Joshua, Judges, and Ruth

Joshua was the first person to lead Israel after Moses died. Joshua tried so hard to be the best leader he could be. Joshua tried his hardest to follow God and be a good example for the Nation of Israel to follow. But as usual, good things last only a short time. After Joshua passed on, Israel soon forgot about Joshua, Moses, and God.

Judges covers the history of Israel in the Promised Land after Joshua died. Israel didn’t have a king, but God appointed judges to rule over Israel. Israel was supposed to be governed and led differently than any other nation on earth. But one thing led to another and before long, Israel let God know, they were not happy unless they could be just like the world.

I do not have any stories on Ruth but decided to leave the option open to add one or two at a later date.

This website has been worked and reworked to improve your experience as you walk through the Bible or search for information. Menus have been added that divide the Bible into commonly known groups. Each group contains a number of books from the Bible in the order they are found in the Bible. You can navigate through each drop down menu to search for the information you are looking for.

Links have been added to each main page for every book of the Bible. Those links show the results of a simple search. That page will show you topics, studies, and stories related to each book of the Bible. At least those I have written about and posted. More are added everyday.

The drop down menu for each book of the Bible will show studies and stories from that Bible Book.

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The Tabernacle: "T" Is for the Cross

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.

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.

The Tabernacle: "T" Is for the Cross
The Tabernacle: “T” Is for the Cross. Buy the eBook direct from the author

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.

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 text:

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.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah

Psalms 22 Why Have You Abandoned Me

Psalms 22:1-31 NLTse My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? (2) Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. (3) Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. (4) Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. (5) They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced. (6) But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all! (7) Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, (8) “Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!” (9) Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast. (10) I was thrust into your arms at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born. (11) Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me. (12) My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in! (13) Like lions they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey. (14) My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. (15) My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. (16) My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet. (17) I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. (18) They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing. (19) O LORD, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! (20) Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs. (21) Snatch me from the lion’s jaws and from the horns of these wild oxen. (22) I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people. (23) Praise the LORD, all you who fear him! Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob! Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! (24) For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help. (25) I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. (26) The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. (27) The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. (28) For royal power belongs to the LORD. He rules all the nations. (29) Let the rich of the earth feast and worship. Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust. (30) Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. (31) His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.

Almost everyone familiar with the Bible will know this prophecy David wrote points directly to Christ on the cross. I have to sit and wonder, and pray, asking why God arranged the prophecies about Jesus in this order. We clearly see God repeating Himself and we know when God repeats Himself, we better pay attention. The last lesson was not placed in the previous position by mistake. It showed how the priests ignored messages from Jesus, who always pointed them back to scripture and God’s Spirit, who has always been more than willing to show them the proper interpretation of the prophecies pointing to Jesus their Messiah. As I’m writing this, I can see there are a number of details I still don’t understand. It’s encouraging to see how God arranged these prophecies so we can go back and review the subject to see what we’ve missed. This reminds us of two important Bible Study rules. Always look back and God will only teach us what we’re ready for. When we get too much information at one time we tend to forget many of the details. Getting too much information at once also gives us a tendency to rely on ourselves. Then there’s the fact God’s Spirit is developing a personal relationship with us. Part of that relationship is to bridge a need between both parties. Once the key words are highlighted in Psalm 22, we see how important the words trust, praise and hear are in this prophecy. You may be asking how God’s Spirit needs you. We see the answer in the last verses. Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.

I don’t think anyone can write about Psalm 22 without paying particular attention to the first verse. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Once we pray about this verse, we see how it relates to us in more than one way. You have to ask yourself, why and how would Jesus think God abandoned Him? We also think about the times we felt abandoned. Most of us face financial problems, marriage problems, problems with kids, neighbors, work related problems, taxes, mortgages, bills, people who get on our nerves, people who take advantage of us, problems with relationships, weather, natural disasters, wars, crime, drugs, the list seems to never end. We all have times when it seems like God forgot all about us, or we look back and ask what we did wrong. This is Jesus’ way of showing us, He’s been in the same boat. The world was getting to Him. It gets to us and Jesus wants us to know, He knows how we feel, no matter how bad things get – Jesus prayed this when He was on the cross.

It’s strange to see David begin a prayer like this. Usually he begins with a praise to God. This one is not David’s usual style. That’s to show us, its okay to put our needs in front of God’s praise when the time is right. This is also the easiest prophecy to find associated New Testament texts. Based on the details, it’s not difficult to see how this prophecy points to Jesus on the cross. When we see that, we also think of where the fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded. All four gospels record Jesus’ crucifixion. Which one is the correct parallel chapter or will all four provide details? Is God’s Spirit leading us into a new lesson in Bible Study? It’s rare to see an entire chapter concentrate on a single prophecy. Of course we see why this one sets its own style in more ways than one. Since we realize the biggest mistake the priests made was to misjudge the prophecies about Jesus, it would be wise to look at all four gospels and compare the details so we don’t miss the lessons the priests who put Jesus on the cross missed. But first let’s look at some of the key words. I noticed how some of the key words are attached to phrases we need to look at.

trusted in you, and you rescued them

trusted in you and were never disgraced

Is this the one who relies on the LORD?

led me to trust you

you rescued them

They cried out to you and were saved.

Then let the LORD save him

let the LORD rescue him

Save me from the sword

spare my precious life from these dogs

enemies surround me like a herd of bulls

enemies surround me like a pack of dogs

enemies stare at me and gloat

proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters

praise you among your assembled people

Show him reverence

praise you in the great assembly

All who seek the LORD will praise him.

The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him.

all you descendants of Jacob

Our children will also serve him.

Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord.

It’s amazing how key words and terms they’re associated with tell a story all their own. It’s God’s way of telling us to slow down when we study. When we trust in God we’re rescued and will never face disgrace. When we cry out to God, He saves us from the sword and dogs, all kinds of harm. This prophecy uses a list of symbols to represent enemies – bulls, dogs, lions, and oxen. Those symbols are used in other prophecies. Our attention is on the cross in this study. The cross is to be proclaimed to our brothers and sisters, physical and spiritual. Proclaimed to all people. Jesus praises God in Heaven by His sacrifice. We see how the message of the cross doesn’t stop here, but extends to Heaven. All who seek the LORD will praise him. The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him. This includes all you descendants of Jacob, all the children who serve God, and all future generations who hear about the wonders of the Lord. The keys words in this prophecy explain a great deal about God’s plan of salvation, what part this world plays in it and what Jesus’ role is. It also explains our role, to proclaim the message to all the world. Now to look at New Testament scripture to see details about that message. The first detail to compare is scripture associated with and/or quoted in the New Testament.

Matthew 27:33-55 NLTse And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). (34) The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. (35) After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. (36) Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. (37) A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus‘ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (38) Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. (39) The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. (40) “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” (41) The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. (42) “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! (43) He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” (44) Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way. (44) At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. (46) At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (47) Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. (48) One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. (49) But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.” (50) Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. (51) At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, (52) and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. (53) They left the cemetery after Jesus‘ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. (54) The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (55) And many women who had come from Galilee with Jesus to care for him were watching from a distance.

Mark 15:22-42 NLTse And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). (23) They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it. (24) Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross. They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. (25) It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. (26) A sign was fastened to the cross, announcing the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” (27) Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. (29) The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. (30) Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” (31) The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! (32) Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him. (33) At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. (34) Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (35) Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. (36) One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!” (37) Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. (38) And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (39) When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (40) Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. (41) They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there. (42) This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached,

Luke 23:27-49 NLTse A large crowd trailed behind, including many grief-stricken women. (28) But Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. (29) For the days are coming when they will say, ‘Fortunate indeed are the women who are childless, the wombs that have not borne a child and the breasts that have never nursed.’ (30) People will beg the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and plead with the hills, ‘Bury us.’ (31) For if these things are done when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (32) Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. (33) When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified–one on his right and one on his left. (34) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. (35) The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” (36) The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. (37) They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (38) A sign was fastened to the cross above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” (39) One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself–and us, too, while you’re at it!” (40) But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? (41) We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” (42) Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (43) And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (44) By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. (45) The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. (46) Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. (47) When the Roman officer overseeing the execution saw what had happened, he worshiped God and said, “Surely this man was innocent.” (48) And when all the crowd that came to see the crucifixion saw what had happened, they went home in deep sorrow. (49) But Jesus‘ friends, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance watching.

John 19:16-30 NLTse Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. (17) Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). (18) There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. (19) And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (20) The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it. (21) Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews‘ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.'” (22) Pilate replied, “No, what I have written, I have written.” (23) When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. (24) So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it. This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did. (25) Standing near the cross were Jesus‘ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. (26) When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” (27) And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. (28) Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” (29) A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. (30) When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.

Since we are dealing with verses from four books, we need to look at the similarities. The first detail we see repeated in all four Gospels is the location Jesus was crucified. And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). What makes this detail so important? We see the answer in the books of Kings and Chronicles where the major details and deaths of Israel’s and Judah’s kings are recorded. Those books also recorded major events in the lives of kings. This is not uncommon. Historians and court recorders also recorded important events. Some are unbiased, others recorded only what they were told. God didn’t play favorites. He recorded achievements and victories as well as mistakes and defeats. In this case, we see how the authors of all four Gospels recorded the location of Jesus’ death. This shows how Jesus took His place among the kings as one of David’s descendants. God didn’t miss a single detail when He wrote His book. All four Gospels also show Pilate placed a sign over the cross telling everyone Jesus is the King of the Jews. Its fascinating how God used some people to fulfill prophesy when His own people refused to cooperate.

 

Three of the Gospels showed how Jesus was offered wine when He was nailed to the cross and how He refused it. This showed how Jesus faced His greatest trial without giving into any worldly means to escape or alleviate the pain. Everyday people try to escape this world by using drugs and alcohol. At the cross, Jesus showed the only way to escape this world is through His sacrifice. Addictions may be the most difficult sins to overcome. By refusing wine, Jesus showed how He succeeded where we fail. This is in addition to Jesus avoiding the temptation of alcohol and may be the reason the Festival of Unleavened Bread preceded Jesus’ sacrifice. Leaven, or yeast creates carbon dioxide and alcohol as byproducts. Talk about paying attention to details. God is showing His knowledge again. It must have taken nearly 2000 years from Christ’s resurrection before anyone found out yeast produced alcohol in bread. Of course yeast was used to ferment wine and spirits long before Jesus’ time.

All four Gospels recorded how soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing, which is the prophesy in Psalm 22 leading us to all four chapters describing Jesus’ crucifixion. What is so important about soldiers gambling to divide Jesus’ clothes? His clothes represented the last thing Jesus owned in this world. God is making a point by using a form of contrasts here. As Jesus hung on the cross, soldiers gambled for ownership of His last worldly possessions. The contrast is — the only sure thing in life is to understand Jesus’ sacrifice so your able to properly accept it for what it is and what the cross and sacrifice stand for. Reaching out in an attempt to grasp onto any part of this world is a gamble. What happens when that item, no matter how trivial it may seem turns out to be an idol? Jesus left this world with nothing. Jesus’ clothing represents how people look down at what the world has to offer instead of up to the Savior. John tells us how the soldiers viewed Jesus’ clothes. They worried more about preserving its value than measuring the value of the Son of God nailed to the cross in front of them. This is a special prophecy pointing to another prophecy with deeper symbolism than most people want to comprehend. Look at the symbolism of a garment. Jesus told a parable about a wedding feast where a man didn’t have on the proper garment. Missing the wedding garment cost the man his life. But here, Jesus gives up His garment and soldiers gambled for it. Why the contrast? The obvious lesson on the surface shows how some people place special significance and false claims of power on Jesus’ garments or his burial shroud. Like the soldiers, they place a higher significance on the worldly cloth than the Savior in Heaven. The lesson goes much deeper than that. What about doctrines – personal beliefs – misguided leadership and other idols people hold above the Savior who died for them? All of these take eyes off significant lessons taught at the cross. Each one of us has the choice to place ourselves at the foot of the cross to look up – or cast our eyes and faith on the world.

Another verse from Psalm 22 leading us to three of the Gospels describes how people will ridicule Jesus as He hung on the cross. Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, “Is this the one who relies on the LORD? Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much, let the LORD rescue him!” Matthew and Mark mention people gathering at the cross, religious leaders, and two others on their crosses. Luke records the ridicule, but doesn’t specifically mention the priests. John makes no mention of the jeers from the crowd, but adds other details. The prophecy says, “Everyone who sees me mocks me.” For some reason the Gospels point out three groups. What does each represent? The main focus is of course on the main group of people who represent mainline Christians. Who really spends enough time praying and reflecting on the cross? One of the best kept secrets in Christianity is why Jesus died. The majority of mainline Christians hit on one aspect, Jesus died for our sins, but refuse to accept or teach the others. Two of the other main reasons is to save His Father’s reputation. Properly teaching this can be difficult. It requires knowledge of God’s plan of salvation. Preachers try to avoid the subject because their afraid people will ask questions they won’t be able to answer. If you study Jesus’ prayer in the garden before His arrest you’ll see this message. Scripture is filled with hundreds of prophecies describing Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice. If Jesus missed one of them, Satan would have been given the opportunity to accuse God of having a fault. This would have cast doubt on God’s government and leadership. Not only did Jesus put His life on the line, God put His Kingdom and all His creation at risk. If Jesus would have refused to go to the cross, God would have lost His Kingdom. It doesn’t require a complete understanding of God’s plan of salvation to teach this aspect of the cross. If preachers knew the second detail they neglect, they would know God made arrangements to make up for their short comings. We find another important detail and reason for Jesus’ sacrifice in Hebrews chapter 10. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:20-25 NLTse). Jesus died to open a direct path for all of us to God’s throne. This strikes fear in the hearts of many pastors. Like the Pharisees, they feel they may loose control of their followers. They are too busy looking at their man-made garments here in this world to take an honest look at the cross. Pride and self indulgence keep their eyes focused on the world are surely as a one piece woven coat distracted the Roman guards.

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John’s Gospel left out details of people jeering Jesus, replacing them with a contrast to teach a spiritual lesson. Standing near the cross were Jesus‘ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. In a few simple verses John opens a door for God’s Spirit to send our minds back over a number of verses showing the lessons Jesus taught that have new meaning when when examined with light from the cross. Jesus’ mother was a widow. Jesus taught many lessons using widows as a spiritual symbol. Which stories come to mind? How do they relate to you? Or are you more influenced by the family structure evident in the lesson? Why did Jesus want to send His mother away from His brothers to live with John? Does that remind you about the stories where Jesus returned to His hometown and family and how they questioned Him? Does it show you how difficult it is to share Jesus with family? What about the act of separation? Lot lost his influence once he separated himself from Abraham. All Lot needed was five people to save Sodom. The angels left with four. Lot could not reach one person once he separated from the promise. Do examples of separation come to mind when you read John’s account of the cross? John also records a new union. Jesus placed His mother’s care in the hands of one of His trusted disciples. The symbol of a new beginning.

Darkness covering the cross is recorded in three of the Gospels. Once again, John is the only author who does not record this event, but does include the detail of the Roman soldier offering Jesus wine a second time. There is a spiritual connection between darkness and wine. You can find it in the Bible on your own if you care to search for it. On the surface we see how wine, which leads to addiction carries a worldly interpretation connecting it to darkness. Addiction does everything it can to draw people away from the cross, Jesus and God. It traps people by convincing them God doesn’t have the power it takes to break the addiction. What do we get when we compare an addition to the freedom of choice God gives us? No wonder addiction feels like a battle. It’s a battle between self will, self reliance, and a call from God. The priests could not break their addictions. Doctrines, traditions, their prophetic interpretations coupled with their lust for power combined to lead people to them and steal glory due only to God.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? The opening line of David’s Psalm immediately sets the tone and leads us to texts telling us how this prophecy was fulfilled. Why did people think Jesus was calling for Elijah? Matthew and Mark both recorded this detail. This is one of those instances where the events seem strange when you think about it. Was it another way to cast doubt on Jesus while trying to suppress the guilt they felt? That’s what we call prodding from God’s Spirit when we don’t agree with the message – a guilty conscience. It was the last chance for many of the people to call out to Jesus in the flesh. But who was going to stand out in a crowd to stick up for a convicted criminal? After all they trusted in the priests. To stand up for the man on the cross meant to oppose the established religion. Is there a spiritual side to this misunderstanding? What does Elijah represent? Remember Jesus took a couple of His disciples up to a mountain to meet Elijah and Moses. Elijah made his way to Heaven when God sent a chariot of fire to pick him up. Remember how his assistant Elisha asked for and received a double blessing? That double blessing was lost when Elisha’s assistant took items from Naaman after his leprosy was healed. That double blessing was about to be restored. It was promised in a prophecy recorded in the Old Testament. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse). Some people heard Jesus call for Elijah with His last breath as a plea to turn to scripture — to find God and the true meaning of the Messiah. You know, what double blessing is still available.

Three of the Gospels also mention the curtain in the sanctuary tearing from top to bottom. Once again when we see a detailed repeated three times we know it has an important spiritual meaning. Out of all the details in these three New Testament chapters, this may be the one detail with the most conjectures attached to it. I’ve heard a list of of sermons preached on the curtain. Some people claim the veil was eighteen inches to three feet think. They get so dramatic describing the curtain, like it was a display of God’s power – as if He is the only one who could rip such a thick curtain. As if God needs their help to display His power – the God who wiped out thousands of soldiers in a single night, parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River, flooded the world, and of course created it. There’s no Biblical evidence the curtain was that thick. In the Tabernacle it was described as fine linen, which indicates thin material. Why was the veil placed in the temple in the first place? It represented a separation between God and His people that began when Moses came down from the mountain with a glow on his face. When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant after speaking to the LORD. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil. But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the LORD had given him, and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the LORD. (Exodus 34:29-35 NLTse). That little bit of God’s glory on Moses’ face was too much for them. What did it remind them of? How did that glow effect them? Did it remind them of God’s show of power on the top of His mountain while they stripped off their earrings to make a golden calf and sacrificed to it as they danced naked around the god they made to lead them back to their homes in Egypt? Israel chose to separate themselves from God. Jesus came to bridge that separation. This is a vital part of David’s prophecy. “I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him.” Removal of the veil represents much more than common men are able to comprehend or describe. God knew that. He didn’t leave the details to chance, so He had David record them. Now what are the veils your placing between you and the path to God Jesus opened?

There are also two details mentioned in only one of the Gospels. When we combine these, they tell their own story. “The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus‘ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.” The other detail may not be as spectacular, but is preached far more often. When we look at the two together we see how one explains the other. “But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” When comparing texts like this, ask two questions. What are the similarities and contrasts? What common lesson do these verses converge to teach? People raised from the graves went into Jerusalem to teach about Jesus. Can you imagine what they had to share? Did they teach glimpses of God’s plan of salvation they learned while they lived or were they given a message that was new to them? This points out what the person crucified next to Jesus did. He witnessed about Jesus in public. He didn’t know much about Jesus, but he shared what he knew. “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” It was simple, but significant. This shows us it’s not how much you know, but how sincere you are. Look at the impact this man had on the world over the past 2000 years. This shows us how a few honest words spoken at the right time can live on for years. We see that message clearly illustrated when we compare it to the people God called from the grave to testify about Jesus. Their message lived on and turned people to Jesus well after their natural lives on earth.

Descriptions of the events at the cross seem to concentrate on people challenging Jesus while He was on the cross – people who didn’t believe in Him. This makes it easy to miss a few choice verses about people effected by the cross in a positive manner. God used Roman soldiers to illustrate a contrast between the religious leaders and hardened warriors able to see what’s in front of them. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!” This detail, recorded in three Gospels shows how the last person you would think could be touched by Jesus – was! The few words Jesus spoke reached their hearts which opened up their understanding of the scene they witnessed. People used to polytheism looked up at Jesus – saw the path to God’s throne open and made a decision to believe. How often do we look at people and feel there’s no chance of them changing their lives? While people flocked to support the priests, few paid attention to the soldiers. They despised them. There was no way any of these people were going to share the little they knew about God with Roman soldiers. Their traditions forbid it. With just a few words, and the ultimate sacrifice Jesus touched their hearts. Jesus accomplished what the priests and people refused to do. He also taught a lesson for all of us to learn. We’ve seen how a few words can make a difference. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice, all we need to do is pray for the right words at the right time. If Jesus’ actions are able to reach hardened soldiers, why should we doubt His ability to reach anyone? Why should we question the ability of God’s Word to reach people where they are on their walk. As we dig deeper into God’s Word, we not only find out how’s it’s arranged, but unlock the simple terms God uses to make remembering lessons much easier. Now it’s time to look at and compare the introductions to the chapters we’re working with.

Matthew 27:1-10 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. (2) Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. (3) When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. (4) “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” (5) Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (6) The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” (7) After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. (8) That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. (9) This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver— the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, (10) and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.”

Mark 15:1-5 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law–the entire high council–met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. (2) Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” (3) Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, (4) and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” (5) But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

Luke 23:1-7 NLTse Then the entire council took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor. (2) They began to state their case: “This man has been leading our people astray by telling them not to pay their taxes to the Roman government and by claiming he is the Messiah, a king.” (3) So Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.” (4) Pilate turned to the leading priests and to the crowd and said, “I find nothing wrong with this man!” (5) Then they became insistent. “But he is causing riots by his teaching wherever he goes–all over Judea, from Galilee to Jerusalem!” (6) “Oh, is he a Galilean?” Pilate asked. (7) When they said that he was, Pilate sent him to Herod Antipas, because Galilee was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and Herod happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.

John 19:1-8 NLTse Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. (2) The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. (3) “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face. (4) Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” (5) Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!” (6) When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.” (7) The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” (8) When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever.

Psalms 22:1-31 NLTse My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? (2) Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. (3) Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. (4) Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. (5) They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

What do you think when you compare introductions of the four Gospels to Psalm 22? Each Gospel describes a different way Jesus was forsaken. Matthew shows how Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Matthew tells us how Judas saw what he did wrong – then he hung himself. Matthew also points to another prophecy about Jesus, the thirty pieces of silver. Was Judas the only disciple betraying Jesus? Judas did it for money, the other disciples may not be as guilty in worldly terms as Judas, but all of Jesus’ disciples missed the point. Not one of them listened to Jesus when He tried to open up scriptures to them a number of times. A process repeating itself today. Look at the world today. Is there a single author writing about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled, or a pastor preaching about the 300 prophecies written about Jesus? Considering the message is repeated in the New Testament more than 200 times it proves one point, preachers today are trying to teach by leaving out major portions of the Bible. Jesus’ disciples had no idea what they missed…. either do preachers today. Their making a mistake with no idea how far they’ve drifted away from the plain, simple word Jesus came to teach. How many times did Jesus refer to scriptures about Himself? Does anyone look at those texts today? When I study the Gospel’s, I can see how much the disciples missed. I can see how they were distracted. I can see why the disciples didn’t understand why Jesus was on the cross in front of them. I see the same mistake in preachers today. They have no idea why Jesus hung on the cross. Their insight to the cross is dim….. they spend little or no time in front of God’s throne – listening and learning about all the aspects and details of the cross. They feel secure knowing a detail or two but few pastors have personally experienced the emotions of the cross – or looked deep into God’s plan of salvation to see why Jesus had to sacrifice His life. Jesus died for much more than our sins. His life here, a fulfillment of prophecies in scripture, teach lessons the world needs today – so we can all go home. Its not just paid preachers… Look back at the example Judas set. Look at it on a spiritual level. Peter told us Jesus died to make us a kingdom of priests. Learning about Jesus is a personal matter — All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him.

Mark’s introduction takes quite a different approach. Mark jumps right into the scene where the priests took Jesus to Pilate and points out one simple detail, Jesus did not answer the charges. This one point has significance when we compare it to the other introductions.

Luke’s introduction follows the same theme as Mark’s while adding more details. The priests used the subject of money to deface Jesus in front of Pilate. This shows what the priest’s minds were dwelling on throughout the process. Don’t forget, they’ve been planning Jesus’ assassination for a long time. Something came up the priest’s hadn’t planned on. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. It seems like a small detail, but look at the associated terms. Matthew pointed out a prophecy. We know every prophecy points to a far greater fulfillment. That’s what we need to look for.. details far greater than expected. It’s another test from God. “They took the thirty pieces of silver— the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.” Always look at the original verse that’s quoted to get the full view. And I said to them, “If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to.” So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”–this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the LORD. (Zechariah 11:12-13 NLTse). When we look back we see an interesting verse we can understand when we compare the three introductions we’ve looked at so far. I got rid of their three evil shepherds in a single month. But I became impatient with these sheep, and they hated me, too. (Zechariah 11:8 NLTse). So far we’ve seen three people involved in Jesus’ trial, the high priest, Pilate, and Herod. There’s another interesting detail Matthew added that sheds a spiritual understanding to the story when we examine the details. Matthew added, “ the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel.” How do each of the three shepherds Jesus got rid of fit into the description of valuing Jesus? It begins with the price the priests paid Judas. He may be one of the shepherds, but Judas was the only one who saw he made a mistake. The scene moved unto Pilate’s court. How much did Pilate value Jesus? We’re shown how much Pilate valued judgment. He knew Jesus was innocent. Instead of jumping ahead, let’s look at what Luke says he did. Pilate tried passing responsibility by sending Jesus to Herod. That’s how much Pilate valued Jesus and justice. Pilate placed such a low value to Jesus, he passed Him off to another judge. What about Herod. All he wanted to see was a miracle. When he didn’t get what he wanted, Herod passed Jesus back off to Pilate. Look at what the three represented – religion and government.

How does this apply to today? What value does government put on justice? What does the government pass off? Just a personal comment and observation – elected officials like to pass off all the responsibility they can. They complain sports figures, movie stars, and song writers are poor examples to youth and society in general. What do politicians do to set an example? Look at how they conduct election campaigns. Instead of discussing policies and issues, they point out mistakes made by their opponents. We call it mud slinging and for some reason it’s accepted by society with little or no regard for the effect it has on our youth. Years ago parents used to dream of their child growing up to be president. Today that would sound like a curse. Politicians approve billions to spend on research for bullying. All the money goes to PhD’s and research staff in ivory towers who may share a snippet with people actually counseling youths harmed by bulling – but little if any money goes to people harmed by this habit. Do researchers ever point out the real cause? The major cause of bullying is seen on TV’s one minute at a time – repeated thousands of times every election. What are youth supposed to think when they see our leaders conducting themselves in such underhanded manner? We need not look past elected officials to see an example of anything goes… Character assassination is the only game politicians know how to play. When something goes wrong they never take responsibility for their mistakes. Hence, there is no way they’ll ever learn from their mistakes. The effect on youth is devastating and it is taking place all over the world. Talk about a secret plan carried out all over the world. Satan does it all the time and no one realizes what is happening while the effects are felt all over the world day after day. Just like Pilate and Herod, politicians neglect responsibility and it trickles down through every part of society. John sums this up in his introduction. John tells us how Jesus was beaten and abused by Roman soldiers. Where was the compassion when they took Jesus back to Pilate? Once again, Pilate found someone to pass responsibility onto. Then he sent Jesus to the cross where He died. Not a small matter when your talking about any life – but here we’re talking about God’s Son.

Here we read and learn about only a few of the lessons Jesus was teaching during His sacrifice. When we compare the introductions to these chapters in the four Gospels, we can see why Jesus asked if God abandoned Him. Was Jesus questioning the pain, sacrifice, or the lack of influence God’s Spirit had on some of the people around Him? When we look at David’s prophecy as a prayer, we see how Jesus’ cry for help is not just for Himself, His family, friends and disciples, but all the people He prayed for every day and night. We’ve been shown a lot of details up to this point, and more can be found when we compare summations for the chapters we are studying.

Matthew 27:57-66 NLTse As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, (58) went to Pilate and asked for Jesusbody. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. (59) Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. (60) He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. (61) Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. (62) The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. (63) They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ (64) So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (65) Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” (66) So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

Mark 15:43-47 NLTse Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesusbody. (Joseph was an honored member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) (44) Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. (45) The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. (46) Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. (47) Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesusbody was laid.

Luke 23:50-56 NLTse Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph. He was a member of the Jewish high council, (51) but he had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other religious leaders. He was from the town of Arimathea in Judea, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come. (52) He went to Pilate and asked for Jesusbody. (53) Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb that had been carved out of rock. (54) This was done late on Friday afternoon, the day of preparation, as the Sabbath was about to begin. (55) As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. (56) Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.

John 19:38-42 NLTse Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesusbody. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. (39) With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. (40) Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesusbody with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. (41) The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. (42) And so, because it was the day of preparation for the Jewish Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

The most significant detail we see shared in the four summations is Joseph of Arimathea asking Pilate for Jesus’ body and burying Jesus in his own tomb. The event is recorded in all of four of the Gospels. Matthew lays the ground work for an inductive study by repeating the word, body, a number of times. Matthew wanted to convey the emotion felt at that moment. They looked at Jesus as a body. No one understood what His death meant. No one had any idea Jesus was victorious and there was nothing the enemy could do to take it away from Him. The tomb is no longer a waiting place.. but takes on the symbol of a test. The faith of all of Jesus’ followers was being tested, just like Jonah was tested in the belly of the fish. God has His own way of bringing out parallel points – Jonah was the famous – reluctant prophet – now a symbol emerges showing how all of Jesus’ followers were reluctant, unprepared and unwilling to proclaim Jesus’ message at that point. Now comes the tough question – how does that apply today? Not applying to the world, but to you. Look at the texts, Joseph of Arimathea acted alone. It was an individual action – an act of love – one of the few examples of unconditional love by a normal human in the Bible. We also see Mary mentioned. She was another example of unconditional love we see recorded in the Bible. This is emphasized in all four of the summations for a reason. Unconditional love is the essence of Jesus’ ministry. Without unconditional love, we are not prepared to deliver Jesus’ message in all its glory.

We also see a contrast only Matthew brings to light. Remember how the priests delivered Jesus to Pilate? They wanted to ensure Jesus was unclean according to their customs… so He would not be an acceptable sacrifice to God. The priests rejected the concept of the Messiah as a sacrifice. It didn’t fit the major points on their interpretations. Still something inside them was telling them to consider the point. A war raged inside them between God’s Spirit and the enemy. They cast blame on Jesus for the war within their consciences. They convinced themselves relief would come as soon as they dwelt with Jesus. Getting Him out of the way seemed to be the only solution. Finally they acted and as Matthew records, their consciences still bothered them… bits and pieces of Jesus’ ministry were still on their minds. Two major points are illustrated here. First is how religious people attack others because their beliefs don’t align. It also shows, no matter how hard God’s Spirit tries to reach them, they may never understand. As long as they hang onto self – blame others and refuse to examine the inner self and scripture with guidance from God’s Spirit, they may be lost. Jesus pointed the priests and Pharisees to many of the major texts about His life, ,ministry, and sacrifice – but they never listened and history shows, didn’t bother to consult scripture on their own – a parallel still alive and kicking today. It’s so much easier to rely on spiritual leaders, or personal memory… few people perceive the power in God’s Word. Self includes taking the easy way out. It also includes trying to prove your right at all costs. Even to the point of breaking your own misguided rules. The priests were determined to make Jesus unclean, so they had Him carried into Pilate’s court the day before the Passover. On the day of the Passover the priests throw out all the rules in an attempt to try another idea to prove they were right. The priest’s walked into Pilate’s home. Something hid that detail about Jesus for a time then reminded the priests at the right moment. It was God’s Spirit at work according to His timing.

We’ve seen how much can be learned by looking back in scripture. Matthew established a contrast between unconditional love and people refusing to listen to God’s Spirit. What examples of each do we see in Jesus’ last day? The day began at sunset when Jesus gathered His disciples for dinner. During dinner Jesus tried to introduce and teach prophecies about what was about to happen. Once again His disciples changed the subject to who was the greatest among them – a concept still practiced today. Instead of listening to Jesus to find out what He has to teach about scripture, religious people all over the world like to argue about what they know. They would rather argue about whose greatest — namely themselves. Jesus used a few simple props to illustrate the point He was trying to make. He washed the feet of lowly fishermen, a doctor, tax collector, and a trader. None of whom wanted to listen to what He had to say. Jesus used what was there to illustrate other points. Jesus told them the bread represented His flesh. Then He broke the bread in front of them and told them to eat. The wine He used to represent His blood. Jesus already told them all of this months ago, but now was the time to repeat the lesson, this time with visual props. Jesus hoped His disciples would look back on all the lessons and parables He taught them, so they could see how they were all related. Jesus also hoped they would look back on all the miracles He performed and the people He brought back to life. Then Jesus identified the one who would betray Him. Jesus revealed another miracle, a sign to help strengthen them, give them assurance He would return. None of His disciples got the point. Jesus took them to pray. It was already dark. He took three of His disciples ahead with Himself. They fell asleep, showing how little they perceived. They were not only physically asleep, but spiritually. Three times God took Jesus back to see His disciples sleeping, a symbol of the condition of the world. As they slept, Jesus made His decision to go forward. If the world rejected Him, His Father never would. His Father’s kingdom was on the line. If every prophecy was not fulfilled on time, to the letter, Satan would have the opening he needed to accuse God of incompetence. Jesus had to move forward. Here is another illustration of unconditional love. Jesus died to save His Father’s Kingdom. God rewarded His Son by giving it all to Him. Now Jesus offers it to us… even tough we sleep through some of the most significant events in God’s plan of salvation. Even tough we don’t want to listen. Even though we miss every point He is trying to teach – Jesus still gives it all.

They came to arrest Jesus. Once again He showed His concern to His followers. He told the guards to take Him, but let the others go. Peter once again tried to show himself worthy by attacking one guard. It showed courage, concern, but a lack of planning and understanding. With one thought Jesus brought all the guards to their knees. It was only a small display of Jesus’ power, one the disciples would remember and one day come to understand. Jesus healed the guard’s ear to remind the guards of who they were dealing with as well as remind the disciples who was about to suffer for them. Even though Jesus went with the guards peaceably, they were ordered to chain Him. As one guard wrapped the Savior in chains, his mind drifted back over all the details he saw and heard about Jesus. He looked at the man in front of Him, wondering if Jesus was the one in scripture. The priest’s plans were underway. Presenting Jesus as a convicted criminal was part of their plot.

Jesus stood in the high priest’s home in chains. What a contrast to the elaborate dress of the priests and elders gathered to conduct the trial. It looked like the religious leaders gathered for a banquet dressed in their best robes. What a contrast to the simple dinner and lessons Jesus taught earlier in the evening. The religious leaders came to feast on their desires, pride, lusts, and ambitions at the expense of the one who opposed them. The results of the trial were determined before Jesus was arrested. The main goal of the priests was to deface Jesus in front of the crowds and assure He could not be an acceptable sacrifice. They beat Jesus, slapping Him in the face and tearing out hair from his face and head. It was a display to show God, Jesus was rejected by them – so how could God ever accept Him? To the priests, God was not the God of the universe, but a God of the box they put Him in. People do the same thing today. They memorize about six texts to answer every question they’ll ever run across. Those six verses become the sides, top and bottom of a box they try to stick the infinite God into.

Pilate had no concept of God or the Messiah, except for what he was told. Pilate was one, if not the most informed man on all of Jesus’ miracles and sermons. Pilate heard everything twice, reports from his soldiers and spies and a series of reports from the religious leaders. Pilate knew how they twisted the truth before they showed up with Jesus. That made little difference to Pilate who shared the same ambitions and lust for power the priests had. To them Jesus was nothing more than a pawn to gain power – a body and nothing more. All the way to the cross we see a lack of support and understanding, which is a prophecy itself, showing misunderstanding and lack of concern through history, leading up to and including Jesus’ return.

When we compare the summations of the four Gospels to Psalm 22, we can see how the prophecy relates to the fulfillment. Praise the LORD, all you who fear him! Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob! Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! Many people despised Jesus regardless of what the prophecies about Him said. David said, “all you descendants of Israel!” How many paid attention? For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help. Jesus listened to the man next to Him on the cross and made Him a promise. Jesus also remembered what those people, everyone needed most, a way to forgive their sins forever. Jesus’ concerns for people before, during, and after the cross illustrated how He and His Father always put concerns of others before themselves. It’s an image of God Jesus came to teach the world. I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. A promise to everyone, Jesus would rise from the tomb. The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the LORD will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. To begin His last day, Jesus gathered His disciples for dinner not only to feed them with physical food, but spiritual. The main feast came after He rose from the grave when Jesus revealed all the prophecies about Himself and explained each one in detail. The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. A prophecy of the role Jesus’ followers will play spreading the word across the world. Telling the whole world about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. For royal power belongs to the LORD. He rules all the nations. Let the rich of the earth feast and worship. Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust. Filling in the details, David makes it clear Jesus died to free all those in the grave, those who witnessed His sacrifice and everyone who came after. Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.

The Tabernacle, Temple, and Sanctuary: Revelation

Revelation of Jesus Revelation 1

Revelation 1:1-9 NLTse This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, (2) who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (3) God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near. (4) This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; (5) and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. (6) He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (7) Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him– even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! (8) “I am the Alpha and the Omega–the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come–the Almighty One.” (9) I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus.

Well here we are, 224 chapters into this series of books, and I haven’t covered one third of what was written about the temple. I thought it was a good idea to skip over other portions of the temple to jump into the Heavenly Sanctuary. I was surprised to find so little written about the Heavenly Sanctuary. Most of the Old Testament looked at the Sanctuary as a place of safety, a place to meet God, a place they were able to enter in their time, and a place we should be able to gather for true worship. The Sanctuary is a place we need to go to get information, the next message, warnings about false messages, false Christs, and what this world is doing to drive a wedge between us and God’s throne.

The book of Hebrews tells us how Jesus already fought and won the battle. Now its just a matter of clinging onto the new promises, and walking through that vail that used to separate symbols from reality. The disciples didn’t understand prophecy as it was unfolding in front of their eyes. They had to wait until a good portion of it was fulfilled before Jesus could sit them down and explain exactly what happened. What are we supposed to learn from that experience?

Today we live in what is referred to as an advanced society. We have larger, fancier homes with electricity, lights, computers, we drive faster cars, we can fly around the world, we have computers, smart phones, all sorts of ways to communicate, find, copy and paste information, make videos, and all kinds of other stuff to make us smarter then those disciples who relied on fish and sheep to eat, make a living, and had to walk from one place to another to get anything done. The question I have, what does all the garbage today have to do with understanding prophecy? To some people, technology is the key to understanding prophecy, like God gave us the news media to replace the Holy Spirit, and a vague understanding of a few choice bits of scripture to replace long hours reviewing what has been recorded over generations.

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For some reason Jesus quoted scripture. Some times He quoted scripture a lot. At times, Jesus sent priests, Pharisees, and others back to the prophecy He was fulfilling in front of their eyes. Did they look at those prophecies? Some of them did. Not relying on your memory was such a strange thing back in those days, it made people look like idiots, as if they didn’t put in enough time to memorize the important points, or didn’t understand every detail when they read it the first six times. Going back to scripture and reading it in the light Jesus provided that day was looked upon as a sign of weakness. Reviewing scripture was looked at as such a curse. Those who did review it were afraid to discuss what they learned with the other priests and Pharisees. They stood silent as more prophecies were fulfilled, not knowing what to do, or how to react.

The world today is not much different. People claim to posses some superior knowledge of scripture. A whole bunch of people want to be just like the Pharisees. They want to be rock stars of prophecy. They want to come up with quick one line answers, standing above the wisdom of the world like a shining star leading the way. The way to what? The biggest house, fanciest car, a larger screen to project some Power Point project used as a teaching tool. What has the world ever gained from quick, one line prophetic guesses? It should have gained the knowledge, people using that formless method of study have all been wrong. They’ve been wrong thousands of times, and if they continue on their chosen course, are going to make thousands of more mistakes. Why does the world still follow them?

It will take about a minute to look at the Internet and find dozens of people claiming this prophecy, or that prophecy is being fulfilled today. Most cannot point to a specific prophecy, its just that the news has something about a war some place in this world, and people know there is a prophecy about wars somewhere in the Bible, so the world must be reaching an end. Using the same study methods the priests and Pharisees used to kill Jesus, people think the technology they have at their fingertips is somehow going to make their guesses come true. In all that mayhem, where is God’s Spirit? No one knows. No one cares. Our technology will provide answers we need, when we need them. Somehow the tax dollars we pay and wisdom of our elected officials will save the day.

That’s another one of those prophecies floating around the Internet today. People claim leaders of all kinds of different levels are in the Bible in some symbolic form, and this leader, or that leader has a master plan to take over the world. Their plans are so secret, but somehow, mister average Joe working in his underwear on his laptop was shown details of those top secret plans. He can’t explain any details from those plans, how he obtained the information, but part of the world believes him. He posts something on an Internet site, works with a broker to place ads on the side, and somehow makes $10,000 a week from Internet advertising. That is what prophecy has turned into today, a money making machine. Think about is, sheep used to be dollars on the hoof. Today sheep are behind laptops and smart phones looking for easier ways to understand prophecy, and the wolves are waiting for the sheep to come to them.

 

Ask those people what study method they used to put their study together. You won’t get an answer. They look at a symbol in scripture, then just know that symbol points to this person, or that person. They got those symbols wrong a hundred times in the past, but that doesn’t slow down the next guess, nor the income their next guess will produce. If you can’t see the parallel between those Internet vultures and the priests who killed Jesus, allow me to spell it out for you. MONEY.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a guy with a few PhD’s in Bible Study. He was smart enough to show me a few ways to study scripture. Only a few. He was smart enough to know, if I studied with the Spirit, the Spirit would show me other ways to study scripture, other methods, other patterns used in the Bible from the front cover to the back cover. And that’s exactly what happened. Spend some time in the Bible with the Spirit, and He will show you details no one can argue with. The Spirit will show you how the Bible is designed to protect you from all those false teachers. The Bible is designed to show you how to tell false prophets from real prophets.

There is one thing about the Bible that makes it the Bible. When God has a prophecy recorded, He also has the fulfillment recorded. When I ran across that study method, I found out what parallel chapters are. It was all so simple, I wondered why no one ever showed it to me before. Parallel chapters are rather easy to figure out when you know a few basic rules of context. The rule of repetition tells us to pay attention to words the author repeated. We call them key words, that can be the same, similar, and related. Contrasting words can also be related. The other important rule to know is the rule of introductions and summations. The first few verses of every chapter in the Bible tell us the main theme in that chapter. The last few verse summarize the main theme.

Common sense tells us, the prophecy and its recorded fulfillment have to cover the same subject, therefore, they must contain the same key words, which can be the same, similar, or related. In some instances, but not many, they can be contrasts. Key words help us search for the prophecy and its recorded fulfillment. We may come up with a variety of choices. How do you find the right one? That’s where introductions and summations come in. When the prophecy and its fulfillment cover the same subject, the introductions and summations in the two chapters will agree, making them parallel chapters. It is that simple.

When people interpret prophecies using news media, their own knowledge, something they heard or read on the Internet, in a seminar, or using history books, anything outside of the Bible, it is impossible for them to establish the link between the prophecy and the fulfillment God recorded. They can guess a thousand times and never come up with the right answer because they are not studying with the Spirit. They cannot, or do not want to explain the process they used to formulate their opinion, and know, few people will ask them to explain the methods they used.

When we look at the introduction to the Book of Revelation, we see how John immediately identified the source of his information. John received his information directly from Jesus Christ. John eliminated all doubt by following the laws of the prophets, which is, explain how you received the message.

John also followed another law of the prophets by explaining why the message was given, “to show his servants the events that must soon take place.” John then identified an angel as the form of communication God chose to use to deliver this message. Daniel’s book is a guide telling us the major forms of communication God uses. Among them are, dreams, visions, angels, prayer, daily events, and of course, scripture.

John also identified who the message is for, and important detail when we begin a study. When we study the physical aspects, we are better able to see the spiritual implications, then understand how they apply to us, which is another study process we can follow.

John tells us, we’re supposed to be a kingdom of priests, a reminder the Levitical priesthood is dead, and Jesus is now the head of a new priesthood. We can’t go mixing old ways with new ways. We can’t take the old Levitical priesthood, take out a few interesting points, and fabricate a new religion out of it. Our instructions, orders, messages, and training all come from Christ. If John knew of another plan, he would have recorded it in Revelation, or in another one of his books.

John also did something unusual, John gave us a description of Jesus, then later broke it down into sections, adding one part of that description to letters written to the seven churches. In essence, John was told to record one Bible Study method. Take all the information on a subject, put it all together, and study it as a whole. When one piece is missing, you’ll find it difficult to understand. When it all comes together, the understanding will flow.

We can take the descriptions of Jesus placed in the seven messages to the churches, put them together and see a much better view of Jesus than any single one can provide. A casual reading of Revelation may miss many details like that. If people know a few basic study techniques, those details should stand out, or at least ring a bell. We should ask why God used a writing style like that. The obvious answer is, so we can show people, basic study techniques are actually in scripture, and we don’t need other sources to teach. God included everything we need in the Bible.

God must have seen the study techniques people made up and like to use. Take out one line, and make up a story about it. Isn’t that what most of the world does? So Jesus had John record a number of details about Himself in one place, then broke them up into sections at the beginning of the book so we knew how the rest of the book was written, and how to understand it.

None of the prophecies in Revelation contain a complete description of what is going to happen. Some details for an event are scattered here and there. The more details we gather, the better picture we get. The more we are able to explain to people. Some people follow that general rule of Bible Study, but way too many people want to show off like those priests and Pharisees. Show them one piece of a puzzle, and they want to show off by explaining every detail. Challenge their wisdom and watch out. The only other parts of the Bible they have memorized is a few choice lines about false prophets they shoot out at anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

I for one feel much more secure when someone can show me a study method used in the Bible. There are dozens of them found in the Bible. Jesus taught using a series of parables. The parables He used in one day were all related. Some times Jesus used simple symbols like grass, seeds, or crops to show all those parables were linked together. Each parable had a few pieces of information. When we put them all together, we get a much better understanding of the lesson Jesus taught that day. Separate them, and we are generally left with the impression one person received from one parable. It may sound good. It may make sense, and have something to do with the other stories a teacher decided to mix in, but more often than not, teach a lesson about this world when Jesus was teaching a spiritual lesson about Heaven, life in Heaven, His ministry, or another subject not really related to what a modern day teacher wants to imply.

Jesus used that method of teaching, using parables with related symbols to teach another lesson about Bible Study. Stories in the Bible are related to one another. You cannot understand the physical aspects of one story without reviewing the previous story, which lead into whatever story you are studying. Back ground is very important. It is also important to know what actions and decisions led to the situation at hand. That may sound like common sense, but how many people follow that general rule of Bible Study?

In the Bible, that general rule of looking back also applies to all the books in the Bible. Look at Revelation chapter 1 for example. See how the end of the previous book sets your mind in order to begin a proper study on Revelation.

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen. (Jude 1:20-25 NLTse).

Jude is like a brief description of Revelation. The end of Jude tells us, this is about more than ourselves. This is a matter of life and death. Jude also reminds us of the Holy Spirit’s part in this warfare here on earth. Jude also sets our mind on the concern Jesus has for this planet, thereby explaining why Jesus sent an angel to John with enough information to fill a book.

The first chapter of Revelation also introduced the concept of prophetic timing, a subject few people want to try to explain. Not because they don’t understand it, but because proper prophetic timing will not allow people to do what they do best, take prophecies out of sequence. Whenever people are allowed to take prophecies out of sequence, they can apply a line here, and another line there, whenever the need arises. Let’s get serious. There are a handful of people making a very good living out of taking one or two lines out of scripture, playing a few seconds of a news event, and telling people it is prophecy being fulfilled. We want to learn to avoid people like that and not get caught up in the confusion they create. That is the main reason God decided to include solid Bible Study methods in books like Revelation. Timing is another one of those rules.

E-Sword Bible Study Program

 

You need the right set of tools to efficiently study the Bible. Of course the Holy Spirit is fundamental. You are never going anywhere with the Holy Spirit. What do you do after you make that connection with the Holy Spirit? You normally look up the scripture the Spirit shared with you. That normally leads to another story in the Bible, and another story, and another. There are times you need to look up the original meaning of a Hebrew or Greek word. There are a number of things you may have to do in the Bible. You have to coordinate, and process all that information in the best way to share it. Other important tools are of course the Bible, and a Concordance. Both are packaged in just about every Bible Study program on the market. What is the best Bible Study program? The one you are most comfortable with, find easy to use, and is well formatted and organized. One of the best Bible Study programs I have used is e-Sword. Best of all, e-Sword is FREE. It doesn’t get much better than one of the most advanced Bible Study programs for free. Here is a short video showing a number of features on e-Sword, and some of the tricks you may want to learn.

 

The Word was God

This time I posted the Table of Contents along with the Introduction so you get a good idea of what this book is about. As you can see, this book has little pictures of a Bible with the Bible Study Rule used in John’s Gospel. This is more than a book looking at what John recorded and explaining it in ways you rarely see. This book will give you the basic tools to study scripture on your own. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. And feel free to share this page and other pages from my site.

The Word was God
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Table of Contents for 

The Word Was God: Gospel of John

Introduction 5

John Chapter 11 8

Lazarus 16

John Chapter 12 30

Mary Anointed Jesus for Burial 42

Jesus Entered Jerusalem 46

The People Met Jesus 49

Walk in the Light 50

They Loved Human Praises 61

John Chapter 13 63

Jesus’ Last Dinner 63

John Chapter 14 81

Don’t Let Your Hearts Be Troubled 82

John Chapter 15 104

The Vine 109

Love Each Other 114

No Longer Called Slaves 116

The World Hates You 118

Hated Without a Cause 120

John Chapter 16 126

I Have Told You These Things 135

I Am Going Away 138

There Is So Much I Want to Tell You 146

In a Little While 153

Do You Really Believe? 157

You Will Be Scattered 168

John Chapter 17 169

Glorify Your Son 171

John Chapter 18 188

Judas Entered the Garden 193

I AM 195

Peter and His Sword 199

Jesus Faced Court Trials 201

They Chose the Revolutionary 220

John Chapter 19 227

The Purple Robe 234

Here is Your King 239

The Cross 244

Divided His Clothes 246

Here is Your Mother 251

It Is Finished 252

Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken 255

Jesus in the Tomb 261

John Chapter 20 263

Mary Goes to the Tomb 266

Mary Saw Jesus 274

The Disciples Meet Jesus 277

Thomas Meets Jesus 280

John Chapter 21 285

Nets and Fish 288

Do You Love Me 291

Books That Would Be Written 299

The Word was God
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Introduction to 

The Word Was God: Gospel of John

This book completes my series on the Gospels. I have to admit, it has been quite an experience over the past few years. I’ve found how God communicates with us. He speaks to us through our thoughts. He uses events in our life to teach lessons. I paid attention to how events were arranged to put me in the proper emotional state for the story at hand. I have to admit, I am really going to miss writing about Jesus’ ministry recorded in the Gospels.

This last book takes a closer look at Jesus’ sacrifice and those days leading up to it. John had a way or recording the right details for us to see how God’s Spirit worked behind the scenes to prepare the right atmosphere for Jesus to teach what He needed to teach and who He was directed to teach that day. John showed us how Jesus had to wait at times. And yes, how Jesus failed at times. Those details shed a new light on our Savior.

A lot of people say, “Jesus lived her in a human body to experience what we do.” Of course that’s true. But how many people spend nights and days praying, listening, paying attention to details, and waiting for scripture to show us lessons we should be open to learning? Those are lessons designed to show us how to listen to God and deliver messages like Jesus did. Those include lessons showing the emotional ups and downs Jesus experienced and how He coped with them. How can we be effective teachers, pastors, evangelists, or messengers for God if we don’t study those details? So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. (John 5:19-21 NLTse).

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned came to me after writing this book, so I’ll include it here. It is a test found in Jeremiah chapter 23. You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ (Jeremiah 23:35-37 NLTse).

You have to look at the Hebrew dictionary. You’ll see the word WHAT should actually be translated as HOW. The texts should read, “How has the LORD answered,” and, “How is the LORD speaking?” That’s the test Jeremiah gave us to determine if a prophet is from God.

It makes total sense. If someone claims they received a message from God, they better be able to explain exactly how they received that message. The major role of a prophet is to lead people back to God. I prefer to say, “help people establish a personal relationship with God.” It doesn’t do anyone any good to tell them what they should do if you can’t tell them how to do it. So a true prophet from God has to be capable of telling you how to develop a full and meaningful relationship with Him.

That’s a test. So use that test while reading this book. I’m not a prophet, but I do teach. If I teach anything about God, Jesus, and His Spirit, it should be how to get a real relationship with each of them. As you read this book, may God’s Spirit lead your mind over all the details I missed.

The Word Was God: Gospel of John

Chapter 11

John 11:1-57 NLTse A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. (2) This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. (3) So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” (4) But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” (5) So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, (6) he stayed where he was for the next two days. (7) Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” (8) But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” (9) Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. (10) But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” (11) Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” (12) The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” (13) They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. (14) So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. (15) And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” (16) Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too–and die with Jesus.” (17) When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. (18) Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, (19) and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. (20) When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. (21) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. (22) But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” (23) Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” (24) “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” (25) Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. (26) Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (27) “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” (28) Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” (29) So Mary immediately went to him. (30) Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. (31) When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. (32) When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (33) When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. (34) “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” (35) Then Jesus wept. (36) The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” (37) But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” (38) Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. (39) “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” (40) Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” (41) So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. (42) You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” (43) Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” (44) And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (45) Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. (46) But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (47) Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. (48) If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” (49) Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! (50) You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” (51) He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. (52) And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. (53) So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesusdeath. (54) As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. (55) It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. (56) They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” (57) Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.

We have another chapter in John consisting of one major story. Based on what we’ve seen in other chapters, we have to look at the story as a whole and compare details to the story as a whole. Here we see Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. At first Lazarus was sick and finally died. Jesus waited a few days to go see Mary and Martha. Why did Jesus wait? Many people seem to think Jesus waited so there wouldn’t be any question Lazarus’ death. That wasn’t the only reason.


Compare introductions from a series of chapters in numeric sequence, such as chapter 9 and 10. If chapters share the same or similar introductions, it is a repeat of the same lesson. The inspired author is drawing attention to the same subject because additional information is being provided. The series of stories in each connecting chapter are arranged to add details and emphasis to the same lesson.


Jesus wanted to emphasize the waiting period which encompassed a vital part of Jesus’ ministry as well as our personal ministries and life in general. Waiting is what Jesus had to do. As we’ve seen in previous chapters, Jesus had to wait for the right time to go to Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles. He had to wait for God’s Spirit to establish the proper sequence of events to reach the right people as well as teach lessons the way they needed to be presented and taught.

Jesus’ longest and most difficult wait was for His sacrifice and death. Imagine knowing how and when your going to die. Few people can put themselves in that position to feel what Jesus felt. Condemned prisoners and some people with certain diseases are among the few. Imagine sitting there, helpless to a large degree, hoping, praying something would happen to save you. What goes through your mind as days, hours, and minutes tick away and there is nothing you can do to stop time.

I’m in the Real Estate business and I often run across this scenario of waiting and hoping. When people have equity in their homes and miss a few payments, banks have procedures to follow. Some of them are not that pleasant. The bank demands payment while adding fines and penalties. They may offer a restructured loan but often times, when the bank is in a position to take back a home where the loan amount is far below fair market value, it is in the bank’s best interest to foreclose and resell at a profit. So the bank uses laws to protect itself while making it impossible for the homeowner to dig their way out of the financial pit. After three months the bank offers a restructured loan with terms the homeowner cannot afford to pay. The bank demands payments of 150% of the original loan payment for a period of six months to bring the account back in order. After six months the same offer is made to pay back 150% of the original loan amount for a year. If the homeowner cannot afford to pay, the back refers the loan to an attorney. New fees and penalties are added to the loan amount and the foreclose goes through the court system. After that, the homeowner has one hope, to pay the entire loan amount plus thousands of dollars in fines, penalties, and extra charges in one lump sum. The only hope is to sell the property to make the payment.

Months, weeks, days, and hours tick by as the homeowner waits for an offer. Buyers in the real estate market are looking to make a killing. Any buyer who finds out the home is in foreclosure wants to put pressure on the homeowner to sell at the break even point. After years of making payments and building equity in a home, the world wants to steal it all and justifies their actions based on the simple battle cry from the enemy, “everyone does it.” Hours tick away as prayers go out to send one buyer with a sense of justice while the world tries to squeeze the homeowner into submission.

Many people don’t realize what it takes to sell a house. Most often a sale relies an the sales of the buyer’s existing home. Now here is how the world likes it to work. The buyer thinks he should get thousands over market value for his house while he wants the seller to sell for thousands under fair market value. It is a difficult profession to work in when you have to constantly explain what fair market value is, and it is not right to expect others to perform a major sacrifice for another person to make a major profit. In other words, it is not right to expect others to sacrifice for your benefit. But isn’t that what Jesus did?

When I look at this world and how one portion of the plan of salvation works, I am shocked at what I see. I have no idea how the world approaches God with ideas to restructure His offer. Look at how it is supposed to work. God brings down a city He called New Jerusalem. It is roughly half the size of the United States and just as tall. The size of the city is beyond imagination. How do people react to that? All God wants people to do is give up their puny homes in exchange for a free place to live. Of course we need to give up everything else but look what we get in return. Free food, clothes, and everything we need. Compare the quality and nutritional of the food God will provide to what we find in stores. There won’t be any comparison at all. In Heaven our clothes won’t wear out. That doesn’t compare to the clothes we get here. We don’t know the cloths we’ll get from God, but we know we’ll be giving up expensive prices and defects, as well as obsessions to keep up with the latest styles, not to mention slave labor often used in the manufacture of fashion clothing. People who are saved have a million reasons to leave this world without looking back. They can see the world for what it is.

Most Christians say they’re waiting for Jesus’ return. But are they waiting for His return with that same feeling of watching the minutes and days go by with any type of anticipation? Many Christians look at Jesus’ return with the same type of emotions as the homeowner waiting for the bank to foreclose. Most of them won’t admit it, but they look at Jesus’ return as a time they have to give up everything, not as a day they gain everything. Look at those previous chapters. How could Jesus offer all those groups eternal life, understanding, and more, while their first and only reaction was to turn it down? There was more at play than traditions and doctrines. There was a whole lot of selfishness at stake. There is a lot of this world they don’t want to give up.

People try to explain the delay in Jesus’ return, but how many people try to understand it? How many people ask Jesus why it is taking much longer than most people expected. People try to convince themselves this delay is another example of God’s love. They may be right on one aspect. But why limit the delay on the first thought that comes to mind? What about examining Jesus’ delay from other aspects.

The best place to begin is in the mirror. Are you ready? In return for giving us everything, all God asked in return is to have everyone follow His laws. That shouldn’t be difficult, there are only ten of them. It should be easy enough for a child to memorize. But some people want to wheel and deal with God. They want to rewrite those terms. I got news for them. It doesn’t get any better than free. As far as following the law, what kind of Heaven do you want? A lawless society with absolutely no laws. Imagine a world like that. Sounds like a science fiction story. Every man for himself. Soon people would create a society worse than Sodom. It wouldn’t take long to become a lawless society where the strongest ruled. How long would it take for them to make their own laws? And people teach something like that would last an eternity. The question is, are you ready to accept God’s law? His Kingdom’s happiness depends on everyone keeping all His laws.

What does all that have to do with Jesus raising Lazarus from his tomb? This story goes beyond physically raising dead a man. It gives us a glimpse of looking at many situations where people that had to wait, including ourselves.

Once again, I’d like to take a look at how John led us into this story about Lazarus. Remember, John didn’t write this book with chapters. He wrote his book to tell us steps Jesus took in His ministry and Jesus received instructions from God and His Spirit. So we have a great source to learn from.


Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:

Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.


Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them. He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. And many followed him. “John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man has come true.” And many who were there believed in Jesus. (John 10:37-42 NLTse).

What a way to lead into this story. Jesus just told them to watch the work He does for His Father. Actions always speak louder than words. Jesus didn’t tell them what was about to happen, but He did tell them to watch and learn. Could anyone else raise a dead man other than God? If we look closely, we can begin to understand the underlying lesson of timing. We also see another factor of timing. Jesus had a lot of people following Him now. That detail was a factor. Did God want to perform such a fantastic miracle without witnesses?

 

Lazarus

John began this story with a detail we see in other books and chapters. Most people miss this detail because it’s not the answer they’re looking for. John gave us some background on the main story in this character. John told us about his family. On the spiritual side, this puts the lesson into context. John told us this is a close, personal family matter. John took that concept a step further by telling us a little about the relationship Mary had with Jesus. Which of course is an extension of the family relationship introduced in the previous sentence. Not only does one chapter and story blend together, so do sentences within those stories.

Martha and Mary sent a message to Jesus reminding Him Lazarus was His friend and was in need of His help. What does that tell us about people Jesus met? It should mean a lot when they considered God’s Son their friend. After all, wasn’t that part of Jesus’ ministry? John made certain to point out all three members of the family were be involved.

Jesus immediately pointed out, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” Jesus gave the glory to God from the very beginning. Jesus also pointed out something had to change with the way many people perceived Him. One of the things Jesus was trying to teach is how He and God worked together. People have to first understand that concept before they can move to the next level, working with God themselves.

John told us, Jesus stayed where He was for two days. Later we see Lazarus was dead for four days. Jesus must have been at least one day journey from Bethany. If it took the message a day to reach Jesus and another day for Jesus to travel to Bethany, Lazarus must have died a short time after Martha and Mary sent for Jesus.

When Jesus told His disciples it was time to go to Judea, his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” We can see the time frame of this story did not take long and closely followed the previous story. The time frame plays an important part in this story and also the spiritual implications it covers. Such an important lesson, Jesus used time as a symbol. Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

Jesus wanted to point out a mistake the disciples made because they weren’t paying attention. He already told them how Lazarus’ sickness was meant to bring glory to God and Himself. Now you have to ask yourself why the disciples would want to keep Jesus away from the glory He just told them about. You can see, the disciples remembered what happened a few days ago, but forgot what Jesus told them a few minutes ago. They obviously didn’t get the message the first time. Jesus remembered the past few days in Jerusalem and how He had to keep repeating Himself. Now He finds Himself with His disciples getting the same response. What was He going to do? Jesus walked around the group with His head hung low facing the ground. The disciples could see the disappointment in Jesus’ body language. Jesus gave them time they needed to think and review what He already told them. Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”


When something is unusual, it is time to pay attention.

When God repeats Himself, it is time to pay attention.


Jesus introduced a new symbol. One the disciples shown have known and recognized. Jesus was a little surprised at their answer. The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. Jesus kept looking at the ground as He shook His head. Jesus knew the disciples answered quickly because they really weren’t thinking. He wondered where they got that habit from and how He was going to cure them of it. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”

This is kind of a strange story when we look at the details. Jesus was about to rise Lazarus from the grave. God could give Jesus the power to bring a man back from the dead, but he couldn’t get His disciples to slow down and listen. It’s not like they weren’t dedicated. Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too–and die with Jesus.” They wanted to do a good job supporting Jesus any way they could. They wanted to serve Him and follow Him, but it seems they always fell short. They had too much of the world in them.

John didn’t record what they talked about on the road, what Jesus taught them, or how He prepared them for what they were about to see. Jesus knew what He was going to do. He already gave the disciples a hint.

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. John has a way of recording certain details. To catch the spiritual meaning, we have to pay attention. When we see lesson after lesson repeated, we have to pay attention. God has a sense of humor and His own way of pointing us back. He wants us to remember how He likes to use contrasts. In this case God is using a contrast to teach. God wants to show how we can review details, look back, and learn, then consider the way all those people, including His disciples applied what Jesus told them.

John wanted us to know they were close to Jerusalem. He didn’t abandon them, but kept His distance. We have to remember, God is about to perform a miracle and news will quickly spread. Jesus just showed us how we have to back away and let God’s Spirit work with the little work we’ve done for Him. This is an illustration showing how all things work together for the good of God.

John also showed people came from Jerusalem to comfort Martha and Mary. This should remind us about the summation in the previous chapter we reviewed. So we can see how John’s account of the story is reminding us of what we need to do to see the whole story, or confirming, we need to follow the correct steps.

Something strange happened when Jesus arrived. In another story, Martha was so busy preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples, she didn’t have enough time to sit down to listen to Jesus. This seems like a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t seem to fit into this lesson. When we look at what Martha said to Jesus, it appeared Martha listened.

When Martha got word Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

Martha must have learned about the resurrection from some where? Was it from her sister Mary who listened to Jesus? Or did they have their own copy of scripture to study? Another detail we have to remember is the Old Testament was translated to Greek and freely distributed more than two hundred years before Jesus’ birth. John didn’t fill us in on the details, but he did point us to another important detail.

Even Martha misinterpreted Jesus when He tried to comfort her. But in an understandable way. Not many people would have expected Jesus to raise Lazarus from the grave. We see how Jesus tried to comfort Martha when He repeated the word believe. It was good for Jesus to hear someone tell how much they believed in Him. It comforted both of them.

Martha is the symbol of someone who really believes and follows Jesus. In her grief she reached out to comfort Jesus. She would have done it for anyone. It is a quality all of Jesus’ followers posses. The ability to always look to God and find a way to use grief and a trial to help others. We see this confirmed when Martha left Jesus, found her sister, and told her where Jesus was. We can see Martha’s personality when she stayed in the house with the guests who came to comfort them.

We can see another contrast when we see Mary’s meeting with Jesus. It was quite different from Martha’s. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She almost blamed Jesus for her brothers death. Now when we look at that other story about Martha and Mary, things really seem odd. Mary was the one who sat a Jesus’ feet and listened to Him. Now we have a strange scenario to consider. How can the sister who appeared to be listening to Jesus not really know Him, but the one who appeared to miss what He was teaching know so much?

This brings us back to those copies of the Old Testament distributed all over the known world. There were also Hebrew copies of the Old Testament sold for a much higher price. Based on Mary’s reaction, it doesn’t appear Martha learned what she said from Mary. We also have another possibility. Martha developed a close relationship with God’s Spirit. A combination of God’s Word and His Spirit is the most obvious answer and the best we can hope for.

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.

I remember having an online discussion about Bible Study. I was introducing a few simple study methods to help people get more out of the Bible and draw into a closer relationship with God’s Spirit. One man opposed everything. He complained it was too confusing to learn. He accused me of making up the rules of context. He insisted the Bible is literal with no hidden meanings or spiritual messages. In other words, each verse explains itself.

He used this verse as an example, Jesus wept. Since it is the shortest verse in the Bible, he thought his comment was safe. But why did Jesus weep? We can’t tell from two words. A single sentence can express the emotion and anguish, but when we don’t learn from trials, we’re doomed to repeat them. With that in mind, we have to pay close attention to trials Jesus faced.


Looking back for information works the same way and teaches the same lesson the disciples had to learn when it came to healing and helping people. Looking back relies on God’s Word and His Spirit.


One of the rules of context tells us to look back for answers. This takes attention off preconceived ideas and things we’ve been taught. Some times we have to consider the source. When we look back at what made Jesus weep, we don’t have much of a problem seeing how people didn’t want to listen. People wanted to arrest Him, stone Him, and tried as hard as they could to discredit Him. They didn’t want to believe or accept the miracles He performed. We also saw how Jesus knew what He was going to do before He traveled to Bethany. What reasons did Jesus have to weep? He was looking into the future and saw how many people wouldn’t accept the miracle He was about to perform. Jesus looked forward to His return where millions would be raised from the grave. Jesus saw how many people would be missing. Why can’t we see the future like Jesus saw it?

Why did Jesus stay at the tombs instead of traveling all the way to Martha and Mary’s house to see them? There must have been a good reason. What was at those tombs? Jesus taught us, we have to face our demon’s alone. After Jesus was baptized, God’s Spirit led Him into the wilderness to face Satan alone. But He was never alone, God’s was always with Him. That was one lesson we all have to learn from every trial, with every demon we face. Why alone?

If we face those demons around people many things can go wrong. We could accept poor advice. Demon’s can use people we think we can trust and draw as further under their control. Demons will find new ways to block out communication with God. Our only safe way of defeating them is to trust totally in God and totally unite with Him. Other people may support and encourage us, but only God should give us direction and orders.

The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” John showed us how some people trust in Jesus and some people doubt Him. How can we know for certain which Christians are for real and which are not?

Miracles are another matter. Miracles need witnesses who believe. Notice how John pointed out believers were present before Jesus raised Lazarus. Some people have come up with some strange interpretations about this story to explain how Jesus raised only one person in a graveyard. They question God’s power and this miracle He performed. By questioning, they miss a majority of the spiritual lessons associated with this miracle.

We see how often the key words dead and tomb are repeated. John made certain they couldn’t be missed. Anyone reading this story will see that point. One word we don’t see repeated is angry. Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

John used an unusual Greek word to express Jesus’ anger at the time. It is a physical but subtle display of anger. Not a verbal display, but translated as a snort or sigh. Jesus told some men to roll that stone away. Another reason Jesus needed people present. This showed how we play a part in miracles. A small but important part. Notice how Jesus had the disciples distribute food when He fed thousands. Don’t you think God could have easily taken care of that detail if He wanted to?

Martha told Jesus about those four days to display her doubts. This is one of the things we face before God is about to perform a miracle. Don’t we all have a shadow of doubt when things look darkest and it appears there is nothing to do but give up? That is how it is going to be just before Jesus returns, but much worse than we could image. God will send signs. Most of them will be ignored. Or the enemy will find ways of explaining them, covering them up. Like people at that tomb, there will be a lot of people who follow Jesus but will express doubts. There isn’t enough doubt in this world to stop God.

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Jesus gave out one last call and demand. Once again Jesus had to repeat Himself. Jesus reminded us how He repeats Himself when something is important. Jesus pointed out another key word, believe.

Jesus remained by the tombs. He went away by Himself to pray for a while before Martha, then Mary and the others would come to see Him. When they arrived, they found Jesus among the tombs. There were many of tombs in that graveyard. Some with stones covering the entrance. Others were open, waiting for someone to fill them. Many of them were in different states of preparation. Piles of stones lay near their entrances showing how one thin layer of stone was cut from the tomb like layers of stone covering the heart of a nonbeliever ready to be released.

It was early spring. The cold bitter winter had passed. New life was sprouting up from the ground everywhere. Even in a graveyard there are reminders of new life. Jesus’ familiar image was easy to distinguish among the rocks and tombs. People flocked to Him. Some with anticipation, others with doubts.

As soon as they were gathered and settled down, Jesus said a silent prayer to His Father. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”

Jesus allowed people to express their doubts before He proceeded with that miracle of a life time. Some accepted their doubts as a trial and learned from it. With all the proof Lazarus was dead for four days, no one could argue or deny God’s power. The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

This story shows how some people will not believe no matter what God does. They doubted all of the other miracles they heard about and witnessed. They doubted their eyes. They were spiritually blind, their hearts harder than the rock that entombed Lazarus. Where did those people go? Right back to their religious leaders.

We see the same scenario today. People see a miracle, they learn something new, instead of investigating the matter themselves, and with God’s Spirit, they run off to their religious leaders for advise. They have demons, but refuse to face them alone on God’s ground. They can’t accept what they’ve see with their eyes, yet they prefer the advise of men over God’s miracles. What a twisted faith they follow.

Jesus repeated another lesson to show the role we have in miracles. We not only have a small role in the preparation of a miracle, our work extends past the act of a miracle. Moses told the people to remember what they saw in Egypt and tell it to their children so they can tell it to their children.

Now Jesus had the leading priests and Pharisees on the ropes. How could they explain Lazarus’ resurrection? “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” They immediately jumped to conclusions expecting the worse. They failed to pray and ask God what it all meant and where it would lead.

Next John recorded a very unusual lesson. But one we see repeated throughout the Bible. No matter how vial a person is, no matter how far away from God they’ve run, God’s Spirit can still reach them. Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.

God has a way of using some of the strangest people as prophets. People love to place a personal interpretation on a prophet. But God has His own spiritual interpretation of a prophet. The two definitions don’t necessarily agree. You can look back in the Bible on your own to see some of the people God used to deliver messages or put events into motion to perform miracles and bring glory to God.

So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesusdeath. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. John pointed out how doubt casts a shadow on Jesus, the miracles He performed, and slows down Him ministry. Doubt, fueled by jealousy and hatred can stop the message from reaching places. In this case Jerusalem was used as a symbol. At that time Jerusalem was the religious capital of the Jewish faith much more than it is today. Like that day Jesus rose Lazarus, that same jealousy, hatred, and greed still blocks Jesus from a major portion of Jerusalem.

It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.

John gave us a clue how far religious leaders will go to silence the competition. Arresting people for their beliefs? Does that make sense? Now look at the timing of this event. God’s timing may be one of the most difficult subjects to understand, but once you see how it works, it will open up the Bible like you never imagined.


G od’s timing is best explained using what we view as a linear, or strait, one dimensional time line. God of course has a different view of time. He knows nothing but eternity and has the power to see future events, as well as having a perfect memory of the past. Since we do not possess those qualities to the same degree as God, He arranged the Bible in a manner we should find easy to understand. The fulfillment of a prophecy represents one point on that linear time line. As we study, using the basic rules of context, we find events and lessons intersecting that point. In this example, John’s conception and birth are intersected by the prophecy in Malachi chapter 4. Some fulfillments have a number of lines intersecting their point in time. Each intersecting line teaches a lesson. Each line travels on an angle in its own associated time period. In this case, the symbol, Sun of Righteousness, covers the same time period in one aspect of time, and much more.


In this example we have a number of events happening on the same day in the same sequence of time. Lazarus rose from the grave just before Passover. What does this bring to mind? It is a reference to Jesus’ resurrection. We have a time line with one point, Lazarus’ resurrection. To see the extent of the full lesson, we have to consider Jesus’ resurrection, which is one intersecting line. John pointed out another, Mary anointing Jesus. When we see how that story intersects this point in time and compare the stories, we learn a new series of lessons. Most of which we never saw before. Thomas also made an unusual statement “Let’s go, too–and die with Jesus.” This draws attention to Peter at another moment in Jesus’ ministry, adding another intersecting time line and its associated lessons.

When you visualize a time line like this, you have to see how Lazarus’ resurrection intersects Jesus’ time line when He died and rose from the grave. There are other associated events on those time lines that are related. When we compare them, we begin to see deep spiritual lessons and how one story helps to explain details about the other.

One of the subjects we see explained is how people doubted. This coincided with how people doubted when Jesus rose from that tomb. Another detail is the scenes and how they are described. Of course we have to compare the people who believed. Mary is one person linking the people at Lazarus’ tomb with those at Jesus’ tomb. That comparison showed a transformation. The point is, scripture is filled with details most people skip over when they’re reading God’s Word and not allowing His Spirit to guide Him. They don’t hear His voice, so they missed a lot of those details designed to open new understanding and a closer relationship with Jesus. We see those lessons in this story and the series of stories that led to this event. John repeated the fact many people didn’t listen for a reason.

Now that you’ve learned a few simple methods to study your Bible, pray and open it up. Take a look. What does God have to tell you? What are you willing to learn? It’s up to you. What you learn is only limited by time and how willing you are to listen. I know one thing for sure. Once you start, it’s hard to put down God’s Word. It may take only a few minutes a day, or an hour or so. Try writing. That will slow you down enough to hear God’s voice. You can study with a hard copy Bible or use a computer Bible program like I do.


Here is a Bible Study step you want to learn:

I use a free Bible Study program called E-Sword. With this free program, you can add a number of free Bibles. One you have to download is called the KJV+. This is the version containing Strong’s numbers and works with the Strong Concordance, a very important Bible Study tool containing Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. In this example, I looked up the word Herod in the KVJ+, looked at the Strong’s number to find it was the name of four kings in Jerusalem. One of the Bibles you may want to buy is the NLTse (New Living Translation, second edition).


Using a Bible program allows you to highlight and underline texts, copy and paste, set bookmarks, provided a set of cross reference texts, and much more. You can quickly switch from one Bible version to another as well as look at definitions in the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries in the Strong’s Concordance. Bible Study programs can speed up studies as well as make it easy to organize your studies. You’ll also want to use a good word processor. I prefer the free version offered by Open Office. We have so many tools and when we look for new lessons, so much time. And if you don’t have enough time, remember, God can always make more.