kept holy. Godliness is not just for the Sabbath.
Honesty, truth and justice are for every day.
In the same way parents care for their children every day,
      but a 'Children's Day' would be devoted specially to them.
The question is, how?
What is the purpose for us?
To enable more time for worship, for study, for prayer, for acts of kindness, for evangelism.

3. Do no work.
'Keeping the day holy' is what we must do; 'No work' is what we must not do.
When God 'rested'; he didn't put his feet up and have a long snooze!
I expect he just enjoyed what he had made so beautifully.
      Like a new baby placed in its mother's arms for the first time.
      She doesn't think of the years of toil ahead; but rejoices in God's gift.
Note: Cows still have to be milked and hospitals manned, meals to prepare.
Use another day / time? Not number of hours; but quality of time.
Is there anything I enjoy more than seeking God and being in his presence?
Defining what is work has caused much argument.
Jews after Ezra made 1,500 sabbath laws out of one commandment.
Let us not judge others, for it is to God that we each have to answer - now!
It is heart attitude; not legalism. Beware of peer pressure, +ve and -ve.

In this incident see how Jesus obeyed each part of the 4th Commandment.
He remembered how his Father created all things - perfectly.
To see anything so obviously imperfect grieved him.
It was holy to see Satan fall! To deliver this woman from such demonic bondage.
To 'separate' her from his evil grip, that she may worship the Lord of Glory.
It was not work like carpentry, farming, fishing or tax-collecting.
Jesus did what he saw his Father doing.
This healing / delivering required power, but not manual work.

Let us learn to follow the example of Jesus. What did he do on the Sabbath?
He went to synagogue, he taught, he healed, he ate, he was mostly with people, but sometimes alone ...

P.S. Which day? Saturday or Sunday?
4th Commandment says 6 days to work, not 5!

Jesus has compassion for this woman. The synagogue ruler clearly did not.
Ironically, it was Jesus who kept the Sabbath; not the ruler!
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.  Lu 65
He made the rules; he kept them; and he expects us to do so too.
God made the Sabbath for man, for his benefit.  Mk 227
It is part of his kindness, not as a burden! Heaven is an eternal Sabbath.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, "Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" Jesus answered them, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, "Get up and stand in front of everyone." So he got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, "I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?" He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.   61-11

These two further incidents that reveal how far their hearts were from the Lord.

Rubbing out a little grain in the hand could hardly be called harvesting work.
Jesus showed their inconsistency -  they didn't dare criticise David, who also broke their oral law.
Men still have to eat on the Sabbath; so in Sinai they gathered twice the manna on Friday.

The second case shows how little the Pharisees understood.
Jesus tries to help them see the true purpose of God for the Sabbath.
But they were not like Martha who responded to the correction of Jesus.
They are deeply offended - and are thereby made to look foolish.
They were like Cain when 'sin crouched at the door'.
Hatred grew to murder grew in their hearts.  Math 1213
As with the crippled woman they had no compassion for this man.
 (Probably not the same synagogue)
However the Lord of the Sabbath was not deflected from healing him.
God's purpose to do good was fulfilled.

Jesus and Beelzebub  1114-32       [Contents]

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. But some of them said, "By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons." Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.    1114-20

Pharisees used to cast out demons, but they need to know what demon it was.
      It was one of the signs of the Messiah that he would cast out mute demons.
      (Heal leprosy, born blind made to see, raise the dead)   c.f. Act 1913-15
Satan actually delights in afflicting any of God's creation that he can!
Crippled woman, dumb, violent, unclean, fits ... He is still active.
Many are 'dumb', for they never give thanks to God for their salvation.
Evil spirits have to be driven out; they do not go willingly.
As with all the Miracles of Jesus, the cure was instant and complete.
God taught him to see and speak in a nanosecond! (Math 1222 also blind)
Jesus said an evil and adulterous generation sought signs.  Math 1238-41  Lu 1129-32
Already given sign of Jonah. Resurrection after 3 days dead in fish.
      They would soon see the destruction of Temple (his body); raised after 3 days.  Jn 218-22
      But they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.  Lu 1631
'Sign-seekers' today. Why needed? Very few believe because of signs.
Jesus healed because of compassion, not to prove himself.  Math 45-7
Jesus knew their thoughts.
Jesus showed he could do what they could not.
They were offended and said he did it not by power of God, but by Beelzebub! What an insult.
How great is the prejudice of sinful man.
Couldn't deny the miracle, so said Jesus was in league with Satan.
Jesus did not retaliate, but revealed the folly of their accusation.
Why would Satan kill off his own soldiers?
Do your followers only do lesser miracles by the power of God?

Jesus drove out demons by 'the finger of God'.  Exd 3118  Not by trickery.  Exd 819
The Kingdom of God has come!
Let us be truthful and honest in our minds, not blown about by every wind,
      but willing to change when shown a 'more excellent way'.  Eph 414  Act 1824-28

Divisions on account of false doctrine concerning salvation must remain.  Gal 18
On other matters let us be willing to bend.  1 Co 922
The line between the two requires no small degree of wisdom.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.   1121-26

Principle of possession through power.
Applies not only to material things, but also spiritually.
A demon may feel secure - until confronted by Jesus, who is far stronger.
Evil spirits search for a place to live.
But we do not have to live in perpetual fear.
Satan may be a 'roaring lion', but he is chained.  Pe 58  (See The Pilgrim's Progress, just after Hill Difficulty)
And like a bully, when resisted, he flees.  James 47
How can we Christians be protected?
Jesus is our 'sevenfold shield' and 'flaming sword'.  Deut 3329
      see hymn 'None is like Jeshurun's God ...'
Put on the whole armour of God.  Eph 611-18
What makes it easy for demons to enter?
Intended - Satanists, Neo-Nazi, Freemasons (deluded until high orders)
Unintentional (usually) - occult, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sin, cursed ...
Deliverance alone does not guarantee future protection.
The 'clean house' needs to be kept clean and have a strong defender - Jesus.
Let us strive to wholeheartedly 'run the race', 'to go on to know'.
An empty house is an open invitation. Christ must make our hearts his home.
Religious trappings are a totally insufficient defence against Satan.
Respectability has never yet saved a man; it has often deluded him.
What good is it for a man to be 'reformed', but not converted?
Satan is strong, well armed, motivated.
He is never at a loss as to how to best injure the soul of man,
      and keep him from enquiring about his eternal future.
This incident proves again that Satan may be Prince, but he is never King!

'More wicked than itself'
"Among devils there are degrees of wickedness and malice.
Just as there are degrees of glory in heaven, grace on earth and punishment in hell."  J.C.Ryle

Neutrality is not an option. 'He who is not with me, is against me'
To love and follow Christ is not an extreme to be avoided.
Christ hates luke-warmness.  Rev 315,16
Angels and demons are clearly in separate camps;
      but compromised men can neither enjoy the world or be confident in Jesus.

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.   1126-28

Mary was indeed blessed to have borne Jesus.
He makes it clear that Mary was 'highly favoured', but she shouldn't be venerated.
For far more blessed is the born again believer who hears and obeys!
Like 'among those born of woman none greater than John ...'  728
But to be 'born of God' is greater than those born only to renown.
Notoriety is one thing, new birth is far, far greater.  Jn 33  1 Pe 123
Hearing the Word and obeying it are very relevant to protection from demons.

The Sign of Jonah  1129-32       [Contents]

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.   1129-32

Many seek for signs, but they do not seek God.
Keenly interested in the spectacular, but not out of any personal need.
      Like the Media today.
What was the sign of Jonah already given to the Jews?
Not that he stayed alive in the fish, but resurrection after 3 days. dead!
Also that even Gentiles had learned to repent and received the mercy of God.
What was the sign of Jonah to the Ninevites?
Resurrection of Jonah after 3 days in the fish.
His 'repent or perish' message was backed up by a total eclipse in 763 BC.
Their responses were totally different. Why?
      Nineveh heeded God's word. Most of the Jews refused.
So also the sign of the Son of Man. What would that be?
      Resurrection after 3 days in the tomb. Also many other signs:
      Annunciation, Virgin birth, Testimony of Anna, Simeon, John Baptist ...
      His teaching (from age 12). Accurate, certain and wise.
      Miracles of healing and deliverance.
      Fulfilment of numerous prophecies.
      Also destruction of the Temple (his body); raised after 3 days.  Jn 218-22
      'They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'  Lu 1631
Why did the Queen of the South come all the way to Jerusalem?
To listen. to learn of salvation and eternal life. As did the Ethiopian.  Act 826-40
      c.f.  Men, then and now, who want more evidence, yet more miracles.
      But unaware of their plight, they fail to repent, or they refuse to do so.
Any of  these miracles of Jesus should have been sufficient.
What else is required? A willingness to be convicted by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was far greater than Solomon or Jonah (both effective, though weak)
But many not interested to hear truth about God or themselves; only interested in the spectacular.
What was the inescapable truth that Jesus taught?
      The total corruption of all men from the days of Adam.
      Thus all men need redeeming and new birth.  Gen 611,12  Ps 14  Jn 33
Most men are deluded in thinking that they are basically good!
"Just see the good within and develop it," they say.
It is not surprising that their greatest hopes for the world fail.
The crowds taught by the Son of God himself refused to hear the truth.
Unlike the people of Sheba and Nineveh, who will rise and rejoice on the day of Judgement
These men rejected the truth. What utter folly. Jesus thus condemns them.
The heart of man has not changed one iota over the centuries.

Appearances  1137-41       [Contents]

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.   1137-41

Why didn't Jesus wash before the meal in the Pharisee's house?
      Possibly not offered any water!
      Or maybe he washed, but not according to ceremonial requirements.
Why is man always so concerned with the trivial?
The church is often more concerned about the colour of the door than with the vital task of evangelism.
Not known who this Pharisee was - only in Luke. Not the same as Math 151-20
Why did he invite Jesus if he was full of greed and wickedness?
Was he like Simon Lu 736 or did he realise his sinfulness?
Jesus corrects their excessive concern with the unimportant,
      things which they thought would give them life or make them clean.
They tithed herbs, but neglected the weightier matters of the Law.  1142
It seems he was rich, so Jesus instructs him to release some of his wealth.
      Like the young ruler.  Lu 1818-27 (It seems that both men refused)
Don't give because you wish to impress others, but from compassion and in secret.  Math 63
      From inside, from the heart.  Math 2534-46
And first, give to God what is inside, i.e. the heart.  Math 621  Ro 121  Ps 5117

What about the inside, the heart of man?
Without Christ it is desperately corrupt.  Gen 63  2 Pe 218,19  Ro 128-32
This remains a stumbling block that trips all but a few.
Unless we admit this corruption and our inability to change it, we will never cry to God for mercy.
God sees inside all men.  Jn 223-35  1 Sam 167  Ps 1391,23
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. ... Search me, O God.
Let us learn to follow our Lord's example.
When we are in the company of unbelievers - take care.
Jesus was willing, courteous, bold and always 'about his Father's business'.

Summary of Math 151-20 Mk 71-23 A separate, but relevant incident.
"Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They don't wash their hands before they eat!"
"Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?  (e.g. Corban gifts)
You hypocrites! You honour me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.
What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean (before God),
      but what comes out of the mouth. e.g. evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, slander ...
      These are what make a man unclean."
There is physical hygiene and spiritual cleanliness.
Jesus is not saying that physical hygiene doesn't matter,
      but that just washing your hands cannot make the heart 'right with God'.
It is the heart that need cleansing, not just the hands.
Was this ignored because it was too difficult; even impossible to man?
Only God can give a man a new heart.
Jesus said their hearts were far from him.  Jer 414  Math 58
David pleaded for 'clean hands and a pure heart'.  Ps 243-6  James 48-10
'Clean hands' are those that do no wrong, not hose that may be dirty.
There are many good thing we can do: .
      Prayer.  But this alone cannot save or make us clean.
            The Pharisees prayed - and wanted everyone to know it!  Math 63,6
      Give.   Ditto. Math 61 c.f. Math 2541-46 (blind to the needs of others)
      Bible reading.   Its purpose is not mere knowledge, but to bring us to Christ.
            Only he can transform and give us eternal life.  Jn 539,40  Act 159
Appearances and Reality: Jesus knew the difference; man needs to have it revealed.
Appearances and words can easily deceive.
Washing hands in nowhere near the same league as 'Christ crucified'.
Reality. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life ..."
Let us see our unending need for Jesus and our total dependance on him for forgiveness and life.
This is the truth - this is real.  The rest is just gloss paint, empty words, false impressions.

Obedience  84-21       [Contents]

Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."   819-21

Was Jesus denying that Mary was his mother or these men were his brothers?   Of course not.
We learn here some vital lessons about right priorities.
What is the context?  Jesus was teaching the crowd about eternal life.
Would you expect a [preacher to stop to say 'Hello' to his relatives?
What comes first in our lives?
"No Bible, no breakfast" is a good principle. It is discipline, not legalism.
Don't slide into a freewheel routine; governed largely by feelings.
Jesus told them clearly who were the closest to him;
      those who heard the Word of God, and put it into practice.
Let us not make excuses, but rather earnestly seek to hear more and obey it.
We can always find time to do what we most desire.
How do we put God's Word into practice?
      Again, earnest obedience. Just do it! ... or Not do it!
      Don't procrastinate. Don't make excuses about its difficulty.
      God is not nearly so impressed with our 'reasons' as we are!
Consider the privilege of Jesus calling obedient believers his near relatives.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."   84-8

This parable is so well known, but sadly it is also often the least practised.
Why did Jesus tell it with such earnestness?
Independence has always been preferred to obedience.
It illustrated what he had just told them about 'near relatives'.
About those who maintained right priorities.

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, 'though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.   89-11

Learn to greatly value the 'secrets of the Kingdom of God'.
What utter folly it is to spurn this gracious gift that God offers us.
Those who seek God will learn more and more. Math 2529 Lu 818
The luke-warm will forget, not understand, and certainly strive to obey.

Three Barriers to hearing the Word:

Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.    812

Pathway - seed is stolen.
Not interested. See no need. Seems irrelevant. Heart is as hard as the path.
Listless mind is easily distracted. Wandering thoughts need taming.
His conscience is silent. Maybe it has been silenced too many times before.
Satan is active in this man's life.
He steals the Word; not because he wants it, but he delights to destroy it!
"This malicious being is unwearied in his efforts to do us harm."  J.C.R.

Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.  813

On Rock - no root, no soil.
Men love to receive the good news about the love of God. Many do so with joy.
But how do they respond to the word about the need to repent?
Their belief has no root. Often only based upon experience or feelings.
Faith must be based on trusting what Jesus has done for us at Calvary.
That this alone is the means God has chosen to enable our forgiveness.
Time can be a good tester of the genuineness of our faith.
It is never sufficient to just believe that God exists; but it may be a start.
Let us learn quickly to testify and bear the resulting ridicule, or even persecution.
How can we encourage good root growth?
Private Bible reading and prayer are not a drudge, but exciting and needed.
Sermons, Books, and Bible studies are vital for our instruction of the truth.
Private and public worship of God, who has done so much for us.
Evangelism. The 'good news' is too good to keep; it must be shared.
Strive to live a holy life. Much will need to change.
Never excuse sin. Confess it immediately. Be honest with God.
      'God delights to forgive our sins, but not our excuses.'

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.   814

Choked - wrong priorities.
Worry. What is the answer to worry and fear? Trust in Almighty God.
      Does he know? Does he care? Has he sufficient power? Of course!
      God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.  2 Tim 18
Riches. a) Pursuit of what we haven't. or b) Clinging to what we have.
      Both are equally dangerous. The root of all kinds of evil.  1 Tim 610
      What is sought? Happiness, comfort, power, friendship ...  c.f. Ps 197-11
      How overcome? By the power and grace of God, and by our obedience.
      Be content with what you have.  Heb 135   Share willingly.  2 Co 97
      Seek treasure in heaven.  Lu 1233 1822  1 Tim 617-19
Pleasure. The world seeks endless pleasure and happiness. See adverts.
      Christians are 'Pilgrims and Strangers'. Here we often labour and groan.
      We appreciate this temporary world, but long for the next.
      Learn not to gratify the flesh.  Ro 1314  Gal 516  2 Tim 31-5  c.f.  Lu 1219
      While money and pleasure are not sin, wrong priorities lead to compromise.

Failure in these 3 areas have resulted in the shipwreck of many.
We need to be careful to obey all that Jesus taught us.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.   815

The 'good crop' that delights the Saviour.
How may our hearts become 'good soil' ?
1.  They need to changed. No man is born with a 'noble and good heart'
      We need a new heart; a repair job is never good enough.  Ezek 1833 3626,27
2.  'Hear the word'. Hear with delight and enthusiasm c.f. 'yes, but ...'
      Seeks solutions rather than despairs over problems.
      What means can we use to help another to hear?  Ro 1013-21
3.  'Retain it'. Think about what is heard. Discuss it.  2 Tim 315,17
      Not 'in one ear and out the other'. Keep a diary.  Heb 21  James 122-25
      Pray for your preachers. Expect God to thus enrich your life, and others.
      Be expectant of hearing God in your own reading and prayer.
4.  'By Persevering'. No harvest is achieved in a moment.
      Regular daily work.  Ps 1  Math 2413  Phil 48,9 212 314
      Not always easy.  Math 713  James 13,4
      'Self' is reluctant to serve. Eph 422-24
This is the only good soil that gives peace in death and eternal life.
Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."  Jn 1415,21
This instruction is also the foundation of the man
who built his house upon the rock - and it did not fall.  Math 724-27

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.   816-18

A candle is no use if it is either unlit or hidden.
So also the Word of God is of no value if unread or forgotten.
The main lesson here is that 'light' (understanding) is gained 'little by little'.
Many yearn for some great revelation, but despise the habit of daily input.
God has chosen to add 'morning by morning'.  Is 504
At such a time he may occasionally give us a greater revelation.
Light discloses all, so be 'children of light'. Be open and honest.
We don't have to wash dirty clothes in public, but do not pretend.
Consider carefully how you hear.
If the Word is ignored, it will be taken away.  Lu 818  Math 2529
'And the last state of that man is worse than the first'.
This is another solemn and truthful warning by Jesus that we all need to hear.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Is 556
I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.  Ps 11955-60

Mustard Seed and Yeast  1318-21       [Contents]

Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches." Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."   1318-21

Does the 'Kingdom of God' here refer to individuals or the Church (believers c.f. the 'Establishment') ?
Jesus clearly expected the Kingdom of God, the company of believers, to grow.
Within 50 years 12 men (11 + Paul) had turned the world upside down.
None were Pharisees, Scribes or learned - except Paul.  Phil 35
Jesus chose well. His expectation was fulfilled.
They did not falter under persecution; it only fuelled the fire of God.
Major trials:
1.   Constantine. 312 AD Christianity became respectable. Jews persecuted.
2.   Islam. This demonic, idol worshipping religion twice they nearly defeated Europe.
            Stopped at Tours (central France) 732, and at Wien (Vienna) in 1683.
3.   Rome during Reformation. Church, sacraments, priestly power c.f. Word.
4.   Technical success (19th and 20th C.)  Humanism, complacency, wickedness, family failure.
Yet the kingdom of God is not defeated. Maintained by Jesus.
Kingdom of God is:
      Within us. Lu 1720,21
      It is now. Kingdom of God opened to all believers at Calvary.  Heb 1019-22
      It is future. When Jesus returns for Millennium reign.  Rev 204
      It is eternal. New heaven and new earth.  Rev 21, 22
      Personal, as well as historical. Jesus expects the same growth in us.
The rule of Christ and righteousness must be is every part of our lives.
Growth is 'little by little', earnest daily labour.  Phil 19-11
Never let us become dozy or self-satisfied.
Strive, fight the good fight, run the race to the end.
Till it is thoroughly finished. Unlike some in Sardis.  Rev 32

The next section from Lu 822-25 follows immediately.  Mk 435

Jesus Calms the Storm  822-25       [Contents]

One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."   822-25

This seems to have been more than just a natural storm. Why?
Satan thought he had an opportunity to drown Jesus and the 12 apostles.  But he failed!
      Jesus 'rebuked' the wind as he did when casting out demons.
This was not an act of self-preservation or even for the disciples.
Jesus immediately saw that the whole plan of God was under attack.
He took the only appropriate action.
The 4 fishermen and 8 landlubbers were terrified;
      at this stage their concern was not for the Gospel but for themselves.
So Jesus reproves them. "Where is your faith".   Faith for what?
At this time they only saw their own lives in danger, their view was narrow.
No assurance that God would complete his plan for the salvation of men.
See in Dan 2 how the three when threatened with the fiery furnace reacted.
      They saw beyond their local plight; but they saw God as far greater than the king.
      Tyndale when about to be burned; prayed for the king of England, not for himself.
            Within 2 years God answered his earnest desire.
            Henry VIII ordered Coverdale's English Bible to be placed in every parish!
We may well have to suffer at the hands of wicked, arrogant men.
But God remains 'the Sovereign Lord'. (x 210 in Ezek)
God has revealed his plan for the end-time disasters. As we see him fulfill it,
stand firm, have confidence in God, do not fear, have faith.
Learn to see beyond our own immediate trial. See God in command.
Some say 'I have a strong faith'. But what is it for? What is it's basis?
Often it is little more than that God exists, or exists to comfort them.
It needs to be the assurance that Christ took our sin upon himself at Calvary:
that there he redeemed us, he paid the price we couldn't pay.
The disciples were amazed and afraid because they didn't realise who Jesus was.
The revelation had not yet been given to Peter.  Lu 920  But see also Jn 141,49
What would our reaction have been?
Of course the winds and waves obeyed Jesus. He made them!
Terror of storm replaced by terror and wonder at the greatness of Lord God.
We do not serve some tin-pot idol produced by the fantasy of man.
The wind responded more readily to his word than do the unruly hearts of men.

Jesus knew what it was to be hungry, weary, in pain.  Heb 415
As a man, he slept. As God, he rebuked the storm.

Herod desires to see Jesus   97-9       [Contents]

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, "I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?" And he tried to see him.   97-9

Herod had been distressed that he was tricked by his wife Herodias into having to behead John,
      because he had made a drunken, sensual oath.  Mk 622
      (He had feared and protected John though also imprisoned him.  Mk 620)
What motivated Herod into desiring to see Jesus?
A clearer picture is seen later at Jesus' trial.  Lu 238
He was curious. He wanted to see a miracle.
There is no evidence that his heart was crying out for salvation.
He failed to see Jesus.
Not because he was weak, but he had no real determination.
He could have walked out of his palace in Galilee and found Jesus any day.
      (Except when he Jesus was attending one of the feasts in Jerusalem)
      But no doubt he felt this would have been a humiliating act.
A king going to see a carpenter from Nazareth. (But who is also the King of Kings!)
There is a huge gulf between repentance and curiosity.
Once more we see that miracles do much for the recipient,
      but little towards the salvation of others.
Why are they so popular, so venerated by many in and out of the church?

The question Herod asked, "Who then is this"?  is a vital one.
Arguably the most important question a man can ask.
Jesus was continually trying to tell men who he was - the Son of God!
Few, even when told this truth, are willing to admit their need.
The plight of all men without God.

Jesus Feeds 5000  910-17       [Contents]

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.   910,11

First the background to this event.
John had been beheaded, and the 12 had just returned from their first mission.  Math 14
They had witnessed the power of God through their own hands and words.
Jesus didn't see the arrival of the crowds as an intrusion on their brief break.
He welcomed them, taught them and healed them.
He taught them about the kingdom of God. Its goal, its character, its people, its King, how it is entered ...

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here." He replied, "You give them something to eat." They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish - unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." (About five thousand men were there.) But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.   912-17

The food shortage didn't take Jesus by surprise.
He saw it coming and knew what to do.  Jn 66
Jesus tests Philip Jn 65 and the others - no solution, 8 months wages insufficient.
      Also doubtful if local village shop would have bread for over 5000!
Was there any precedent?
      Elisha saw 20 first-fruit loaves multiplied to feed 100 prophets.  2 Kg 442-44
      Hanukkah - One day's oil lasts for 8 days. 167 BC
      God had provided manna, quails and water during the Exodus.
What was the test?
Deut 8. God tested them so they would trust him and not be self-sufficient.
God knew what was in their hearts; but they didn't.
They needed to know, so did the disciples, and so do we.

The test might seem harsh or unreasonable, it wasn't -
      neither here nor during the 40 years wandering.
During the Exodus God tested Israel and Israel tested God! What was the result?
      It revealed revealed the truth about God's provision and man's need of him.
Also reveals pride and self-sufficiency (no need for God), the curse of man.
'They answered' = Andrew answered  Jn 68,9
God would make the little, sufficient.  Also 1 Kg 177-16
Jesus multiplied 'the little'; and so did the apostles as they handed it out.
They did give the people to eat.
They were not expecting such a great miracle, but they were obedient.
It was lesson they never forgot. Told in all 4 Gospels.
Does God always give Christians what they ask, immediately?
No. But there is none more gracious or more generous.
He is not a casual slot machine, nor a magic wand at our disposal.
Every Christian can testify to the provision of God.  Ps 3410  Act 244,45
But Paul also knew poverty and hungry.  1 Co 411  2 Co 1127  Phil 412  Ro 835
Jesus reveals his divine power. No mere man could do what Jesus did.
The was no trickery, no magic, no hidden supply.
It was not performed for further his reputation, but out of compassion for their need.
The man that seeks God above all will never be in need.  Ps 3410
Ryle says it is not only a miracle, but a parable of the natural state of man:
      We are all in desperate need, dead in sin, and in danger of eternal death.
      There is in the heart of man a great famine of righteousness.
      Jesus takes pity on our powerless plight.
      In his mercy, God has provided all that man needs for salvation.
His disciples are those who faithfully give the people this much needed food.
Many may refuse it. Not hungry, or vegetarian!  See Jn 625-51
God loves to see order, not confusion.
God dislikes to see waste. (the scraps are collected)
Jn 615 The people wanted to make Jesus king.
But it was the wrong time and for the wrong reason.
Hoped he would provide miraculous free food and dislodge the Romans.
Jesus came the first time to be the Saviour Redeemer; next time he will come as King.

Peter says who Jesus is  918-21       [Contents]

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God." Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone.   918-21

Here is yet another example of how important prayer was to Jesus.
In spite of momentary revelation, the apostles were still not sure who he was.
Much earlier Andrew told Peter, "We have found the Messiah."  Jn 141
Nathanael said, "You are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel."  Jn 149
After feeding the 5000 Jesus went up the Mt and sent the apostles back across
      the lake. He then appeared to them walking on the water.
They then said, "Truly you are the Son of God."  Math 1433
John Baptist proclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."
      and "I have seen and testify that this is the Son of God."  Jn 129,34,36
Many times Jesus had referred to God as his Father.
No doubt Jesus prayed that they would really come to believe this truth.
In their hearts and in their heads.
How else could salvation be brought to men?
So Jesus leads them in their thinking, first asking what the crowd thought.
A prophet, resurrected. No consensus, only guesses.
Then he asks directly, "Who do you say I am?" A most vital question.
Peter, as so often, is quick to reply. This time correctly!
Jesus commends and encourages him by telling him that it was God himself
      who had revealed this truth to him.  Math 1617
Why did Jesus then tell them not to tell this to others?
Wasn't this was the very truth he wanted them to know?
There is a great gulf between following Jesus as King, as Messiah, as God;
      and trusting him to be the essential Saviour and Redeemer.
Many will honour God, going regularly to church or synagogue;
      yet they refuse to admit their just condemnation by God,
      or the need to repent and the need for the Cross.
The false belief that we can make ourselves worthy of heaven, dies hard.
After feeding 5000+ the people wanted Jesus to be their king, but not Saviour.
There is no evidence that anyone cried, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."
      If they had, Jesus would never have withdrawn up the mountain alone.

Jesus wasn't being secretive, but there was a time to tell and a time to be silent.
2 Blind men whose sight was restored were told not to tell anyone. Math 930
      Also Mk 731-37 Why?  Jesus needed to teach them about the kingdom of God.
While having great compassion he did not want to be only a miraculous 'Health Service'.
A leper was healed and told to go to the priests, but was disobedient.  Mk 140-45
      Jesus wanted the priests to hear his testimony, but they never did.
Obedience is vital. Especially when we may not understand the reason why.
In this case Jesus continued, telling them about the prime goal of God.
For the Son of God to become the Lamb of God. The perfect sacrificial Lamb.
The sacrifice to end all sacrifices! To conquer sin and death.
They needed to know not only who he was, but why he came.
Then, and now, there are many opinions about who Jesus is.
Some men spend their whole life in speculation, and never find the truth.
He is seen as a great miracle worker, a wise Teacher, or an Example to follow.
The honest enquirer cannot speculate for ever, he must come to a conclusion.
Very few of the great or learned in Jerusalem realised who Jesus was;
      but God revealed it to Peter. Just as he had done to John Baptist.  Lu 31,2

The Cross for Jesus, and his Disciples   922-27       [Contents]

And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."   922

How did Jesus know what would happen to him?
It is clearly stated in the OT, the Tenach.
      The Suffering Servant.  Is 5213-5312
      The Passover Feast looked forward as well as remember the past.
      The Tabernacle, the Law, the sacrifices.
      Abraham prophesies when he offers Isaac.
            e.g. What Jesus taught the two on the way to Emmaus.  Lu 2425-27
This is probably the most vital truth all men need to hear.
Jesus had to suffer and be killed! Jesus had to rise in triumph over sin!
This prediction shows that his sacrifice was voluntary. It was the will of both Father and Son.
It was the reason he came.
It was not through weakness, but his strong resolve to be the Redeemer.
It remains the necessary truth that men are most loathe to hear.
Passover has become Easter with daffodils and bunnies.
The glorious Incarnation has become Christmas tinsel, trees and parties.
Even Peter rejected the idea that Jesus had to suffer and die.  Mk 832,33
      But he was willing to receive and learn from the rebuke of Jesus.
Peter was quite often wrong, but he remained willing to be corrected.
      "Blessed are the meek ..."  The teachable.
Always beware of our natural prejudice and stubbornness.
Be flexible, searching; but not blown about.  Col 24-7  Eph 414  2 Co 114
To all who believe Christ crucified and risen, he is the power of God unto salvation.  1 Co 118-30
"Suffering and rejection sum up the whole cross of Jesus. To die on the cross means to die despised and rejected of men. Suffering and rejection are laid upon Jesus as a divine necessity, and every attempt to prevent it is the work of the devil, especially when it comes from his own disciples; for it is in fact an attempt to prevent Christ from being Christ. It is Peter, the Rock of the Church, who commits that sin, immediately after he has confessed Jesus as the Messiah and has been appointed to the primacy. That shows how the very notion of a suffering Messiah was a scandal to the Church, even in its earliest days. That is not the kind of Lord it wants, and as the Church of Christ it does not like to have the law of suffering imposed upon it by its Lord. Peter's protest displays his own unwillingness to suffer, and that means that Satan has gained entry into the Church, and is trying to tear it away from the cross of its Lord."   from 'The Cost of Discipleship' by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Many welcomed Jesus as Messiah as he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
They would love to have had Jesus as their King.
It is good to know who Jesus is, but it remains insufficient.
We must also know why he came.
There was no great crowd at Calvary when Jesus bore our sin.
People often want a great Messiah to rule, but rarely a Redeemer to save.

A vital truth that the Church always needs to know was revealed to Peter.
In 'the great confession' God himself revealed to him who Jesus was.
      The Christ the Son of the living God.  Math 1616

Great as it was, it was only the first step.
Peter saw who Jesus was, but he still had to learn why he came. This is vital.
Even Peter did not yet realise either the need, or the cost of our salvation.

When Paul taught in the synagogue at Thessalonica he did not only tell them who Jesus was,
      but "that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead."  Act 173
He was sent to Corinth to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom,
      lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
      For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
      but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ...
      For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  1Co 117,18 22
Many rightly see the Cross as an expression of the love of God, and so it is.
      Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  Jn 1513
But much more importantly it is the means God has chosen to overcome the natural corruption of man.
      The payment of the just penalty for my sin.
It takes the great power of God to change my helpless, corrupt heart
      to one new one that loves holiness and is eagerly obedient to every word of the Lord.

Jesus had been telling them of this when Peter rebuked 'the Christ'!
And Jesus told Satan to be silent.
See how easy it is for man to hear both God and Satan.
This would be one of the lessons Peter learned on the road leading the Church.

Jesus saw that not only Peter had a dread of the Cross, the others had too.

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."   922-27

What must be 'denied'?  What is the 'cross' I must take up?
Self preservation is a natural instinct; but it can have disastrous results.
Many were killed during reformation battle with Rome.
They proclaimed that truth was more important than their own life.
Jesus willingly laid down his life.
He hated the prospect of separation from his Father and of the Cross;
      but added, "Yet not as I will, but as you will."  Math 2639
Today many from Chile to China are called to die for the name of Jesus.
How would I react if confronted by an Islamic fundamentalist?
When the grain of wheat is in the darkness, Jesus is with us.  Jn 1223-26
Self-denial. Reject the temptation of riches ('gaining the whole world')
Crucify the flesh, self interest, my comfort, my indulgence.  Col 35-14
The fight against the world, the flesh and the devil is daily - every day.
And it involves every disciple - no exceptions.  1 Jn 216,17
Note that any man with Christ is far richer than Bill Gates!
Jesus proclaims the reality - the only two alternatives:
      Gratify ourselves now or receive eternal joy with Jesus.
Beware of carelessness or the wilful neglect of living a holy life.
      But note that asceticism never won any man a place in heaven.
Wholehearted witness.
Never be ashamed of Jesus.  Lu 125
Am I willing to be unpopular, rejected, even to die?  Such men are rare.
      "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep,  to gain what he cannot lose."  Jim Elliot
Daily embraced. 1 Co 1531
Lord, help me to consciously take up the cross every day and never to weary.

The cross is a message which cannot be "marketed" it has no human appeal.
The cross remains an offence to men. Beware of any gospel that minimises it.
The message of the cross is only received by the drawing of the Father.  Jn 644

Some would not die before seeing the kingdom of God.
Just 8 days later Peter, James and John would see the kingdom of God on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured.
      (None died before Pentecost and all died before 2nd Coming)

Transfiguration  928-36       [Contents]

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.   928-36

Jesus yet again shows the practical importance that he put on prayer.
To him it was not a burden but an eagerly sought opportunity.
What a privilege for Peter, John and James to learn to pray with Jesus.
This was one of the many special times; besides the regular times of prayer.
They would physically see the spiritual reality.  See 2 Kg 614-23
What do we 'see' as we groan and labour in prayer for this wicked world?
Who do we see more of, the Prince of this world or the King of Kings?  Jn 1430
Jesus showed his disciples the Kingdom of God - as prophesied 8 days earlier.
Two of the many 'greats' of the OT.
      e.g. Noah, Abraham, Daniel, Isaiah, David, Samuel, Jeremiah.
Why Moses and Elijah? They represented 'The Law and the Prophets'.
The Law for the Kingdom of God is like the Constitution is for the USA.
It lays the foundational principals, and also the cause and effect.
Do this and the result will be ..., do that and ... will happen.
Moses greatly desired to see God's glory.  Exd 3318
The Prophets always brought God's prospective to a darkened world.
They interpret the past, discern the present and predict the future.
What were the three talking about that was so immediately significant?
      The 'departure', the Cross.  And its necessity.
      How fulfilment would open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
The apostles initially rejected what Jesus had told them 8 days earlier.

Here, and at Gethsemane, these men were very sleepy when it came to prayer.
They reflect all men; later they would learn to be alert and awake.  1 Pe 47 58
They did wake up here too. What did they see?
They saw Jesus in his natural glory.
The glory that he left and the glory he returned to when he ascended.
The same glory that Moses 'caught' a little of on Mt Sinai.
They had no questions to ask them. What would you like to ask?
They still had little idea of redemption. What is it?
God sets the price for sin to be annulled - a blood (life) sacrifice.
Who can or would pay? We cannot. Only the perfect Son of God can.
God was pleased to give them a glimpse of the reward that comes afterwards.
They briefly saw the King in his 'for ever' kingdom.
Everlasting glory follows humiliation. Eternal crown follows the Cross.
Moses who died 1500 years earlier was seen alive! And in Israel.
Elijah was taken up 900 years earlier. Now alive and well in glory.
These and many other OT men knew more about trusting in Christ than many who attend Church today!
In their resurrection body they were seen as 'two men'.
They all saw and trusted in the one perfect sacrifice yet to be made.
The various animal sacrifices were only pictures to bring hope.
Let us ensure that the Cross is the only ground of all our confidence.
This what these old saints were discussing with their Saviour.
May this event encourage our faith and zeal. We do not wrestle in vain.
This event proves that God has power to raise the dead to eternal life.
Note that Jesus again plays down the miraculous, the spectacular.
Only the three were present and were told to say nothing until later.
Also Moses though denied entry to Canaan, is now in the promised land.
Peter, as so often, speaks without thinking. Why was it foolish?
If they stayed of the Mt. How would everyone else hear the Gospel?
"Pull up the ladder" mentality, that bypasses the need for the Cross.
Should be one shelter, not three.
The one tabernacle should be for Jesus; Moses and Elijah do not compare,
      they were but witnesses; Jesus alone is the Truth.
Note that this event proves Jesus was not Moses or Elijah or a prophet;
He was indeed the Son of God, far greater than these two great men.
He was not their peer as many supposed. (as says Islam today)
Life had to move on; special moments cannot be preserved - not yet.
Peter, as many later, love the idea of triumph, of success for King Jesus.
They would like to bypass the Cross - the redemption price of sin.
He is in era of the God's foolishness! For 2000 years God has offered man the
only means of saving his soul. One day soon he will come to reign as King.

God graciously instructs and corrects Peter's excited heart.
Listen to my Son; you have much to learn.  Deut 1815
Math 175 adds that God spoke while Peter was still speaking his folly.
It is not only Peter who needed to listen to the Lord.
The world and the church needs to do so today more than ever before.
Men today are so keen to say what they think.
Let us always be in earnest to hear what God says.  2 Pe 118,19 Rev 27,11 etc
He alone speaks the truth.  Heb 11-5

Boy with Demon Delivered  937-45       [Contents]

The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not." "O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here." Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.   937-42

While Jesus was away the Scribes argued with the other disciples.  Mk 914
How like Satan to take such an opportunity. As with Moses.  Exd 321
They were delighted to see Christ's disciples looking weak and foolish.
Jesus brought healing to many sorrowing parents:
      Jairus Lu 841-56   Nobleman of Capernaum Jn 446-54
      Canaanite woman Math 1521-28   Widow of Nain Lu 711-15
Parents may thus be encouraged in their prayers for their children.
Christ who delivered this boy, still lives with compassion in his heart.
Classic Epilepsy symptoms? This was clearly more than that; it was demonic.
It tried to kill the boy. Mk 922  Satan loves to destroy, kill or maim.
Suicide often has a demonic cause, but not always.
Satan has many ways to destroy men; but he is in the most part restrained by the gracious hand of God.
Men can however choose to be unrestrained - the ultimate folly.
      e.g. Election of Ken Livingstone as London Mayor.
      Note: Not all demonic possession is by deliberate choice.
Let us continue to pray for God's protection and be obedient to all God's Law.
Disciples were unable to help.  c.f.  When 12 sent out.  Lu 91,2  Math 101
Unbelief of the 9 apostles and esp. the crowd earn a rebuke from Jesus.
How different from the brief time of heaven on earth up on the Mt.
But his compassion was not lessened.
Who must have faith for healing? Either subject or disciple, or both. e.g.
      Woman with haemorrhage, widow of Nain's son, Centurion's servant.
In deliverance it is only Jesus or disciples - joined by father here.  Mk 924
Apostles also ask for faith. 175  But this was to forgive others, not to heal.
An atmosphere of scathing unbelief makes miracles almost impossible.  Math 1358
But those who attempt to heal and fail should not blame the subject for lack of faith
      when it may be their own that is lacking.
The 9 admitted their failure and sought Jesus to know why.
Driven out by prayer (and fasting) Mk 929  and faith Math 1720
At this time the disciples were still feeble in prayer and thus also in faith.
The Lord does not hold our failure against us;
      but it is a foolish man who does not heed the Lord's correction.
Jesus rebukes the deaf and dumb spirit.  Mk 925
It then had to leave - and never return.
The Saviour never lacks faith,  or power,  or compassion,  or time.
For all Satan's violence and show, he is no match for the Son of God.
Note that the boy was deaf and dumb; but the evil spirit wasn't!
All the crowd saw who was the Master.
It ended all their alternative speculation.
Jesus is never left floundering, wondering what to do, wishing he had more power.

And they were all amazed at the greatness of God. While everyone was marvelling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: the Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.   943-45

Again Jesus directs them away from the spectacular to the vital;
      to the offensive Cross, that none could yet see the need for.
Their hopes were set upon the Messiah to be a 2nd David, a victorious King.
One day he will be; and far greater and better than even David.
But first the Messiah must be the Saviour.
'Listen carefully' to this and let us never be forgetful of it.
He reminds them of what he said a week earlier. But they still did not yet hear.
Why were we slow in coming to believe?
We may have known that Jesus was crucified, but did we admit it was for my sin?
I was so slow in seeing that I was the reason for his death.
Let us be more patient with those who have only recently come to faith,
      and with those who are still reluctant.

Who's the Greatest?  946-48       [Contents]

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest."   946-48

Jesus had been in earnest, telling them how he was about to be betrayed.
That he was soon to pay the price that my sin demands.
But as they walked back to Capernaum (Mk 933) after the Transfiguration
      and the deliverance of the epileptic boy, what concerned the apostles?
      Which of them was the greatest!
Nearly all the world's leaders have striven for this. To be 'in charge'.
See the resulting wars, hatred, lies, intrigue, murder.
What motivates the ambition to be great?
Wealth, control of others, arrogant idealism, praise of men ...
Only a few men have held high office who haven't either sought or welcomed it.
      e.g. Moses, Jeremiah, David.  Lu 1411
Jesus needed disciples who would lead the Church with humility.  Math 2024-28
Man has never been free from the lure of power - even in the Church.
How different history would have been if these words of Jesus had been heeded.
Many church squabbles have been more about authority than theology.
No man is immune from this sin. It can flare up in the best.
Power of the RC Church and their Priests.
      They insist that church sacraments (mass + confession) are vital for salvation.
      This gives them enormous power over their people.
      Anyone they excommunicate is destined for hell. A significant threat indeed!
C of E, Baptist Union, Methodist Conference, Restoration Movement ...
      Each have a power structure. Is it possible for this to be pure?
      History would suggest the answer is no!
Can ministers reject the desire for 'promotion' in the structure?
      If not, what is the cost? Compromise.
Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, and John each referred to themselves as 'servants'.
      Phil 27  Eph 37  2 Pe 11  James 11  Rev 11
The desire of the disciples to be 'greatest' shows they were still thinking of a temporal kingdom
      with Jesus as the Messiah, and they as his deputies. That day will come.  Rev 204b
But first, the price of my sin had to be paid.
How Jesus must have longed for them to understand this.
Today many Revivalists hope to skip the Tribulation and go straight into the Kingdom of Christ,
      where they will be leaders.
Even at the Last Supper when Jesus had been talking to them of bread and wine,
      the Apostles were still concerned about who would be the greatest.  Lu 2224-30
How easily men strive for honour and superiority.
Jesus tells them that, 'I am among you as one who serves.'
Also how the Messiah had to be 'numbered with the transgressors'.  Lu 2237
But they didn't yet hear, but asked if two swords was sufficient! 2228
Islam may strive to win by the sword, but Jesus wins by redeeming men (transgressors) on the Cross.
Why did Jesus include these incidents in Scripture?
Not to enable our criticism, but to learn the truth about our natural ambition. It must be curbed.
So often the teaching of Jesus turned world values upside-down.  Lu 1411
Who are least and who are the greatest?
What attitude did Jesus take? He was Lord and Master, yet he came to serve.
Pray for Church and National leaders to 'walk humbly with their God'.  Mic 68
What was it about the child that Jesus wanted them to be like?
      The child 'welcomed' Jesus. Few men do, especially leaders.
      Children are simple. They may have many questions (healthy and inquisitive),
            but they are not forever questioning, doubting what they are told.
      Their simple trust can make them very vulnerable.
Children are totally dependant - at least to start with!
But children are not innocent, as some have supposed from this incident.
Neither should this be used to suggest that true doctrine is unimportant.
      And thus promote ecumenical or even multi-faith brotherhood.
      Reducing the Truth to a minimum agreed common denominator.
            i.e. Above man there is a being called God.
Children can learn of 'The Plight of Man and the Power of God'.
Older men often reject this most vital truth and God's offer of mercy.
This was an event the disciples did not forget.
Included in 3 Gospels. And they endeavoured to practice it too.
What a wonderful teacher Jesus was!

Those Not Against Us  949,50       [Contents]

"Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."  949,50

What is the importance of this verse?
Jesus knew that in every age there would be divisions in the ranks of believers.
We should not discourage men from Vineyard, Toronto or RC's from deliverance.
Two conditions are given, or implied, here:
      The deliverance is in the name of Jesus
      Not against Christ crucified and risen.
These conditions show that this is not 'the end justifies the means'.
      i.e. 'If it works, it must be of God'
We should obviously discourage a witchdoctor from deliverance. Also a New Ager.
But what about the many shades between true Christians and New Agers?
This requires discernment on the two above conditions.  e.g. Act 1913-16

The Good Samaritan  10 25-37       [Contents]

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "What is written in the Law?" he replied, "How do you read it?" He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?"   1025-29

This lawyer didn't ask because he desired eternal life; he assumed he had it!
He wanted to provoke Jesus to give an answer he could criticise.
He was 'an expert' in the Law. But of course he didn't fool Jesus.
So Jesus asked him about the Law, which he obviously knew.
Jesus didn't ask about what the Jews thought, but what do the Scriptures say?
Let us follow this great example when looking at today's problems.
The Scribe could not have given Jesus a better answer, and he was rightly commended.
Then comes the sting. "Do this and you will live."
The Lawyer could have answered two ways.
      1.  Justifying himself - 'I keep the Law'. 'I help my friends' etc
      2.  'I have tried to keep the Law, but failed. Please help me.'
Sadly, he chose the first; for his heart was wicked. (He even tried to trick Jesus)
      But the gracious Saviour didn't give up on him.
The question he asked is a vital one, albeit for quite the wrong motive.
It is the one for which every man needs to find the right answer.
But most only ask, "What shall I eat? Or how shall I prosper? ..."  Ro 1417

This Lawyer needed to ask about eternal life too.  So Jesus told him a most apt story.
Note this context of a most famous parable.  It was not so much about kindness,
      but to show this particular Lawyer that he had not kept the Law as God saw it. So he too was a sinner!
      He had only 'loved those who loved him'.  Lu 627, 32-36
      The self-righteous despise others who behave differently.
      Many had elevated hostility toward the wicked to the status of a virtue.
This story was to show him that he needed to cry to God for mercy.
Yet it is usually assumed just to encourage kindness to others.
The Son of God had a much higher purpose in telling it.  Note  Lu 810
Remember the story was provoked by the question, "Who is my neighbour?"

In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."   1030-37

Why did the priest and the Levite do nothing?
It may have rendered them ceremonially unclean. Too busy, no time to stop.
This was more important to them than having compassion.
Jesus does not use a Scribe as an example - this lawyer was probably one.
The despised Samaritan was kind to the unknown victim.
He was a good 'neighbour'. He didn't hate him for being Jewish.  Jn 49
He fulfilled the law to 'love your neighbour as yourself.'
Cheap charity is common; costly compassion is rare.  Mk 1241-44
Jesus loved us while we were still his enemies, and gave everything.  Ro 58
Jesus again instructs him to do the same. His reaction is not revealed.
But the purpose of the parable is plain. Jesus tells him who his neighbours are.
The lawyer was shown that he was not fulfilling the law as he had supposed.
And his heart did not even want to.
Jesus wanted the Law to be his 'schoolmaster to bring him to Christ'.  Gal 321-25
He had been deceived - how?
The real question is not 'what must I do to be saved?', but what Jesus has done to save me.
At the time not even the apostles realised this truth.
The sacrifices offered were not to be a claim on God for what I have done,
      but a humble act that looked forward to a 'better sacrifice'.  1 Co 128-30
Abel saw this truth years earlier; and he lost (and gained) his life for it.
Another man (a rich ruler) asked Jesus the same question about salvation.  Lu 1818
      He received a quite different answer because his needs were different.
      His problem was giving up his riches; not self-righteousness.
To each Jesus revealed the sticking point and earnestly desired to save them.

Tear Fund used this parable to reveal the hearts of the 4 who saw the traveller.
      (from Tear Fund Mag. 1987)
Attitude displayed
1. The Robbers What's yours is mine if I can get it.
2. The Priest What's mine is mine if I can keep it.
3. The Innkeeper What's mine is yours if you can pay for it.
4. The Samaritan What's mine is yours if you need it.

Are we willing to be 'the Samaritan' to any in need?
      If yes, how do we select who to help?
This is a difficult question. And an ongoing one too.
Do you enable Bibles to be sent to China, or send aid to Mozambique?
Do you give to Tear Fund or to the youngster taking a year out for mission?
Do you only help Christians or missions, or those afflicted with Aids?
Do we give because we want to, or because we feel guilty not doing so?
This may well be an important question, but it is not the prime object of this parable.
Jesus wanted the Lawyer to see his need, that his heart needed changing.
That is was more than he could do himself. He needed Jesus.
He may have been religious, but he was not righteous - not before God.
Many desire heaven, and try to gain some hope of getting there.
      But few admit the burden of sin and their inability to remove it.
Remember Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress.
      What city did he leave, and why?   What and who hampered him?
      How was he set free?

The Narrow Door  1022-30       [Contents]

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."   1322-24

Jesus was very aware that this would be the last journey to Jerusalem.
He was entering and leaving all these places for the last time.
How did it affect Jesus?  He was urgent, but not anxious.
Although the disciples show no awareness of the import of this,
      Jesus knew that the Spirit would reveal to them the need for Redemption.
The day would come when they would understand and continue the work.
Meanwhile he took every opportunity to reveal the truth.

Few enter; it is 'a narrow door'.  See also Math 713,14
Many presume they can enter any time, thinking there is no judgement.
Christ is willing to receive sinners, but few sinners are willing to come to Christ.
Yet the few who enter are 'a great multitude that no one can count!'  Rev 79
      (11½ days to count just 1 million at 1/sec)

'Make every effort'.
Christ was not suggesting that anyone could merit heaven by striving for it.
No one can save themselves. Salvation is solely by grace.  Eph 28,9
The implication of this question is, if it is so difficult to be saved, why bother?
The way may be difficult to find, but "make every effort", don't give up.
This is not trying to work your way into heaven. We can never deserve it.
But Jesus urges men to keep seeking, to keep searching for the treasure, the pearl of great price.
Christian in Pilgrim's Progress had to pass through the Slough of Despond
      and turn back from Legality (works) before he arrived at the 'Wicket Gate'.
      This did not guarantee salvation, which only came after the Interpreters House.
And the 'effort' does not end when we first believe either!  Phil 212

Why so few?
Salvation is simple. It is open to all. And it is free. Jesus paid the price.
Yet it is the hardest thing in the world!   Why?
      Human pride.
      Every man's natural love of sin.
      Satan's opposition. The enemy of our souls will spare no effort to prevent us.
      No man easily repents; especially the rich, the self-satisfied, the respectable.
      No man easily admits he is "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."  Rev 317
Many will try - and fail. How can this be when Jesus said 'All who seek will find'?
      The way they try is wrong. e.g. Church-going, good works, false assurance ...
Again in The Pilgrim's Progress, Bunyan tells us of many false ways:
      Pliable       Likes the idea of heaven but returns when he encounters the Slough.
                        Note: Though he had decided to 'go on pilgrimage, he had no burden of sin on his back.
      Formalist   Climbs over Wall. Lost in wood. Likes Church services.
      Hypocrisy  Climbs over Wall. Killed in fall. Pretence before God and men.
      Mistrust     Returns after being frightened by (chained) lions.
      Talkative   No works, no repentance, no prayer. Much knowledge but no grace.
      Vain Confidence    Killed by storm in grounds of Doubting Castle. Pride.
      Ignorance from Country of Conceit.
                        The ferryman, Vain Hope, takes him across the river, but he is removed by two Shining Ones at the King's command.
      Turnaway From Apostasy.   Liked 'the club', but not the truth.
      Atheist       Scorned pilgrimage because sought and didn't find it.
      3 Sleepers  Simple Sees no dangers.   Sloth Needs more sleep.   Presumption Deceived.

"Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' "Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!' "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."   1325-30

The day will come for every man when the door is closed for ever.  Gen 716
      The time of opportunity is over.
      The fountain opened for sin will at length be closed.
In this event Jesus makes it clear that Purgatory is an unkind myth.  Also Lu 1626
Why used by RC priests?
      False kindness to distressed relatives.
      Also to gain funds and influence from people in a vulnerable time.

Why was their claim to enter rejected?
Association with religion or the church is never sufficient for salvation.
It can be just a fatal delusion.  See also Math 723 2512
It is relationship with Jesus that matters.
Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."  Jn 1415
      His command is to repent and to be born again.  Math 417  Jn 33,5  Act 1730
Those outside had not obeyed; they were 'evildoers'.

'Weeping and gnashing of teeth' is an unambiguous and repeated warning.
A certain preacher was expounding these words when an old man at the back said, "But I haven't got any teeth."
Quick as a flash the preacher replied, "Teeth will be provided!"
There is a Hell. It is as real as Heaven. And it is also everlasting.
Many ignore or reject this plain teaching of Jesus.
      But he knows well the truth of it. That's why he came to save us from it.
The agony cannot be overstated.

The 'last' are those for whom many (but not Jesus) would say there is no hope.
      i.e. 'Real!' sinners, or Gentiles ...
The Jews were, and remain, the 'chosen race'.  But they do not have a backdoor key to heaven.
Many presumed they were safe. They were not.  Math 2213,14
Gentiles are equally careless, or ignorant.
      And to their great eternal cost, they willfully reject Christ crucified.

Jesus was urgent. The time was short.
He was honest with them.
It would have been much easier to pretend it was all ok.

The Cost of Discipleship  1425-35       [Contents]

Large crowds were travelling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."   1425-27   (see also Math 1037-40)

Jesus was still travelling to Jerusalem - on his last journey there.
He was very aware of what was to happen, of the supreme cost to him.
But he never hesitated.
No one yet seemed to understand why he had to lay down his life.
There were large crowds, but for him it was a lonely experience.
To 'carry ones cross' is a common expression now, but not then.
Only later would the significance of these words become apparent.

'Large crowds' followed Jesus; but his aim was to make true disciples, not to top the popularity poll.
The instruction to 'hate' parents and those closest can be misunderstood. What was Jesus saying?
It was not literal; as this would clearly contradict the 5th Commandment.
He said we must also hate even our own life! What did he mean?
      Becoming a Christian is not a soft option to an easy life.
      Baptism is intended to signify a burial service, a death to self and sin.
The 'hatred' is relative. God must always come first in our affection.  Lu 1613
      e.g. If we have to choose between offending our relatives or offending God.
This is no easy choice, and many have faltered.
See also Lu 821 as to who were his mother and brothers.

As usual when Jesus taught, he told two stories to illustrate it.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, Saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.   1428-35

The first story shows clearly that the cost is ongoing.
The disciple always carries his cross - his 'saltiness'.
Becoming a Christian is not just a down payment, and then an easy ride.
The problem of sin is dealt with; and yet it remains. We are in a war.
Satan never gives up trying to tempt us.  Eph 611,12
The half-hearted or the luke-warm can never please the Lord God.

The second story reveals the wisdom of counting the cost first.
Don't become a Christian and then discover it is too costly.
Learn from the honesty of our Lord's evangelism.
A small determined army is far better than a large one that turns tail at the first sign of the enemy's strength.
Backsliding does untold damage to the witness of Christ.
Pliable was rightly mocked when he returned to the City of Destruction.
In our witness it is vital that we present both the glorious goal and the high cost of being a Christian.
Don't forget it always cost Jesus far more than we can ever give, or give up.
Encourage enquirers, but don't deceive them into thinking they are Christians
      before they know conviction of sin, repentance and trust in Christ.

What is the cost?  Everything!!  

Give up all 'rights' and become a bond-slave.
Be done with all sin. Make no exception, however trivial it may seem.
Keep nothing back. Hold all things lightly - they are only on loan.
Christ owns 'the cattle on a thousand hills' - we don't.  Ps 5010,11
Do not be like the rich young man.  Lu 1822-25
'Everything' = pride, self-righteousness, ease, possessions, worldliness, sin.
Jesus did not practice nor does he seek reclusive asceticism,
      but he sought willing obedient disciples, those prepared to suffer,
      maybe even to become martyrs for His sake. Mk 834-38
"His disciples were permitted to retain no privileges and make no demands.
They were to safeguard no cherished sins; treasure no earthly possessions; and cling to no secret self-indulgences.
Their commitment to Him must be without reservation."   J.MacArthur

Pray for grace that we may always persevere, and never fall away.
These words of Jesus need to be heard clearly - always.  Is 4021  Rev 27 etc

Lost and Found  151-32           [Contents]

Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."   151,2

Two groups in the crowd that were with Jesus.
      The righteous and the sinners.
      The slaves and the free.
      The lost and the found.
But which was which?
Why did the Pharisees criticise Jesus?
Why did the "sinners" come to Jesus?
The Law condemns sinners, yet Jesus welcomes them. How can this be?
He tells three parables to show those who "muttered", the truth.
The clue to understanding the parables always lies in the context.
      What was happening when Jesus told them?

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."   153-10

What do these first two parables show?
The "Lost" are precious to God. He is grieved that any should perish.  2 Pe 39
The "Lost" weren't precious to Pharisees; they cared only for themselves.  Ezek 341-6, 11, 16, 27
They 'wrote off' all who were not like them. What blindness!
These parables reveal the truth that they were they so ignorant of.
They thought they were the righteous sheep. Math 25
But in fact were the 'concerned about appearance', separated goats.

Jesus does not contradict the Law (that he who sins shall die) He fulfills it.
But there is another overriding law - that the redeemed shall live.
This is the law that Jesus came to fulfil. As Redeemer he had to pay.
      Ps 16  Is 127,28  2 Thes 212 c.f. Jn 831-36
A great peal of joy rings in heaven over every sinner who repents.
      Note what it is that gives heaven joy - Repentance.
The Pharisees, then and now, did not share any such joy.
Did Simon rejoice when Mary was forgiven?  Lu 736-50
      He never found peace; he never kissed the Saviour's feet.
      He never even extended the minimal civil courtesies.
This crowd of 'sinners' (and all men) need rescuing, not condemnation.
Note "muttered" (Gk = murmured greatly)  i.e. Complained long and loud.
But the Shepherd's goal is to feed, protect and rescue his sheep - not to eat them!  1 Sam 212-17 c.f. Jn 109-13
"Tax collectors and sinners" came to Jesus because they knew he loved them.
Like John Baptist (but unlike many church leaders) he was not soft on sin.
      "Go, sin no more".  Jn 514 811  Lu 133

Likewise with the woman who lost a coin.
This may have been nearer to the experience of some of the rich, non-agricultural, Pharisees.
The Shepherd did not just sit in heaven bewailing the loss of his sheep; he came to earth to actively seek the lost.
He would willingly pay a dreadful price - though they did not know this yet.
Sin needs to be atoned. His mission is most clearly seen in Dan 924
Finding "the lost" remains his mission.
Men must be willing to repent and to believe (be baptised in Christ).  Act 238
Unless a man is willing to confess, he cannot know the pardon of God.  1 Jn 18

The third parable starts off the same as the first two -
      the lost are precious to Jesus, the Righteous King and willing Saviour.
But it has a most significant development; a real 'sting in the tail'.

Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"   1511-32

The sting of the story is that there were two brothers. And BOTH were lost !
The younger brother had been lost, but was 'found'.
The elder brother remained lost and never realised it.
Usually called 'The Prodigal Son', but it can be called 'The Two Lost Brothers'.
Jesus was an absolute master at telling a pertinent story.
The folly of the younger son is obvious.
The ready forgiveness of the Father shows the amazing grace and mercy of God.
This was the story for the "Tax collectors and sinners" who were there.
They had no rights, no claims, no pretence at being righteous;
      only confession and repentance. (Remorse only feels; the repentant acts!)
And the Father's eager, joyful and complete forgiveness.
Jesus 'welcomes sinners'. Even me!
This assurance remains an amazing and precious truth.

But the second part of the story was for the Pharisees.
The elder brother did not share his father's joy
His younger brother's return was nothing to celebrate.
The Pharisees never understood how Jesus could be Messiah
      and at the same time be a friend of 'publicans and sinners'.  Lu 530-32
Father looked for and yearned for the return of his young foolish son.
      They just wrote him off - without any regret.
How different were the hearts of the father and the elder son.  Math 2128-32
Resentful, jealous, his service to his father and to God gave him no joy.
      e.g. "What a waste ..."  Math 268
They were so concerned with their appearance of being righteous,
      that they forgot they were sinners too.  Is 536
Such was their self-deception that they no longer saw their own need;
      they just compared their life with others - whom they despised.
They retreated into theology, instead of facing facts honestly.
Most today retreat into pleasure seeking.   "If it makes you happy ..." then it must be ok.
Beware of the day when at evening time we cease to plead for God's mercy.  Ps 861-6

Which of the two lost brothers did the will of the Father?  Math 2128-31
Jesus would have prayed as he told this story, "Father, give them eyes to see."
Jesus "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
He so wanted these muttering 'elder brothers' to hear this gracious truth of God.

The Dishonest Manager  161-15
      (or The Right Use of Money)

From the last two verses it is likely that this parable - only recorded by Luke -
      was at the same time as the previous parables as the 'Lost and Found'.
There was certainly a group of Pharisees present.
This teaching of the right use of money is for all, not just Pharisees.
And is especially pertinent in today's money-centred world.

Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.' The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg - I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.' So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied. The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.' Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' 'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.' The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."   161-9

This is a strange parable.
To avoid wrong conclusions it should be noted that
      Jesus did not commend the actions of the 'dishonest manager'.
And it should never be used as an excuse for dishonesty.
      Man may commend the dishonest manager for being smart; but God doesn't.
      The manager's motive was entirely selfish.

So what is the object of this parable?
The dishonest manager was an example only in that he was earnest in providing for the future,
      albeit his own worldly future, not for the means he used.
Men should be diligent, not so much about our well-being in this world,
      but about our eternal destiny - our 'eternal dwelling'.
This was the practical punch line of Jesus here.
Use wealth wisely;  So that we will hear our Master say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
      While heaven can never be bought; we can 'lay up treasure in heaven'.  Math 620

On the matter of debt repayment:
      Jubilee 2000 reported on 1st July 2000 that of the £100B Third World debt that the G8 countries
      had promised to forgive in year 2000, <2% had so far been freed due to wrangling.
      Of the UK share of £2b, only £25m has been paid.

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?"   1610-12

The small expenditures matter. Be careful, but not mean.
      "Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves."
Maybe helpful to keep accounts, without making it a huge burden.
Dishonesty in small matters can easily grow into larger fraud.
Honesty in ordinary personal affairs is essential for all Christians, esp leaders.
How do we do the small parts of a job that no one else sees. e.g. Tops of doors?!
Do we take greater care of something we borrow than something of our own?
Remember, "Great oaks from little acorns grow." (For good or bad)
As J.C.Ryle wrote, "Where there is no honesty, there is no grace."

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."  1613

Money must never become a prime motivator.
It is a useful servant but a rotten master.  Prov 2820
The love of money has been the downfall of more than a few men, including Christians.  1 Tim 69,10
How can we prevent its corruption?
      Be honest with yourself and with others.
      Be generous, do not hoard or grasp wealth.
      See beyond this life. All men enter and leave this world with empty hands.
            But we do not have to leave it with empty hearts.
      "There are no pockets in a shroud."
In spite of this well known word of Jesus, many attempt to compromise.
They want the luxuries of this world and heaven in the next.  But see Ro 1417
Crave success now but do little about eternity - for themselves or for others.
Often sad because "They have too much religion to be happy in the world,
      and too much of the world to be happy in their religion."

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight."   1614,15

Isn't sneering a horrible word! So is what they were doing.
Two problems:
      Self-justification, appearing righteous, 'spin'.  "But God knows our hearts."
      Wrong valuation.
            What is precious to God?
            Righteousness and justice. The main theme of Isaiah.
            "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
                  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Mic 68
What does the Law say?  Deut 65 Lev 1918 (= Lu 1027)
Communion with God. i.e. Prayer, Bible study, daily repentance.
Evangelism, men turning from wickedness, set free from sin.
What God calls good, man rejects and often ridicules.
"What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight."
These words reveal just how great is the gulf between God and this world.
This gulf is revealed in the misunderstanding about the dishonest manager.
So many assume that Jesus was suggesting he was smart, clever.
Even the NIV calls this "The Parable of the Shrewd Manager".
Jesus only called him dishonest; it was the world that called him shrewd.
How many, who profess to be Christians, see the Law of God as David did?
It is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, sure, precious, sweet, warns.
It results in reviving, wisdom, joy, understanding, great reward.  Ps 197-11
Yet it is rejected my most.
Jesus gives us needful instruction in the best use of money.
See what is precious to God - and go for it! And let the world mock us!

The Rich Man and Lazarus  1619-31       [Contents]

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.   1619-23

First the facts of the case.
A rich man who remained rich. And a poor man who remained poor.
Both died; as all men must. One was taken to heaven and the other to torment.
The rich man could see Lazarus, but Lazarus could not see the rich man.
It is interesting that God names the poor man, but the rich man is nameless.
      A reflection on God's values c.f. man's.
      He 'knew' Lazarus, by name.  Is 431-3
      But the rich man only heard God say, "I never knew you!"

Why was the rich man lost? Why was the poor man in heaven?
It was not because of their estate; no rich man is excluded because he is wealthy,
      and no poor man has an automatic right to enter heaven.
God's invitation is equally open to all.
But few rich men ever admit their 'poverty' and so seek and find the gate.
The 'goats' were separated because they ignored all those in need.
      They had not the new heart of God that naturally breathes compassion.
Such was the rich man here.
But he was not condemned just because he neglected to help the poor.
Neither are philanthropists given a side door key to heaven.
Only the 'redeemed' walk in heaven.
Many of the rich are so caught up in pleasures and sport that all thought of heaven is neglected.
Similarly many who are poor and have suffered all their lives
      think that justice demands that they are given a place in heaven.
      But without Christ their future sorrow will be even worse.

When Lazarus cried, he cried out to God, what did he cry?
      Was it, "Please give me food and all the comforts of the rich"? No!
He must surely have cried, "Lord, please give me daily bread to eat. For no man helps me, only you can do so.
      And Lord, my soul is like my body, poor and wretched, despicable and despised by all.
      Save me O God, God of Abraham my father."
And God heard 'this poor man cry'.
When he died, the angels did not go of their own accord.
      God gave them specific instructions. "Go and gather up Lazarus!"
      They did not have far to go, for they was already 'encamped' there.  Ps 346,7

But the unrepentant rich man was in torment; without any hope of release.
Grasp the reality of this literal truth. It is not just a story. It is real.
Satan is in earnest in deceiving men that hell is an old fiction designed to frighten men into the church and can safely be ignored.
      Rich fools say, "Modern men are not fooled by such nonsense!"
No man is a greater fool than the one that calls truth a lie - especially when God himself taught it so clearly.  Is 520

But there is more to this story that Jesus told them.
So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for
I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'   1624-31

Lazarus plays no part in this conversation. He is but a distant object of envy.
The rich man calls Abraham 'Father'.
      Physically, he was, but he had not done what Abraham had done.
      Abraham had sought, and seen the day of Jesus.  Jn 839,56  Gen 156 228, 14
Sadly, the rich man had been totally heedless of his need all his life.
      Never had he seen any cause to cry to God for help.
      Now he was 'in agony'.
Abraham confirms the physical relationship, calling him 'son'.
      And tells him to 'remember'.  What irony.  Remember what?
      The futility of pleasure and ease, of his being content without God,
            and to cry at the days of missed opportunity.
But that is not all. He tells him of the 'great chasm' and that it is 'fixed'.
      There is no bridge; so even the remotest hope for the future is removed.
Temporary pleasure for an eternity in hell is without doubt a poor deal.

How great is the current deception of multi-faith hope.  Act 412  Jn 146
It seems that men are so deceived that they believe any of Satan's lies.
Few see anything harmful in the witchcraft of Harry Potter.
And how great the hedonistic distractions are from the reality of  this 'great chasm'.
Remember this is not the ranting by an over over-zealous tele-evangelist;
      it is the truthful and sombre words of the Son of God himself.
He strives to warn all men clearly of the great and imminent danger ahead.

The man in agony then shows commendable concern for his 5 brothers.
His eyes have been opened. He knows the true state of things.
      But his request is refused, on the grounds that they already have Moses and the Prophets.
He even dares to argue with Abraham, 'No', he says, they are not enough.
      But God says the scriptures that from Genesis to Revelation point to Christ
            are sufficient to make all men wise unto salvation.  2 Tim 315
      Give them a sensation, he says, someone resurrected - like Jonah.
      But 'faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.'  Ro 1017

The final line of the story is the biggest bombshell of all.
Nineveh had repented at the preaching of Jonah, but they would refuse to repent.
      They crucified him, and when he rose from the dead they denied it.
Then and now we have the witness of the resurrection of Christ.
      We even have the NT in addition to the OT, and nearly worldwide literacy.
      We have the testimony of men for nearly 2000 years.
      Never has there been such opportunity to hear the truth.
      But where is the repentance of 'the 5 brothers' in the rich West?
Jesus was right, 'even if one rose from the dead they would not believe.'

God continues to show his great and patient grace; he is still trying to help deaf men to hear.
Jesus knows the heart of man has always been corrupt and desperately wicked.
      So stubborn, so arrogant, so deceived.

This story must rank as one of the most serious that Jesus told.  And the one most rejected by man.
      For the conclusion conflicts with his insatiable desire to be rich.
To live this life content without God is to show him utter contempt.
In this passage Jesus tells us of the high price such an insult deserves.

O God, open our eyes to see the truth of what Jesus said.
      "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?" - for ever!  Mk 836

Think of Lazarus, secure, loved, clothed, his hunger pains a distant memory. No tears now.
All day he sings a new song, "Blessing and honour and glory and praise and worship be to the Lamb,
      who died to save a wretch like me."

Jesus at a Pharisee's House   141-14         [Contents]

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away. Then he asked them, "If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?" And they had nothing to say.   141-6

Though prominent, this Pharisee is unnamed.
This incident was in his house, not in synagogue.
Jesus was being carefully watched; why?
It was not so that they might learn from the Son of God,
      but to gain grounds for criticising him. Most had already rejected him.
Christians will always be 'watched'; especially in the company of unbelievers.
Let our witness be consistent and holy.  Dan 64,5

Jesus asks a simple question that cuts through all prejudice. "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
Even the Scribes - the experts in the Law - could not answer, or would not!
      If 'Yes', then they would have to acknowledge Jesus as someone v.special.
      If 'No', then they would be asked for 'chapter and verse'.
            But it was only in the Oral Law, not in the Law of Moses.
      They had no answer in 69,10 (withered hand) or 1314-17 (crippled woman)
The 4th Commandment says "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."
      Also do no work on the Sabbath - follow God's example in Creation.
How should it be kept holy? What constitutes work?
The answers do not need law to codify what we may do or not do, but a responsive, godly conscience.
The Sabbath is made for man's advantage; not to prevent kindness.

Jesus healed him. Simple!
All his excess body fluids evaporated. His liver and kidneys restored.
He sent him away.
      Like Mary at Simon's house, and for the same reason.  Lu 750
      He did not want him caught up in the hatred that followed.

The example that Jesus then told, revealing their hypocrisy is as eloquent as ever.
      It may have actually happened in a recent Sabbath - not told.
If mercy to animals is permitted, why not to fellow humans?
Again they were shamed into silence.
They could have said, "Sorry, you are right!"  But they didn't.
They refused to admit their sin and folly, even when so accurately exposed.
It is easy to criticise, but are we willing and quick to repent?

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: "When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."   147-11

This is a straight forward observation and conclusion.
What is not so easy - especially for the ambitious and grasping - is to heed it.
A wedding breakfast seating plan is not the only way men seek honour.
      Name-dropping, status symbols - car, clothes, house, church offices, ...
What do men honour?  Courage, social welfare, entertainment, sport ...
What does God honour?  Righteousness, justice, honesty, humility, loyalty ...
Would you prefer your name to be in the history books, or in the Lamb's Book of Life?
Pride does much to stiffen the knee-joints.
Humility is a characteristic much to be desired.
"He who knows himself will find nothing within to make him proud."  J.C.Ryle
Contrast this with modern humanist thinking.
      'Discover the good in you.' Or 'learn to feel good about yourself.'

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."   1412-14

Not many take this command literally. Why not?
Requires effort, self-sacrifice, local esteem ...
Do we only love those who love us?
It does not mean we should stop being kind to our friends.
      But it should encourage us to 'widen' those we invite.
Jesus told this parable soon after telling that of the rich man and Lazarus.

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.' The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"   1415-24

One man tried to 'spiritualise' the command of Jesus to invite the poor.
Jesus meant it to be literal, now, on this earth.  So he told another story, as he so often did.
      Not about what he had commanded, but about the 'kingdom feast'.
      Who were invited to this great feast? And who came?
      Did this man presume, as a Jew, he would automatically be included?
The three examples must have set his listeners roaring with laughter.
      Whoever heard of a Jew buying a field without even looking at it! ...
How many Jews, and Gentiles, reject God's offer of salvation on equally pathetic excuses?
What excuses are made today?
      Too concerned with this life to be interested in the next.
      Don't think there is an eternal life, so invitation can safely be ignored.
Immorality may enslave 1000's; but feeble excuses kill 10,000's.

Not all the poor accepted the invitation either.
      Too good to be true? Or not interested, like those first invited.
What folly for any man to refuse such an invitation from the 'King of Kings'.
Blessed is he who accepts - and goes wearing a wedding garment.  Math 2211-14
      i.e. wearing the robe of salvation that trusts in the blood of Christ.
Though so many are unwilling, there is an infinite willingness in God to save.
He spares no effort that the eternal banquet is full.  Jn 637 737  Is 551  Rev 2217
Let us also be earnest in the gospel, whenever and wherever.  2 Tim 41-5

Jesus Resolves to go to Jerusalem   951-56       [Contents]

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village.   951-56

Jesus was taken up into heaven - as Elijah was.  Act 19  2 Kg 211
Not only did he rise from the dead, but he now lives in heaven.
Heaven is not 'pie in the sky', but real, true, and earnestly looked forward to.
What is he doing there now?  Interceding as our Advocate.  Heb 924 725  1 Tim 25

Why Jerusalem? What did he resolve to do there? Why so determined?
Abraham's centre was at Hebron - now 90% PA
David made Jerusalem his capital and moved the tabernacle to there.
Jerusalem was and is 'the City of the Great King.' Math 535
'No prophet can die outside of Jerusalem'.  Lu 1333

Before heaven could be opened to all believers, Jesus had to be crucified.
Jesus knew well what had to happen in Jerusalem and it would be at Passover.
John had proclaimed it - "Behold the Lamb of God." The Passover Lamb.

Why did Jesus have to die?
My rebellion and sin demands God's just punishment. Someone must die.
Jesus did not annul God's justice, he paid the required price for us.  Heb 922
Here we see how determined he was to do so. Amazing love, amazing grace.
Jesus never flinched. He remained faithful to the agreement with his Father.
      Never was there a more willing Saviour.  Heb 122
      Only man is unwilling, proud, ignorant, unbelieving, luke-warm.
Let us be like him; determine to do well all that God sets before us.

A brief history of the Samaritans:

They were a remnant of Israel, not a religious group like the Sadducees.
Sychar is a village 3 miles east of Shechem (the principal town of Samaria)
      about 30 miles north of Jerusalem and 30 miles south of Nazareth.
The area is packed with history (like most places in Israel).

God appeared to Abraham here.  Gen 126
The land was bought by Jacob after Peniel from Shechem.  Gen 3318 34
Joseph went to his brothers at Shechem, who sold him to Midianites.  Gen 3713
Jacob gave the land to Joseph.  Gen 4821,22
Joshua assembles tribes at Shechem. Renew covenant - decide to serve God.
Stone of witness that they are not able to!  Josh 24
Joseph's bones were buried at Shechem (400 years later).  Josh 2432
Rehoboam gathers Jews, but rejects elders advice, kingdom divides.  1 Kgs 12
Israel with 10 tribes in North; Judah and Benjamin in South under Jereboam.
After a chequered and evil history Israel is defeated by Assyria in 721 BC
Assyria exiles most Jews from Israel and re-populates area.  2 Kg 1724-
The few remaining Jews were largely assimilated with the new immigrants, and thus despised.

Judah was exiled to Babylon in 605, 597 and in 586 ny Nebuchadnezzar.
In 537 they returned to Jerusalem.  Ezra 46-24 (Zech 3,4)
Zerubbabel refuses the Samaritan offer of help to rebuild Temple.
In 446 they complain to Artaxerxes of Nehemiah re-building Jerusalem's walls.
They build their own Temple on Mt Gerizim. (Blessing)  Deut 2712
They refuse to join the Maccabean revolt in 167 BC.
Hasmonaean's (from Judah) destroy the Samaritan temple in 128 BC.
Not surprisingly there was much mutual distrust, and even hatred.  Lu 848
Yet Samaritans responded well to Jesus and later to the Apostles.  Jn 4  Act 84-8, 14-17
Shechem has become the modern city of Nablus,
      which the Rabin government gave to the Palestinians in Oct '95.

Only one of the Samaritan village rejected Jesus, not all of them.
So they 'went on to another village.' Beware of generalising from one case.

Why did the disciples want to imitate Elijah?
Again, it was part of their 'Messiah to reign now' hopes.
It was zeal for the honour of Christ, justified by scriptural example!
But circumstances differ and the plan of God must be discerned.
The way zeal for Christ is expressed can often mean well, but be in error.
This is a good example to show that the scriptures must be rightly applied.
Zeal alone is not sufficient; and can be dangerous. e.g. Jehu 2 Kg 1016,31
KJV adds "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" See also James 120
The Church may suffer persecution, but should not practice it themselves.
Jesus instructs us to 'love our enemies', however difficult this may be.
J.C.Ryle said, "Religious wars have disgraced the annals of Church history."
Cromwell in Ireland should have learned  2 Co 103,4
      The sword makes a very poor missionary.
Jesus was not afraid to rebuke them when necessary.
This necessary ministry of Jesus is often forgotten.
It was safe for him to do so. The same may not be true for us.
James and John, 'the sons of thunder', Mk 317 would have their 'manner of spirit' (Lu 955 KJV)
      changed by Jesus and they become 'sons of God'.
But the day will come when the 'Two Witnesses' will call down fire.  Rev 115
      And so will the False prophet!  Rev 1313
The world will criticise the former and wonder at the power of the later.
The two Witnesses are given a very special, unique ministry.
Though they are killed by the Beast, God raises them from the dead.
      And they too ascend into heaven.

Jesus Again Predicts His Death   1831-34 (Also 922,31,51)       [Contents]

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again." The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.   1831-34

All Scripture is important, but these 4 verses are the most vital teaching of Jesus to the 12.
What had the prophets said about the Son of Man?  Lu 2425-27
      Take your son, your only son ... and sacrifice him.  Gen 222
      God will provide himself a Lamb ...   Gen 228,14
      The Passover Lamb had to be slain.  Exd 12
      Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted
            up, that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.  Num 219  Jn 314
      For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.  Lu 1130
      (He, being) a bruised reed, he will not break.  Is 423
      Despised, rejected, suffered, bore our sins ...   Is 53
      Jesus had to die to redeem and to atone.  Dan 924  "atonement" x 50 in Lev.  Ezek 1663  Exd 66
      Boaz the kinsman-redeemer.  Ruth 4
      Israel redeemed. 2 Sam 723  Ps 130  Jer 3111  Hos 32
      Adam Gen 321  Abel Gen 44   Noah Gen 614   Abraham Gen 222,8,14
      All the sacrificial offerings and the Tabernacle point to Jesus.  Heb 912,22,28a
      I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint ...  Ps 2214-17
      Melchizedek brought out bread and wine.  Gen 1418,19  Lu 2219,20
All these, and many more, tell how Jesus had to suffer for us.

Why were the disciples unable to understand?
What sort of Messiah were they looking for?
It was not clear to them that Messiah would come twice, first as a Lamb and then as a Lion.
Many sought their long promised Redeemer-King.  Lu 2421
But they did not realise the cost of sin would be the Cross; not a magical Messiah / King.

Why are many today also distracted?   They seek the same triumphal church.
Christ will come as King and Judge of a world that is most wicked.
Meanwhile men will mock and insult Jesus, kill his saints, as never before.  Math 2421,22
The justice and purpose of the Tribulation is 'hidden' from many, including Christians.  (see Revelation)

Ten Lepers Healed  1711-19       [Contents]

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him - and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."   1711-19

Jesus had set out on his last journey to Jerusalem.
He knew well what none of the disciples yet realised.
His journey would end in his being crucified, to become the Passover Lamb.

Leprosy was a terrible life-sentencing disease.
      Maiming because lose nerve endings. Disfiguring. Progressive, no cure.
      Socially isolated. Worse than prison, which allowed visitors.  Lev 1346
They pleaded for mercy - not 'why did you allow this to happen to us?'
A few men will cry to God when in great distress.
And even fewer return to give thanks to God when relieved.
Why do so few cry to God, when all are in such dire need?
      Most are blinded. No sense of sin or God's impending judgement.
      They refuse to admit there is any need they can't deal with.
      For these 10, their leprosy and their inability to affect any cure was obvious.

The response of Jesus was surprising - just  "Go, show yourselves to the priests."
He did not heal them first. They were healed after being obedient.  also Jn 9
Why show yourselves to the priests?
      Obedient to the Law.  Lev 141-32 And a vital witness to the priests.
      Lepers were not healed every day! It was a sign of the Messiah.
      Only Miriam Num 12   and Naaman 2 Kg 5 (Elisha also in Samaria)

One of the 10 returned when healed.   He praised God.
The man who daily feels his debt to grace will not be short of praise to God.
He was a Samaritan - 'a foreigner'. Racial distinction does not equal racism.
Distress often brings men together; prosperity invariably divides.
He alone was commended and given encouragement by Jesus.
      Healed by his faith - and the power of God.
      Not just healed but saved! Gk 'sozo = whole/healed (x13)  Math 921  Lu 848
            and = saved (x91) Math 121 1 Co 121 Jn 1227,47

Blind Bartimaeus Sees  1835-43       [Contents]

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.   1835-43

Nearly all work requires sight. No sight, no income; therefor have to beg.
Like the 10 lepers, he cried out for mercy - loudly! He didn't do nothing.
Only a few find Christ, who have not first sought him diligently.  Is 651
Considered a nuisance by most. Why?
      An unwelcome and noisy disturbance.
      Couldn't do anything for him, so despairingly ignored.
      But not by Jesus.
He stopped all his 'important' work. He was going up to Jerusalem.
      But he was not an unnecessary interruption to Jesus. Nor is any man.
      The blind man was precious to him. (Matthew mentions two men)
      He has the power to heal him.
What a change. God himself asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
      Top of his 'wish list' was sight. He asks for it and is instantly healed.
      What is top of your desires?
He was clearly delighted. God was delighted, and so were the people.
      They stopped telling him to be quiet too!
Men will readily take up the Cross and confess Jesus to the unbelieving world
      when they realise their indebtedness to the Lord for pardon, peace and hope.

Note that blindness is sore disadvantage, even today;
      but it is nothing compared to the sickness of the soul.
Every man that cries to God for mercy and believes in Jesus, will receive instant and total pardon.  Jn 637

Zacchaeus Saved  191-10       [Contents]

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.'"   191-7

Why did Zacchaeus want to see who Jesus was? More than just curiosity.
      For the same reason that many start going to church.
      There is a hunger for God. They know there is something (Someone) missing.
      Money etc has not satisfied the ache. Nor have 'other religions'.
Nothing was going to kerb his determination. Satan hates such men.
      Too many are put off by the first little difficulty or some flaw in the Church.

It is the only record of Jesus inviting himself to a meal.  Is 651,2
      Jesus knew both his name and his heart.  Jn 147-49
      So often shunned and despised; no one had ever shown him such friendship.
      No one liked corrupt tax-collectors; despised by the religious leaders.

Jesus had to be in Jerusalem for Passover. It was the only fixture in his schedule.
      The Son of God could spare the rest of the day just to be with Zacchaeus!
Not everyone approved the decision of Jesus.
      Men often do not understand the wisdom of God.
      "I am come not to call the (self) righteous, but sinners to repentance."
      Jesus was never put off but the criticism of men.

Zacchaeus was delighted. So was Jesus.  Lu 151,2, 32

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."   198-10

We do not know what Jesus said to him; what saving truth he imparted.
      But we may be sure, 'he scratched where it itched'.
      Jesus, knowing the hearts of all men, was always right on target.

Zacchaeus responded immediately. He didn't need any further time to consider.
      Others do need time to be sure. It is no bad thing to weigh the cost.  Lu 1425-35
Jesus is equally quick to give him assurance of salvation.
He saw the evidence of his changed heart.
Zacchaeus judged himself without any excuses and to the maximum.
      Exd 221 concerns sheep which breed, so a 4-fold restoration is fair.
      Num 57 concerns money or other materials.
Zacchaeus was not saved because he gave ½ his possessions to the poor.
      Just as the woman who would shortly anoint Jesus was not saved by her gift.
      There is but one way. Faith in what Jesus has done for us.  1 Co 118, 23, 30
He became a true 'son of Abraham'. Made righteous by faith.  Jn 837-39  Ro 229
That night he lay down at peace with God, in his heart there was a new song.
He would never forget this day.
And he would never come to regret his costly decisions.

Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, Zacchaeus and Mary who anointed Jesus;
      each so different, each saved by the same mercy of God.
      None are too grand, too lowly, too sinful, too rejected by men.
See how our proud, greedy, pleasure seeking immoral hearts can be changed by the power of the Lord of Glory.

'The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'
All are lost until found by the Good Shepherd.
There is no one that he does not seek to save. What a Saviour!

10 Minas and the Kingdom of God  1911-28       [Contents]

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. He said: "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned five more.' His master answered, 'You take charge of five cities.'"   1911-19

The purpose of this parable is explained.
      To correct false expectations and timing of the Messiah's kingdom.
Similar to the story Jesus told about 10 Talents in Math 25, but it is not the same.
      Different place - Jericho c.f. Mt of Olives
      Different details - Minas c.f. Talents,
                                 - One minas each (=1/60 Talent)   c.f. 5, 2 and 1 talent
                                 - 10 servants c.f. 3
      Both were concerned with the coming Messiah and his Kingdom.
      Lu 19 was prompted by saving of sinners, Math 25 by the Temple stones.
      But in this story the King's subjects hated him.
      Only told how 3/10 served their King.  

Historically, Archelaus went to Rome to be appointed king (tetrach) in 4 BC.

      He had built a palace in Jericho.
      The Jews then sent a delegation in protest, which Augustus ignored.

      After further protests Augustus exiled him to Gaul in 6 AD

Jesus returned to his throne in heaven, where he now reigns.  Heb 28,9
His subjects had hated him enough to demand that he be crucified.
Pilate proclaimed him King on the Cross!  "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"
Jesus wanted to tell his followers that the time had not yet come for the Messianic Kingdom of Jesus on earth.

Only then would Satan, currently Prince, be bound and finally thrown into the fire for ever.  Jn 1430  Rev 202,3, 10

This is the main thrust. The people wanted 'Utopia' now, without the 'Cross'.
Jesus was made King, he remains King, and he will return as King - soon!

Two did well; and one didn't.   What was his problem?

"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.' His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?' "Then he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.' 'Sir,' they said, 'he already has ten!' He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them - bring them here and kill them in front of me.'"   1920-27

It is unfortunate that the word 'Talent' (Math 25) = 75Lb (34 Kg) is the same English word as talent = ability.
      This has often led to quite the wrong meaning for this parable.
      In this parable Jesus uses the word Minas - which should avoid the confusion.
The minas given to his servants are not so much ability, but opportunities to serve God and keep the Law.
      Are we living as those greatly indebted, and who must one day 'give account'.
      To those who thirst for revelation, God delights to give more.  Math 1311-17.
But the main focus of the parable is the plight of the disobedient servant.
For this was the state of most of those listening to Jesus.
They had little earnest hunger for God and kept only the agreeable laws.

Why was the third servant afraid?  Why did he think his King was so hard?
      He thought the King made impossible, unreasonable demands.
            Hard thoughts of God are the mark of all unconverted men.  Num 114-6 etc
            They murmur, mutter, insult and speak ill of God.  Lu 197  152
      He wanted success and the Messianic kingdom, now.
           Sound familiar?  Many today are equally impatient for the Kingdom.
      He was totally blind to his own desperate need of salvation.  Jn 539,40
           He could never enter the Kingdom of God as he was.
           This was the reason Jesus told this story.

The Law demands what no man (except Jesus) has ever been able to keep.
      Some are proud of keeping most of it, but they never keep all, all the time.
This servant considered this was most unreasonable. So he gave up.
What was the purpose of the Law?
      To set God's standard for a righteousness and holy life.
      It was intended to show the impossibility of keeping it,
            For we are all naturally corrupt.
            We all need a new heart and a new spirit. Ps 5110
            And this requires the power and the redemption of God.
      It is intended to drive us to Christ. Gal 324
            But this servant was too proud to cry for help. And he paid the price.
            It was not that he failed to use his God-given gifts,
                  but that he refused to see his great personal need and to plead with God to be rescued by Christ.

The enemies of the King (Jews and Gentiles) also paid the same price.
Never allow men the delusion that anyone can reject the offer of God and get away with it.
      That God will somehow let us off scot-free.
Sin always pays a wage: The question is who pays; is it Jesus or me?
      Is it Jesus at Calvary or me for all eternity in hell?

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.   1928

From before the earth was created, this was the purpose of God. To die for us.
It was the final stage of the last journey that began in 951
Jesus continued determined and resolute.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem  1929-44       [Contents]

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.'" Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it." They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 1929-35

His instructions were precise, if unusual. There is no question of theft.
      Everyone would have heard how Jesus had just raised Lazarus.
            Also many previous visits.
      'The Lord needs it' was sufficient for the willing owner.
      No one had ever yet ridden the colt yet it did not object. No 'breaking in'.
His owners would have treasured that donkey above all other animals.
      See poem  'The Donkey'  by G.K.Chesterton.

Why did Jesus need a colt?
This was his last journey to Jerusalem.
      The day he had waited for since he commanded creation long ago.
      He was about to fulfill his own prophetic word he had given to Zechariah.
      Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you,
      righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  Zech 99
Most did not even know who Jesus was - the Son of God!
      And none yet really understood why he came.  Jn 1216
      Later they would. What a difference! What a revelation!
What does this prophesy tell us ?
      God came to us (normally subjects go to their King)
      He is 'righteous' (no mere man is)
      He brings salvation (without which no one can be reconciled)
Jesus was making this plain that he was their long-awaited King and Saviour
      in the clearest, most public and unmistakable way he could.

As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."   1936-40

Like the Prodigal's elder brother, some of the Pharisees refused to rejoice.
      They thought Jesus was an imposter.
      Jesus tells them they could not have been more wrong.
            'The stones will cry out'; like the donkey of the greedy false prophet
            Balaam did when he was so blind.  Num 2222-35

Most men have always yearned for peace and justice; but only a few for righteousness.
Without righteousness there can be no real lasting peace, no peace with God.
      Man's peace is at best imposed and temporary.
      In 251 it was peace on earth; now it was peace in heaven. [why?]
Why did the people rejoice?
      They thought Jesus was saying he was the 'King of Israel' (he was!)
            Triumphant and prosperous - even better than King David.
      They loved his miracles - especially Lazarus - and gladly praised God.
      Many say it was the same fickle crowd that 4 days later cried, 'Crucify him'.
            But there is no evidence that it was the same people in the crowd.
            Men may often be fickle, but these men just did not understand.
While this was a moment to rejoice and to savour;
      there was something missing - and it caused Jesus to weep.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."  1941-44

Where was righteousness?
How many longed for this?
The desire for God to change my heart; to be forgiven and reconciled with God.
How could man be awakened to his need that would decide his eternal destiny?
      Not just for peace, ease, plenty and justice now on earth.
How could men come to desire salvation?
Who could redeem us and save us from the death we deserve?  Gen 217  Ro 512
This was what was hidden. No one seemed to care. It made Jesus cry.
Men still prefer 'triumph' to tears, rejoicing to repentance.
In most Bibles the heading is 'The Triumphal Entry' - it was
      But it could also be called 'The Tearful Entry' - it was this too.

Jesus saw man's cruelty, self-righteousness, stubbornness and pride.
      He saw the price tag for their blindness.
      They did not recognise the either the time or the purpose of God's coming.
      They did not see their need and cry, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!"
Tears and distress would continue for many centuries.  Jn 111
      Israel's leadership (and the UK's) is currently humanistic.
            Neither see or even desire the grace and mercy Jesus came to give.
      For 1,300 years there has been 'an abomination' on the Temple Mount.
            The Islamic Dome that proclaims that God has no Son.
            13 times in the Koran it teaches this demonic lie.
      The tears of Jesus reveal his unending compassion for rebellious men.
      A week later some would realise why Jesus wept.
      Today few preachers tell this part of the 'Palm Sunday' story. (Only in Luke)
            They do not want to spoil the happy party!
            O that men would see the need for our salvation and God's most costly Gift
      Many would remain blind and live to see God's Judgement on Jerusalem,
            (Titus AD70) and upon themselves personally - but by then it was too late.
      Let us be quick to learn every lesson that God graciously gives us.
            Beware of being careless about the solemn issues of life and death.
            God's 'visitation' is either in wrath Exd 3233,34  or mercy Jer 2911-13

One day soon Jerusalem will weep - copiously.
They will mourn for Jesus, the Christ whom they pierced.  Zech 1210-132
Then their eyes will be opened
They will see the fountain that was opened at Calvary by the Passover Lamb on that dark afternoon 2000 years ago.
Their hearts cleansed, their tears will turn to dancing.
Ps 85  Righteousness and peace kissed.
Is 52  Therefore my people will know my name ... it is I who foretold it.
Is 62  No longer will they call you Deserted ... They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord.
Is 613 The oil of gladness instead of mourning.
Jer 233-6  I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely ...
      In his days Judah will be saved and Israel ... he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.

Temple Cleared  1945-48       [Contents]

Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. "It is written," he said to them," 'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" 1945,46

This may have been the 2nd time Jesus cleared the Temple.
      John records Jesus at 3 Passovers. Jn 213 64 1155 with this event at the 1st one.
      This problem does not infer any inaccuracy in scripture, only that we do not know the answer!

As Son of the God, Jesus had the required authority to do this. (questioned later 204)
      It was his house! Though he did not live there!
Luke's account is brief and to the point. See Jn 214-16 for more details
Note: Sheep and cattle were driven out, but not lost.
      Coins were scattered, but not taken.
      Dove sellers were told to remove them - they were not released.
      No one lost anything. But his point was well made - even if not accepted.
            i.e. The Temple was designed for prayer not for profit.
Jesus was angry that the poor should be so exploited, especially by priests.
      And that their activity should be such a distraction to true worshippers.
Why do men so often abuse what God instructed for our good?
      e.g. marriage (celibate ministers + gays), priests instead of ministers, ornate cathedrals ...

God's house is for prayer.  Is 563-8
      To which eunuchs and foreigners are included and drawn to it by God!

Where is God's house today? Where is God's holy mountain?
Tabernacle c.f. Temple. Mission tent c.f. cathedral.
'God, you are wonderful' worship c.f. 'What lovely stones'.
David wanted the best for God; he gave Solomon all the plans and materials.  1Ch 28, 29
      But the Temple never saved Israel. Nor have churches saved the UK.
      It is not the stones or building that are wrong; it is man's heart.
Ezekiel reveals how and why the Cherubim departed from the Temple. Ezek 85,12,,14,16 93 104,18 1123
God's home is in the humility, righteousness, truth and justice of a new heart.  Mic 68

Satan's corrupt and deadly purpose is to steal, distract and deceive.
Jesus also taught this in the parable of the Sower.  Math 133-23
Let us take every care that he does not succeed in robbing us.  How?
      One of his ways is the ongoing appeal for profit, for more and more money.
      If only men had the same desire for more holiness and for God.

Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.  1947,48

Clearly the Temple was for teaching as well as prayer.
They were tense days. Murder was in the air! Jesus was a challenge to them:
      He revealed their hypocrisy.
      Where was their hunger for God? Did they see any need for their salvation?
      God desired righteousness and justice, but found neither.  Is 57b
How can mere man think he can thwart the unchanging, prophesied purpose of the Lord Almighty?
Why were they so offended that they sought to kill Jesus? c.f. 6th Commandment
      Did they really think in doing so they were serving God?
See how easy it is for the heart of religious man to be proud, blind and deceived.

What did Jesus teach and do in the these last four days? (Mon - Thurs)
      Much! [See the following 16 sections!]

Authority Questioned  201-8       [Contents]

One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. "Tell us by what authority you are doing these things," they said. "Who gave you this authority?" He replied, "I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John's baptism - was it from heaven, or from men?" They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet." So they answered, "We don't know where it was from." Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."   201-8

Jesus was not directly challenging their authority; but they perceived it that way.
Jesus had no desire to become 'High Priest' or even a Sanhedrin member.
But he did reveal their lust for power and their greed.
He was able to heal and deliver, when they were utterly unable to do so.
He spoke with wisdom and insight of the truth they were obviously blind to.
      'The people hung on his words'.  Lu 1948
      'No one spoke like this man does.'  Jn 746
No one question that he had authority; only where did it come from?
Who was this carpenter from Nazareth who had no rabbinical training?
      Why should he be allowed to teach?
      But they had no answer to the wisdom of his teaching nor to the recent raising of Lazarus.
They were jealous of his wisdom and power, which they obviously lacked.
      They hated him.   And they hated the challenge of truth.

Many have walked like Elijah and Jesus as a 'troubler of Israel'.  1 Kg 1817
      Such men are always hated.  Abel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Paul, Tyndale ...

Jesus did not respond with a difficult question so he didn't have to answer theirs.
His question was easy. But the true answer would reveal their true hearts.
The Scribes "Don't know" lie showed they were so wrong, so deceived.
      They were not prepared to give a straight answer.
      But God always desires honesty; not 'spin' and pretense.

The people were right.  John was indeed a prophet - the greatest!  Lu 724-30
John's baptism was from heaven.
      Even Jesus was baptised and God confirmed his pleasure.
      'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'  Lu 322
And John told everyone who Jesus was, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
      This too would answer their question. But they didn't want to know.
John's authority was from heaven.  It was God planned and God commissioned.
      But they had no sense of need - of their own sin and it's death sentence.
      So they rejected John and all that he taught.

The authority of Jesus, the Son of God was also from heaven, from his Father.
      But they had rejected the purpose of God. The very pinnacle of man's folly.
So Jesus refused to tell them, not because he didn't want them to know,
      but because they had chosen to reject both him and his Father.

Today men reject the authority of both men and of God.
      The Scriptures gather dust. They are distorted, added to, or ridiculed.
      Yet they have always clearly revealed the truth about men and God.
We are warned that in the last days lawlessness will abound.  2 Thes 21-12
      Rebellion against God and men.
      Many deceived, a strong delusion.
      False Christ believed due to his signs and wonders. His time is short!
      Sin is lawlessness.  1 Jn 34-6
      The lawless reject all authority - and will pay a heavy price.  2 Pe 2,3
How can men be so foolish when God has done so much and offers us so much?

Wicked Tenants Punished  209-19       [Contents]

He went on to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.' But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. 'This is the heir,' they said. 'Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others."  209-16a

Matthew tells us that Jesus first told the parable of the two sons. Math 2126-32
      See the relevance of his conclusion - Math 2131b,32
Now he continues with another parable.

Both of the parables were ones Jesus wanted everyone to understand.
      Not just the Jewish leaders of that day, but all men in every age.
Why did Satan fall from heaven?
      He wanted to rule in place of God. The lure of power and possession.
What was the desire of these tenants?
      They too wanted power and 'the inheritance'.
      And like the one who inspired them, they were prepared to kill to get it.
      See the history of nations; of England in the last 1000 years.
            Continual war due to quest for power and lust for possessions.  James 41,2
But even among the disciples there was the quest to be the greatest.  Lu 946 2224
      None of us are immune from this temptation.
      Beware. Admit it readily. And resist it quickly before it takes root.

When the people heard this, they said, "May this never be!" Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.  2016b-19

The people hoped Jesus would be wrong - but he wasn't!
Jesus didn't say, 'You are wrong!'  He told them what the prophets said.  Ps 11822  Is 814
The Word of God is always true, whatever clever man may think.
      A. God tells us that he exalts Jesus whom men reject.
      B. The rejection has terrible consequences - personal and national.

The Scribes and Pharisees understood and were offended. Why?
      1. They refused to admit that they were wrong about Jesus.
      2. They were afraid of the people, but not of Jesus, the Son of God!!
      Sadly the Church (and not just the Church of England) has been little better;
            it has misused countless privileges and carelessly discarded repeated warnings
            it has continually sought power and possessions,  Ezek 341-10
            it has all too often rejected the truth (the unpopular parts of the Word)
            It has refused to change for the better.
Both are here described with painful accuracy by Jesus.
      And the dire warning he gave, has and will be completely fulfilled.

Let all men examine honestly their own motives and ambitions.
      Have done with excuses; "It's not my fault."
      Some blame the church, their parents, their circumstances, ... anything.
      David didn't blame his childhood rejection and the need of love,
            He didn't blame Bathsheba or that his house shouldn't have overlooked hers.
            Ps 51 is the response of the true penitent.
God commands "all men everywhere to repent."  Act 1730
God knows our hearts, and his verdict is that they are totally corrupt.  Jer 179
The only solution is a 'new heart and a new spirit'.  Ps 5110
Few see the strength and virulence of the spiritual disease we are all born with,
      at best most may attempt to modify the old heart.
Let us each admit that God is right when he says,
      it is not repair, but replacement, that we all need.

See the great mercy of God. He has not dealt with us as we deserve.
      But let us not be presumptuous of his patience.
      In the context of the judgement of God, Peter writes,
      "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
      He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
      But the day of the Lord will come like a thief..."  2 Pe 39,10

In due time God with deal with the unbelieving Gentile church
      as he has dealt with all who stumble at the Cross of Christ and why he came.
Remember "Our God is a consuming fire."  Heb 1229
The Lord said, 'My Spirit will not contend with man forever'.  Gen 63
The day will surely come when the rock will crush to powder
      and blow away the whole statue of man's arrogance, enmity and apathy.  Dan 234,35

Let all men pay heed to this parable. It is not just for others!

Paying Taxes to Caesar  2020-26       [Contents]

Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" He saw through their duplicity and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?" "Caesar's," they replied. He said to them, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

Spies act secretly. But God knows all our thoughts and actions; men do not.
Spies have always been used to try find out information not in the public domain.
      Inevitably they have resorted to less than honest means.
      To them, Jesus was a dangerous pest that had to be got rid of.
What was the brief for the spies here?
      In Jewish theology and practice they realised they were far outclassed.
            And in any case they couldn't issue the death penalty they wanted.
      It had to be sedition - something that threatened Rome and the Governor.
They waited in vain; Jesus said nothing against Rome.
      So they concocted a trick question, like "Have you stopped beating your wife?"
      If Jesus said it was wrong to pay tax to Rome - they had him.
      If Jesus said paying Roman tax was legal that would lessen his popularity.
            In fact they asked the much more emotive question, "Was it right?" (c.f. 'legal')
                  for God's chosen Jews to pay taxes to a heathen Gentile government?
                  Especially if you are the Messiah you claim to be!
             And they rejected God as being their King. Jn 1915 also earlier 1 Sam 8
            They also assumed popularity would govern his answer. They were wrong on each count.
Jesus was not fooled by their flattery, nor by their motives for asking.
      "He saw through their duplicity."
      Their cunning question was crafted by the Serpent who beguiled Eve. Gen 31
      Leaders are all too often diverted by flattery or criticism.
Why was the answer Jesus gave so good that they were 'astonished'?
      It was honest. Yes, we are currently obliged to pay taxes to Caesar.
            Unlike them, he did not consider popularity a factor in his answer.
      It focussed on the much bigger issue of God!
            What belongs to him? Everything.
                  Coins had Caesar's image, man was made 'in the image of God'!
            Also all we have is on loan. Use it well.
            God is Almighty and Eternal. Caesar is nothing in comparison.
      Do we give all honour, love, obedience, prayer and worship to God?
            This is surely his due.
            And it is the ongoing challenge of the answer Jesus gave.
His answer raises the question; what belongs to 'Caesar'?
      The Bible tells us what God says is best; but man thinks differently.
            In a democracy is the majority always right?
      How far should the state legislate and determine what is right and wrong?
      What should be left to the individual's conscience?
      'Human rights' for minorities now claim that witchcraft, homosexuality,
      idol worship, abortion etc are all part of their right to freedom.
            c.f. Rigid control of Communism or the 1662 British Act of Uniformity
            plus the 1664 Conventicle Act which forbade all non Prayer Book worship.
      May God grant us wisdom as we strive to answer difficult questions.

Note that national leaders always advertise their dominion on coins.
      God does not. Yet his 'signature' is on all that he has made.
      "Solomon in all his splendour was not dressed like one of these." Math 629

The Jewish leaders saw Jesus as a problem to be got rid of.
      But the real problem was sin, and Jesus was God's one and only solution.

The Scribes and Pharisees had failed, so the Sadducees decided to have a go.
      And they thought they had a beauty! A real poser.

Marriage in the Resurrection  2027-40       [Contents]

Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. "Teacher," they said, "Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. Finally, the woman died too. Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?" Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.  2027-36

Jewish story of two chimney sweeps. (see Jewish Jokes)
      If you start with a foolish question you will come to a foolish conclusion.
They vainly hoped it would stump the Son of God and make him look a fool.
      But it was they who would look stupid.
What is the emphatic answer Jesus gives?
      There IS a resurrection from the dead.
      It will be a different system. No marriage and no death for God's children.

Jesus then gives an example of resurrection from their accepted Jewish history.

But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." Some of the teachers of the law responded, "Well said, teacher!" And no one dared to ask him any more questions.  2037-40

This was a legitimate, if unexpected, interpretation. So simple!
Normally assumed that God was the God of Abraham while Abraham lived.
      But God remains the God of Abraham because the resurrected Abraham lives.
            And Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Elijah ...

The Scribes hated the aristocratic Sadducees so much they even backed Jesus!

Whose Son is the Christ?  2041-44       [Contents]

Then Jesus said to them, "How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' David calls him ‘Lord.' How then can he be his son?"   2041-44

Why did Jesus make this apparently obtuse statement?
These were his last, 'urgent' days before Calvary.
      There was so little time left for the people to learn the truth.
He asks, If Messiah was a son of David, why should David call him "Lord"?
      Because Jesus was also Son of God, and thus worthy of all honour.
Jesus was once more telling them who he was.
      Son of David (King) and Son of God (Messiah and Saviour, Redeemer).
      Not illegitimate as some insinuated. Jn 841
      Soon Daniel's dream - and that of many others would be answered.
      What was this? What have so many longed for?

"A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to put down rebellion, to bring an end to sin, to atone for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Now listen and understand! Seven sets of seven plus sixty-two sets of seven will pass from the time the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One comes. Jerusalem will be rebuilt with streets and strong defences, despite the perilous times. After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple."   Dan 924-26a (New Living Bible)

Gabriel confirmed Daniel's dream into a sure hope!
      To put an end man's rebellion against God and put an end to sin.
      For our guilt to be totally atoned for. Prophesied by scapegoat.  Lev 1620-22
      Kingdom that last for ever that is truly righteous.
      Given assurance that the vision was true.
            It would be fulfilled on a Cross just outside Jerusalem.
            And one day he would come again as Judge and King of Righteousness.
      It would happen in two stages:
            1st Forgiveness and redemption. Given a new heart, but not yet perfect.
            2nd End of wickedness, no temptation, new wholly righteous kingdom.

Mighty David could not do this; but his 'greater Son' will do so.  Rev 55 2216  Lu 131-33
     That is why he rightly calls him "Lord".

Beware of the Teachers of the Law  2045-47                [Contents]

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."  2045-47

While they were still there Jesus gives a forthright warning.
As the true Messiah Jesus did not wear distinctive, expensive clothes.
      He did not seek the praise of men nor popularity.
      He did not prey on the poor; quite the reverse.
      These leaders were not in the ‘line of David'
The Son of God surprised all by his humility and simplicity and compassion.
      He had real power, but did not flaunt it.

Widows's Offering  211-4       [Contents]

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."   211-4

Jesus was a keen observer (Heb 413) even though he had far weightier matters on his heart.
This 'poor widow' was despised and ignored by most; but not by Almighty God. Her gift was appreciated far beyond the much greater gifts of others.
It is another example of how God sees things so differently from men.
God's valuation is so different from man's.
      Consider King David.  Ps 4017 c.f.  1 Chron 2214
It is not what we give, but what we keep!

We can never claim any pack-points with God for our giving,
      no matter how much it is; nor even how sacrificial it is.
The rich are often tempted to despise those who give less. How foolish.
      Few, especially the rich, give more than their surplus.
      Beware of 'numbering'.  David  2 Sam 2410,15
Do not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing.  Math 63

Regular disciplined giving (Tithing plus)  Deut 1422-27
      + spontaneous, compassionate giving (thought out, not just emotional).

Current UK tax laws: Present Government has done much to help Gift Aid
      and to make other charitable giving easier.
But also Lottery whose giving is controlled by a small committee
      and has resulted in reduced charity donations.

Give gladly, not reluctantly. 2 Co 97 81-5 (Remember what Jesus has given to us!)
      "Freely, freely, we have received; freely, freely, give ..." Math 108
Do not appear 'empty' at the feasts. Exd 2315 Deut 1616
The giving of Abel c.f. that of Cain, reflects their respective hearts.
Is the church known for grasping, begging or for giving, providing, enabling?
Beware of "Seed faith" giving. God will not be bribed.

These verses remain a vivid challenge.

Sorrow for Jerusalem  1331-35       [Contents]

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day - for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" 1331-35

Matthew places this incident after Jesus gives the 7 Woes.  Math 23
      But 'Leave this place' suggests Jesus was in Galilee - Herod's jurisdiction.
      It seems likely that they tried this scare tactic more than once.
The Pharisees told Jesus about Herod's intent, hoping it would silence him.
      Men failed many times to divert him.  Math 213  Lu 429  Jn 820 1039  Mk 141,2
      It is the Lord who determined his path, not Herod.  Jn 1017,18
While some planning ahead is prudent, it is God who holds the future.
      Let us not be over anxious about health, family, money or events.
            "In all things God works for the good of those who love him ..."  Ro 828
            It is the Lord Almighty who orders our lives.
            But this does not mean we may abdicate from responsible decisions.

Many prophets died outside Jerusalem - Abraham, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel ...
      But not the greatest prophet - the Messiah!

'Today, tomorrow and the next day' is not literal, but an idiom
      for the continuing, unchanging plan and purpose of God. What was this?
Jesus had but one objective in coming to earth - the vital salvation of men.
      It would not; and could not be thwarted - not by anyone, men or demons.
See here the great compassion of Jesus, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem ..."
      Even though they had turned against him.
But so many of 'his own' rejected him.  Jn 111
      Sadly, it was ever thus. Is 51-7  And England is no better today.
      Jesus longed to gather these unwilling men; he still does.  2 Pe 39  1 Tim 24
      He saw clearly the wickedness of the city, but it did not stop him loving it.
      His sorrow did not cause him to give up the goal.
      No one can say that he is 'lost' because God is reluctant to save him.  
            He remains so purely because of his own hardness of heart and his choice.

"Your house", not "My house", would be desolate for 2000 years, "Until ..."
      How precious is that last single word, 'until'.
      The Jews would be exiled, but Jesus says you will see me again!
      It may seem unlikely, but one day they will call on the name of the Lord.

End of the Age   215-38       [Contents]

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, "As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."   215,6

While Jesus was grieving over the hardness of men,
      even the disciples were more concerned with the beauty of the Temple!
      Are we more concerned with Cathedrals than the souls of 'lost' men?
Jesus tells them the stark truth - total destruction! Fulfilled 40 years later.
      Tragically, many, many souls would be like the stones, 'thrown down'; never to rise again.

Did the disciples hear it? Only later some would do so.
      But most of Jerusalem were just like they were in Jeremiah's day.  Jer 251-11
      Unconcerned and blind; why?   They were proud and wicked.
What about the promise Jesus made about the Temple of his body?  Jn 218-22
      He did lay down his life, his body. He did keep his word - as always.
      He did rise again; and with him the whole host of the redeemed!
      One Temple was superceded by another far better and more permanent one.
      A Priest for ever 'on the basis of the power of an indestructible life'.  Heb 716
Will there be a third Temple built either before or during the Millennium?
      It would serve little useful purpose before Christ returns.

Deception, War and Disasters

"Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?" He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven."   217-11

Two questions: When? and What?
Jesus does not answer the first question directly.
      He tells them what will happen. Then you will know that the end is near.
His first concern is that they will not be deceived. (See article  "Danger Signs!")
False hope, false Messiahs, false religion.

Wars and revolutions will continue. Don't be frightened.
      Family 'wars', civil unrest, rebellion against authority.
      Wars, small or great, always have a high cost - economic and personal.
      Also Dan 926b,27a Israel makes peace with many; but it is soon broken.
      This is not the end, not quite yet.
War, earthquakes, famines, disease, fearful events, great signs from heaven.
      (Including hurricanes, flooding, drought, volcanos, asteroids ...)
      These are not 'natural'; they are ordered by the Lord.
            See the 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 vials of wrath in Rev 6-16.
            Few will see them as the deserved judgement of God; men refuse to repent.

But first of all, before the end:


But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.    2112-19

Persecution - on account of Jesus; not my flawed character.
      Stand firm; I am with you always.  Joel 228  Jer 18   Also Joseph, Ezekiel, Daniel.
      You will be given wisdom and courage. e.g. Stephen, Paul, Reformation ...
            Like Jesus before Sanhedrin and Pilate.
            When their arguments failed, they resorted to violence - as usual.
In our trial we should not fear and worry, but trust God for the inspired spontaneous reply.
Note that we should a have a reason for the hope that is within us. 1 Pe 315
      What is the strong basis of our hope?
            1. The fact that Jesus bore the punishment we deserve and cannot pay.
            2. The accurate and reliable Scriptures that tell us the truth.
      Christianity is reasonable; it is not blind faith.   It is believing what God has said and done!
God's promise does not mean you will not be martyrs!  Jesus says some will be.
      Do not always expect Justice. The trial of Jesus was not just.
      We will be betrayed by those closest to us, and hated by all.
      But we will be witnesses to our persecutors.
      In the resurrection Jesus bore the marks in his body, Rev 56
      But there was not a single hair missing!

Matthew adds there will be false prophets and great wickedness,
      but the Good News will be preached everywhere.   Math 2411,12a,14

Jerusalem Surrounded

When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.   2120-24a

This prophesy was fulfilled in AD 70 when none of the Believers who fled, lost their lives.
      The rest were killed or enslaved.  Will there be a further fulfillment at the end?
It is a time of punishment.
      Let us Gentiles not be proud; we too have sinned grievously against the Lord.
      The Church has continually persecuted and despised the chosen Jews.
      Consider carefully God's warning in Ro 1120-22

Note that God promises to restore the Jews.
      He brought the Jews back, and Israel became a nation again in 1948.
      Soon they will mourn and repent. Zech 1210,11  Also promise of Ezek 371-14 
      Israel will be saved.  Ro 1125-32
Jerusalem will again be surrounded. This time by Muslims and the world's God-hating armies.
      Jerusalem will not need to flee; the outcome will be very different!
      Jesus himself will come and defend his chosen people against all nations.
            Zech 122-6 142-5  Rev 1919-21
            It will not be the IDF that will save them, but the Lord himself returning.
God will terminate world dominion by the Gentiles and their hostility to Israel.
This is God's revealed plan - radically different from that of man!
      See how careful one has to be with biblical prophesy.

Many (esp. in USA) proclaim that the Gog / Magog war of Ezek 38,39 is about to happen.
      But Rev 207-9 reveals that this Satan-led attack is at the end of the Millennium.
      Also Ezek 388 Gather after ‘many days'   Ezek 3811 Invade ‘unwalled villages'
            Ezek 3819,22 396  Defeated by earthquake, plague and fire (Rev 209b)

Many (especially in the USA) proclaim the Gog / Magog war of Ezek 38,39 is about to happen.
      But Rev 207-9 reveals that this Satan-led attack is at the end of the Millennium.
      Also ‘after many days ... in future years you will attack a land that has recovered from war'. Ezek 388
           They will invade ‘un-walled villages'.  Ezek 3811
            Israel is currently building a wall for protection against terrorists.  (2004)
      Gog / Magog will be defeated by earthquake, plague and fire. Ezek 3819,22 396    also Rev 209b

The Times of the Gentiles

Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.   2124b

How long would this destruction last?  About 2000 years.
This time of Jerusalem's destruction will be shortened for the sake of the elect.  Math 2422
The evidence of the ‘trampling' is clearly seen.
      Persecution of Jews from Constantine on.
      Anti-Semitic Crusades.
      Ottoman empire and Golden Dome + El Aksa mosque.
      Hitler's murder of 6 million Jews (1.5 million were children)
      Today U.N., Bush, Clinton, Peres etc = Gentile blackmail and domination.
            Each are murderers and traitors. Motivated by lust, greed and New World Order.
The ‘Holy City' will be trampled on by Gentiles for 3½ years. Rev 112
But God has decreed that soon this ‘trampling' will end.
      Then God's chosen people will be honoured, respected and loved.

Redemption is Near

There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.   2125-28

God promises much more than a bit of thunder and lightening!
Prophets spoke of these signs.  Is 1310 2423 3026  Joel 231 315  Josh 1012,13
      Rev 612 (6th seal)   812 (4th trumpet)   92 (5th trumpet)   168 (4th bowl)
Sun and moon can represent national leaders e.g. Gen 379
      But here it is the literal, physical heavenly bodies.
      Not told the cause. Volcanic smoke? Whatever, it will be awesome.
On earth - national chaos and confusion.
      The mightiest unbelievers will shake with fear.
      Almighty God, whom they disdain, reveals who is strong!  Exd 819  1 Kg 1838
      None of the things they trust will be of any help:
            Technology Ps 207      Wisdom Is 2914      International Treaties Is 311
            Bunkers Rev 616          Finance 2 Kg 1813-16 Rev 1814
            Power 2 Kg 1830-35   c.f.   2 Kg 1935 Rev 187,8
But Christians will stand in the strong confidence of God.  Prov 1810  Is 4031
      We see these events as a herald of our Commander in Chief.  Josh 514
      Our longed-for redemption is near.  Heb 928
Then we shall see him - and leap for joy!  Ps 96
      The fulfilment of our dreams and the end of all wickedness.
      Not all men will see him thus.

Be Careful

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."    2129-36

Jesus now specifically answers the 'When?'.
      There will be easily recognisable signs - just like Spring before Summer.
      If you see all these things happening, the Kingdom of God is near.
            At the same time, the kingdom of God is already within us. Lu 1721
            But the reign of Christ is not yet world-wide; most still reject him.
      The Kingdom of Heaven was opened at Calvary. More later!

Who are / were 'this generation'
      Again, only partly fulfilled in 70 AD. Not 1948 either.
      It is the 'end-time' generation that 'sees all (the conclusion of) these things'.
      All that we have learned of 'Heaven and earth' will change (pass away). No stability
      Only the Word of God will never change. It is that stable, that reliable.
      Everyone wants to know what the future holds.
            Then why don't they search the only accurate source; the Bible?
            Instead, men vainly use their wisdom, horoscopes, seances, tarot cards etc

'Take care', says Jesus.
      Every generation has needed to be careful, but we more than any other.   Why?
Jesus repeatedly warns us to beware of being deceived.
Because the time is near. Like in Noah's day. Math 2437-42
To the perishing and careless the day of his coming is unexpected.
      So sudden, that like a trap, it will then be too late to get ready.
To those who watch and pray - earnestly - it will not be a surprise.
Don't be among those who moan in continual regret, "If only we had known."

Jesus then told four parables. Math 2445-2546
      About the domineering, careless, self-sufficient and photo-opportunists.

Messiah will Come Like Lightning

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  1720-25

The longing for 'the kingdom of God' is universal. Many call it 'Utopia' - 'Peace and Plenty'.
      Pharisees longed for it too. Why did so many seek, and fail to find?
      Jesus tells them.
It is not a political or religious system..
It is not achieved by 'careful observation', the keeping of selected laws.
It is within; 'Christ in me'! It is the atoning relationship with Jesus Christ
      This requires repentance and faith (revelation) on our part
            And redemption by God, who alone can bear the punishment we deserve.
What was their problem?
      They asked the wrong question. i.e. when would Kingdom of God come?  But it had come!
            They were actually talking to the Lamb of God who came to take away sin.
      They refused to admit need. Rev 317,18   Requires forgiveness and change of nature.
      They did not need to know about the coming kingdom, but of the kingdom of Christ within.
      Sadly they refused to come to Christ for life.  Jn 540    Today men still refuse.
Jesus gives them a warning:
      Do not follow the false Messiahs that would surely come.
            Jesus first came as a man. His birth, ministry, power, and fulfilment of OT
                  made it obvious that he was the Saviour Messiah.  Lu 2425,26
            Then later as Judge and King he will come suddenly as lightning!
Jesus tells them the truth that before that day comes, the Son of God has first to suffer.
      And most of you will reject him -
      Not realising why he was needed, they were not looking for a Redeemer.
            They did not seek his grace and mercy, the only means of eternal life.
      They sought for a mighty King, whom they would gladly follow.  
      But see Is 358-10   Only the redeemed can walk in the Way of Holiness.
Did they understand his teaching? No.
      Not even the disciples understood.  Lu 24 21
      Only after the event (of Calvary) would any of them comprehend.

A generation of Jews arose that did understand the truth
      and they faithfully delivered the Gospel to us Gentiles.  Act 1028 1346
At the end another, greater generation of Jews will come who will understand.
They will look upon him who they have pierced - and mourn.  Zech 1210
They will return and all Israel will be saved.  Ro 1125,26
The gathered bones with flesh and blood will then receive the breath of life,
      and become 'a vast army'.  Ezek 379,10
When Jesus returns, Jews will again teach the world.  Is 23b

Keep Watch, Be Ready "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left." "Where, Lord?" they asked. He replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."   1726-37

What were the days of Noah and Lot like?
      Wicked. Gen 65-8       Homosexual.  Gen 196,13
And no one cared a fig that God grieved. Only Noah, and Abraham and Lot.

This teaching of Jesus is not saying that eating, drinking and marrying is wrong.
      They are all part of everyday life. So what was wrong?
They had no interest or clue about what God was about to do.
      They had long given up trying to change the world's wickedness.
      They were unconcerned, just getting on with life.
      They were not grieved. Amos 61,6
      They were tragically unprepared. Then suddenly it was too late.  1 Thes 53
How many wake up each morning with the heart-cry, "Maranatha!" ?  Rev 2217
How many see this world as God sees it; and long for his plan to be completed?

How many Christians realise what his plan is?  Rev 6-19  Judgement!
      Soon, very soon, the Son of Man will be revealed to a startled, terrified world.
      It will be to a wicked, war weary, world that has suffered massive disasters.
      Not one that is getting better, thanks to the achievements of man.
      Peace and righteousness will come in the millennium, not before.

On that day don't yearn for your teddy, or your photo album, or wood lathe.
      These will be totally without consequence. God alone is central.
      'Remember Lot's wife!', says Jesus - and with good reason.
      Religious profession is one thing, but she hankered after the old life.
      She had left her heart behind. She disobeyed, and died - like Adam.
      Why try to preserve our life here when Jesus offers us a so much better life.
      Leave the old behind - gladly!
      'Let the dead bury their dead.'

'One will be taken and the other left' has led to many end-time novels (mostly from USA).
      Nearly all centre about a supposed rapture before the tribulation.
But Jesus was speaking here about the judgement at his coming after the tribulation.
      Who are the ones who are taken?  They are the 'dead',  not those alive in Christ.
      This is made clear by the disciple's question, where are they taken?
            They are taken away for the vultures, for destruction, for burning!  Math 1330
It is the righteous who are left that are then gathered into the kingdom.

Jesus Taught at the Temple       [Contents]

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.   2137,38

Jesus not only taught about the urgency and gravity of the end times,
      but many other matters. (Next 5 paras probably occurred in last week)
It was their last opportunity. But few guessed it then.
The time was short; but Jesus did not despair at their slowness of heart to believe.
Each day he faithfully taught what they needed most to hear.  
Jesus always kept Right Priorities. Do we?

Persistent Widow  181-8                [Contents]

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"   181-8

This teaching of Jesus needs to be proclaimed loud and clear today.
      (As do all his teachings and instructions)
      We live in the 'instant' society. 'Me, Now'.
      We expect God to make life easy and to receive immediate answers to prayer.
      We 'push doors' and if they open, then it is God's will; if not, then it isn't.
      We 'put out fleeces' and expect signs to reveal God's plan.
Let us with courage remember, "It is not the beginning, but the continuing ..."

Examples of persistence:
Elijah. Not known how long he prayed for God to terminate Ahab and Jezebel's increasing wickedness,
      and their incitement for Israel to worship idols.
      But he meant business. God saw his heart and one day gave him his answer.
      It would not rain until he commanded. It didn't! Victory at Carmel.
Daniel. Served Nebuchadnezzar faithfully for over 40 years.  See result. Dan 4
      And how God answered his greatest desire.  Dan 924
      One of least known verses in Daniel. Also 234,35 Our long too?
Canaanite Woman. Sought deliverance for her son, and persisted.  Math 1522-28

In what main area should this persistence be exercised?
Jesus instructs us to pray; but what should be a primary concern?
Justice - from God's perspective.  Is 57b  c.f.  Lu 1213-21
      When will the powerful and wicked cease to prosper?
      When will men stop getting away with sin - apparently?
      The Day of Judgement is God's justice being executed.  Math 1116-24  2 Pe 37-9
            His judgement is just - he knows all the facts and is never deceived.
            He is not slow or late, but patient. We must learn to persist.
      In the tribulation - in which Christians are persecuted, not raptured! -
            the principal theme is justice; God's justice.  Rev 610 and 165,7 192
      Like Pharaoh in the plagues, World Leaders will be totally unable to prevent
            or even reduce the global catastrophes that God orders.  Rev 6-16
      They will reveal the true heart of men.
            They will curse God and refuse to repent - and pay for it!  Rev 169, 11, 21
God's justice will surely come. This is absolutely certain. "Lord, Come quickly!"
Never forget that "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord."  Ro 1217-21  Lu 951-55

As Jesus assures us here, 'God will bring about justice for his chosen ones.'
      We will rejoice that sin, Satan and the enemies of God are defeated.
            See the Songs of Moses.  Exd 15  Deut 32
            They will be sung again at the end.  Rev 152-4
      God's justice will not come in the way most men expect.
            It will be both 'for' and 'against'.
Who are God's elect? Those who 'cry to him day and night'.

Note the final sentence.
      Judgement will rest upon real faith.
      i.e. our trust and total dependance upon what Jesus has done for us.
      "Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  Jn 316 1125,26
      Redemption brings justification. God's justice is satisfied.
            "For God the just is satisfied to look on him and pardon me!"

Humble will be exalted  189-14                [Contents]

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  189-14

This is one of those parables that is easy to understand, but is a real challenge.
All men naturally try to exalt and assert themselves.
Be truthful, do I see myself as God sees me? Few do.
So God who knows well the hearts of all men warns us of pride.
      Confidence in what Jesus has done is good and desirable;
            but arrogant presumption is always near, across a shallow fordable stream.
May the Lord make us sensitive to the least sin.
      May we daily cry, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner."
      Our heart attitude (especially in prayer) matters.
It very fitting that Luke alone tells us this parable after the previous teaching;
      when we delight in his justice and judgement of Satan and the wicked.
Every man who is blind to his own sin is in a most desperate plight.
No one should consider themselves 'good',
      when Jesus said, "No one is good except God alone."  Lu 1819
The finest clothing for all Christians is the grace of humility.
      Jesus remains 'The Friend of sinners', not of the proud.
The man is a fool who said, "The Pharisees may be holy, the Sadducees rich, and the Scribes learned,
      but when it comes to humility, we're tops!"
There are no degrees in justification.
The Pharisee remained condemned, and the Publican was forgiven.

Unfaithful Servant 1235-48       [Contents]

"Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."   1235-40

This is another parable where the meaning is plain - not hidden.
      The servants of the Master must be ready at all times for his return.
Why the urgency?
      Simply that 'it will be good for us'.
      Jesus want the very best for the redeemed.
      He knows what is in the hearts of men.
            How easily we become sloppy and sinful.
      He dearly wants to spare us from a wasted life; or worse.
      Jesus warns us to save us from the trajedy of "If only we had known".

How are we to be ready?
Faithful servants, were not distracted when their Master seemed 'delayed'.
"True faith is not a single step, but a long walk."
Zeal and sacrifice. It is better to wear out than to rust out.
      Be grateful, compassionate, making the most of the time.
Beware of the love of an easy life style and hedonism.
      Happiness is elusive; found more in fulfilment of God's will than elsewhere.
Discipline of consistent prayer and the reading of scripture (searching diligently).
Learn the value of wise priorities.
Be practical. Make realistic goals - and then keep them!
      Learn good habits - in thoughts as well as deeds.
            1 Pe 113 Phil 48 1 Co 216 Eph 423,24 Phil 25
      Take your stand. Eph 613 Lu 2134-36 Eph 610-18 1 Co 1013
      Beware of the easy distraction of TV. Few good and righteous programs.
            Much time is wasted, and many evil thoughts can intrude.
            It's influence is greater than you may think.
Live a holy life (learn to hate even the smallest sin; never, never excuse it).
      1 Thes 523 Tit 213 2 Tim 41
Dare to be different from the world.
Help each other to live our lives with Jesus.
We need to learn from history - and heed sure future warnings
Be aware, alert, eyes open, discerning, obedient, don't just 'go with tide'.
Remember the object of worship is worship; not just 'having a good time'.
Long for united goal, mutual respect, corporate purity of belief and behaviour.
Be consistent.
Walk humbly in the love and fear and expectation of God.

God holds us responsible for being ready.
Let us keep to these paths, trusting on the full grace and enabling of God.

At the first coming of Jesus, God prepared the way by sending John.
His message made men aware of the enormity of their sin; and resulting death.
His purpose was to make men repent and cry to God for mercy.
Today we are much more concerned with the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
      With his ministry and fruits, and enjoying worship, especially in large groups.
      But the principle ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement.
      This is not what the popular Alpha course emphasises.  But it is what John loudly proclaimed.
Before Jesus comes again, our preparation must be like John.
      Who will dare to preach about the need to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
      John did. Jesus did. We must. Even if it is against the current trend.
Our preparation for the 2nd coming is the same as for the 1st.

"He who loves the coming of the Lord is not he who affirms it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near,
rather it is he who, whether it is far off or near, awaits it with sincere faith, steadfast hope and fervent love."   Augustine

Parables are always easy when they are applied to someone else.
Why was Peter unsure if the chosen apostles needed to head it?
      He thought he was ready.
      But the problem comes when the Master is seemingly delayed.
            When the months stretch to years. Are we still ready?

So Jesus tells another story - especially for them!

Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.   1241-48

The manager started well, but then sadly lapsed - and worse!   How?
Peter, you need to hear this.
      Beware of power that has corrupted so many.
      Beware of popularity and success.
            Being fruitful is one thing, enjoying controlling others is quite another.
      The impetuous Peter had much to learn; but he was a good learner.
            He didn't forget.
      If only those who claim to have succeeded him would remember and heed.

Let us never flag in searching out what is the will of our Master.
God's enduring testimony of one man was
      Noah did everything just as God commanded him.  Gen 622  also Exd 4016
      You are my friends if you do what I command.  Jn 1514

We must always remember what God has said, especially leaders,
      This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.  Is 662

May I never be careless or so blinded to think I am immune from power's claws.

Jesus Anointed  736-50                [Contents]

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, And as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner." Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled." "You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."   736-50

This story is pure gold - only much better! Jesus treasured it.  Math 2613
Recorded in all 4 Gospels. But why does Luke place it so early in his ministry?
      View the Luke context.  Always a good thing to do - saves much trouble and error.
      Jesus had been telling the people about John Baptist. Many had responded.
            But not the Pharisees and Scribes.  Lu 730
            They also criticised Jesus for being a 'Friend of sinners'.  Lu 734
      So Luke gives this most wonderful example of forgiveness.
      The 'After this ...' in Lu 81 refers to his teaching about John, not his example.

Let us examine the incident.
Simon was a Pharisee from Bethany, who had been healed of leprosy.  Math 266
      He invited Jesus to a meal.
      He is interested, but didn't want to appear too keen. Feared his reputation.
      He didn't greet Jesus or even give him water to wash.
      I suspect their conversation was somewhat awkward.
Enter one emotional woman! And she was a local with a reputation!
      (John gives us her name, but not her profession.  Jn 123)
      Mary wept and kissed and dried and perfumed his feet.
      It was only a few days after Jesus had raised her brother, Lazarus.
      Jesus welcomed her easily, tenderly. He knew her well.  Lu 1038-42
      He was a prophet and knew all about her. But he didn't reject her.
Simon was obviously acutely embarrassed - and critical.
      His house would reek of perfume for months, and the story for even longer!
      He refused to see that Jesus came to save sinners.  Lu 527-32
      He certainly could not be a prophet, let alone the Messiah.
How gracious of the Lord of Glory to say, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
Rabbi Jesus told him a simple little story about the two forgiven debtors.
      Then he asked Simon a question. Nothing difficult. Simon answers correctly.
      But the story is most profound. It could have changed his eternal destiny.
      Jesus then applied it with great accuracy to the current situation.
      Simon, she has done this because she knew I had forgiven her.
            She was so grateful that her sin had been taken away.
      Simon, do you want to know this too?
            Is this why you asked me to dinner?
            Do you realise that you're a debtor too, even if your sins aren't so obvious?
Sadly there is no record of Simon's response.
      Even the words of the Son of God were often rejected or ignored.  Jn 635-37

The disciples were blind to what was happening too.
      They murmured, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"  Lu 520-25
      And they all criticised Mary for wasting over £15,000.  Mk 145  Math 268
      Jesus lovingly corrects them. Math 2610-13
            They all learned from the experience and told this story wherever they proclaimed the Gospel.
            All except Judas. He refused the correction.
                  He immediately went to the Chief Priests to betray him.  Math 268-16

Mary is told to go home in peace. This was real peace. Peace with God.
      The peace Jesus longed to give to all Jerusalem - then and now.  Lu 1942
Mary left knowing for sure she was forgiven, loved and even respected - by God!
      Jesus was delighted. And all heaven was rejoicing.  Lu 1510
Not forgiven because anointed Jesus, but anointed him because she was forgiven.
      "Your faith has saved you". Lu 750
      "Without faith it is impossible to please God ..."  Heb 116
Like Noah was not righteous because obedient, but obedient because righteous.


I kneel as the woman long ago
Knelt at Jesus' feet.
Silently my spirit weeps ...
With my tears I would wash the feet of Jesus.
Repentance flows from my heart,
The fragrance of my broken spirit
Rises to Him as sweet perfume;
The vessel emptied, poured out to Him,
The good and bad together,
My offering ...
With my tears I would wash the feet of Jesus.
Gently He lifts me up,
Forgiveness is in His touch,
"Those who have been forgiven much, love much ..."
With my tears I have washed the feet of Jesus.

by Paula Worth

Judas Becomes Betrayer  221-6       [Contents]

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, And the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.   221-6

All the disciples thought Mary's extravagant anointing was a waste.
      But only Judas refused the correction of Jesus.
      She had done a beautiful thing. So beautiful that it would always be told.
            And what a joy it is to tell wherever and whenever the Gospel is proclaimed.
What motivated Judas to betray Jesus?
      He didn't like being corrected for criticising Mary. He was offended.
            He thought he was right and Jesus, the Son of God was wrong!!
Satan cannot enter a disciple uninvited.
      Pride and disobedience gave him the opportunity.
Not heeding God's correction has shipwrecked many lives.
      For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
      Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith
      and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Tim 610
      This particular enticement of Satan has caused much grief; yet still sought.
Wealth is the driving force of much ambition.
      See what people will do to gain more money.
      See how bribes have always been used to secure personal advantage.
      See the obsession of gambling. Lottery, bingo, horses, stock market ...
Compare this with the wisdom of God who says,
      Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have,
            because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."   Heb 135
      You cannot serve God and money ... but God knows your hearts.
            What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.   Lu 1613-15
God has included this incident in scripture because we all need to heed it.
      Judas was not the first, nor the last, to reject God in favour of wealth.
      No one is immune from the lure of lucre.

The betrayal by Judas is the last incident in this action-packed last week in Luke.

The following passage from John 1223-27 is most relevant.
Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

The time had come!
      God and man had waited some 4,000 years for this moment.
What would happen?
      The Son of Man would be glorified!
      Betrayed by a friend, yes. Crucified on a cross, yes.
      The kernel of wheat would willingly fall into the ground and die, yes.
      But it would also be a moment of great glory. Why?
            God himself would provide the sacrifice all men so desperately need.
            He would open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
      'This was the very reason he came to this hour'. What a Saviour!
      And he did this just for me!

Do I love this world so much? Is money such a pull?
      Get and keep a right perspective. Life now c.f. eternal life.
      God is not a 'kill-joy', but if the seed dies, it germinates and produces not just one life, but many.
Let us learn from the tragic, selfish, deceived choice of Judas.

Note that laying down my life cannot earn my salvation.
      I lay it down in gratitude for what Jesus has done for me.
      Like Mary who poured out her anointing perfume, knowing she was forgiven.

At the end of this last, most costly week, Jesus was indeed glorified.
      "In the Cross of Christ I glory, tow'ring o'er the wrecks of time ..."

Preparations for Last Supper  227-13                     [Contents]

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there." They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.   227-13

'Then came the day ...' Jesus had longed for this unique day. 2214
      A day when no man was so willing to pay such a high price for anything.
            'The Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed.' There was no other way.
      A day when the ageless longings of man hungry for God would be fulfilled.
Only one day will surpass it; the wedding supper of the Lamb. Rev 195-8

Jesus tells Peter and John 'Go and make preparations ...'
      'Where? ...' There are always so many questions we need to ask.
      Like when he tested them prior to feeding the multitude. Math 1416
            Jesus knew what he would do and what would happen.
            They did feed the 5000, but only after the miracle Jesus wrought.
      This was a different type of miracle.
            Jesus knew what was going to happen. Father had shown him.
            Jesus wanted to make them part of this miracle too.
Some have contorted this event.
      As also when Jesus 'borrowed' a donkey when he entered Jerusalem.
      They claim it was a pre-arranged signal.
      Why not just say, 'Go to Jacob's house, it's the third one down from Rabbi
            Levinson in Temple Square? It is a big house with an upper room.'
God chose another way. Jesus didn't know where!
      He only 'saw' 'a man carrying a jar of water.'
      Why are some so reluctant to admit Jesus had a vision of what would happen?
      True visions are God-given and rare. e.g. Elisha 2 Kg 71  Jer 327  Gen 40

Is there any significance in what Jesus saw? (A man carrying a jar of water)
      Yes. It would be surprising if God did not have a reason for this event.

In studying John's Gospel we discovered that there are some problems
with what day the Last Supper and Crucifixion occurred.

John says Last Supper was 'Just before' instead of 'at' the Passover Feast.  Jn 131
He also uses phrase 'The evening meal ...' instead of 'the Passover meal'.  Jn 132
This raises a question. Was the 'Last Supper' the Passover Seder meal;
      or was it a 'special' meal on the previous day?
Math 2617 Mk 1412 and Lu 227 indicate it was the Passover.
John clearly shows that the 'Last Supper' was the day before.  Jn 131
      He did not write this to confuse us. And the scripture is accurate.
Somewhere we seem to have got it wrong. Where?

There is much evidence for the Last Supper being on Wednesday
      and the Passover Preparation and Crucifixion on Thursday:

1. At the trial of Jesus before Pilate, the Sanhedrin "wanted to be able to eat the Passover.'  Jn 1828
      i.e. they had not yet eaten their Passover meal.

2. At the trial 'It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week ...'  Jn 1914
      On Passover preparation day, Jews remove all leaven from the house.
            They bathe to ensure ceremonially clean.
            They kill the Passover lamb 'between sunsets' on 14th Nisan.
      There is no 'preparation' required for the normal Jewish Sabbath.
      In Jn 1930,31 After Jesus had been crucified and said, "It is finished,"
            John repeats, "Now it was the day of Preparation."
            i.e. The final true Passover Lamb of God had been slain.

3. "... the next day was a to be a special Sabbath."  Jn 1931
      Not the usual Saturday Sabbath (after Friday Crucifixion), but a special one.
      No work is allowed on the first day of Passover, it was a 'Sabbath'.  Lev 233-8

4. Jesus had said, "As Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a huge fish,
            so the Son of Man will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth."  Math 1240
      Part Friday and Sat is only 2 days - Jesus had risen before dawn on Sunday.
      Even if this is counted as a 3rd day, he was dead for only 2 nights (Fri+Sat)
      This specific statement requires Jesus to have been crucified on Thursday.

5. If Jesus was crucified on Thursday it would have been the same time
      that all the Passover Lambs were slaughtered on Preparation day.
      And Passover was, as traditionally accepted, on Friday.
      While not a 'proof', it is a meaningful coincidence in the perfect plan of God.

6. The chief Priests declared on Preparation day, (the 14th Nisan)
            whether any selected Passover lamb was Kosher.
      Ironically it was the gentile Roman Governor Pilate on Preparation day
            who declared that Jesus was innocent, kosher-clean to the Priests!  Lu 234,13

7. The Dead Sea scrolls have revealed much about the Essenes at Qumran.
      They believed that they alone kept alive the true Jewish faith.
      Sought real holiness - by repentance Math 32 417
      Also required repeated ritual cleansing.
      John Baptist and Jesus said, "Repent and be baptised".  Lu 32  Mk 14,14  Act 238
      John and Andrew were disciples of John Baptist.  135-42
      Essenes believed and longed for the coming kingdom of God and the Messiah.
      Hated hypocrisy of the Temple Passover (Jesus cleared Temple.  Lu 1928-44)
            so they celebrated Passover a day earlier so that it may be kept pure.
      Very few women allowed in their community.
      Jesus told disciples they would see a man carrying the water.
            This man is likely to have been an Essene monk.  Lu 228-13  Mk 1412-16
      The Essenes definitely had a guest-house in Jerusalem.
      Peter and John told they would find a 'guest room' furnished and ready.
      Maybe the 'Last supper' was an Essene Passover meal.

8. According to moon cycles, if the crucifixion was in AD 30 or 33,
      then Passover was on a Friday. Jewish months always start at new moon.
      and Passover is always on the 15th Nisan (twilight of the 14th)  Lev 236
            i.e. 14 days after new moon.

This weight of evidence from scripture suggests at least the possibility that:
Orthodox Passover was Friday, 15th Nisan, with Seder meal on Thursday evening.
Essene Passover was on Thursday, with the meal on Wednesday evening,
      and this is what Jesus celebrated in the Jerusalem guest-house.
His trial was on Thursday morning, with crucifixion the same afternoon.
Jesus was crucified at the time the Passover lambs were being slain. 1 Co 57

Reluctant to challenge the scholarship of years.
But this seems the most likely sequence of events.
Scripture is seen to be accurate (which it always is)
      and 'Tradition' is probably wrong on this occasion; it is not inevitably correct.

But always remember what matters most is not when; but what Jesus did, and why he had to do it.

The two disciples found it all exactly as Jesus said. Not surprising!
They made their preparations:  Lamb, wine, bitter herbs and unleavened bread.
All was ready for the greatest event in world history, that followed this supper.
God's plan began to unfold exactly as prophesied.

The Last Supper  2214-38                 [Contents]

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.   2214-20

Jesus 'eagerly desired to eat this Passover.'   Why?
      It would lead to the 'fulfilment', the opening of the kingdom of heaven.
He tells them how this would be achieved. His suffering and death.
      The Last supper was not the 'fulfilment', but the Cross and the Resurrection.
Jesus tells them this was not just his last Passover, but his last meal with them, 'until the kingdom of God comes'.
Why did Jesus give thanks for the bread and the wine?
      Physical food and drink.
      What they represent -
            His body given and broken for us.
            His blood, his life, poured out for us.
      God has no other possible way to save sinful, corrupt men.
      It is his new covenant with men that he gave with mercy and faithfully kept.
      Remember this, remember me - says Jesus, wherever you eat.
The bread and wine are to be a simple remembrance of Christ's Redemption.
      It was never intended to be a repeated sacrifice by a special priest.
      Nor is there any 'Roman' transformation of the bread or wine.

The Jewish Seder meal has four cups (each very significant).
      1. Freedom (from slavery in Egypt and from sin)
      2. Redemption (Passover Lamb was killed. Cleansed by blood of Christ)
      3. Chosen people (God chose the Jews. Now Christians are also chosen)
      4. Hope (Look forward to God in the future. The coming of the Messiah)
For Jews today it remains a family meal (not church or synagogue service)
      No Lamb is sacrificed, but just 2 lamb bones on the table.
      One day the meaning of these will be revealed.   Zech 8  Ezek 3710  Ro 1126
            The Lamb of God came and he died to make possible our forgiveness.

But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him." They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.   2221-23

The straight-forward honesty of Jesus should not surprise us.
      But that one of the 12 should wish to betray his Master is amazing.
      Why did Judas betray the Son of God?
            Had he learned nothing in the previous 3 years?
            None of the disciples yet realised that the sinless Saviour had to die for us.
            Like Cain, he was offended by Mary's 'waste'. He rejected correction.
                  His agenda for the Kingdom of God was different.
                  He refused to allow God to break his proud spirit.
                  Blessed are the poor in spirit ... those who mourn ...  the meek ...  Math 53-5
God warned Cain; now he warns Judas. Both foolishly spurned the mercy of God.
Of those at the meal, only Jesus knew who his betrayer was.
      Nothing is hid from Jesus. He knows all of each of our hearts.
      He ensured that Judas had every opportunity to repent.
            He placed him next to him, washed his feet, warned him clearly of danger.

Let us learn from this incident.
May we never reject the word of God - whatever means he chooses to tell us.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles Lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.   2224-27

This is amazing.
      When Jesus was telling them about salvation and about betrayal,
            they were more concerned with who was the greatest!
Maybe it is not so amazing.
      At the heart of many church squabbles is self-esteem and power.
      None of us are immune from envy and pride, or any other sin!
The Son of God came to serve, not to be served.
      The world sneered at the lowly 'Friend of sinners'.
      God had just washed their feet!
      And next day he would 'serve' on a Cross! As promised.
What did it mean for the Son of God to become a Servant? Is 5213-5312
      Appearance disfigured. 5214
            Mutilated with lashes, crown of thorns, and the cross.
      No beauty or majesty to attract us. 532b
      Despised and rejected. 533
      He was pierced for our transgressions. 535
      He did not complain. 537
      He was cut off, separated from his Father. 538b Ps 221
      He bore the sin of many. 5312b
Yet it was their agreed plan. 5310
His willingness to be a servant will justify many. 5311

Lord, teach me to willingly serve and not count the cost too high or complain.
Three things have always been a snare to men  -  money, sex and power.
      We considered the former in the anointing of Jesus; 'Why this waste?'
      Jesus now deals with the last of the trio.  (see also notes on 1241-48)

You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me."    2228-34

Jesus tells the 11 of their great privilege and responsibility.
      But it will not be without trials.
      He specifically warned Peter; he would be a special target of attack.
What do we learn from this warning, and from Peter's response?
      How blind and vulnerable we are to our to our real weakness.
      How easy it is to be proud and presumptuous.
      How great is the hatred of Satan for the souls of the redeemed.
      How gracious is our Advocate who warns and continually prays effectively for us.  Heb 725
Peter did fall; but God raised him up. His faith did not fail.
      Sifted?  Yes.   But it left only cleaned grain that would bear much fruit.

Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.   2235-38

A ministry to heal, to deliver, relieve suffering and hunger will always be popular.
What was to change?
      Their task would now be to evangelise.
      i.e. To reveal the natural corruption of all men, and God gracious rescue plan.
True evangelists have always had a rough ride.
      The Cross is always offensive.
      They would need to take provisions.
      But why a sword?  They would also need protection.
            Sword is symbolic. Not a verse to promote armed evangelists!
See how Jesus takes all that is written seriously.
      He would be numbered with the transgressors. Yes indeed he was.
      That is what it cost our willing Saviour to bear my sin.

Jesus Prays  2239-46       [Contents]

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."   2239-46

Jesus went to the Mt of Olives 'as usual',  but there was nothing usual about his prayer.
      He alone knew what was about happen.
            He was to take our sin and our deserved punishment upon himself.
            The result would cost separation from his Father. And Crucifixion.
            The cost could not have been higher. We do well to always remember this.
      Yet he was also very concerned for his disciples.
            He urged them twice to pray. Why?
                  'That you will not fall into temptation'. ( x2)
                  Jesus knew the frailty of men and Satan's determination to destroy.
            Most Christians are aware of the importance of prayer, yet:
                  It is often the first thing to go when life becomes too busy.
                  It is all to easy to neglect this vital task and need - for us and others.
            Jesus knows our hearts; all that we do, and don't do.
                  It sometimes brings him great joy, but sometimes also sadness.
            When Christians fall, a root cause is most often either a neglect of prayer,
                  or ignorance or deliberate rejection of the Word of God.
                  c.f. men who prayed in the day of trouble.
                  David Ps 5015  Jacob Gen 3224  also Job, Hezekiah, Paul in jail ...
                  These men prayed in trouble because they always prayed. Daniel.

'Why are you sleeping?' ( x2)
      'Exhaustion from sorrow.'
            (I was surprised that I had no energy for 2-3 months after Mum died)
      One day our bodies will be renewed and never be weak or weary again.
            The three disciples also fell asleep at the Transfiguration.  Lu 932
            Do Jews stand to pray to prevent drowsiness?
      They had yet to grasp the need for Jesus to be crucified,
            but they knew that he was about to leave them. And felt desolate.
            Somehow their Messiah had not fulfilled their longed-for expectation.
      Soon they would realise he had done far more than they had asked or hoped. Eph 320

What did Jesus pray?
      Father, is there another way?
      Is there any way to avoid bearing the shame of the sins of the whole world!?
      Is there any way to escape the separation; and also the sheer physical agony?
      No! So Jesus said, then I remain willing to lay down my life for them.
            What amazing grace! Is 53 Gal 313,14
      There was never any danger of Jesus changing his mind from Father's will;
            but the cost was so high, he needed to make sure it was Father's will.
      But the Lord God does not change. Mal 36 Their agreed plan stood firm.
      What was 'the Cup'? The cup of God's wrath against sin! Is 5117 Rev 1410
            No wonder Jesus was in agony - he had to drink this cup to the full.
            He willingly bore this just wrath when he poured out his perfect blood.
      The crucifixion was not an act of supreme self-sacrifice, but of substitution.
            "Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood."
            Mine was the death penalty, the sin, the shame, the anger of God - and it was all laid upon Jesus!
            Could there be greater undeserved kindness? Never!
      Let us all consider again how great is the debt we owe to our Redeemer.
            This is the gospel, the good news of Christ, that so many foolishly reject.

Jesus prayed the same thing 3 times and found them sleeping after each time.
      He woke them after the 1st and 3rd times.  Math 2636-46  Mk 1432-42
Jesus must have told them later what he prayed so earnestly.
      He also told them about the 2nd time he came to them.

Jesus was strengthened by an angel.
      The Son of God was glad to be ministered to. It does not imply his weakness.
      We truly are weak and should never be too proud to receive help.
            We all need prayer and physical help.
Elijah was also strengthened by an angel. It seems to be part of their duty.  1 Kg 195-8 also Dan 622
      Many times we too receive their ministry; unaware of the source.
Jesus fought this great battle in Gethsemane - and won, while his disciples slept!
      Let us see our weakness.
      God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Ps 461

Jesus Arrested  2247-54                 [Contents]

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, But Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, "Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour - when darkness reigns." Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.   2247-54

The crowd was a detachment of soldiers and some officials.  Jn 183
The whole arresting party 'drew back and fell to the ground',
      when Jesus told them that he was the one they were looking for.  Jn 185
      He was not arrested at a moment of weakness.
            He could easily have walked away from the totally stunned opponents.
      Jesus was willing and he knew it was the time Father had planned.
            It had been confirmed in prayer just minutes earlier.

His question to Judas was direct and revealing.
      'Betraying' - he had been a friend, why the change?
            Reasons can be: ideology, money, blackmail or sex.
      'Son of Man' - he wanted Judas to know who it was that he had betrayed.
      'A kiss' - Why a kiss? What an abuse of a sign of real human affection.

It was Peter who had and used the sword. He was ever an 'action-man.'  Jn 1810,11
      But it was not the right way. Jesus refused to resist arrest, or the Cross.
      This healing was for an enemy, unasked for, without faith and without thanks!

Jesus was not leading a rebellion. But he was leading a revolution!
      He was offering and enabling God's rescue plan for sinful men.
      How wicked and foolish is the heart of man that he rejects such an offer.

Did darkness really reign? Yes, but only by the consent of God.
      Satan, the Prince, has power. The Lord is King and remains the Almighty.
      What is the extent of his limited power? When does he use it?
            Consider Job 18-12 23-6  Also life of Jeremiah  Jer 18
      2 Witnesses killed only when work completed.  Rev 117
      Stephen martyred c.f. Peter released from prison.  Act 6,7 121-19

What does Satan do?
      He deceives men. "Did God really say ... ?"  Gen 31
            'Of course not; God doesn't want you to enjoy yourself!' he lies.
            Further examples of wickedness: abortion, Harry Potter, Sabbath,
                  Easter and Christmas revert to original pagan festivals.
                  God's anger at homosexuality - God removes his protection.  Ro 1
      He encourages man's arrogance. Evolution, not creation by God
            Men say God is love, idea of judgement old-fashioned. We know better!
            They claim that there is no God - just as Peter prophesied.  2 Pe 3
      He tempts men with every beguiling trick up his sleeve;
            always hiding the real consequences - both now and later.
Who resists this 'the roaring lion'? And what is the result?
      Christian c.f. Timerous in Pilgrims Progress.
What armour/weapons does God provide?  Eph 610-18
Under what circumstances do we have to accept Satan's sway over men?
      When do we fight, and when do we run?
            No simple, consistent answer. See Paul's ministry
            Also Lord Shaftesbury, Mary Whitehouse, Care Trust, ...

The last days of the church will be the hardest to endure.
      The Great Tribulation and the rise of the Beast will require great courage.
      Read Joel 228 and note the context and what the 'signs and wonders' were!
      'Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.'  Ps 305

These are major practical questions and should be considered carefully.

When Jesus was betrayed and arrested,
      Satan may have smelled victory in the darkness, but it was short-lived.
      Unknown to him, it was all part of God's plan!
            No one took the life from Jesus; he willingly laid it down.  Jn 1014-18
      It led to the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
            The very thing Satan most hated and opposed.
      Such is the greatness of the Lord Almighty.

Peter Disowns Jesus  2254-62                 [Contents]

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, "This man was with him." But he denied it. "Woman, I don't know him," he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, "You also are one of them." "Man, I am not!" Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, "Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean." Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.   2254-62

This story is not recorded in all 4 Gospels so we can criticise Peter.
      Nor is it so that I can the more easily excuse my sin and weakness.
How could big, confident, strong Peter be so easily defeated?
      Perhaps because he was more confident in himself than in the God he served.
Today we hear much about the importance of a good 'self-image'.
      It must be founded on truth, not fantasy.
      How does God see us? Do we know his best plan for us?
      Does 'the image' add or subtract from the need to trust God in all things?
      At the end of his life John Wesley said, "I am just an unprofitable servant"

Peter didn't realise how vulnerable he was. Jesus did.
      This incident deals a heavy blow to the pride of all men. R.L. Video
What lead to Peter's denial?
      In previous 10 hours:
      1. Proud self-confidence. 'Even if others fall away, I will not.'  Mk 1429
            He rejected the clear warning of Jesus. He Insisted he knew best.  Mk 1430,31
      2. Neglect of prayer. In the garden they all fell asleep.  Mk 1437,40,41
      3. Didn't perceive God's plan. Used sword when Jesus' time had come.
      4. Bad company, sought concealment/compromise, feared for his own skin.
            [He must have been talking for them to have known his accent.]
            [He was close enough to the fire (Gk.='light') to be recognised.]
Any small sin excused or ignored may well lead total disaster.

If the greatest of the saints can fall, surely we need to take special care.
      Within all men there is a boundless capacity for evil. Noah, Lot, Abraham ...
With Peter, one look from the Master was enough.
      It was like Nathan with David, "You are the man".  2 Sam 127
      Fortunately it had the same effect. Real repentance and real mercy.  Ps 51
Peter's folly caused him much anguish - as does all sin -
      These were tears of repentance, not remorse.  Job 426
            'Lord, you are so right. I am weak, self-reliant, arrogant ...
            How can you forgive me. Please do not throw me away.
            Create in me a new heart, a new spirit. Show me the truth, always.'
      That night God taught Peter a most valuable, life-changing lesson.
This was one of several disasters; but God knew his man well.
      Peter was impetuous, but he was also meek and quick to learn.
      Are we?
            Or do we insist we are right or make excuses for our sins?
      What do you think about when you hear a rooster or see a rainbow?
Let us never forget the infinite mercy of our God who so delights to forgive.
      But also let us not be presumptuous of forgiveness and so make light of sin.
Jesus, now a prisoner of the High Priest, with all that was about to be fulfilled,
      had time for Peter, and compassion.

Jesus predicted that at the end 'the love of many will grow cold'.  Math 2412
      He is correct!
      The warning was addressed to the disciples, not the world.
      Will I be among them?  If not, why not?  Mic 68  Lu 2246
This is a vital parallel to the denial of Peter for us all to consider seriously today.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!  1 Co 1012

Why is it that Israel's greatest, noblest, bravest, most successful king David
      exhorts us to trust in the Lord far more than any other writer of Scripture?  e.g.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  Ps 207
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Selah.  Ps 628
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.  Ps 1251

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  Prov 35-7

The Trial  2263 - 2325       [Contents]

For the full details see Combined Gospel

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, "Prophesy! Who hit you?" And they said many other insulting things to him. 2263-65

Mocked by guards while waiting for trial. ('Blind man's buff')
      Such is the depravity of human nature. Far from good and getting better.
Jesus bore such insults, and many more later, without any retaliation.  Is 537
      He submitted to their mocking, beating, insults and illegal trial.
      The agreed time had come. It had to be fulfilled.
            As at arrest, it was never weakness or 'fate'.
      He could so easily have brought down fire from heaven.  2 Kg 110
      He who delivered men from demons and raised the dead with a word,
            Could he not have called on legions of angels? But he chose not to.
            We have little concept of how evil the world would be,
                  if it were without God's constraint.
      He did not shrink from paying the uttermost price for our sin.
      How do we react when men threaten us without any just cause?  Math 1024-34

Annas - Father-in-law of Caiaphas.  Jn 1813,14,19-24
What charge do you bring against me? Struck by official.

Caiaphas - High Priest appointed by Rome.
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. "If you are the Christ," they said, "tell us." Jesus answered, "If I tell you, you will not believe me, And if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am." Then they said, "Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips."  2266-71

They failed to obtain any two witnesses who agreed.
Jesus remained silent until adjured by Caiaphas - then bound to answer.
      Considered his affirmation that he was the Christ a blasphemous outrage.
      He also told them he would soon be seated at the right hand of God.
      It was the truth! Stephen saw him there.  Act 755
      Why were they so blind?
            Wicked - Never mourned their own sin, never 'poor in spirit'
            Expected Messiah King, not Redeemer: they saw no need for a Saviour.
            How could Messiah submit to their insults?
                  They thought he was weak and contemptible.
      These same men and many other enemies will have to stand before him
            who will one day when he will be their Judge.
            How will they answer? What will be the awful result?

Pilate   The Roman Governor
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king." So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no basis for a charge against this man."   231-4

Sanhedrin bring false and emotive charges - tax rebellion and threat of coup.
      They had tried before.  Lu 2020-26
      Like the Clinton or Blair 'spin' that is usually a gross distortion of the truth.
      Honesty was not the purpose; but manipulation for personal gain.
      Satan remains the 'father of lies' and falsehood.  Jn 844  Exd 2016
      The charge should be blasphemy for claiming to be Christ, the Son of God.
            But this was not an offense under Roman law. And thus no death penalty.
Pilate did not see Jesus as a threat to Rome; only as king of the Jews.
      Jesus had told him, "My kingdom is not of this world ..."  Jn 1836-38
      He said, "The purpose of my kingdom is to declare the truth.
      So Pilate asked, "What is truth?"
      He declares it is not an offense to be a religious king (c.f. political king)
      "King of the Jews" would be the charge he later wrote on the Cross.

Herod   Tetrarch of Galilee  31
But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here." On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends - before this they had been enemies.  235-12

Pilate was glad to 'slope shoulders' and send the case to Herod.
Why was Herod pleased? Wanted to see miracle. They are always popular.
      Then and now, this desire does not prove the stirring of a man's heart for God.
      The media would be thrilled to capture any miracle for TV,
            But the Cross of Christ and man's corruption have always been an offence.
      This Herod had murdered John Baptist. Maybe his conscience was pricked.
            Like Felix and many others, he refused to do anything about it.  Act 2425
            The rich and famous are not to be envied but pitied and prayed for.
                  Their hearts are often strangers to peace and to God.  Math 1924
Jesus refused to answer any questions or false charges.
      Without witnesses he was not obliged to.
      Herod was thus offended and fell to ridicule and mocking.
Why should this trial cause Pilate and Herod to become friends?
      A common hatred of Christ Jesus!  Jn 1519
      Like Pharisees and Sadducees, or Roman Catholics and protestant liberals.
      The Cross of Christ will always remain an offence.
            In this Humanists, New Age, Muslim, Hindu etc all agree.
      But note how often Christ's enemies destroy each other.  Judg 722  2 Ch 2023
Herod delighted to try to ridicule Jesus - dressing him in a king's robe.
Though Jesus had spent most the last 3 years in Galilee, Herod had no charge.
      Jesus was truly 'a Lamb without blemish'.
      He alone had clean hands and a pure heart.  Ps 244
      A perfect substitute.
      For Christ died for sins once for all,
            the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  1 Pe 318

Pilate   Again.
Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him." With one voice they cried out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!" (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)   2313-19

Pilate found no sedition and no sustainable charges. Neither did Herod.
      "Done nothing to deserve death." No he hadn't, but we have!
Not guilty, so I will punish him (by flogging) says Pilate.
      What sort of justice is that?
      He tried to appease the anger of the Jewish leaders.
      Like PA today, when offered 'land for peace', they refuse it - never enough.
            They demand death of Israel. And not surprisingly the world readily agrees.
            Esau and his sons have always hated Israel. (Herod was an Edomite)
      Pharisees had no interest in Barabbas; they only wanted to kill Jesus.
            They were not interested in justice either.
            It was demonic anger - anger often inspired by Satan.
            The Koran teaches Muslims to hate and kill all Jews, and Christians.

Pilate  Grants their demands
Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" For the third time he spoke to them: "Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him." But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.   2320-25

So why was the guilty Barabbas released, and the innocent Jesus crucified?
The threat of violence wears down even the resolute. Pilate was no exception.
      He surrendered (Gk = 'betray' or 'deliver') to the baying of the Jewish leaders.
      Let his blood be on us and on our children! the people cried.  Math 2725
            And God took them at their word. Israel punished for 2000 years.
                  But God has not written off the chosen people.
                  They have now returned and will soon be made righteous.  Ezek 37
      Compromise does not bring peace; capitulation causes increased demands.
            IRA and PA have both used this method, and proved violence DOES pay.

Satan got what he wanted. Christ would be destroyed.
      But he didn't realise it was actually the plan of God.
      It would achieve the very thing Satan hated most - the salvation of men.
      O, the wisdom and greatness of God !
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
      so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Co 521

The Crucifixion  2326-49                [Contents]

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"   2326-31

Always remember this was not weakness, but the plan of God.  Act 427,28
I wonder how Simon told this story in later years?
      How he carried the cross for the Son of God!
Why did people attend hangings in such large numbers?
      And especially crucifixions.
The women of Jerusalem wailed, but they did not understand the greatness of the event that were witnessing.
      So Jesus warned them to weep for themselves - and the coming judgement.
            As so often, he directs them to scripture.  Hos 107-15  Is 29-11  Jer 161-4
      While the mercy of God flows like a mighty river for the penitent,
            to the unresponsive, he will come as Judge. And the sentence is death.
      His warning would came to pass for the nation in 70 AD. (<40 years later)

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.   2332-34

'He was numbered with the transgressors.'  Is 5312   A prophesy fulfilled.
Golgotha was outside the city. Blasphemers were stoned outside city.  Lev 2423
Crucifixion was carefully crafted by cruel men to be the ultimate deterrent.
      It gave the victim the maximum pain for the maximum time.
      4 words 'there they crucified him' is all that any of the Gospel writers say!
      They only give the stark fact. No details of crucifixion.
The reason why Jesus willingly submitted is mostly revealed in the N.T. letters.
The wailing women weren't the only ones who didn't realise what was happening.
      No one did. Jesus prays for these men too - in spite of his predicament.
      Father hears this prayer wrought in the fire of obedience.  Jn 1141,42  Math 544,45
      Ignorance is part of man's sin. But it does not equate to innocence.  1 Tim 112-14
Stephen would echo this plea of Jesus a few years later as he was stoned.  Act 760
His robe was not torn into rags, but they cast lots for it.  Ps 2218
      See how scripture was fulfilled in every detail. The last days will be too!

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar And said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." There was a written notice above him, which read: "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS".   2335-38

Doesn't it surprise you that nearly all men seeing the Son of God himself
      willingly being crucified to bear the punishment I deserve could only 'sneer'.
How could one who seemed so weak and submissive be the Messiah?
The Cross is a stumbling block to the great majority of men;
      but it remains the wisdom and power of God, and redemption for man.  1 Co 118-31
Such is the blindness, the arrogance, the depth of natural human corruption.
      It was true then, and it remains true today.  1 Co 28
Satan loves to scoff and mock, to ridicule and gloat, to lie and deceive.
      This was his opportunity. But it would be short-lived!
How can men be awakened from such folly and impending disaster?
      Only the Spirit can convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement.  Jn 168
      May we each realise the urgency, and act as God directs.

                  Victory or Defeat?

            It didn't seem like a great victory,
            Wrongly accused in the court,
            Found guilty without a fair trial,
            As a pretext to kill him they sought.
            So they led him away, the soldiers,
            They thought they were in control
            Of this stumbling, bleeding, dying Man
            Who had made so many whole.
            But Jesus turned, eyes dark with pain,
            "Weep for yourselves," he said,
            "Would that you knew of my kingdom ...
            I offer you living bread."

            It didn't seem like a great victory,
            In fact it looked like defeat,
            A cross for the only Son of God?
            But the story is not complete.
            "No one takes my life," said Jesus,
            "As you'll see in three days time.
            This cross is the price I'm willing to pay,
            Your sin has been counted as mine."
            So it wasn't defeat for Jesus,
            But a victory he won that day;
            Our sin and our shame are nailed to his name
            And he offers a living way.

                              By Paula Worth

Pilate wrote, 'King of the Jews'. He was right; but did not realise how right.
      And not only of the Jews. He is 'King of Kings', king of all heaven and earth.
      Though he submitted to man then; now he remains enthroned.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."    2339-43

We are all 'criminals', sinners who have offended the Law of God.
      These two, and their responses can represent the whole of mankind.
One murderer being crucified was the only one who supported Jesus.
      Jesus and he were both encouraged by the truth of Paradise later that day.
What do we learn?
      How dark is the natural human heart. It cannot honour or even fear God.
      No man is too evil nor his sin too great to be forgiven.
      But never make light of sin that grace may the more abound.  Ro 61
      He was only just in time. So many leave it too late.
      No one knows when we are to be 'called to give account'.
      He did not ask to be spared his just punishment. And he wasn't.

'I tell you the truth'. (Verily) Jesus emphasises that this is truth, not fantasy.
'Today'. There is no delay, no purgatory.
That one of them was saved is a wonderful tribute to grace of God.
But why weren't both saved when both saw and heard the same things?
      This must remain a mystery known only to the Sovereign Lord.
      Our task remains urgent; to preach Christ crucified whenever, wherever.
In spite of the agony, Jesus knew the purpose of Calvary and his destiny.
      For the joy that was set before him, Jesus endured the Cross .  Heb 122
      What is the basis of that joy?
            Amazingly, it is our being able to be with him for ever.

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.   2344-46

Jesus was crucified at the 3rd hour.  Mk 1525   He was on the Cross for 6 hours.
The darkness was for 3 hours; it covered the whole land - not just local.
      c.f. 9th plague in Egypt.  Exd 1021
      Note: it was not Moses who died, but Pharaoh's firstborn.  Exd 1028
      The darkness was a sign; then and here.

At the 9th hour:
 The sun shone again. Satan's darkness did not prevail.  2253  Is 2423  1 Th 54
      Jn 14,5,9 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
            (Gk 'Katal' = understood, also = seize, overtake)
      (The darkness couldn't have been an eclipse. Lasted 3 hrs, also full moon.)
The graves were opened. Many righteous arose. Death was not victorious.
The Temple veil was torn in two. Why so significant?
      The rift between God and (repentant) man was now healed.  Rev 222b,5a
      God and man are reconciled.
      And eat from tree of life.  The exclusion of Gen 322,23 is reversed.
      Why the veil? God placed the veil between the Holy of Holies and the people
            for their protection, not to keep them from receiving mercy.
      Now Jesus opened the way for all men, Jew and Gentile.
      All could now come before the Mercy seat, and not die.  Heb 1019-22
      Caiaphas may well have been making the Passover atonement at this moment.
            Surely this rending of the veil should have touched his hard heart.
            But nothing is recorded.
John adds that Jesus cried, "It is finished."  Jn 1930
      At last the whole plan of God to enable salvation was accomplished.
      The Lamb had been provided. God had kept his word - he always does.
            It was a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin.  Gen 228
      God, and many men, had waited patiently for this, the greatest moment in all human history - so far!
            (Creation, 1st Coming, and 2nd Coming)
Jesus believed what he told Martha a week earlier,
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
      and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Jn 1125
Jesus offered up his life. No one took it from him.  Jn 1017,18

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.   2347-49

The Centurion had probably seen many grizzly scenes in his days.
      He had one conclusion; Jesus was a righteous man. He was correct.
      He'd learned not to question the strange orders of the 'powers that be'.
Others watched and waited
      They longed for some understanding of these strange events.
      They would not be disappointed.

Laid in a Tomb  2350-56                 [Contents]

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. 2350-56

We know nothing of Joseph either before or after this event.
      God knows his own, even if we don't. 7000 were unknown to Elijah.  1 Kg 1918
He was a member of the Sanhedrin.
      So was Nicodemus who helped him with the burial.  Jn 31 1939
      Both felt it was prudent to keep their discipleship secret at this time.  Jn 1938
      Neither had 'consented', being absent at the trial.  Mk 1455,64b
They were upright and longed for the Kingdom of God.
      How did they 'wait'? What did they do?
      Few were 'poor on spirit' and did so honestly; only pretended.  Math 53 624
They risked their reputation by asking for the body of one so hated by rulers.
      Used his position and wealth to bring honour to Jesus.
      Contrast this with the Sanhedrin, who had pleaded for his physical death.
      And the death of all his influence and power.
He gave Jesus the best. 'Linen' cloth. Unused tomb cut in rock.
      Nicodemus also brought 75lb of myrrh and aloes.  Jn 1939
      Together they fulfilled prophesy.  Is 539
It is another proof that Jesus did die.
      (Centurion saw he was dead, then made doubly sure by spear through heart.)
      He had to die to save us. Good advice or example cannot gain our salvation.
      Just as the Law was unable to save because no one is able to keep it all.

'Preparation Day'. What day was this?  What day was the Crucifixion?
      (Though not a major issue, the following is a desire to honour scripture)
1. Normal Shabbat (Saturday) does not require any preparation.
      Passover was a 'special Sabbath' and did require a 'Preparation Day'.  Lev 237
      The killing of the Passover Lamb and preparing the special Seder meal.
      Lu 2354 might read, "It was Preparation Day and the Passover Sabbath was about to begin."
            i.e. Jesus crucified the day before Passover (Friday)

2. John says that the religious leaders had not yet eaten their Passover meal shortly before midnight
      when they took Jesus to Pilate.  Jn 1828
      If it was Thursday, they have eaten it by then, so the trial must have been Wednesday evening.

3. Jesus was crucified on the day of Preparation of Passover week.  Jn 1914
      That year the Passover was on Friday, so the crucifixion was on Thursday.

4. After Jesus declared, "It is finished," John says It was the Day of Preparation,
      and the next day was to be a special Sabbath.  Jn 1931
      i.e. next day was the special Passover Sabbath, not the normal Shabbat.
      John emphasises this to ensure that we know it happened on Thursday.

5. Jesus was buried on "the Jewish Day of Preparation".  Jn 1942

6. Matthew also records that the next day the chief priests went to Pilate to ask for a guard
      The next day. i.e. the day following the crucifixion and burial.  Math 2762
      Then he adds that it was the day after Preparation Day. i.e. it was Passover.
      So again, Jesus was crucified on Preparation Day - Thursday.

7. Jesus said,  As Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a huge fish,
      so the Son of Man will be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth.  Math 1240
      If Jesus rose on Sunday morning, the only way this specific statement could be fulfilled
            was that he crucified on Thursday, not Friday.

8. Jesus was crucified on 'Preparation Day' at the same time as all the Passover lambs were being sacrificed
      ready for Passover Seder meal on Thursday evening.
      (Jewish days start at sunset the previous evening, so if Passover was Friday, the Seder meal was on Thursday evening.)
      While this is not 'a proof', it could be a striking and meaningful coincidence in the plan of God.  1 Co 57

9. The Temple Priests declared on Preparation Day whether any lamb to be offered was kosher.
      Ironically it was the Gentile Roman Governor who declared Jesus to be innocent and kosher clean
            to the priests and the whole world.

10. The Essenes at Qumran believed they kept alive the true Jewish faith.
      They sought real holiness by repentance and washing.  Math 32 417
      John Baptist probably spent much of his time with the Essenes after his elderly parent died.
            His teaching was strikingly similar to their's. i.e. 'repent and be baptised'. Lu 32 Mk 14,14 Act 238
            Andrew and John were disciples of John Baptist.  Jn 135-42
      The Essenes hated the Temple hypocrisy and in protest usually celebrated the Jewish feasts on a 'non-official' day.
      According to the Dead Sea Scrolls they had a 'guest house' in Jerusalem.
      There were very few women in their community, so when Jesus directed Peter and John to follow 'a man
            carrying a pitcher of water, he may well have been an Essene monk.  Lu 228-13 Mk 1412-16
      Probably the Last Supper was an Essene Passover meal.

It may well be that traditional Friday crucifixion is wrong.
Just as the universal tradition to celebrate the birth of Christ in late December is also wrong.
      It was, and remains a mid-winter pagan festival to which early Church leaders
            foolishly tacked on their Christian celebration.
Note also that the crucifixion is celebrated at the pagan Spring festival of Easter.
      Asherah (Astarte, Ashtaroth etc) is the Canaanite fertility god.
      Today pagans have added bunny rabbits, easter eggs, flowers etc all to symbolise 'new life'.
      What a disgusting compromise. It is Scripture that is accurate, not man's traditions and customs.

The women desired to anoint the body of Jesus.
      Matthew and Mark tell us it was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses.
They honoured the Sabbath. What a good example.
Mary, Martha's sister, had anointed Jesus the previous evening.  Jn 121-11  Math 262
      The beautiful thing she had done would always be told with the Gospel.
      And so it is. The whole purpose of Calvary is forgiveness.

Only Matthew tells us about the guard with which the chief priests tried to secure the tomb
      and prevent the Son of God from rising from the dead.
How can mere man match God?
      What arrogance, what utter folly!

Jesus Died and Now He Lives  241-53       [Contents]

Read "Last Hours" or "Combined Gospels".
This brings the separate, apparently disjointed events together into a cohesive account.

Early on the First Day of the Week

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" Then they remembered his words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.   241-12

The 4 women rose early to anoint Jesus.
      At least they could do something practical in these bewildering hours.
First problem - who would roll back the very large, heavy stone?
      God had plans for that. He sent 2 angels. End of problem!
Mary immediately runs to tell Peter and John.  Jn 202
      Leaving the other 3 to enter the tomb, where they find the 2 mighty angels.
      They bowed their faces to the ground.
            c.f. The Roman guards who 'became like dead men'.
                  Not a sexist issue, but one of righteousness. Like at the Judgement.
One angel assured them they did not need to be afraid.
      They were 'heralds of good news' - like some 30 years earlier.
      Then, "why seek the living among the dead?"
      This is a great and timeless question that all men need to ask themselves.
      God always fulfills his word. Then and now. But most will be shocked.
            These women remembered the words of Jesus.
            It was God's plan for him to be crucified by sinful men.
      "Go quickly and tell his disciples."
      Tell 'the Eleven'. Judas had gone. And Mary had already told two.
The 3 frightened women met Jesus on the way.  Math 289,10
      Now they had real proof - but the disciples did not believe.
Meanwhile Peter and John arrived at the tomb.
      They didn't see the two angels as did the guard, the 3 women
            and then Mary when she returned after telling Peter and John.
            God has both power and reasons for sometimes opening our eyes, and sometimes shutting them.
      Peter was quick to enter; but john was quicker to believe.  Jn 204-9
            They believed the fact that Jesus had risen; but didn't yet understand why.
            God is patient with our slowness; he does not give up on us.

Here is the proof that first Jesus died, and now that he is alive.  1 Co 1516-23
      Without this fact, Christians would be totally deluded and much to be pitied.
These are the first of many credible witnesses.
      As Ryle says, there is more evidence and it is more certain that Jesus lived and died and rose again,
            than that Julius Caesar reigned as emperor of Rome!
      And it is much more important too!
Here is proof that our Redeemer's payment for us has been accepted.
      This truth gives us a sure and certain hope for the future.  1 Pe 13

We have the advantage of time and history, yet today very few instantly believe.
      To the disciples it was all so new, so unexpected.
It is not just the plain facts, but the consequences concerning our salvation.
It is not just that Jesus died; but why he had to die and rise again triumphant.
      This is of the very highest significance.

Sinful man needs information about God; but far more, he needs reconciliation.

'We had hoped ...' If Only ...  2413-35                 [Contents]

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?" "What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.   2413-35

This event reveals the great compassion of the Lord God.
      Cleopas and his friend were sad, disappointed, despondent.
      Why had the religious leaders crucified such a great prophet?
            They had hoped that he would be their redeemer.
      So Jesus came and explained - with love and with accuracy.
First he tells them how foolish they were, how slow to believe!
      But he did not despise them. He came and carefully revealed the truth.
      Again, it was the truth of why he had to be crucified - as prophesied.
            He used the Scriptures, which both they and we have readily available.

He chose to begin with Moses. Why?
      Moses was the deliverer.
            He released the people from the slavery of Egypt by the Passover Lamb.
                  And some from the universal slavery of sin.
                  We must first be convicted of our need to be released.  Jn 833
      And Moses led them to the promised land - to righteousness, justice and truth.
      At God's instruction, he introduced the Feast of Weeks and of Tabernacles.
            These two would soon witness the fulfilment of the 'firstfruits' at Pentecost.
            Prior to Tabernacles is the feast of 'Trumpets' - repentance,
                  That ends with the Day of Atonement - forgiveness.
                  The 2 goats sacrificed reveal the cost that had to be paid.  Lev 16
                  Only then came Tabernacles - life with Christ, now and for ever.
      Moses built the Tabernacle with the Ark, the Mercy seat, and the sacrifices.
            They all showed that God would one day provide a perfect sacrifice.
      God gave the Law to Moses.
            Being unable to keep it, it was a 'schoolmaster to lead us to Christ'.  Gal 324

Then Jesus revealed to them the truth that the other Prophets had spoken of.
      How each in own way had longed for, and seen the day of Jesus Christ.
      Joshua told the people how they could not just choose to follow God.
            Our corrupt nature needs to be changed.  Josh 2414-27
      Isaiah had told of the 'Man of Sorrows' upon whom our sin would be laid.  Is 53
      Jeremiah told how Messiah would heal Israel's 'incurable wound'.  Jer 3012,17
      Hosea showed how the unfaithful bride would require redemption.  Hos 3, 717
      Daniel was shown the time decreed to finish transgression, to put an end to sin,
            to atone for wickedness and to bring in everlasting righteousness.  Dan 924
      David was shown much about the manner of Messiah's death.  Ps 22, 69
      There was the skins (that required a animal's life) that God gave to Adam and Eve to cover their shame.
      Abel offering his best sacrifice in faith (assurance) looked forward to the perfect one.  Heb 114
      The pitch on Noah's ark that saved him was to him 'atonement ' (Hebrew = kaphar).  Gen 614
      Abraham, when offering Isaac, was given a substitute ram, called the place 'the Lord WILL provide'.
            And when asked about the offering prophesied, 'God will himself provide the sacrifice'.  Gen 228,14
      In faith they each looked to the day of  Jesus Christ.  Jn 856
      And John Baptist, the last of a long line of prophets, who declared loudly,
            "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."  Jn 129
            It could not be by waving a magic wand; a price had to paid, a very high price.
      Finally, Jesus himself had clearly told the disciples at least 16 times:
            Math 1712  Mk 931  Lu 922 944 1831-34 247 2426  Jn 651 1015 1224,33
             See "Had to Suffer"  (Use back arrow to return to here)

Yes, they were slow of heart to believe. And so in all probability were we.
      At the revelation of Jesus their hearts 'burned'. They would never doubt again.
Note that they believed much of what the prophets spoke, but not all.
      They believed in Messiah's glory, but not his vital suffering.
      Many today are also 'selective' in their believing and understanding.
      They desire revival and glory for the church; but reject suffering.
      They prefer a triumphant King to a suffering Servant.
      They proclaim the Rapture before the Tribulation judgement.  Jer 2316-21
            But we will experience what Christ experienced.  Math 1022-24  1 Pe 110,11
      Pray that the ears of many will be open to ALL that the prophets proclaimed;
            lest they too become despondent like these two in the day of trial.
      The saints will need much courage. This too is promised.  Joel 228  Is 432  Ps 461

Jesus 'acted as if he were going further'.
      He tested their eagerness to hear more.
            Had they accepted his revelation of scripture? Did they want more?
      Jacob was also tested. "Let me go," said the angel.
            "I will not let you go unless you bless me," Jacob replied.  Gen 3226
            He really wanted more - the promised birthright of life with Christ.
      They each passed the test. He gladly stayed with them, and blessed them.

Significantly they understood when he lifted up the bread, his broken body.
      It is never intellect or knowledge, but revelation that is needed.
      Sinful man needs more than words or even miracles to believe.
      'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced
            even if someone rises from the dead.'
 Lu 1629-31  see also Jn 1237
      These two had listened eagerly to the word and saw Jesus risen from the dead.
      Those who reject the Word of God will not be convinced by his works.
      May God grant us revelation; then the truth of Jesus will set us free from the bondage of corruption.
Now Cleopas and his friend knew Jesus was alive.
      What a change from the earlier 'we had hoped'.
      They had begun to realise why Jesus had had to die for them.
Let us not be careless or slow to ask of God.

Many today focus on the gifts of the Spirit.
      He also convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement.
      And in the Last Supper Jesus focussed on the Word and the Spirit.
Here the Spirit illuminates the Scriptures with accuracy, power and truth.
      c.f. how men now ridicule, distort or ignore the Word of God.

The 'breaking of bread' always looks to what Jesus did and achieved at Calvary.
Many men of old looked forward to the day of Jesus Christ;
      now we look back to the great day when he paid the price in full.
We also look forward to the great wedding feast.  Lu 2214-20
      The day when all will be fulfilled. When sin will never afflict us again.
            And we are truly made one with Christ for ever.

Jesus Opened Their Minds  2436-48                 [Contents]

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."   2436-44

The Emmaus pair went and told the disciples.
      Jesus saw that they were also dazed and confused, so he came to them too.
First he asked them why they were so troubled and filled with doubt.
      He showed them his hands and feet.
      He said, "It is I myself." Literally, "I am I myself."
      He invited them to touch him.
      Then he ate fish.
He told them how everything had to be fulfilled.  His death was not a disaster.
      All that had happened was exactly as planned and prophesied.
      Just as revealed by Moses, the Prophets and in the Psalms.
            Jesus probably repeated the truths he had just told the Emmaus pair.
            i.e.  How the Lamb of God had to suffer in our place. No other way for our sins to be forgiven.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  2445-48

The Cross has always seemed foolish to natural man.
      Even to these disciples after 3 years of being with Jesus!
The Lord had to open their minds.
      They had heard the scriptures read in synagogue for years, but not understood
      Selective reading. Switch off when not complicated or not liked
Note how Jesus emphasises the central importance and accuracy of all Scripture.

Why is it so important that we grasp that the Lord needs to open our minds?
      Truth is grasped by revelation, not by reading or debate.  Jn 539,40  1 Co 214
            Secrets of the kingdom are not learnt but given, revealed.  Math 1311
            Must be born again, not just a spiritual experience.  Jn 33-6  842-44
            The Counsellor will reveal my words.  Jn 1426 1526 168
      It is not by our cleverness, goodness or superiority, but that 'Christ crucified
            has become the power of God unto salvation' for us.  1 Co 214
      It is by this most gracious gift of God. By grace.  Ro 41-8  Gal 36-8  Eph 24-9
            Let us never cease to thank him. Daily repent, daily forgiven, daily grateful.
      It is the Scriptures that he opens our minds to; not the theology of men.
            Not strange visions, nor signs and wonders; but the written Word of God.
      The truth revealed was that which has caused so many to stumble:
            Christ had to suffer, be crucified and then rise again for our sin.
            Without the cross, God could not pardon sin and no man could be saved.
This is what they were commissioned to preach - nothing else.
      Jesus told them to preach it to all nations, not just the Jews.

Jesus then reminds them that they are witnesses.
      Just as men were condemned by the mouth of two witnesses,
            so they were to release men from the slavery of sin by their witness.
How could the Ethiopian understand Is 53 unless Philip explained it?  Acts 834,35

Much time and opportunity is wasted in preaching incidentals,
      popular, man honouring distractions,
      politics, social issues etc.
      c.f. Paul, who determined to preach only 'Jesus Christ and him crucified'.  1 Co 21-5
            and Peter, who was obedient to his Lord's command.
                  He preached salvation by repentance and forgiveness.  Act 238  319

What About the Future?  2449-53                 [Contents]

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.  2449

God always keeps his promises. And this would be no exception.
What was promised?  Jesus would send the Counsellor, the Spirit of truth.  Jn 1416,17 167
What was his purpose?
      I will leave you, but you will not be orphans. I will live with you.  Jn 1418
      You will realise that "I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."  Jn 1420
      He will enable obedience.  Jn 1421
      He will teach you all things - as no one else can.  Jn 1426
      He will bring peace, courage that knows no fear.  Jn 1427
            c.f. peace of ease and plenty.
      He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, righteous and judgement.  Jn 168
            Men today love to claim that he is free to do what he likes.
            He isn't. Sin always has a price tag (sooner or later).
            No one can ignore God's commands and go unpunished.
      He will guide you into all truth.  Jn 1613
      He will clothe you in power.  Lu 2049
            This power is not for me to have my own way,
                  but to be effective witnesses of Jesus Christ. e.g. Apostles at Pentecost.
                  It may, but does not necessarily include ‘signs and wonders'.  Lu 1631
                  It is primarily power to reveal the truth of Christ crucified for our sin.

Being clothed with the righteousness of Christ and clothed with the Holy Spirit,
      is the only complete remedy for the naked shame caused by the fall.  Gen 321
      The skin garments God gave were a symbolic promise of what was to come.

See how great is the grace of God.
      Jerusalem had stoned the prophets and crucified the Lord of Glory.
      Jerusalem was filled with pride, hypocrisy and hardness of heart.
      Yet Jesus commands them to start preaching - in Jerusalem!  His consuming desire is save them.

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.  2450-53

He had just left them - for the second time - they would not see him again.
      Yet they worshipped him and had great joy. How so?
      This is real blessing.
      Blessing is not me having a good time,
            but God changing my heart, and the hearts of those we witness to.
Faith is the assurance of God. Heb 111 Faith always brings joy.
      That is what made Cain so jealous of Abel, who had faith and joy.  Heb 114

Jesus didn't come to condemn, but to bless; not to judge but to have compassion.
However when he comes again it will be to judge the wicked
      who have wasted the last opportunity to be reconciled by the blood of Jesus.

This book - the Gospel of Luke - is the story of how God has fulfilled his promise to Abraham
      that all people would be blessed through him.  Gen 123
Jesus came to pay the required redemption price to enable new birth.
      This is now the great blessing of God to all nations.
      This is the Gospel, 'the Good News' to Jews and Gentiles.
      This is eternal life with the gracious and merciful Sovereign Lord.
      Forgiven and set free from sin's guilt and power to be a righteous and holy people.

      What a Saviour!!