John Chapter 8

What does a misunderstanding of the commandments have to do with Jesus’ return? John covered the subject in detail. Preachers today fail to make the connection. Why? Preachers today teach one subject at a time. They fail to cover material designed to lead into the next subject. Once they miss the introduction to a subject, they miss the entire spiritual message contained in the next story. That is one general rule of Bible Study many people miss. Why? There are factions in this world who stand against Jesus’ return and are working hard to spoil that return in any way they can.

John 8:1-59 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (12) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. (21) Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (33) “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” (42) Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” (48) The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

I have to admit. I spent years looking forward to writing about John’s book. I always considered John’s Gospel the most passionate of the four gospels. Some of his chapters capture a unique relationship with Christ as well as the necessary and personal connection God is looking for from each of His servants. But those last two chapters and this one paint an entirely different story.

John has been focusing on frustrations Jesus faced throughout His ministry. The disappointment Jesus faced when dozens of His followers walked away. John wrote about the human side of Christ. You can imagine what He felt when those people turned and walked away because they either didn’t get their way, or couldn’t understand. Jesus felt that sinking, empty feeling in His chest. His heart ached. Jesus felt the sting of rejection.

After spending generations planning each event, talking with His prophets, and recording every detail, Jesus finally came to this world. He had to grow up like every other child. He worked in the home and helped His mother like any little boy. Jesus worked with His father like any other young man. Finally His Heavenly Father told Him it was time and Jesus began the ministry He trained for all His life.

Jesus had hopes and dreams like all of us. He had a desire to succeed like most people do. Jesus wanted to make a better life for His family like every father sets out to do. This world is Jesus’ family. All of us are like brothers and sisters to Christ. We are more important than children to His Father. Jesus dreamed of success. He thought of how the day would go, always expecting the best. Constantly praying and most importantly, listening to God’s voice and of course following directions. Jesus knew if He followed each and every step in the plan of salvation recorded in scripture, everything would work out. Of course Jesus knew He had to suffer. But could anyone or anything prepare Jesus for the continual heartache and disappointments He faced day after day?

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Jesus was constantly hounded and hunted by religious leaders of all types. Those religious leaders couldn’t agree among themselves on hardly any subject, but something brought them together. They united to put an end to Jesus’ ministry and His life. But that wasn’t the tip of the iceberg when it came to disappointments and set backs Jesus had to endure. People constantly pierced His heart and tried to nail His hands and feet long before they put Him on that cross. Not physically restraining Jesus, but spiritually.

Priests tried to stop Jesus from using His hands to heal because he healed on the Sabbath. Pharisees tried to stop Jesus from moving forward when they questioned His view on the law. Other religious factions attempted to hold Jesus back in every way they could imagine. All of them were guilty of condemning Jesus without a trial. But this was only a small portion of the trials Jesus faced.

People from the town He grew up in doubted Him and spread rumors about Him. They focused on the miracles and how they could profit from them. They insisted Jesus was born in Galilee and joined the priests in hiding His real birth place, Bethlehem. If people knew, it wouldn’t be good for business.

People followed Jesus around because of the miracles He performed. Gentiles and even the Samaritans turned away from Jesus as soon as the miracles passed. It was like a repeat of the Exodus when Israel and all the people with them forgot the miracles they saw in Egypt. No wonder Isaiah told us the path to God’s throne is on a mountain. It always seems like an uphill battle. If life’s road is not that easy, why would the path to eternal life be any easier?

A Woman Caught in Adultery

John 8:1-11 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus returned to Jerusalem after the Festival of Shelters. Also known as the Festival of Tabernacles. He wasn’t going to give up. The previous chapter showed how Jesus was rejected by groups of religious leaders as well as people He grew up with in Galilee. Was Jesus returning to face more of the same treatment? How many of us would have given up?

One strange thing I’ve noticed about John’s style of writing over these past few chapters is Jesus’ disciples are hardly mentioned. John called attention to the people Jesus was trying to reach. John put the emphasis on how Jesus was able to reach people and what He had to deal with when people didn’t want to accept Him or His message. It’s evident, John left us with a valuable training tool.

Were the disciples there when those religious leaders brought that woman to Him? We don’t know for sure by only looking at John’s book. What we see is a few words and phrases Jesus and John repeated to focus our attention. We see the words taught, teachers, and teacher. So we know those words are drawing attention to a lesson.

We also see the phrase, “caught in adultery,” repeated. We should ask how the Pharisees caught the woman in the act and what happened to the man? Doesn’t adultery take two? Those are the types of questions most people ask and preach on. It’s only natural. Those are details on the surface. But we are searching for the spiritual messages in each story.

Looking at other key words, we find an unusual combination in accusers and condemn. When we look at the story, we can see how the Pharisees wanted Jesus to either condemn the woman or let her go. If Jesus forgave her, the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of acting like he’s greater than the law and condemned Him.

How did this woman get herself in that position. She was at the mercy of the Pharisees who put her at Jesus’ mercy. In later chapters we will see the same attempt at shifting responsibility in condemning a person. John didn’t tell us how the woman got into that position, but we can look back to see how John led us into this story.

Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home. (John 7:50-53 NLTse).

John wanted to make it evident those religious leaders condemned people without a trial out of habit. You might say it was one of their traditions. Now that we have that information, we can see one of the reasons they didn’t want to listen to Jesus. That’s one major reason He had such a hard time reaching them. What lesson can we learn from that?

Look at people you’ve tried to reach. It seems for the most part, Christians reach out to other Christians. There seems to be three major groups. People who support you, who actually support one another. People who are looking for help and answers. The third group is Christians with all the answers who look for people to either debate or argue with. The Pharisees belonged to which group?

People who like to argue also tend to condemn people without knowing them. Like those Pharisees, their mind is made up and no one is going to change it. They may also try to trick you so they’ll have something to use against you. I think of those people as modern Pharisees. I think you’ll agree, they can’t see that in themselves. I have no idea why.

I wish we knew what Jesus wrote in that dust. But John doesn’t seem to give us any hints. If we followed general rules of context, we can look back to see if John included any hints. We can take a look at a list of verses that may give a clue.

My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.

Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.

Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves

Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly

These are only a few. Other texts may be in previous chapters. Part of the answer may be seen later in this chapter. So far we see, Jesus had a message. He wanted to get that message across to them. Jesus knew their pride. Maybe if they wouldn’t listen to His messages, they might read them in the dust on the ground. Whatever He wrote, it made them leave. The older, wiser men left first, followed by younger Pharisees. Jesus got them to look below the surface. There is one more place we can look for an answer, in the summation.

Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

We don’t see a lot here telling us what Jesus wrote in the dust, unless it had something to do with Abraham. But we see something. They couldn’t stone the woman, so they picked up stones to kill Jesus. Another example of playing judge, jury, and executioner. Jesus kept returning because those Pharisees needed a lot of help. In a way, Jesus took the place of that condemned woman.

I Am the Light

John 8:12-20 NLTse Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

When John pointed out Jesus spoke to the people once more, he showed us how much Jesus cared. He wasn’t about to give up. He couldn’t give up. Jesus introduced another new symbol, light. Jesus kept this new symbol simple and provided the spiritual interpretation. Jesus is the light given to this world. He is the light that leads to eternal life. What Jesus didn’t do was repeat the word darkness, nor did He define it. That’s not to say He didn’t point to it’s interpretation. But the emphasis is on Jesus the light that leads to eternal life.

The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus was talking about. What happened to that lesson they learned when they dropped their stones and walked away? That was the problem. As soon as they began learning, they walked away. After showing they understood what Jesus wrote in that dust, it didn’t take long for them to go back to their way of thinking and way of doing things. Who was really guilty of adultery?

Jesus fired back at the Pharisees with the truth, they didn’t really know Jesus. They already showed they didn’t know where Jesus was born. Or they wanted to hide that information. Their comments showed how they didn’t understand what Jesus taught, or didn’t want to hear. Jesus pointed out their ignorance in a way they didn’t understand.

Jesus also pointed out their flawed judgment. It was only human. If those Pharisees were honest, they would have found one point they could agree with Jesus. But their instincts put them on the defense.

Jesus also told them how He and His Father are one and how God is His witness as well as He is God’s witness. This is a new concept for everyone in Jesus’ time. I don’t know why Jesus kept introducing new concepts at such a rapid rate. John chapter 7 and 8 took place over a few days. Over that time period Jesus introduced quite a number of subjects. He told them He brought a message from God. His teaching is from God. God sent Him. He will return to God. Jesus introduced the symbol bread and living water. He also told them to search scripture for proof of what He told them. Then Jesus told them, He is the light.

Jesus could have explained a lot more details about all the subjects He was teaching. If only they would listen. Jesus couldn’t force them and Jesus couldn’t wait for them to decide when they wanted to learn. Jesus was on a tight schedule. Another subject those religious leaders didn’t understand.

Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer. If they didn’t know Him, they didn’t know the God. It was true when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and it’s still true today. There is a process with specific steps. God works with people where they are, but the goal is always the same. People have to know Jesus to be saved. They have to know both Jesus and God to get ready for eternal life.

You Cannot Come Where I Am Going

John 8:21-32 NLTse Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We suddenly see a pattern forming here. As we look back, we can’t help but see the same event occurring. Jesus talks to people and they walk away. A group of Jews and Gentiles sailed across the lake, found Jesus in Californium, listened to Him, then walked away. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus what they thought He should be doing, then left for Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Jesus went to Jerusalem, talked to one group of religious leaders after another, and many groups of people. Jesus introduced one symbols after another, and one piece of a puzzle after another that would open up their understanding of the plan of salvation, and understanding all the prophecies about the Messiah. They all walked away. They all had one thing in common, none of them understood. They all questioned Jesus because they didn’t understand. Instead of listening to Jesus and learning about the Spirit He was trying to point them to, they walked away and left Him and His message behind. Instead of opening scriptures Jesus sent them to, they shut the door to understanding and God’s Spirit.

The scary part about this whole situation and one of the lessons in this story shows how all those religious factions united against Christ. Something drew them together to destroy and silence Him. This created a new religious movement known as unity. The first man made religious unity put Jesus on that cross.

That man made unity was broken when Jesus rose from that tomb defeating death and the grave. Jesus gave the world a clear and unmistakable view of God’s Spirit. After all those prophecies were fulfilled and Jesus, along side of God’s Spirit explained how and why each of those prophecies were fulfilled on time and to the letter, people could see solid evidence of God in His Word. For the first time in world history since Enoch, people had an understanding of God and how to communicate with Him. The new Christian church grew at a rapid pace because they knew how to teach others how to communicate with God.

Generations later, people began to forget how to listen to God’s voice. They forgot how to understand His Word. Men introduced their own messages one after another. Some groups clung to one message, others to another message. The church became fragmented. The work slowed. It finally stood still. Without God’s Spirit, the work stopped and so did the message which was soon forgotten.

No one knows where it started or who came up with the idea, but it made sense to a lot of men. If people all worshiped the same thing at the same time, God would once again hear us. The world thought a universal church where everyone followed the same course would bend God’s ear to this world once again. It sounded like a good idea, so a central church was formed, approving what they referred to as a unified form of worship.

A committee wrote out a step by step form of worship distributed throughout the world. When the world united in a single form of worship, God would once again hear us. Everyone who agreed followed their step by step worship service and preached the same message week after week. But there was no evidence God heard. So they standardized the way priests dressed, the appearance of the churches, and created new traditions for people to follow. One detail was added upon another in the hopes it would please God and they could find His Spirit once again.

Finally they decided what they really needed was to follow one man. So they elected one man to be the source of communication between Christ and His church. That seemed to work. People were so far removed from God’s Spirit and His word, they thought that one person who they choose could hear. When that one man told them he heard God, they believed him.

To them all of that made sense. After all, God had one service for His Tabernacle in the wilderness. But they forgot how that Tabernacle was arranged so every item, detail, and color pointed to Christ and His ministry. God dressed all the priests alike. But they forgot how that priestly order was abused and Christ died to put and end to it. They borrowed other points from scripture and changed them around to suit their needs and concepts of worship. But without God’s Spirit, all they had was one more man made from of worship. Copying it thousands of times did nothing to please God. What they needed to do was get back to what Jesus came to teach. They also needed to go back to understanding prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The prophecies taught by the early church at Jesus’ command.

Every change initiated under the disguise of unity shut God’s Spirit out of worship and sucked God’s Spirit out of each member of what they called their church. There was no way for people to communicate with God’s Spirit when every facet of worship and study was locked in chains of human control. Men recreated the system Jesus came to abolish.

Jesus warned about a big change about to come. People will search for Him but not find Him. We can’t restrict that search to Jesus’ resurrection. People didn’t stop searching for Him after His resurrection. Common sense tells us, that is when people began searching for Jesus. That was one giant landmark in earth’s history that changed this planet forever.

Jesus told them one important detail about their search. “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.” There is no way anyone is going to find Jesus if they don’t put away their worldly views and what the world told them about searching for Jesus.

I’ve noticed one thing most preachers have in common. Some are very good preachers. They can cover a lot of good points in their sermons. They tell people not to trust any man, or woman. They tell people to search scripture. They tell people how their lives depend on it. They don’t have a problem backing up what they say with scripture. But what most preachers can’t do is teach people how to study God’s Word on their own. They have no idea how to sit down and show people the step by step process. Most preachers follow a particular process to study but they don’t have the ability to sit down and show people what they do. That is a different spiritual gift from the same Spirit.

They may also have a great relationship with God. They may pray 90-99% of the day. They know how to see God in His Word, see Him in action in this world, wonder about Him in nature, and praise Him in song and prayer. But few pastors are able to preach a sermon telling people the step by step process to read and understand God’s Word.

This book is designed to show you patterns in God’s Word so you can learn to use them in your own studies. Like in this section of the book. You can see how I’ve taken my time over these last three chapters. It takes 1-3 days to write a chapter. That gives God’s Spirit a long time to confirm what He is telling me. I’ve had people call me and confirm what I was thinking about or writing at the moment. I’ve chatted with people half way around the world who were influenced at that moment to share details I was just about to write about or had written a few minutes before. None of those people had any idea what I was writing about. God will always confirm His message.

Look at the Old Testament. How many prophets did God send to the Jews when Jerusalem fell? I never counted all of them, but there is a whole list of them. What about the time they spent in Babylon and scattered all over the world? Got sent prophets where they were. God confirmed His messages then and He still follows guidelines He established. And He will continue to do so no matter what men think or say.

That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Is there a difference between accepting Christ and knowing Him? How can you accept Jesus if you’ve never known Him? How can you know Jesus if you’ve never met Him or His Spirit? How do you meet the Spirit Jesus promised to send?

I hope I’m not getting ahead of God or John’s book at this point, but there are a few details I think we need to cover. God still speaks to us as clearly as Jesus spoke to those crowds. The problem is, we spend too much time arguing or making excuses. In other words, the lack of reception is our fault. God didn’t loose control or have His connection go bad. We’re at fault. Admitting we’re the problem is the first step.

I don’t really think it matters what you do to talk to God. Everyone I’ve talked to about this subject has their personal way of talking with God. All of them are simple. Some people actually use a prayer closet. Other people find a quite place. The key is a quite place to listen. When people begin to listen to God the enemy is there with a thousand demons to shut out God’s voice, which is like a thought, but clear, unexpected, and if you listen to those preachers who back up what they say with scripture, you better get ready to listen to the Preacher who wrote the book. He is going to flood your mind with so many pieces of scripture you’ll think your swimming in it. Every scripture will be related to the others in ways you never imagined. Things you didn’t understand will become so clear you’ll feel like smacking yourself because you didn’t see it before. You’ll hear God’s voice as soon as you learn to shut out distractions from the world. It takes a little practice.

As you progress, scripture will have a new meaning on everyday life. You’ll see connections you never imagined. You are going to places most people never thought about or knew existed. You’ll see how God’s Word lives, breaths, grows, and multiplies, all without leaving the page. Congratulations, you just found Jesus!!! You are finally following Him.

One thing I need to warn you about. Your meeting with Jesus is personal. Like everyone who talks with Jesus, you’ll remember a great deal of the information He shared with you, but you’ll only be able to explain about 10%. But when He gives you a message to share, He will always confirm that message. Jesus will confirm the message in His written Word. When you read the Bible you’ll see the exact same message within a day or two. Jesus will also send His followers, your friends with faith will confirm the message, and you’ll be able to freely discuss it with them.

Keep in mind, almost all the messages Jesus gives you will be close and personal like the examples we’re seen with Nicodemus and the women He met at that well. And don’t forget, some people will immediately understand the message while other people will be like Nicodemus and take years to understand.

I found out writing is a good way to talk with God. It slows me down. He has a way of showing when it’s time to stop. That’s a signal it’s time to pray or go back and read scripture for the day as I read through the Bible in about 6-9 months. I don’t know how He does it, but He always seems to have a part of the lesson I’m working on in the scripture I read that day.

Sometimes life events blend into the lesson God is teaching at the time. So I have to wait to go through a personal experience before I understand what lesson God is teaching at that moment. Or like I’ve mentioned before, God will send someone with that missing piece of the message.

This may all seem strange to some people but I know, this is the way God works and I know why. God’s method of talking to us and teaching us is designed to keep us humble all the time. When I receive one message from 3-4 different sources, it can never be my message. Only God could have arranged all of those events. We can see the events of our lives unfold and pages of our life story turn like pages in scripture. God is perfectly consistent with the methods He uses. If God created the perfect method of teaching in His Bible, how could he improve on it when it comes to teaching us lessons in our own lives?

Now you can see why I keep showing the simple methods of looking back and comparing scripture, and looking for connections. Those study methods aren’t only used to study the Bible, they are used to listen to God when He teaches us about lessons we need to learn in our lives.

I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” Jesus doesn’t condemn, but I have to warn you. When you first begin talking with His Spirit, Jesus can be surprisingly honest. I’m talking about an honesty that cuts to the bone and pierces the heart. Jesus used that method with that woman at the well. He will tell you personal details only you know about.

Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.” This shows how we won’t understand what Jesus tells us until after we experience it. And like the Gospels tell, Jesus will have to explain those details.

None of those people understood what Jesus was talking about until after His resurrection and He explained all the details to them. Jesus will share details you won’t understand at the moment. You’ll have to be like His disciples and the rest of those people and wait until the event unfolds. Then you’ll have to return for another talk so Jesus can explain all the details in your life.

The one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” All the messages you receive from Jesus will be directly from God and will follow all of God’s laws. This is also why important lessons will be verified with scripture.

Many who heard him say these things believed in him. Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But remember, only a few understood while many walked away. Not everyone will accept messages you deliver even when your certain they came from God and have been verified a number of ways. Look at the process and learn from it. God put people in your life you can share your success and disappointments with. Look how many times Jesus was disappointed over the past few chapters. Don’t expect your path to be all downhill. The only path up God’s mountain is uphill. God be with you.

We Are Descendants of Abraham

John 8:33-41 NLTse “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

John showed the selective memory those people had. If we look back a few verses, we see Jesus was talking to the people who believed in Him. We also see an illustration of selected beliefs. People listen to Jesus up to a point. They listen to what sounds good to them and what they agree with. But when something gets a little rough, they change their minds about Jesus.

Those people forgot the Jewish captivity in Babylon. They mentioned Abraham. That goes back generations before the captivity in Babylon when most of the Jews were carried away as slaves. Jesus had to explain, He was talking about being slaves to sin.

Before Jesus was telling them they were going to die in their sins. Now He is telling them they are slaves to sin. Put the two together and you have people dying as slaves. What a life to live. But people don’t feel like their slaves. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “God gives us freedom of choice.” I often wondered what people meant by that. I finally found out when my ex-wife started an affair then filed for divorce. I couldn’t believe people in church thought that cliché took precedence over God’s law. Jesus had another definition for it. He called sin slavery leading to death. Jesus never called sin an option.

Of course Jesus had His own way of explaining this new symbol He introduced. Jesus used the illustration of a family. Some people own slaves who are in their homes but not really part of the family. Slaves are bought and sold. Some owners treat slaves well, other not so well. You can imagine. But children are family. Compared to a slave, family is free. We have to remember, Jesus is talking about being part of God’s family. We can’t confuse God’s family with any family in this world, no matter how good they may be. Jesus used family as another illustration to remind us, we have to leave the world behind when we consider spiritual matters and lessons.

Some of those people in that crowd wanted to kill Him. Jesus was addressing a wide range of personalities. Some accepted His message while others ignored it. What was He supposed to do? Jesus couldn’t make people listen. I guess that was the freedom of choice people were talking about. Jesus summed up that choice in His own way. “I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” You are free to choose who you want to listen to.

It didn’t matter what Jesus said or how He tried to reach them. Those people who made up their minds to kill Him thought they were following God and everyone else was lost. I’m sure you’ve faced the same dilemma. Not much has changed in two thousand years.

Children of the Father of Lies

John 8:42-47 NLTse Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

This is a subject I looked at, and didn’t really want to get into. My marriage and divorce keep coming to mind. I wonder how a woman can be married for six years and live what was nothing less than a split personality. She eventually told me, she never intended to stay married. Her plan was to marry and have me support her while she finished her degree and got a job. She told me it was all my fault it took her six years to finish her degree. She planned on only two years, three at the most. So she blamed me for the delay. And took her anger out on me in ways I never imagined anyone was capable of.

Her mother and sister told me, it was tradition from where they came from. They were never meant to remain married to American men. It was their custom to marry American men until they were ready to move on. Even though my ex-wife had been in the US since she was eight years old. Those traditions were still strong. Stronger than common sense. Stronger than God’s law.

God only wrote ten commandments. One of them tells us not to lie. Since when is tradition an excuse to dishonor God’s law? I was shown how lies lead to breaking all the commandments. Lying dishonors God and parents. In her case, lies led to adultery which led to more and more lies. In her anger, she made twisted attempts to drive me over the edge. To use my emotions against me. She went as far as trying to push me into taking my own life by using more lies. She tried to commit murder. Lies also led to character assassination. She tried to do those things because she had no idea Jesus was a far greater force. I saw how Jesus used truth to battle lies. He brought back to mind all the warnings He sent me before I married her. It was not easy to take, but I could not argue with the truth.

I often look at presidents. They look young or at least normal when first taking office. But after four or eight years in office, they often leave, looking like tired old men. Especially now when I see a president younger than me looking so old. Hair turns gray. Faces develop lines. Their bodies show a distinctive stoop. Many people say it is the pressure from all those decisions they have to make. I wonder if it is pressure from trying to keep tract of all the lies they tell.

I saw my wife once, just before she filed divorce papers. I took a few pictures. I was still deeply in love and as we know, love can be blind. I looked at those pictures after I came to terms with the divorce and saw how old she looked. Those lies took a deeper toll on her than they did on me. I healed, but she still lives with the effects of all those lies.

Jesus called the devil the father of lies. He didn’t call him the father of lies to set up a comparison with His Father. Jesus would never compare the two. Not even in a contrast. Jesus called attention to the way the devil spawns lines. The devil cannot create anything. He doesn’t have power to create. All he can do is manipulate. Jesus referred to his followers as children. This is a contrast to God’s children like life and death are contrasts. But the devil cannot produce children. Looking back a few verses we see, all he can do is change them into slaves. His slaves.

The point Jesus was making is, the more we hear lies, the harder it is to hear God. The difference between lies and truth isn’t like a light switch where we have control to turn one on or off. It’s not like we flip a switch and suddenly our lives are filled with light and truth. It is an uphill battle to get away from those lies. This is the point Jesus was trying to make when He said, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.”

People can and will get so deep into lies they control every aspect of their lives. One little white lie turns into another. I don’t have to explain the process or effect. What people don’t realize is how the devil uses lies to turn people away from God. How lies make people mistrust God to a point, they are repulsed by God because He is truth. “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

Anyone Who Obeys Will Never Die

John 8:48-59 NLTse The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

Those people proved the point. As soon as they were faced with the truth, they were repulsed by it. Notice how they changed the subject? Jesus just told them the devil is the father of lies. They didn’t take it well when Jesus called them his children. That struck a sour cord. They shot back without thinking. They called Jesus a Samaritan devil. A little while ago they said Jesus was from Galilee. Now they claim He is from Samaria. Which is true and which is false? Notice how they jumped into a lie to defend themselves?

Now we see how far lies will draw people away from God and what they do to people. Those people showed they had no concept of eternal life. Those people showed how little they knew about God. In this lesson Jesus told the cold, hard truth. Something few people are able to accept. Lies pull us away from God as well as eternal life and and understanding of both. Lies distort our concept of right and wrong just like they did in Eden.

Satan wasn’t trying to give Eve anything. He wanted her to serve him. Like Jesus pointed out, Satan wanted to make Eve his slave. That tree didn’t do anything for Eve other than show her what it was like to sin and eventually the consequences. It didn’t give any special powers to her to be like God. She knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. But one lie from Satan made the sin look more attractive then the consequences.

How far did the truth get Jesus? He tried to tell them He is the living water. They couldn’t go where He was about to go. They would search for Him but not be able to find Him. For that they tried to arrest Him. Jesus told them if they never sinned, they have the right to cast the first stone. Jesus told them He is the light to this world. He has been given the right to judge, but He prefers not to judge people. Jesus gave them one view of His ministry after another using signs and symbols. But those teachers and priests couldn’t understand.

Jesus once again told them, they couldn’t follow Him to where He was going because they were going to die in their sins. They already proved they were sinners when they dropped those stones and walked away. But they couldn’t bring themselves to accept Jesus and all He was offering them. A portion of their sins were lies, which led to other sins and more lies. Their thoughts proved they were sinners and in need of healing and a savior. They just didn’t want to be saved in the manner Jesus offered them.

Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? All day long you plot destruction. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar! (Psalms 52:1-4 NLTse).

Jesus knew all of those trials and disappointments were coming. They didn’t take Jesus by surprise. Neither did their answers or the way they tried to change the subject. Jesus knew what was behind their lies and mistrust. Jesus knew money and status played a major role. But what could Jesus do? He kept on course and introduced lessons they had to hear. Yes, God gave us freedom to choose. Look at the choices those religious leaders and other people made. We see how they made those choices and if we look a little deeper into those stories, we can see why they made those choices.

Finally those people wanted to pick up stones and kill Jesus. They couldn’t do that to the woman caught committing adultery, but they wanted to stone Jesus. Why? Who was committing spiritual adultery in Jerusalem that day?

Revelation Bible Study

Revelation

People often look at Revelation as a book shrouded in mystery, or a book locked away by God. That could not be further from the truth. Revelation is a letter from Jesus to the saints. Revelation is an open book to the saints. Revelation is locked by people who choose to ignore the obvious messages Jesus included in His letter.

This section on Revelation looks at Revelation as a letter from Christ. This concept is not unique, but a view of Revelation many authors shared over 150 years ago. The Book of Revelation follows a unique sequence. The events this world has endured and will face in the future are recorded in the proper sequence in Revelation. The problem people face is the fact they miss the obvious timeline Revelation contains. John was shown the proper timeline. John was shown a future he could not possibly understand. After each vision an angel stood next to John to explain the visions and symbols. The angel would back up to John’s time and then explain how events lead to the visions he witnessed. When we understand those timelines, we begin to understand the future John was shown. Studies in this section explain those timelines and why they were shown to John in the sequence recorded.

Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12

How to Approach God’s Throne

I felt I had to take a break from Revelation to add in a sort of educational chapter. After reading and writing about Revelation chapter 4, I asked a number of people if it was still possible to approach God’s throne. For the most part, people didn’t want to answer, or didn’t know the answer. But a few did.

Approaching God’s throne is a personal matter. Each person has their own unique way of approaching God’s throne. Some people skip God’s throne while still meeting personally with Jesus while others grasp onto the theme in Hebrews chapter 4 telling us to, “boldly stand before God’s throne.” Let’s face it, personally talking with God and Jesus have been a rather obscure subject to say the least. Either people will agree or disagree. Few people will look at the subject of approaching God’s throne and a learning opportunity. There are a few, but that is a minority of people. An even smaller minority are those who want to share their moments at God’s throne. Those people are few and far between.

When it comes to direct communication with God, doubters go as far back as Moses. No one heard God’s voice for about 400 years. Then one day this well known figure, who could have, and should have done something about slavery in Egypt when he was next to Pharaoh’s throne shows up dressed like a common shepherd. What happened Moses? You were a prince then disappeared. Now your back here telling us God is going to free us from slavery. Why didn’t you do something about it when you were a prince?

Parallels in Revelation: Chapters 1-12
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It seems God placed Moses in a tight spot. Moses could have taken action when he was next to Pharaoh’s throne. In a sense, Moses did take action by killing a single Egyptian. That didn’t solve anything. Moses had no idea about the big picture. Maybe God had a plan to use Moses when he was in Pharaoh’s court. We have no way of knowing if Moses altered God’s plan to a certain degree. That will be interesting to find out when we get to Heaven. In the long run, God had a plan that worked. In hindsight, Moses placed himself in a tight spot.

No Israelite in Egypt heard God’s voice for over 400 years. Of course they prayed. If you were a slave, you would be praying to. But God didn’t answer. So when Moses showed up and said he talked with God, people doubted. We are still plagued with that mentality. Try sharing something new with someone who thinks they have a direct line with God. Some people have the attitude, “if God didn’t go through them with a message, that message must have come from the other side.” I’ve run into that mentality many times. I ask them how they communicate with God, and they normally shot back with a few verses about false prophets, which has nothing to do with the subject at hand. But those verses about false prophets is their man made defense mechanism they use for every circumstance they don’t agree with.

It took a few choice miracles or plagues, depending on their point of view to convince people, Moses was meeting with God and delivering messages from God. And then there was Pharaoh. The guy who knew each and every one of those Egyptian gods were fake. He thought he was in control and that God Moses talked about was as fake as the gods Pharaoh and his family made up. Pharaoh was a tough nut to crack. In his world everything outside his control was fake. People still have that mentality today.

Eventually God got Israel out of Egypt and into an environment they could mellow out and think. One day God decided to show Himself to Israel so they could believe He was real and could talk to them. Of course every Israelite that left Egypt with Moses saw all those plagues. They saw Egyptian crops being ruined as their crops flourished. They saw Egyptian cattle dying when not one of their cows or sheep showed any signs of being sick. They saw water turn to blood, hail from from the sky, frogs, locusts, and other bugs controlled by God. They should have had a firm belief in God. Something went wrong. After spending their entire lives learning how to fear every god from A to Z, that fear clung onto Israel like the chains that kept them as slaves. Since they were used to someone telling them what the gods demanded, they asked Moses to play that part as a go between themselves and God.

God offered the priesthood to every Israelite that came out of Egypt. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6 KJV). They turned down that offer.

We see the same pattern repeated when Jesus began His ministry. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way, (Luke 4:28-30 KJV).

No one seemed to hear God’s voice for a few hundred years between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Once again God was silent for a time, and people just thought that pattern would continue. Or they invented new ways to make people think, God spoke to a select few in some mysterious way. So don’t ask for details, just follow their lead.

After the apostles, the same thing happened. No one seemed to hear God’s voice. It seemed the contact with the Holy Spirit Jesus promised was meant for a few choice people, and when they died, this world was left to figure things out on their own. The world grew dark and it seemed it needed a new religious leader. So a group of people got together and selected the most likely candidates God would eventually speak to. One after another was set in solitude to see if they heard God’s voice. After a number of attempts, one man came out of the room and told the committee, he heard God’s voice. That was good enough for that pious committee. They made that man their new leader and created a new religion based on the belief that God talks to one man here in earth, and the rest of the world has to follow dictates from that single man for God to bless this earth. That concept has stuck with this world ever since, and people who don’t fall in line are looked upon as outcasts or part of a cult. The devil won. He convinced the majority of this world that concept of one man between themselves and God was the only choice this world had. For some reason people read the Bible, and instead of taking God’s Word, and following God’s instructions, they decided to take the word of slaves. They decided that the choice that group of slaves made was the only choice. Scholars sipped right over God’s offer to be a nation of priests and clung onto the decision that Israel made. They convinced themselves and much of this world that Israel’s decision was somehow inspired. Reading that story the way it was written shows how Israel rebelled against God. But Satan took out the few words he needed to form a new religion, and had his agents spread it all over the world. Satan thought he had his prison door shut and locked. But God has always been at His best when it came to reaching people in prison.

Today it is rare to find people who approach God’s throne. It is rare to find people who know anything about approaching God’s throne. Or are open minded enough to learn anything about approaching God’s throne. Why is that? We just covered a few of the concepts the devil found to be effective. There are more. Take out a few choice lines in the Old Testament, add in a long speech about how God chose a few choice prophets to talk to, and you have a theology that forges the same chains that one man concept created. In the long run, the devil doesn’t want anyone to approach God’s throne, talk to Jesus, work with the Holy Spirit, or read scripture. Those are a few things the devil fears the most.

As soon as you enter God’s presence, you are in a place the devil can’t touch you. His influence is gone, and you are opening yourself to total, untainted truth. The thing is, you have to learn to put away so many thing this world has taught you. But when you approach God’s throne, you take the first step to separating truth from fiction.

I’ve talked to a number of people over the past week to get their view points on approaching God’s throne. It’s good to know God still has a number of people who will talk to Him. It may seem rather strange to think of God as feeling lonely or rejected. After all, God has billions or requests to deal with from billions of people everyday. God hears their prayers. People ask for favors, blessings, and ask God to deal with countless situations every second of every day. God knows how to deal with each of those situations. If you ever approached God’s throne, you know how God will tell you how to deal with your situation. God will give you step by step instructions you can’t argue with. If you follow those instructions, the problem is solved. The problem is, the devil is watching, and launches a hundred more attacks.

At times God will take you back a few steps to remind you how you got yourself into that mess. God is also a Teacher and Father who never wants you to repeat your mistakes. Correction from God may be a little difficult for some people to accept. That is one reason some people avoid God’s throne. You just have to learn to get over your pride.

I have may own way of approaching God’s throne. It may not be right for you, but at least you have something to think about. I look at Jesus as a way to God’s throne. To me it makes sense to cleanse myself, to make myself pure enough to approach God’s throne. After all, Aaron the high priest had to wash himself and dress in the proper way to enter the Tabernacle and to offer a sacrifice. I ask Jesus to be forgiven for my sins and to be cleansed. Then I find myself in God’s presence. Not so much to make requests, but to listen and learn. I may ask one question, then another. I may go through three or four questions before I hear a response. When I do hear a response, I know it is God’s voice. I could never second guess or argue with any of the answers God offers. They make total sense. God backs them up with stories from scripture. God’s answers are often verified by real life events that confirm His answers and messages.

There are of course as many ways to approach God’s throne as there are people. We all have our own unique personalities. One person may see God’s throne as this, another as that. When we approach God’s throne, we have respect for other people and their stories about being at God’s throne. There is no doubt about that.

The thing about books like Revelation is, people tend to get caught up with trying to figure out the future. That’s something the devil has planted in our brains. The devil wants people to believe, if they can figure out the future, that somehow draws them closer to God. That could not be further from the truth. Common sense tells us, God knows everything about the future. So why would anyone think, God wants us to figure out the future, then tell God what the future holds? That is reverse thinking. It is actually insane. All God wants is people to go to Him for answers. But this world has been trained to go to every other source but God. People have been convinced, God doesn’t talk to this world. But David tells us different story.

The one thing I ask of the LORD– the thing I seek most– is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music. Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.” (Psalms 27:4-8 NLTse).

If David could enter God’s Sanctuary, why not us? If God protected David, why not us? God does not play favorites. God can’t love one person more than another. So why does the world teach us, God favors some people over others? That doesn’t make sense when we take the Bible as a whole. It’s time to make a decision. Is your view of God based on what the world wants you to think, what the devil wants you to believe, or direct contact and communication with God? What is our source of information?

Mark 9:1-13 Some Will Not Die Before They See The Kingdom of Heaven

Mark 9:1-13 NLTse Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” (2) Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, (3) and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. (4) Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. (5) Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials–one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (6) He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. (7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” (8) Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and only Jesus was with them. (9) As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (10) So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” (11) Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” (12) Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? (13) But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 - 16
Jesus Teaches About Relationships: The Gospel of Mark Chapters 9 – 16

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Before we can understand chapter 9, we have to look back to see how it relates to chapter 8 where Jesus repeated a lesson the disciples failed to learn the first time Jesus fed a large group. To illustrate His point, Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15 NLTse). Observing the blank looks on their faces, Jesus asked, “Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:21 NLTse). For some reason the disciples were having a difficult time understanding the lessons Jesus was teaching, information they needed to carry on the ministry once Jesus was gone. To show the disciples how much they were missing, Jesus healed a blind man. Sooner or later the disciples were bound to make the connection.

Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. (Mark 8:31 NLTse). Jesus tried to explain the prophecies concerning His ministry in this world, but the disciples could not understand. They had a difficult time putting away concepts taught by the religious leaders. Jesus knew it was time for a change. If He was going to reach His disciples, He had to explain everything in a whole new light. Jesus told them. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:35-38 NLTse). Jesus knew it was time for a new beginning. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:1-5 NLTse).

The lesson Jesus was teaching continued. Jesus was not about to give up. It was time to introduce a new phase, another chapter of their education. Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!” To draw attention to the importance of the next lesson, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone.

By taking only three disciples, Jesus drew attention to the fact they had to learn how to put away distractions, one of the lessons they should have learned from the parable of the sower and seeds. Jesus needed their undivided attention. He wanted their minds to concentrate on every detail with the understanding they would be teaching the other disciples. The responsibility would help them to remember every detail.

Jesus did not waste any time. Instantly He began to transform. His clothing turned to a brilliant white, a reminder of the parable about the light and how it represented understanding. The disciples noticed the light surrounded Jesus as if it was a part of Him, or radiated from Him. It was a light like no other they had ever seen.

Once Jesus knew He had their attention, the theme was introduced. The disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter continued in his old ways, talking when He should be listening. He suggested they should build a tabernacle for each of them as a memorial. He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. What were they going to build a tabernacle with? There were only three of them. How did Peter, the fisherman plan on accomplishing his idea? It seemed Peter missed the point.

Jesus wanted them to see how Moses and Elijah left the glory of Heaven to comfort Him. There was one point for the disciples to consider, the relationship Jesus had with Moses and Elijah. Jesus spoke with Moses, giving him the ten commandments and the pattern for the Tabernacle. Jesus was with Moses every step through the wilderness, encouraging and testing him. Moses developed a strong relationship with Jesus, praying often, listening, and following instructions to the letter in all but one instance. That one mistake cost Moses the right to enter the promised land until this moment. On this day the disciples saw Moses standing in the promised land with Jesus. He had to wait until now, to show the disciples how to encourage Jesus.

Elijah had his own journey through life to Heaven. He was easily distressed. Jesus was always there to encourage him. Jesus told Elijah about 8000 faithful followers still serving Him. Elijah went from total faith to a complete lack of memory, much like the disciples were experiencing. Elijah’s life was a lesson for the disciples, who also swayed from side to side with their faith. Jesus’ encouragement remained consistent through all of Elijah’s trials. Now it was time for Elijah to encourage Jesus.

This was one of the major lessons Jesus was trying to teach on the mountain. He needed comfort from His friends. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of man. Like all of us, there is a part of Jesus longing for companionship, a friend, support, an intimate relationship of love, dedication, and mutual support. Jesus already referred to His followers as His brothers and sisters. This is why Jesus left Andrew behind, so Peter would feel the loss, see and understand the lesson in a much deeper and personal manner. Peter could not wait to share every detail with his brother.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” God the Father did not want them to miss the lesson. He was trusting His Son’s feelings and emotions in the hands of the disciples. God wanted them to be as close to Jesus as He and the Holy Spirit were to Christ. God’s heart poured out in ways they could not imagine. He wanted the disciples to feel the same love He felt for His Son. If only they would accept the gift.

In an instant Moses and Elijah were gone, but the image of the meeting was burned in their memories. On the way down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” Even though Jesus explained His death to them, they had no idea what He meant by, “rising from the dead.” Jesus was glad to see them discussing it among themselves. They were beginning to form the bond Jesus had been praying for. That was another reason Jesus left Andrew behind. Jesus did not want them to tell the others, He wanted them to review the scene over and over in their minds, going over each detail to help develop their memories so they could see one lesson after another formulate in their minds with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus wanted the three disciples to learn to wait for the entire lesson to be revealed before teaching the details. This was the first in a long series of lessons about relationships.

It was already beginning to work. A connection was forming between James, John, Peter, and the Holy Spirit. Questions were forming in their minds, so they asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?” Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready for the Messiah. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”

Jesus introduced another important facet in their education process, the scriptures. Without them, they would be lost. Their question showed how they still relied on concepts they had been taught as children. They had to learn to put those concepts behind them and look at the written Word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (John 16:12-13 NLTse). Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:13 NLTse). This was part of the lesson. The disciples saw how much John’s death effected Jesus. They wondered why Jesus did not visit John in prison. Maybe it was because it was not time for Jesus to appear in Herod’s court. With all the crowds following Jesus, it would have been impossible for Jesus to visit John unnoticed. Not only the crowds, but the Pharisees keeping a constant watch over Jesus. The disciples thought about how lonely John must have been. Suddenly they began to think of how Jesus felt. Was it possible for Him to feel lonely with all the people following Him day in and out? After teaching and healing all day did Jesus need more than what people were offering in return? What could they do to make Jesus feel appreciated?

What did the three disciples learn from this experience? How do we apply it to your walk with Jesus today? Jesus began a new lesson in chapter 9. Jesus is beginning a series of lessons on relationships. He introduced this lesson by showing three disciples His relationship with Moses, Elijah, and God. What do you get out of the lesson when you envision Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah on a mountain? What does the mountain represent? What does Moses and Elijah represent? When you envision the scene, what do you get out of seeing Jesus meeting with Moses, Elijah, and God? What does this teach you about relationships?

Matthew Chapter 13 The Sower

Matthew 13:1-23 MKJV In that day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the seaside. (2) And great crowds were gathered to Him, so that He went into a boat and sat. And all the crowd stood on the shore. (3) And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went out to sow. (4) And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them. (5) Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth. And they sprang up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth. (6) And the sun rising, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. (7) And some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprung up and choked them. (8) And some fell on the good ground and yielded fruit, indeed one a hundredfold, and one sixty, and one thirty. (9) He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (10) And the disciples said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? (11) He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them. (12) For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. But whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has. (13) Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand. (14) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, “By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive; (15) for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. (17) For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard them. (18) Therefore hear the parable of the sower. (19) When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown by the wayside. (20) But that which was sown on the stony places is this: he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. (21) But he has no root in himself, and is temporary. For when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, he immediately stumbles. (22) And that sown into the thorns is this: he who hears the Word; and the anxiety of this world, and the deceit of riches, choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful. (23) But that sown on the good ground is this: he who hears the Word and understands; who also bears fruit and produces one truly a hundredfold; and one sixty; and one thirty.

Jesus sat watching the sun rise over the hills, reflecting shades of blue and red from the tiny waves upon the water. The sky was already a light blue. The contrast made Him think of the images in His mind of Heaven with the translucent pavement of blue like a sea of glass mingled with fire. He let out a deep sigh, as a sign of being a little homesick. As His thoughts and prayers focused on the people He had served the day before, and began turning toward the coming demands of the day, He could hear people beginning to gather behind Him. Jesus remained in meditation with the Holy Spirit as the people respectively waited. Jesus already knew, this was not a day centered on physical healing, but spiritual. As the water turned to shimmering blue and silver every word of His sermon flowed through His mind. The Spirit was working in Jesus to pull in bits and pieces from different parts of scripture to teach a lesson many had prayed for, but few had experienced.

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His disciple made their way through the crowd to be at His side. Jesus’ mind was still focused on the Spirit, His heart pleading for the time when the Holy Spirit will one day cover the earth and be heard again. A deep feeling impressed Him to provide a visual image of the Spirit of God moving upon the waters. Jesus got into a boat and cast out a little way into the water as the people gathered upon the shore.

Jesus looked upon the faces of the people sitting on the shoreline, and those standing behind them. He could see His prayers had been answered as He gazed upon the hunger and wonder in their eyes. He knew the Spirit had prepared the hearts and minds of each individual called to hear Him speak that day.

Jesus began His parable, “Behold, the sower went out to sow.” As He spoke, He motioned with His arms the movements of a farmer sowing his seed in a field. Jesus hesitated a little while, while He shifted His weight from side to side in the boat, making it rock, creating tiny splashes of water, like rain. This helped the people to see beyond His words, and the physical scene.

Timing was everything for the farmer. If he planted too early, he may risk a late frost on the tiny plants. Plant too late the crop may not properly develop. The sower spread his seed and relied upon God to send the proper amount of sunlight and rain.

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from the heavens, and does not return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring out and bud, and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do. Isaiah 55:10-11 MKJV.

Jesus continued His parable, “And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them.” As He spoke a little boy threw a few bread crumbs in the air, which landed in the water, and were instantly scooped up by a few nearby sea gulls. One of them flew near Jesus, who made a motion like trying to catch the bird in a net.

A little laughter was heard from those gathered. Once it was silent Jesus continued, “Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth. And they sprang up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth.” As Jesus spoke, He bent down to pick up a few small stones lying on the bottom of the boat, and tossed them into the calm water. One after another they formed tiny rings which quickly expanded in the water. The people watched as the ripples intersected and then disappeared. Pointing up at the sun, Jesus continued, “And the sun rising, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away.” The timing was perfect, as the sun reached an angle reflecting off the water into the eyes of those listening. They had to shade their eyes with their hands to see Jesus, His human image in contrast to the light of the sun shinning off the water. To God, the image of the symbols was as important as the words.

After the dramatic scene was accomplished, Jesus held up one corner of a fishing net as His next prop and said, “And some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprung up and choked them.” Some people remembered a field they have seen over grown with weeds. Some times in those fields, a flower will grow. The tiny flower will struggle to compete for sunlight, moisture and nutrients. The weeds will do all they can to smother the little plant. They will crowd around the plant to rob it of sunlight, while in the unseen struggle beneath the ground, roots will try to strangle the tiny plant from below. No one remembers what the weeds looked like, but most people will never forget the tiny plant with it vibrant color, and delicate pedals trying to survive in a world doing its best to gain complete domination.

Sitting down in the boat, Jesus finished His parable, “And some fell on the good ground and yielded fruit, indeed one a hundredfold, and one sixty, and one thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” He called out to John, who immediately began pulling Jesus and the boat in by the rope he had been holding. As Jesus neared the shore, He reached over and began splashing water onto those on the shore, each time sending hundreds of drops or water into the air, and onto those who came to hear Him preach.

Jesus sat down to a simple breakfast with His disciples with others sitting near and far along the shoreline. A cool breeze was blowing off the water, making for a comfortable setting when combined with the sunlight filtering in through the scattered clouds. As the clouds cleared away and the sun cast it rays, Jesus turned His face to capture the warmth, and the disciples said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus stood up, walked behind John, put His hands on his shoulders, and leaning over He answered and said to them, “Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them.” Jesus walked over towards Peter, picking up three cakes of bread on the way. Placing them on Peter’s plate He said, “for whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. But whoever does not have, from him shall be taken away even that which he has.” Jesus positioned Himself in the middle of His disciples and continued, “therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not; nor do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which said, By hearing you shall hear and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive; for this people’s heart has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Walking among His disciples Jesus first touched Philip’s eyes, then Mark’s ears, “blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard them.”

Jesus gave the disciples a minute to think about what He had just told them, and discuss it in hushed tones. They could tell this was one of the most significant lessons Jesus would teach. Imagine, learning things from the Son of God the prophets yearned to hear, see, and understand. Their attention was now totally focused on their Great Teacher.

The disciples had been following Jesus for more than a year. They had seen Jesus speak, heal, and raise people from the dead, but never had they seen such an excited look in His face. The excitement on His face told them He was about to share something very important. They listened with joyful anticipation as Jesus began, “Therefore hear the parable of the sower. The sower sows the word.”

The disciples knew, Jesus is the one who sows the word. Jesus’ words and the Holy Spirit began to inspire John as he thought to himself, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3 MKJV)

Jesus continued, “When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown by the wayside.” As the disciples listened they remembered how quickly the birds had snatched the bread thrown by the boy on the shore. They knew the devil would work on people quickly to steal the Word from them before the seeds had a chance to sprout in their hearts. Knowing this they wondered to themselves, how does Satan steal the Word away? They remembered the words of Hosea, “The prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.” (Hosea 9:8 MKJV) Satan used false prophets to mislead people. They also remembered how David used birds to represent people. “Our soul has escaped like a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.” (Psalms 124:7 MKJV). The bird represented people who snatched God’s Word from their hearts. They also wondered why a bird sometimes represented a person facing a trap, and realized, a false prophet is one facing a trap laid by Satan.

The disciples also knew how David used a wayside, or road to represent life. “O Jehovah, keep me from the hands of the wicked; keep me from the violent man who purposed to trip up my steps. The proud have hidden cords and a trap for me; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set snares for me. Selah.” (Psalms 140:4-5 MKJV). The disciples began to understand they were never safe along life’s road. Using symbols which led to scripture, Jesus showed how quickly the Word can be stolen, how people used by Satan were stuck in a trap, and became a trap themselves for Satan to use. They began to understand how one error would lead to another. Realizing the road ahead of them will be filled by traps to steal the Word from their hearts, and their souls, they focused all their attention on Jesus’ words.

Jesus kicked at the stones upon the ground making a little pile in front of the disciples. He took a few seeds out from a plate, held them up over the stones, and let them drop one at a time as He explained, “that which was sown on the stony places is this: he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy.”

This instantly brought one or two verses to everyone’s mind. “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will remove the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19 MKJV). There was no doubt Jesus was referring to seed falling on a heart that was not prepared to accept it. As the disciple’s minds compared Jesus’ words to scripture coming to their memory, Jesus said, “he has no root in himself, and is temporary. For when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, he immediately stumbles.”

The disciples could remember the struggles they faced inside themselves when they first heard Jesus’ words. Peter remembered His response to Jesus’ invitation, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord.” (Luke 5:8 MKJV). These were words Peter wished he could have taken back. The memory of that day gave Peter the strength and determination to dedicate his life to Jesus.

The disciples knew the road they would travel will be full of temptations and trials. Logic told them they needed to concentrate on how to avoid and over come the trials and temptations. They knew worrying about them would do no good at all. With their minds focused on the word root, they knew it represented their dedication. Their minds were drawn to the words of Solomon. “A man shall not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.” (Proverbs 12:3 MKJV). They knew they had to be rooted in Jesus’ words and on the scriptures He taught.

Jesus walked to the edge of the clearing to a path of thorns growing just outside of the woods where He broke off a section of a thorn bush as long as His arm. Standing in front of the thorns and trees, He held up the crooked branch with long pointed thorns sticking out in all directions as He spoke, “that sown into the thorns is this: he who hears the Word; and the anxiety of this world, and the deceit of riches, choke the Word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

The thorns had one meaning to Jesus, and another for His disciples. The thorns reminded Jesus of what He knew He had to suffer. Some of the disciples were immediately drawn to the consequences of the first sin in the garden. “And to Adam He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it! The ground is cursed for your sake. In pain shall you eat of it all the days of your life. It shall also bring forth thorns and thistles to you, and you shall eat the herb of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18 MKJV). This instantly brought to mind a whole new light upon the curse in Eden. It not only applied to the ground, but everyone would face trials in whatever occupation the worked at.

Others thought of scripture that identified people as thorns. “I will not drive them out from before you, but they shall be thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. (Judges 2:3 MKJV) They could see how people living outside of God’s will cause trials which bring anxiety to others. Each of the disciples had personally experienced people bringing trials into their lives. They considered those trials and how they had become such distractions, they could not work, it effected family life, and other aspects in their lives. They could see how these distractions made them unfruitful in the past, and how they could effect their future ministries.

Seeing the expressions on their faces, Jesus knew they were really thinking about everything they had just learned. After a few moments, Jesus answered the question he knew was on their mind, “that sown on the good ground is this: he who hears the Word and understands; who also bears fruit and produces one truly a hundredfold; and one sixty; and one thirty.”

They all knew the seed represented the Word, and the ground the heart. They began to realize the Word needed to go past the ears into the heart. If the heart would not open, Words could not have the proper effect. The Word only has an effect when it reaches the heart and is applied, shared. The seed when planted in a fertile heart produces more seed. The Word must be shared. One person tells another, and another, until thirty, sixty, and a hundred people share in the experience of the Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Lamb of God

Exodus 12:5 Lamb Without Blemish

Exodus 12:5 KJV Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

The shepherd had to carefully inspect each lamb, looking for the best to offer as a sacrifice. What did a carpenter, soldier, farmer, merchant, or other person who did not raise or own sheep do for a sacrifice? In the early days of Judah, before the stone temple, did each person go into the fields to purchase a sacrifice? Did the shepherd give the same care and attention to choosing every sacrifice for others as he put into choosing one for his family? Was there one lamb more perfect than the other? Did the shepherd think by saving the best for himself, he would receive a special blessing from God? Or did he see the message in the sacrifice and give the best to others, maybe the poorest family as an offering?

If the shepherd really loved and cared for his sheep, what went though his mind day after day, week after week as people came to purchase a lamb? What went through his mind each year as he choose the best of the first born to take to the Tabernacle? What must of gone through the mind of a shepherd as he looked up at the stars wondering why God ordered the sacrificial system? Did they realize the lamb was a symbol pointing to the life, ministry and sacrifice of the Messiah?

John 1:36 KJV And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

Before Jesus began His public ministry, John identified Him as the lamb of God. Many people look at this symbol as Jesus’ sacrifice. What about Jesus as the Lamb of God? What about God as Jesus’ Shepherd? God chose the best of the best, the perfect sacrifice. He held nothing back. God watched over Jesus every minute of every day He was gone, closer than any shepherd watched a lamb. God constantly inspected His Lamb making certain He was the perfect offering. There were a few major differences. The lambs death was quick. At the hands of the high priest, Jesus’ death was slow. Unlike the shepherd looking up at the stars asking why, God had no place to turn, no one to ask. The only thing God could do is shroud His Son in darkness for a while as He suffered on the cross.

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The Tabernacle Articles

The Ark

What study on the Tabernacle would be complete without a detailed examination of the ark? This may be the one item people most question, at the same time, assuming they know the answers.

The ark is the heart of the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is designed around the ark, which contains the ten commandments, plus a number of other important items including a container of manna, and Aaron’s budding staff. A list of laws given to Moses were also added to the side of the ark.

Physical descriptions of the ark are recorded in Exodus 25:10-22, and Exodus 37:1-9. The ark is two and one half cubits long, one and one half cubits wide, and one and one half cubit high. Converting these dimensions shows us the ark is forty five inches long, twenty seven inches wide, and twenty seven inches high.

The ark is constructed of wood, overlaid with pure gold. It is interesting the Bible specifies pure gold. By definition, the word pure means morally and ceremonially clean. This may also indicate the thickness of the gold, and the manner in which it was applied.

The ark may have been covered in gold leaf, a very thin covering, much thinner than paper. To form thin sheets without holes, gold must be free of impurities. Pure gold is very soft, and easy to form. Purifying gold also served as a spiritual lesson for the Israelites and us.

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Gold taken from Egypt may have come in many forms, shapes, and sizes. We are told, Aaron made his molten calf from earrings. To withstand normal wear and tear, resist scratching, and hold its shape gold jewelry is formed from a much harder material than pure gold. Metals such as silver, copper, or nickel are added to harden gold. These materials also alter the color.

The Bible tells us, Moses burned Aaron’s golden calf in a fire, which had a hardening effect. He then beat it into dust, cast it into water, and made the Israelites drink it. Based on the fact Moses was able to beat the golden calf into dust small enough to dissolve in water, we know the gold used for the calf contained large amounts of impurities.

Gold used to cover the ark was pure, making it possible to form into very thin sheets. The gold from Egypt may have been in the form of jewelry, and maybe the idols worshipped in Egypt. To purify gold, it had to be melted. In the molten state, impurities separate from the gold. Once the impurities are removed, the pure gold can be formed into sheets.

The Bible uses the purification process to illustrate faith. The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:7 KJV.

We can only imagine the spiritual lessons the Israelites must have learned as they watched the gods of Egypt melt away, impurities float to the top where they were scooped out and discarded, cast onto the ground, and mixed with dust.

To Israel, the images of those gods cast into the melting pot represented a lifetime of oppression. Egyptians believed the strength of their gods gave them dominance over the Israelites. They also gave the gods credit for light from the sun, rain, crops, and fertility. This may have been one reason Egyptians had a controversy with the Israelites. The Bible tells us they feared Israel, based on their ability to reproduce. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Exodus 1:9-10 KJV.

The ark contained four rings, one on each corner. These rings were also made of gold, but the Bible does not specify pure gold. The reason for this is logical. Pure gold would have been too soft to bear the weight of the ark, which was carried over long distances, supported by the four rings.

The rings were cast in gold. In this case, they would have undergone the same heating, and purification process as pure gold. Once purified, other metals in the proper proportions would be added to provide the required hardness. Silver and brass added to gold also have a spiritual meaning discussed in other chapters.

Two staves, or poles were fabricated from wood, and covered in gold. The poles were not covered with pure gold, but an alloy, or mixture, making the gold hard enough to endure the rigors of travel. The covering on the staves must have been much thicker than the covering on the ark. This also made the wooden poles much stronger. Wood possessed properties of strength, and light weight. A covering of gold alloy added strength, beauty and durability.

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The ark contained the testimony given to Moses, which is covered by the mercy seat, made of pure gold. The mercy seat is the same size as the ark, two and one half cubits, by one and one half cubits. On top of the mercy seat stood two cherubims made of gold, formed of a single piece, formed by hammering.

The cherubims were placed at the ends of the mercy seat facing one another, with their wings spread out over the mercy seat. This is where God appeared to met with Moses.

Before we can accurately study the spiritual meanings of the ark, we must first understand the physical aspects. The arc was made of wood covered in pure gold. The ark was designed and constructed to carry God’s law, the ten commandments. The mercy seat, made of pure gold, covered the law. This was a sign of God’s salvation, which covers sins. This salvation came through His son, Jesus. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 1:29 KJV.

The cherubims are a reminder of God’s kingdom in Heaven. All the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, and let all the angels of God worship him. Revelation 7:11, Hebrews 1:6 KJV.

Four rings attached to the four corners supported two staves, used by the Levites to carry the ark. The priests were an example of people. Not only were they to physically carry the law, they were to make the law a life study. The law was to become a part of their lives, a part of their being, both physically, and spiritually.

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. (19) And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 KJV.

And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; Numbers 3:12. The life of the priest was a living example of the connection between man and God. The Levites did not receive an inheritance of land. This illustrated the fact, life as we know it is temporary. Instead, priests were given a portion of the sacrifice. They also received the tithe. The best of the first fruits were given to support the Levites. A portion of the Tabernacle service was designed to meet the physical needs of the priests. In return, priests were to maintain the Tabernacle, its services, teach the law, and the testimony of God. They were instructed to, “gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:” Deuteronomy 31:12 KJV.

The ark was made up of only two elements, gold and wood. Understanding the spiritual meaning of these two elements may teach more about the ark than the physical details.

Pure gold completely covered the ark, inside and out. The mercy seat consisted of pure gold. Gold also represents God’s law, and His word.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Psalms 19:8-10, Psalms 119:72, Psalms 119:127 KJV.

To find the spiritual meaning for shittim wood, we have to use a little deductive thinking. The word shittim is used almost exclusively in association with the Tabernacle. When searching the word wood, a number of texts provide a definition outside the general contexts of the subject. Wood comes from trees, which is the most logical word to examine.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree. I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. Psalms 92:12, Psalms 1:3, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Jeremiah 11:16, Psalms 52:8 KJV.

Trees spiritually represent people. Since wood for the ark came from a tree, the wood used in the ark must spiritually represent people.

What a fitting spiritual symbolism for the ark, gold and wood, representing God’s law, and His people. The law is divided into two groups. The first four describe our relationship with God, the remaining six, our relationship with other people.

Gold lining the inside, and outside of the ark is pure, the perfect representation of the law. The rings are cast from a harder material. To achieve this, the gold must be mixed with other materials, such as silver, or brass. Laws in addition to the ten commandments were carried in the side of the ark. These included the sacrificial laws and ceremonies pointing to Christ. Sacrificial and ceremonial laws were not required until after sin. The rings were designed to carry the ark. The earthly ark was carried through the wilderness by Levites for forty years. There was never any reason for the ark in Heaven to wander for forty years.

The ark was carried by two wooden staves, or poles, covered with gold. Here again we see the symbol of man, covered by gold, which represents God’s law, and His word. The gold covering of course added strength to the wooden poles.

The fact the ark was carried shows how the law required an effort on man’s part. Because the ark was to be carried only by the Levites, portrays the responsibility they carried as priests, representing God, and teaching His law.

The entire design of the ark symbolizes the relationship between God and man. The law rests upon the gold, which never deteriorates. Wood, used to produce the shape and form of the ark, symbolizes the need for man to maintain the shape required to carry the law.

The covering, known as the mercy seat, is pure gold. Mercy comes only through the sacrifice of Jesus. Pure gold represents Jesus’ perfect life. The mercy seat covers the law, just as Jesus’ perfect life covers the law for us.

Cherubims of gold represent the angels in the Heavenly courts. They show the reverence we should have for the law, which represents God’s character. They also represent cooperation between the Heavenly host and man. Pure gold shows the aid provided by angles is perfect, because of their perfect obedience, and cooperation with God.

Overall, the ark symbolizes, cooperation between God, His angels, man, and the law which are at the center of understanding. Once we understand how to interpret the symbols of the ark, we can begin to understand the other details of the Tabernacle.

Reference texts:

KJV Exodus 25:10-22. And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (11) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. (12) And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. (13) And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (14) And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. (15) The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. (16) And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (17) And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (18) And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (19) And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

KJV Exodus 30:6. And thou shalt put it before the vail that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee.

KJV Exodus 37:1-9. And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: (2) And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. (3) And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. (4) And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. (5) And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. (6) And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (7) And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; (8) One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (9) And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

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John Chapter 12

John 12:1-50 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (9) When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. (12) The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him. (17) Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (20) Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. (42) Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”

After writing three studies on this story about Mary anointing Jesus, I can finally see how God changed the order in this sequence. We can see Lazarus mentioned a number of times, which brings attention to his death. We see Mary anointed Jesus before His death. But look at the story that follows, the shorted account of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. When we carefully pray before studying scripture, we can see another story out of place. But is it?

If we compare Solomon’s ordination to this story, we see Solomon rode David’s mule out of Jerusalem to Gihon Spring. The word Gihon means to shoot forth water. Jesus rode a young donkey colt from Bethany into Jerusalem. Solomon was anointed after his ride, Jesus was anointed before. We have two examples of a reversed order in one chapter.

This calls attention to many spiritual lessons in the gospels. Some we’ve seen, and others we are about to study. One of the reasons God gave us those examples of a reverse order is to remind us, understanding His Word may not be as easy as some people claim it is. If there is one thing people who really study God’s Word can tell you is, you have to go over it again and again to understand. God has a way or revealing only portions at a time.

Jesus on a DonkeyJesus had a choice. He could have ridden the donkey, the colt’s mother, or the little colt. Jesus chose the little colt. The disciples were so embarrassed, the their their coats over the beast to cover it up. They didn’t want people to think that was the best they could do for their Teacher. We have to approach God’s Word in much the same way. Whatever we bring to a Bible Study is small and embarrassing compared to what God can provide, or what He has to reveal.

As we pray and look deeper into this series of stories, we see another order revered. People expected Jesus to crown Himself King. But that’s not the order in God’s plan. Jesus was first to serve as High Priest before receiving His crown. Jesus’ first ministry in Heaven is to conduct the judgment. Look at the previous chapters to see how often Jesus tried to teach that point. Now you can see the need for those examples of a reverse order. We didn’t understand the messages when they were presented, but when new details are added and we look back, we can clearly see why Jesus used that specific order.

And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse).

There is a specific order given to announce Jesus’ return. The first is to announce the beginning of His duties as High Priest in Heaven which involves His role as judge. But how many people understand this order? How many people are able to explain? Not many people choose to go to God’s mountain to learn God’s order. When we look at the messages of the remaining two angels we clearly see how that order has been reversed.

Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:8-10 NLTse).

For the most part, Christians today are all too happy to run around preaching either the second or third message, but have no understanding of the first message. For one thing, people place the judgment Jesus talked about in all kinds of different time frames. How do we know which one is true and which of the many are false? We have to study and let God’s Spirit lead us to the truth. When we allow human understanding to take over for God’s Spirit, the sequence is already tainted, stained, and ruined.

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Look at the second message. There must be more interpretations for Babylon’s fall than there are Christian denominations in this world today. Some churches were created by splitting off based on a new interpretation of Babylon or the sequence it will happen. Years and generations have passed, and people still cling onto those traditions and beliefs. Little do the see, they cannot understand the second message until the understand the first.

The same is true for the third message. I hear people quoting little pieces of the second message claiming it is actually the third. Some people claim this is the last message to the world, but can’t really explain what it means. Most religions claim to have identified the beast in Revelation 14, but I haven’t see any who can prove it using only the Bible. They have not learned the art of looking back in scripture for the answer.

That mark is another major doctrine taught in this world now and for generations. There must have been hundreds of guesses attempting to identify that mark. Many of those guesses have been left on the side of the road, replaced by more modern versions. Once again, which are true and which are false?

In those few verses we have uncovered one major difference between Heaven and earth. There is only one true judgment in Heaven, but many Babylons, beasts, and marks on earth. Satan would never plan or rely on a single deception. Not when he has more demons than we can count to carry out his orders. He is as unstable as a raging sea, moving and causing destruction in all directions.

I often wonder why so many people dedicate themselves to the study of Babylon, the beast, and his mark. I’ve noticed those people know so little about Jesus. Is their obsession a deception? But how many people can explain what Jesus is doing in Heaven this minute? What a mixed up world and religion we find ourselves in. How many of those people can tell you when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin judgment?

There were two things Israel was told to listen for. The sound of the bells on the high priests robe when he walked into the Most Holy, and the sound those bells made when He left the Most Holy. Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the LORD, and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the LORD’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die. (Exodus 28:35 NLTse). If they didn’t hear the sound of those bells when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, how will they ever recognize the sound when He leaves? What a sad and dangerous example showing how man has chosen once again to ignore God’s order and sequence.

I’m sitting here writing this and wondering how we are going to hear those bells. We can be certain we will hear them in God’s Word when the time is right. Will God confirm their sound with prophets? Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants–men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth– blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called. (Joel 2:27-32 NLTse).

When we look at what the prophet Joel recorded, there will be much more. How much of it will be physical and how much spiritual? As I sit and write this, I am looking out on a snow covered year looking like a lifeless wasteland covered in white. I can’t help but see the contrast. I know life remains underground ready to shoot up as soon as the sun warms the land. Every spring is like a resurrection in Wisconsin. But now, a major portion of the United States is covered in snow. Other sections of the country that have not seen rain in years has been experiencing major flooding over the past few weeks. The cold weather is so bad here this February, it has set records in many parts of the country. Some placed that rarely see snow are blanketed today. Most of the time snow will melt later in the day, or the next day. But this winter it lingers as if it is whispering a message. As if God wants us to hear a message. What are the signs of the end – when Jesus’ finishes judging?

If you want to see those signs, look out the window and listen to God. Over the past few years this world has experienced record cold and hot temperatures. Some times at the same time on opposite sides of this planet. God’s creation is crying out while it is being shaken and wrenched apart. Like every creature in God’s new world had to suffer the effects of sin, they suffer under unbearable conditions while this world repeats the first sin – they refuse to listen to God.

Record long droughts are followed by record rain falls and floods. The worst storm every recorded in history hit the Philippians a little more than a year ago. Every part of this world is suffering under stains beyond its control. Governments promise relief, but are really helpless. They point to science as the only answer to this world’s problems, induce additional burdens in the form of taxes to battle the fury this world has unleashed upon us, but can’t see they have fulfilled prophesy.

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Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:14-16 NLTse).

What does that clay represent? Who questions God? Who tries to silence His voice? Who claims to be greater than God? There is only one answer, science, the people who claim they can save this world. All it will take is more money, more taxes. Don’t they know Jesus was born in Bethlehem because of a decree to raise taxes? What about that clay? Look at Daniel, who tells us when it will appear in history. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. (Daniel 2:41 NLTse). According to Daniel, that clay will appear near the end of time. That is when that clay will question the creator. The clay will not all the iron to cling together. Science will work to divide the world’s kingdoms. Those taxes are not used only the fight the unpredictable nature of God’s creation, the majority of taxes are going to the greatest military build up in earth’s history. Some alliances are being formed while others are being fractured. To a large degree, countries are dividing and uniting along religious lines. Something we wouldn’t have imagined fifty years ago.

We have to be very careful with symbols. There are a few rules of contest to follow when we study symbols.

Authors repeat key words to draw attention to their use as symbols.

Symbols always point to something far greater.

Symbols can only be interpreted by God’s Word.

Key words help to point to scripture explaining the meaning of a symbol.

The meaning of a symbol is often explained within the chapter it is recorded.

Symbols must always be interpreted within context.

We cannot take one interpretation of a symbol found in one chapter and apply it to all chapters. We have to consider context, which includes the main theme of the chapter found in the introduction and summation in every chapter, as well as key words used in the chapter.

Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

God does not intend in smashing all the clay, nor does all science oppose God and His will. Like everything else, there is good and bad. And God will not stop reaching out. So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction. (Romans 9:16-22 NLTse).

Like Pharaoh constantly opposed God, we see some branches of science opposing and trying to disgrace God. But that does not mean God cannot perform another miracle by reaching them. The jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. (Jeremiah 18:4-6 NLTse).

This reminds us, only God can change likes. Working the clay with His hands shows the close personal contact God has with good and bad people, and everyone between. For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins. And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Don’t be so angry with us, LORD. Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:4-9 NLTse).

The most important part of this lesson shows how, we have to leave every bit of judgment in God’s hands. God gave Jesus the authority to judge. Jesus is the only one to earn such an important role. When we try to take that role away from Jesus, are we any better than science who openly defiles God? But there is hope. If you have a cold heart that knows only how to judge, Christ can reform you in His hands. If all you love about the Bible is the study of the beast and his mark, God can get you to listen, if you are willing. As for the rest of the world. They are in God’s hands. But He can’t use you until He is done reforming you. Are you ready? Can you hear God’s voice and recognize His work?

Mary Anointed Jesus for Burial

John 12:1-8 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

In chapter 12, John breaks from the pattern established over previous chapters consisting of a great deal of detail, back to a series of stories. Any dedicated student of the Bible will tell you, a break in a pattern is just as important as an established pattern in scripture.

Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.

Moving into a new event is the understatement of the universe once we see where John’s book is headed. We can see Jesus is building up to His trial in Jerusalem, death, and resurrection. One thing to pay attention to in this series of stories is the details Jesus shared and how people perceived them.

John makes sure to tell us this first event happened six days before the Passover. The date helps us to piece together Jesus’ last days of His ministry on this world in human from. Jesus began in Bethany. We see Lazarus repeated a number of time. John pointed out, Lazarus was the man Jesus raised from the dead.

The first event was a dinner where Mary anointed Jesus for His burial. Jesus pointed this out. Judas didn’t appreciate the act. He must have harbored a hidden dislike or mistrust of Mary. John pointed out, this was the same Mary who was Lazarus’ sister. This established another link to the previous story where Jesus rose Lazarus from his grave. We see how each story is arranged to build one detail and lesson upon another.

John did not record a lot of details about that dinner, which draws more attention to what he did write. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

We see, Judas was a thief. How does that fit into the spiritual lessons taught here? How do people steal away those lessons while they are still Jesus’ disciple? We have a contrast here between Mary and Judas.

Mary gave a very expensive gift to Jesus. Once the oil was poured over Jesus, it couldn’t be recovered. It was an extravagant gift from the heart. Perfume is normally used in small amounts. Mary anointed Jesus using the entire bottle. She didn’t hold anything back. It was a symbol of her love for Jesus.

Mary didn’t expect anything in return. She also didn’t expect to be criticized for her act. If we look at other gospels, we see how the disciples were arguing who is the greatest. Judas wasn’t listed in those conversations, but this story showed where his heart was. The question still remains, how do Jesus’ disciples steal from Him today?

Twelve ounces is the size of a soda can, or bottle of soda. Some people call it pop or a soft drink. Pouring an entire bottle that size on a person is sure to be noticeable. John made sure to tell us the fragrance filled the room. It had to be more than pure olive oil, which was normally used to anoint a king or priest. This was perfumed oil so everyone would notice.

The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about anointing dead bodies for burial. That was a tradition copied from other cultures. God used this as a lesson to show how He uses traditions to meet people where they are. He didn’t condemn the act, He used it to bring glory to His Son. The Christian world can learn a ton lessons from that.

Mary didn’t just pour the oil over Jesus, she wiped it with her hair and kissed Jesus’ feet. She touched Jesus in an intimate manner and in a way beyond normal respect and concern. Do you touch Jesus in the same manner when you offer something to Him?

John 12:9-11 NLTse When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.

Opposition grows like a cancer. When people reply on themselves and shut out God’s Spirit, they are left to the devil’s desires and work. Judas had a demon, we will cover more details later. We will also see how the devil controlled those people who thought they had all the answers. Satan guided them along every step so we could see the extent of his control and his real motives. The entire universe witnessed those scenes as they unfolded. The universe wonders why this is the only planet in the universe that doesn’t understand.

Jesus Entered Jerusalem

John 12:12-16 NLTse The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.

John tells us this next event happened five days before the Passover. Jesus rode a little colt into Jerusalem and people hoped He was about to take David’s throne. To them at that moment, their King had come to Jerusalem. They didn’t realize, that was only one aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Other details and prophecies had to be fulfilled before Jesus received His crown. As Jesus explained to Pilate, His Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus wasn’t going to receive glory from this world, or any crown. This story was much larger than any of them could image.

John pointed out how the disciples didn’t understand what was happening. That number included John himself. Admitting we don’t have the answer is the beginning of understanding. When people think they know what those symbols pointed to, chances are, they are wrong. At the very best, all men can do is figure out a small portion of those symbols on their own. When they don’t go to God and stick to His word to find their true and full meaning, they rob God. We want to look at the prophecy Jesus pointed us to so we don’t rob Him.

Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.

Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.'” They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD.” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:10-12 NLTse).

The prophecy John pointed out shows us much more than what he wrote. John is showing us another important rule of context we have to follow if we plan on understanding scripture. Notice how detailed John had been in the previous stories. Then John goes onto a story about Jesus being anointed, followed with a short story about Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem. John chose to record only brief accounts of what happened? That doesn’t make any sense – to us. Compare the importance of those previous stories to these. Why would John change his pattern now?

The answer is easy to see when we look at Old Testament scripture quoted. Look at the detail it added. John never recorded any of the details about Jesus going into the temple courtyard, he didn’t have to. We find those details in the Old Testament prophecy. Jesus went into the gates to prepare a highway for His people. That is when He told them a series of parables teaching them details about His ministry as well as their role in it. We see more details in the summation of the chapter we’re pointed to.

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see– a splendid crown in the hand of God. (Isaiah 62:1-3 NLTse).

The summation gives us a behind the scene look at what Jesus did as well as how He felt during His last moments in Jerusalem. Jesus stayed still when He refused to answer the high priest and Pilate. Because He loved Jerusalem, He forgave them while on the cross. Looking at the Old Testament texts tells us much more than anyone could imagine. Look at those details. They are telling us details that occurred after Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Look at God’s time line and see how God has many lines that cross that spiritual moment in time. Each line recorded in scripture explains details on both sides of that point, past and future. The Bible shows how it explains the past and reveals the future. The sad part of it is, few people take time to look at God’s collection of books they way they were meant to be read.

The People Met Jesus

John 12:17-19 NLTse Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”

John showed how people were split in Jerusalem. Some people believed those miracles Jesus performed, others ran off to consult with the religious leaders as we’ve seen in the previous chapter. Once the Pharisees saw the number of people following Jesus, they did more than worry.

Jerusalem was crowded with thousands of people to observe the Passover. There’s not a lot to do walking along the road. Sharing news helps to pass the time. Never was there news like they heard on that trip to Jerusalem. News about Lazarus spread quickly. Jesus had been traveling all over the region healing and teaching people. Many of them were thankful for being healed or seeing friends and relatives healed. Some heard more than Jesus talk, they listened to God’s Spirit. Some people searched scripture. It would be nice to know what they found and how much God explained at the time.

John pointed out how much the story about Lazarus influenced Jesus’ last minute ministry. Another example showing how God’s timing is important. Some people want to serve Jesus, but don’t understand God’s timing. They don’t see how much harm they can cause if they don’t know how to follow orders when they are given. Jesus showed how He had to wait a few days before going to Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles. If waiting was part of Jesus’ ministry, maybe it should be an important part of ours.

Walk in the Light

John 12:20-41 NLTse Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory.

John returned to his style of adding detail. Something prompted John to added those details. John told a story about some Greeks who came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus. They first met Philip who told Andrew, who took the Greeks to Jesus. This showed how people work together to bring people to Jesus.

Once we learn to see the patterns John and other authors used, we begin to see scripture open up with details a casual reading would not catch. Now we can understand Jesus’ answer. Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. To see the spiritual message, we have to look at this a few lines at a time and see how they relate to previous verses.

When did God choose the right time for Jesus to enter into His glory? The simple answer is that Passover that happened to be during the Sabbath. Looking back a few verses we see God’s Spirit at work arranging a few details. John showed us how Greeks came to look for Jesus. It would have been unusual for Greeks to be in Jerusalem during the Passover, but not out of the question. Greeks most likely would have been shunned by Hebrews. They looked and talked differently then the Hebrews in Jerusalem. Most of the Jews would have shunned them, except for the vendors who welcomed everyone’s money.

Those Greeks also remind us about the hundreds of thousands of Greek Old Testaments spread over the world. I wish we knew if the had access to scripture. It would also be nice to see how scripture influenced their view of Jesus before they met Him. We can see a few details based on what John recorded about the conversation.

Those Greeks would have entered Jerusalem expecting to see an entire city celebrating the coming of the Messiah. They couldn’t imagine the joy and excitement Israel must have felt to see their Savior return. The excitement in those Greeks must have built as they saw long lines of people meeting on the road to Jerusalem. They must have felt it was strange to listen to different accounts and opinions about Jesus from the people they met on the road.

It’s funny how we can talk to people today and still hear different opinions. Not as drastic as what those Greeks would have heard, but strange just the same. And we still have associate with people to different degrees. Some people we love and can’t live without. We have friends we occasionally see. People we know but rarely see. Some people have friends they only call when they need something from them. And there are people we try to avoid. So what’s the difference between what we hear about relationships with Christ today and what those Greeks heard on that road? No matter how hard Jesus tried, people set their own standards when it came to their relationship with the ultimate source of infinite love.

All they could do was hope Jesus would meet them. And of course, Jesus was happy to meet them. Reaching out to Greeks represented how Jesus reached out to the world. The process they followed to meet Jesus showed how Jesus’ disciples have to work together. It is a physical description of one person plowing, another sowing, and another harvesting. It also showed the disciples how working together wiped out the desire to be greatest. Not one person nor step in the process is more important than the other.

Jesus used the illustration of a seed to describe what He was about to do. But now that we understand what was taught in the previous verse, we can see how that parable about the seed also showed the disciples what is meant to die to this world. They had to bury their pride.

Jesus told them the seed that was about to be planted will die and its death will produce more seeds. Jesus wasn’t just teaching about His death, He was telling them about the ministries they would soon be conducting. Think of what the disciples gave up to conduct a full time ministry. They gave up everything to serve Jesus and tell people about the prophecies they witnessed as Jesus fulfilled each one.

Jesus also told them, they had to give up this world. People usually have an easy time understanding that. But what did Jesus mean by being where He is? Where did Jesus go after His resurrection? To Heaven. Jesus showed the only way to Heaven is through Him, now and after death. Jesus didn’t tell people to follow Him after they died. Jesus rose Lazarus to bring glory to God. God gave that glory to His Son. Lazarus served Jesus’ ministry while he lived, not when he was in the grave.

Something strange happened in Jerusalem. People heard God’s voice. Some heard it and others thought it was thunder. This has been repeated throughout history. Some people hear God’s message while some people think it is nothing to worry about. Jesus explained why God spoke at that moment. It was for the benefit of Jesus’ followers as well as Jesus. God knew they all needed encouragement for what was about to happen. This also shows how close God is and how He is always watching.

Jesus didn’t go into much detail about what was about to happen, but He did give them clues. The people thought they understood scripture, but they didn’t understand God’s timing or the process Jesus had to follow in the plan of salvation.

Jesus pointed out the purpose of His sacrifice, to defeat the ruler of this world one last time. Jesus revealed who was behind the coming events. Jesus told them who was responsible for all the pain and suffering, not only His, but the world. Jesus showed the world how far Satan would go. If he would snuff out the life of God’s Son, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill any of us, once he’s done using us. That is if we allow him.

Jesus also told them what He told Nicodemus three years ago. He told them how He was going to be lifted up above the earth to draw people to Himself. That was where the people got confused. They couldn’t see how the Messiah could die. Based on the pattern we’ve seen in previous chapters, we can see a number of people walked away from Jesus. Tradition was once again stronger than truth. How many people say they believe in Jesus, say they are following Him, but are actually following traditions they’ve been taught? Traditions that actually make them turn and walk away from Jesus.

Jesus was instructed by God’s Spirit to repeat the lesson using light as a symbol. We see a pattern when Jesus repeated Himself, but this time it is a new crowd. Once again, that symbol of light was followed by the key word believe. When light comes it takes more than common sense to follow it. It takes something some people don’t have, belief or faith.

Why did Jesus talk about the light as if it would be available for a limited time? We know Jesus’ resurrection shed new light on the plan of salvation. We know even the disciples understood very little before the resurrection, and were taught by Jesus for forty days. After that Jesus sent His Spirit on Pentecost. Why would Jesus say His light would shine for just a little longer? Did Jesus know there were a few listening who needed to see Him in His physical body to believe? Some people find it hard to find enough faith to follow anything else but their eyes. But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.

This time John quoted two scriptures from Isaiah. Of course we already know how important it is to look at texts he pointed us to. This is an unusual occurrence in the Bible. When we pay attention, we can see, Jesus didn’t quote this scripture, John added it. Of course we know John was an inspired author. God told him to add that scripture. This teaches us a lesson we have to be aware of. Sometimes Jesus will refer to scripture without directly quoting it. This is something to watch out for, but not be obsessed with. Don’t worry, God’s Spirit will let you know when He wants to show you something important. Just pray you are paying attention.

Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected– a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! (Isaiah 53:1-4 NLTse).

John introduced Isaiah 53 near the end of Jesus’ ministry while He was preaching in Jerusalem. We see how John quoted the very beginning of Isaiah 53 to lead everyone who read his book back to Isaiah. Can you imagine the emotions John felt as he wrote this story in his book? Put yourself in John’s place as he wrote this book at a slow, steady pace by hand. He paused before he added this little part pointing us to Isaiah. John was very careful not to add any of his personal views but follow the direction of God’s Spirit. As John opened Isaiah’s book and turned to the portion he wanted to quote from, he read the entire prophecy about Jesus. John wept as he followed through the words Isaiah recorded so long ago. John wanted to reach people with his book. That was his intention when he sat down to write it. That had been his prayer for months before he started his book and prayer everyday as he wrote out his account of Jesus’ ministry. Once John finished reading the prophecy, he knew it was what God wanted. But John\’s emotional state would only allow him to copy the first few lines. I only included the introduction and summation to Isaiah 53. I hope you take the time to read the entire chapter on your own and feel the emotions John felt when he read it.

Look at the first few words. What did Isaiah feel when he penned those words? Who has believed our message? I know I ask that question almost everyday. Some people just don’t want to listen. Or they’ll listen but feel little need to move forward in their walk to catch up to Jesus and walk hand in hand with Him. I wonder why people choose this world over what they could have with Jesus today.

He has a way of comforting us like nothing else in this world. With a little faith, worries of this world will disappear. Everything the world can throw at you seem like a futile attempt from the enemy to draw you back into his camp. When you walk with Jesus, the enemie’s attempts to draw you back are like a mosquito trying to push and elephant.

Look back a chapter to see how Isaiah led into this prophecy and see how Isaiah 53 makes chapter 52 perfectly understandable. The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the LORD returning to Jerusalem. Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the LORD has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God. (Isaiah 52:8-10 NLTse).

You can see how watchmen are defined when we read Isaiah 52, 53, and John’s Gospel together. The watchmen were the people watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem. But those watchmen didn’t have the proper vision of Jesus. At that point they misunderstood His ministry.

When we progress to the next line we can see, Isaiah was not referring to the moment in time Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but when He returned after His resurrection, when His victory over the enemy was sure. When His resurrected body proved the religious leaders wrong and exposed the bondage they put those people under. It was time to shout for joy because Jesus freed them. It wasn’t only His death and resurrection that freed them. It was His words, the miracles He performed, and the prophecies He fulfilled before their eyes. Isaiah 53 in only a small part of them.

Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the LORD. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. (Isaiah 52:11-12 NLTse). Isaiah told them about their departure from Jerusalem when the religious leaders hunted them, trying to silence them. God knew when truth reveals itself persecution is sure to follow. If they didn’t hesitate to kill His Son. Those religious leader would think little about the lives of Jesus’ disciples. The great light Jesus shed upon the earth was in conflict with the darkness trying to cover this world. Isaiah revealed what Jesus was telling them about the light being available for a short time. He told them that in Jerusalem. The disciples only enjoyed freedom to preach the word for a short time before the powers of darkness regrouped to launch a new attack.

That sequence of events showed how little the devil knows about scripture. He doesn’t have the ability to interpret scripture. He can’t interpret scripture without God’s Spirit. That would be impossible. Even if he can figure out the patterns, there is a portion locked away from his view and understanding. Satan is not guided in scripture. He has no way of seeing how prophecies are going to be fulfilled until after the events pass. That doesn’t stop him from reacting as quickly as he can and in most cases, he follows the same course he did with Jesus.

See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.(Isaiah 52:13-15 NLTse). Jesus was intentionally disfigured by the priests. Satan filled their heads with the possibility He may be the Messiah, but not the Messiah they wanted. To make sure they got the right Messiah, they disfigured Jesus thinking God could never accept a less than perfect physical sacrifice. They showed once again how they and their leader, the devil misinterpreted scripture.

After it was over Pilate and Herod saw what they did or didn’t’ do. They had to live with the thought, they killed God’s Son. Do you think Satan’s demons left those two alone after they killed Jesus? No! Demons tormented them with guilt. Their consciences would not give them a moment of rest. Both those kings received more reports about Jesus than anyone beside Jesus’ disciples. They had their witnesses, but ignored them.

Looking back, and looking back again reveals so much. There are times you almost have to read the Bible in reverse. How do you know when? That’s a job for God’s Spirit. He will show you when to refer to other books in the Bible, when to look up specific words, when to look at the previous chapter, God’s Spirit is your guide in God’s Word. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (Psalms 43:3, John 16:13 NLTse). You have one advantage over the enemy. Use it.

He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:9-12 NLTse).

Isaiah filled everyone in on Jesus’ perfect life, and so much more. God knew about the plan to crush Jesus long before it entered Satan’s mind as a thought. Then again, God saw how those thoughts were beginning to formulate in Lucifer’s mind while he still held a high position in Heaven. It wasn’t hard to figure out where Lucifer’s rebellion was leading. But God had to sit and watch while Satan worked his plans to their fulfillment. The difficult part was getting Satan to do everything on time. When you see how God was able to get Satan to put his plan into action at the exact moment God said the prophecies would be fulfilled is not only amazing, but adds additional proof Satan doesn’t understand scripture.

Too bad people focus on one little part of this prophecy and forget to look at the rest. People look at and preach, “he will bear all their sins,” while passing over the major portion of this prophecy. If they don’t see the part of God knowing all the plans, do you think they can understand all of Jesus’ many descendants? Can they see all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in all the churches, countries, areas of this world no one can reach, and those areas no one cares about?

We’ve seen how people Jesus talked to face to face didn’t understand what He was talking about. How much less do people understand when they only read His Word? Do they see the patterns in Jesus’ ministry, in His miracles, or in His sacrifice?

Do people see and understand the glory God gave Him? Can anyone describe that unimaginable glory beyond anything in this world, beyond the stars, and human understanding? What do people do when they try to explain the glory Jesus received from His Father in a way to make it appear they have all the answers? They rob people of meeting Jesus to find out about that glory from His Spirit.

Isaiah told us about one of those honors, a victorious soldier. Actually this translation seems to take a little artistic freedom. But we may have missed the point if we used the KJV. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 KJV). Translators for the KJV used the word great. The actual Greek work covered a broad range of positions including captain, elder, officer, and prince. The main focus of the Greek word focused on abundance.

Why was the NLT translated as soldier? The translators for the NLT used the rules of context to translate words that had a number of meanings. When they found a situation like this, they looked back at the introduction for a clue for which way to go. When we look at the introduction, we see a strong arm mentioned. That led translators to use the word soldier in the summation.

They Loved Human Praises

John 12:20-41 NLTse Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”

John began his summation to this series of stories, or this chapter by pointing out many people didn’t understand. Of course John pointed out many people did believe, including some of the Jewish leaders. We see the results later in Acts. God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.

(Acts 6:7 NLTse). This is an important point to concentrate on, otherwise we’ll miss the major point in the verses that follow.

John wasn’t pointing out people who failed to understand. John pointed out how hard Jesus, God, and His Spirit worked to reach those people. Jesus didn’t care some of those people were planning to kill Him, He wanted to reach them all. But Jesus didn’t want them to look at Him, or honor Him. Jesus wanted to introduce them to His Father. Jesus explained His relationship with God and the process He followed. God sends Jesus orders and He followed them.

Jesus also brought up that subject of judgment. This time He made it clear, He didn’t want to judge anyone. He showed how far He was willing to go. They could have read about the details in Isaiah. But they saw it in real life. They saw the trial in front of Pilate. They heard about the other trials in front of Herod and the priests. They saw what those leaders did to Jesus. They saw Him on the cross. Then they heard about His resurrection. Not many saw Jesus after He rose from that tomb, but they could go back and read about it in scripture. We weren’t able to see what those people saw, but we can still go back to scripture and read about it.

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8

Mark 5:21-43 Jesus Heals an Issue of Blood and Raises a Girl From Death

Mark 5:21-43 NLTse Jesus got into the boat again and went back to the other side of the lake, where a large crowd gathered around him on the shore. (22) Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, (23) pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.” (24) Jesus went with him, and all the people followed, crowding around him. (25) A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. (26) She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. (27) She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. (28) For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” (29) Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. (30) Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” (31) His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” (32) But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. (33) Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. (34) And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (35) While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” (36) But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (37) Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). (38) When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. (39) He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” (40) The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. (41) Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” (42) And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. (43) Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

This seems like a long day for Jesus, but He is doing what He loves, teaching and healing. The day before Jesus began His journeys and lessons on the shores of the lake. Crowds became so thick, He launched out a short distance in a boat. This also helped call attention to what Jesus was teaching, a parable about a farmer scattering his seed. Some landed on the road. Other seed landed on stony ground and among thorns, and of course the farmer made sure plenty of seed landed on good soil.

Later, the disciples asked Jesus to explain the meaning of the parable. Jesus told them what the symbols were and what they represented. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:15-19 NLTse). Of course Jesus also explained, seed represented God’s Word. He also explained how the good soil produced more seed.

Jesus also explained how important understanding God’s Word was to produce more seed. Jesus told a parable about lighting a lamp. When used properly, light makes everything visible. Light represents understanding God’s Word.

Once His disciples understood they had to understand God’s Word before they could see His Word increase, Jesus told them another parable explaining the process to follow. The disciples did not know it at the time, but the first lesson would be taught while crossing the lake.

In the middle of their trip they were caught up in a vicious storm, so fierce the four fisherman Jesus called cried for help. They found Jesus asleep in the front of the boat. They woke Him, asking if He cared anything about them. The disciples weren’t sure why they woke Jesus with such doubt in their hearts. Did they really believe Jesus was going to save them? Did their faith lead them to Jesus, or their fear? Jesus calmed the wind with His Word, which was part of the lesson. Wind represented ideas, concepts and words people would use against them once they began preaching God’s Word. Jesus showed them how to over come the wind. He also showed them how to handle the wind when it comes. He would illustrate this lesson again in the hours to come.

Looking back at the sequence of this texts and forward to what the disciples wrote in the New Testament, a question comes to mind. The seed of course produces more seed. The seed represents God’s Word in the parable of the sower. In essence the parable shows God’s Word produces more of God’s Word, just as the seed produced more seed. New Testament writers referred to and expounded on Jesus’ parables. The seed Jesus planted produced more seed, just like the parable pointed out.

Once they reached the other side of the lake, a man possessed by hundreds of demons threatened them. As the disciples hid behind Jesus, He stepped forward to confront the evil spirits. Although out numbered, Jesus sent the demons into a herd of swine. The scene seemed quite strange in both instances, those with the greater numbers feared the one they out numbered.

Once the demons left the man, the pigs ran off a cliff into the lake Satan tried to control just a few hours before. Once freed, the man, wanted to follow Jesus, who instructed him to return home to his family to explain what happened to him. He became one of the most successful evangelists in the Bible. Jesus links the next lesson to the previous by once again entering a boat. They cross the lake again. This time Jesus meet a rich young ruler.

Jesus could see the man coming from quite a distance. Jairus was dressed in rich robes showing his high status in the synagogue. The disciples looked at him, thinking it was strange for a young man to reach such a high status. They thought to themselves, it was all who you know, not what you know. The little bit of knowledge the disciple were learning was not yet complete. One of the most important lessons was still in the future, which is, when the Spirit provides a message, He also tells who to deliver the message to, when and how to declare the message.

Jairus ran out of options. A few days ago his wife sent a servant to the synagogue with the news his young daughter was seriously ill. He dropped everything and hurried home. Rushing into her room he found his wife kneeling at the bed, tears in her eyes. The physicians paced about with bewildered looks on their faces. The next two days were torture. Jairus could not think of a thing he would not give up as he walked the halls and courtyard of his home looking for peace while praying for an answer. After weighing all the options one of his servants decided to tell him about Jesus. She knew it may cost her a job and living. She knew if she were fired for telling a religious leader about Jesus, no one would considering hiring her. Watching the child suffer was more than she could bear. She decided to take the risk and talk with Jairus.

At first he was shocked to find one of Jesus’ followers working for him. But something touched him. He could see her sacrifice, the risk she took. Maybe there was something to this Jesus he heard so much about. Jairus took her by the hand. They walked to his daughter’s room. Standing at the doorway, he turned, asking his servant where Jesus was right now. She told Jairus, “I heard He was at the lake a few days ago, near the fishing village. Jairus went to the bed, held his daughter’s hand, kissed his wife and quickly left.

He ran as fast and far as he could, walked for a while, ran again past the point of exhaustion. His legs ached and lungs burned. It felt like his head was going to burst. Finally the lake came into view. From the top of the hill he saw a crowd gathered on the shore. “Thank you Lord,” Jairus cried out. He walked to the shore as fast as he could, thinking every moment counted.

Jesus could see the tormented look on Jairus’ face. The disciples also noticed the anguished look that reminded them of the demon possessed man. Jesus went straight toward him. Jairus didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know if it was a combination of exhaustion and the thought of his little girl in bed, or a hope, some sort of faith in Jesus that forced him to his knees. He pleaded with Jesus, “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

Knowing the situation was urgent, Jesus immediately went with Jairus with a number of people following them. Making their way through the crowd a woman began to weep. She suffered with constant bleeding for twelve years. Most everyone knew about her problem because she went to priest after priest, and a number of physicians and other healers. Not one could do a thing for her. Word got around and she was treated much like a leper. All the offerings and payments to physicians left her nearly penniless. Hearing about Jesus gave her a glimmer of hope. Something she lost a long time ago. Now she saw her last hope leaving.

She tried to push her way through the crowd, but it seemed the more she pushed, the further away the crowd pushed her. Her eyes filled with tears to the point she could not see. She wiped her eyes. Her view cleared just long enough to see Jairus pass by. She held out her hand touching a robe for only a moment. Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

At the same moment He was touched, Jesus stopped. Jairus also stopped, turned and looked at Jesus. He wanted to ask Him to hurry, but before he could speak, Jesus asked, “who touched me?” Jesus looked from side to side. Jairus was trying to find a way of politely asking Him to hurry. The disciples wondered what kind of an answer Jesus was looking for. Finally the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

For a moment a peace, a bit of security came over Jairus. It only lasted a minute. His servants appeared from the crowd to tell him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” Jesus heard the news and saw the expression on Jairus’ face instantly change. Filled with compassion Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”

Jairus wondered where faith fit into the scene. His daughter was dead. At least that was what he was told. His servant would never lie to him. Not about something so severe. Jairus felt like a knife was plunged into his heart. His legs still ached from the run, his head still pounded. He thought his heart was still pumping faster than normal, but now he wished it would stop. Why did God take his daughter? Why didn’t God take him?

Jairus headed home, with his head hung low, his servants arm around him. He didn’t think he could make it on his own. Once his home came into sight Jairus remember his wife. He had to appear strong for her. He knew his pain would be nothing compared to hers. Suddenly Jairus noticed Jesus and a huge crowd was still behind him. The last thing he needed was company. All he wanted to do was be alone with his wife for a time before sorting out the details. Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John. They could hear the screams and cries from the mourners. It seemed word had gotten out and Jairus’ moment of silence would be impossible. As soon as Jairus stopped and turned to disperse the crowd, Jesus walked right past him, went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” Of course everyone in the house laughed at Him. Almost everyone. Jairus’ wife and the servant comforting her held onto a spark of faith, which was dwindling fast. With the help of Peter, James, and John, Jesus cleared the house.

Once the house was cleared and silent, Jesus took Jairus and his wife by the hand, leading them into their daughter’s room. The three disciples followed close behind. Taking the young Girl’s hand, Jesus said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” She immediately stood up and walked around! Nothing could match or describe the joy in Jairus’ joy in him and his wife.

Going from the lowest of lows to a high beyond description is experienced by few. It is nothing short of a life changing experience, not only for Jairus and his wife, but the disciples, and all the people who saw the little girl lying dead.

Why did Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from death? Did Jairus’ status in the synagogue have anything to do with it? What did the disciples learn from this? Was Jesus only displaying His power, or was there a deeper meaning involved?

When we look at all the of events as Jesus crisscrossed the lake, we not only begin to see a small portion of what Jesus was teaching, but the sequence Jesus used to teach. It began on the first journey across the lake. Satan used the wind to threaten the disciples much like he used wind to test Job. Mark clearly notes Jesus slept in the boat while it was tossed by wind and flooded by waves. When we see what wind represents, we understand why Jesus slept.

Ephesians 4:14 KJV That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

When we look at another storm Jesus faced we understand why Jesus slept. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (John 8:4-6 NLTse). When the Pharisees confronted Jesus with doctrine, He refused to debate with them. He refused to fall into the trap they set for him. Jesus knew the Pharisees had their own preconceived idea on every detail of the law and would rather die than concede one point. Changing their mind on any point would be like moving a mountain. Its not much different today. Religions hook members on doctrines, addicting them to the point they feel their salvation relies on not only knowing, but forcing their beliefs on others. They forgot the simple message Jesus gave to His disciples, to teach the prophecies He fulfilled.

When they reached the other side of the lake, they were faced by a man possessed by a legion of demons. This was the last person on earth anyone would have expected to see teaching about and leading people to Jesus. This man lead countless people to Christ.

Jesus and the disciples got back into the boat to cross the lake one more time. This time they met a leader of the synagogue, dressed in his spectacular clothing. At first it appeared to be quite a contrast to the man on the other side of the lake, but each had their problems. Jairus’ daughter was in bed dying. He would have changed places with anyone at that point. The fact Jairus was a leader in the synagogue taught the disciples another lesson. Jesus came to reach out to everyone.

A woman with an issue of blood was also involved in this story. Jesus met her on the way to Jairus’ house. She may have delayed Jesus while Jairus’ daughter died. The woman tried everything to end the dreaded disease before she heard of Jesus. He was her last hope. She touched Him in faith and was instantly healed.

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8
Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8 eBook link

All of these teach one lesson after another. Jesus did not stop teaching when he finished His parables. The Holy Spirit established a sequence of events, one after another to fill in some of the details missing from the parables. Jesus taught this application in His parables. First He introduced the parable of the sower. At the end Jesus explained the seed in good ground produces new seed. Later Jesus told His disciples a parable about another farmer sowing seed. This time Jesus added details about the life cycle of the seed, to a plant which produces more seed. “The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come.” (Mark 4:28-29 NLTse). Jesus then began to fill in other missing details from the parable of the sower when He began showing them how far Satan will go to distract people from God’s Word, the seeds planted in their hearts.

Satan tried to destroy Jesus and His disciples with wind. Jesus rebuked the wind with His word. Peter proved he learned the lesson when he wrote: “These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.” (2 Peter 2:17-19 NLTse). By sleeping in the boat, Jesus taught them to ignore people who seek salvation through their doctrines. By rebuking the wind, He taught them to rely on His word.

The man possessed by demons was chained by men, but escaped. No matter how hard the demons tried to hold him, he made his way to Jesus. People have their own way of dealing with demons. In this story they tried to chain him. If they had succeeded, they would have kept him from Jesus. Did the man hold a grudge? No! He went back to show them what Jesus can do. In this lesson the disciples learned not to judge anyone by their appearance. A few words from Jesus changed this man as quickly as the wind changed.

The disciples learned another lesson about judging people. This time it was a leader in the synagogue. The man came to Jesus in faith. He was able to put away his doctrine to come to Jesus. He came to Jesus to heal his daughter, but Jesus provided much more. Jesus provided life.

The woman with an issue of blood faced some of the same problems as Jairus, the young leader. She tried everything to rid herself of the disease, but nothing worked. Man made cures made matters worse. She went to priests, doctors, and who knows what else. She put her trust in everything she knew, spending all of her money until it was all gone. She went to Jesus as her last hope. A quality she shared with Jairus. It didn’t matter to Jesus, as long as they came to Him. Jesus was happy to heal the woman and raise the young girl back to life. Jesus didn’t ask Jairus what be believed. He never questions about the doctrine Jairus believed and taught. Neither did Jesus ask the woman why she put her trust in priests and doctors instead of God. Jesus accepted them where they were when they came to Him.

We can see James understood these lessons when he wrote his letter to the Jewish believers. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:2-6 NLTse).

Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8
Understanding Parables According to the Gospel of Mark: Chapters 1 to 8 Paperback Book Link