MARK 15 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

In Chapter 15, you and I see the fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s purpose here on earth. He came to bear our sins on a cross, and then to rise on the third day, ascend to heaven, and pour out the Holy Spirit to free us from sin’s power when we experience our own personal Pentecost. We see the blindness of the Jewish religious elite. Yet Pilate, whom history reveals as a cruel man, cannot find any reason to crucify Jesus. What a contrast!

Verses 1-5 — The blind Jewish religious elite bind Jesus and take him to Pilate. Why do they take him to the Roman governor? Why don’t they kill him themselves? They are under Roman rule, and have lost their legal right to sentence someone to death. Pilate is amazed (marvels, wonders, admires) that Jesus doesn’t respond to a barrage of harsh accusations from the chief priests. He was as a lamb led to the slaughter, never opening His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus Christ lives what He preaches —“ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). When Jesus Christ is large and in charge in your heart, you will be able to do the same.

Verses 6-15 — The Romans traditionally honored the Jewish Passover by releasing a prisoner at that time. Barabbas is a murderer in Roman custody. The crowd begins to ask for a prisoner to be released. Pilate suggests that Jesus Christ, whom he calls “King of the Jews” be released. He calls Him “King of the Jews” because he is aware that the Jewish elite envies Christ. The chief priests stir the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released, and they cry out for the King of the Jews to be crucified.

IMPORTANT POINT: You may be guilty of reading this account matter-of-factly. I did that at first. Then I had a vision of Him on the cross. I awoke weeping uncontrollably. Now I read this account and remember the vision He gave me — the amount of blood, His torn body, His heaving chest, and the love in His eyes.

Jesus is scourged. That means he is whipped with a multi-corded whip On each cord are sharp pieces of metal or glass. As Jesus is struck and the whip is pulled back, skin and muscle are stripped from Him. His bones are exposed. Arteries are torn. He bleeds profusely. The purpose of scourging is to bring the victim to the very point of death, but not kill him.

IMPORTANT POINT: Ask the Lord to reveal to you the extent of His sacrifice. We will never know fully, but He will show you enough to make you weep.

Verses 16-21 — In this terrible condition, Jesus was taken into the palace, and 600 Roman soldiers gathered around Him. They put a crown of thorns on His head and they dressed Him in a purple robe, mocking the King of kings and Lord of lords. They beat Him, and pretended to honor Him. Then they took everything off except the crown of thorns and sent Him out to be crucified.

With flesh and muscle hanging from Him, He was given the cross bar to carry. But He was still bleeding profusely, so was unable to carry the cross bar the whole distance. So a bystander bore His cross the rest o the way, to the hill called Galgotha (also known as Calvary).

Verses 21-32 — Do you want to see David’s prophecy of what Christ experienced on the cross? Go to Psalm 22:6-18. David sees His bones exposed. Do you know that HIs appearance was so marred that it was hard to tell He was human? Go to Isaiah 52:14.  And in Isaiah 50:6, Isaiah prophesies that His beard would be pulled out.

IMPORTANT POINT: This Psalm was written approximately 1,000 years before Christ was crucified. Does the Lord know the future that far in advance? Yes. He knows the end (of things) from the beginning (of creation). Does He reveal it to His prophets? Yes. Why? So we know He is God and He is all-knowing (omnicient) — there is nothing that He does not know, past, present and future. Do not try to hide from Him, but come into the Light of Christ and be cleansed!

Unrecognizable! Imagine the pain, the weakness from blood and fluid loss! He was nearly dead before He reached Golgotha. And this is the punishment that was due to us, for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5). It should have been us! Oh, the mercy of God!

The Romans put a sign on the cross, to show what crime Jesus had committed, in Hebrew, Latin and Greek (John 19:19). In Hebrew, it was:

Yeshua (Jesus)

Hanaseray (the Nazarene)

Wimelek (King)

Hayahuda (of the Jews)

Look at the first letter of each Hebrew word — YHWH is YAHWEH, the name of God, which He gave to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

So Pilate saw to it that the Jews knew they were crucifying God. That is why, when they read the sign, the Jewish religious elite protested (John 19:21). They did not want to be guilty of putting God to death!

Verses 33-37 — Jesus speaks Psalm 22:1. He should not be able to speak, because crucifixion makes the victim unable to draw a breath. The bystanders think He is calling for Elijah. But He says He could appeal to His Father who would put at His disposal 12 legions of angels (see Matthew 26:53).

[NOTE: A Roman legion was 6,000, multiplied by 12 = 72,000 angels!]

But had He called out for the legion of angels, there would be no salvation for you and me; you see, He knew He had to bear the agony of the cross in order to take our sin. Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).

A medical view of death by crucifixion can be found by going to this link: http://www1.cbn.com/medical-view-of-the-crucifixion-of-jesus-christ.

Jesus then uttered a loud cry, and died. John records that the Roman soldiers saw that He was dead, but pierced His side to make sure (John 19:34). He was pierced for your transgressions, and mine!

Verse 38 — The veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. This was a thick tapestry mounted high and extending down to the floor of the Temple. Behind it was the Holy of Holies, where the ark was kept, where the cherubim were positioned. It was the place of the presence of God.

The significance of the tearing of the veil is extremely important. No one could have torn it by hand because it was too thick. No one could have reached the top and torn downward, because its top was too high. It was torn by the finger of God.

IMPORTANT POINT: Until the tearing of the veil, God’s immediate presence had only been experienced by the high priest when he entered the Holy of Holies, and then only after he was cleansed and purified ceremonially. But the tearing of the veil shows you and me that there no longer needs to be separation. God’s presence is available to everyone, if we turn to Him and ask Him to forgive us, cleanse us, and fill us with His Spirit, the same way as at Pentecost in Acts 2! Then His presence is IN us!

Hebrews 10:19-22   Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest [Sue’s note: Jesus Christ] over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Verse 39 — Even the Roman centurion, a pagan, was able to see how Jesus died, the manner, the strength He had to even speak, and the wounds from the severity of His scourging, he recognized Jesus as the Son of God.

Verses 40-41 — Women stood by, even though most of the disciples had scattered. These had ministered to Him, cooking for Him, providing shelter for Him, providing funds for His ministry in Galilee and in Jerusalem.

John records that he stood before the crucified Christ with Jesus’ mother, Mary, and that Jesus commanded him to care for her (John 19:26-27). All this as He bled profusely and could not draw a breath. Surely, this was the Son of God!

Verses 42-47 — The reference to Sabbath was a special sabbath, not a Saturday but another day of the week which Christians believe to be Friday. It was a special sabbath because it was part of the Passover.

Though He was crucified between two thieves, Jesus was buried with the rich. Joseph of Arimathea, a rich Jewish religious leader who had become a disciple of Jesus Christ, offered his tomb for Jesus’ burial (see Isaiah 53:9 and Matthew 27:60), and boldly went before Pilate to ask for His body.

Pilate granted Joseph’s request. Jesus’ body was prepared for burial, placed in the tomb, and a stone rolled over its mouth,, while the two Marys looked on. He was permanently sealed in the tomb — or so it seemed. But He is the Son of God, and with Him, all things are possible, including resurrection of Himself from the dead! I believe the power of His command rolled away the stone, when He arose!

If you want to know a few more prophecies fulfilled by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, go to this link: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2011/1765/

The final chapter of John, Chapter 16, is next — RESURRECTION!

IN-COURAGED!

[SW219] 02/05/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“IN-Couraged”

Texts: Joshua 1:1-9

Deuteronomy 34:9

John 20:19

Acts 2:14, 22, 3

Acts 4:8ff

The Lord is asking me to encourage you to be IN-Couraged — His boldness, His strength, His courage IN you!

In Joshua 1:3, the Lord tells Joshua that every place on which the sole of his foot treads, the Lord has given to the sons of Israel, just as He spoke to Moses.

What a promise!

In Joshua 1:6, the Lord commands Joshua to be strong (fasten upon the Lord, be constant, be established, seize) and courageous (mighty, steadfastly minded). Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1Corinthians 15:58). Why? Because he SHALL give the people possession of the land.

The Lord commands Joshua again in Verse 7, and in Verse 9. Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!

Joshua  will lead Israel in, and they will be an occupying army, possessing the land promised to them through Abraham.

And believer, understand that your role is to occupy Satan’s territory here on earth, and possess it until the Lord comes again. And it is to ask God to bring you fully into the Promised Land with His strength and courage IN you — IN-couraged! When the end comes, Jesus Christ will bless the one who has been doing what He commanded, and condemn the one who didn’t obey (Matthew 24:46)!

Joshua needed power to obey the Lord’s command to be strong and courageous. Where did it come from?

In Numbers 27:18, the Lord says Joshua was a man in whom was the Spirit. And when Moses laid hands on him, he was filled with the spirit of wisdom.

Deuteronomy 34:9   Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Therefore, he had the Lord’s wisdom, strength and courage IN him, because the Spirit was IN him. He was IN-couraged. The Lord gave him the Spirit for that single assignment.

Today, God wants to fills you with the Holy Spirit permanently, rather than for a single assignment. Then you will have His strength, His courage and His boldness so you are able to occupy and possess the Enemy’s territory. You will become a member of an occupying army, freeing captives from sickness, demon possession, and sin, in the power and words of the Holy Spirit! He will give you what to say (Matthew 10:20).

Look at the difference between the disciples in John 20:19, after Christ was crucified, compared with Acts 2:14, 22, 36 and Acts 4:8 and forward!

In John 20:19, they hid behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. But in the scriptures in Acts, they were very strong, courageous, and bold! They now had God’s strength, courage and boldness IN them, and the actual love of God in their hearts compelled them to go (2Corinthians 5:14, Romans 5:5)!

Why the difference? They were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost! They were IN-couraged!

Paul persecuted Christians with all his might, until he had a vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Then Ananias came to him and he was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Afterward, in Christ’s strength and courage, Paul boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ and performed miraculous signs and wonders all across the known world. He was IN-couraged!

Paul joyously wrote to the church at Philippi, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)! Amen!

Real-life testimony:

One day, we received a call from a man we had known for a couple of years. He said he was in the county jail, and needed us to come to him. We had never been behind locked doors in a jail before. But the Lord told us to go, and we went in His strength, courage and boldness.

We entered another world as we heard the thick steel door close behind us. The spiritual darkness in that place was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

We pressed on, met with the man, ministered to him with bold words from the Lord, and continued meeting with him until he was tried and sentenced to prison. He wrote us from there, and asked us to come.

I contacted the chaplain at the Maine State Prison. Come to find out, I had worked for him at the VA, before I was diagnosed with MS and had to retire on disability!

Jeff and I went through a four-hour training program. Then the chaplain asked us to come to a Bible study conducted by a man who had been doing Bible studies for the prisoners for 25 years, so we could learn how to interact with the prisoners who attended. On our way to that Bible study, we asked the Lord to give us a sign that we were to minister there. A flashing neon one, please!

When we arrived at the prison lobby, the chaplain was called to meet us. We passed through two metal detectors. Our worship gear was searched.

We were lead by the chaplain and one guard through one very thick steel door, stopping at a window to turn in our car keys and driver’s licenses and receive visitor/clergy ID badges.

Then we passed through a second very thick steel door. As we went through we saw a giant man from the Max (maximum security pod) clad in orange, shackled head-to-toe with thick chains, flanked by two large, muscular guards.

After another locked steel door, we passed the cafeteria on our right. A “man down” code was issued; that meant a fight had broken out between prisoners, and at least one prisoner was on the floor.

We continued on across the courtyard to the activities building, in the Lord’s strength and courage, completely unfazed by it all. We were on a mission — on assignment — to go in and possess this land controlled by Satan, and occupy it. And we were IN-couraged! Glory to God!

The Bible study teacher, who never missed a meeting in 25 years, missed this one. That was the first confirmation that we were to minister there. In a circle sat about twenty captives, along with the chaplain, Jeff and me.

The chaplain said he’d stay with us to guide and support us. But God stepped in, began speaking through us to the men, and soon, the chaplain said, “I’ll leave you now; you don’t need me.” That was our second confirmation from the Lord that we were to minister there.

The Lord ministered through us to these men for two years at our Monday prison worship service, as we sang and played guitar and proclaimed Jesus Christ from the Word of God.

The first time, I told them they needed to know that I wasn’t a goody two-shoes. I gave them some history of my drug addition as a teen and young adult, my drug dealing husband, and the Saturday Night Special that was at my side constantly, in case someone came into our apartment to try to steal our drugs. I told them how God came to my rescue in the middle of the night, and freed me from drug addiction in a moment of time.

Then I asked them for a show of hands. How many of you really like it here? No hands were raised. Just as I thought. How many want to come back again real soon? Again, no hands were raised.

I asked, “Do you wand to know how you can get out of this cycle of in and out, in and out, like a revolving door? Jesus Christ will change your heart, fill you with His Spirit and His love, and you won’t want to plan your next crime from here. You’ll just follow and obey Him forever.”

I told them I knew many outside of the prison walls who were in invisible chains, behind invisible bars. They needed the same thing!

What compelled us to go behind prison doors? The love of God, because the Holy Spirit had filled our hearts. And He gave us His strength, courage, and boldness! Our boast is in the Lord, not ourselves! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!

We are not special, beloved. Some say the missionaries who go into countries so hostile that their names can’t be released, are special. Some think missionaries through the ages have been special. They had a calling, they have a calling, we have a calling, AND you do, too. Have you answered Christ’s call?

Now I’m truthin’. I’m being bold (frank and blunt). The truth is, most of the church is complacent. People go to church and leave unchanged. They live like the devil for six days and pretend to be holy and righteous on Sunday. They want the Lord to bless them, but they don’t care about blessing Him or anyone else. They are the ones I spoke of earlier, the ones with invisible chains and invisible bars.

How about you? Are you strong and courageous? Are you bold? Are you possessing and occupying Satan’s territory?

Or are you complacent, going to church and leaving unchanged? If so, repent here and now, and ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit.

You can’t help but be changed when He comes in and fills you! And you will say with Paul and us, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” You will be IN-couraged!

Jesus Christ calls you today to be IN-couraged. He calls you to ask Him to fill you with His Spirit so you can go in and possess the land and occupy it, as you should! Will you obey His call?

MARK 14 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

In Chapter 14, Jesus Christ shows you and me that His death was planned from the beginning. He was not surprised or unaware. It was why He was sent by God the Father. We see Him in the garden, asking that the cup (crucifixion) might pass from Him, but praying, “Not My will, but Thine be done, Father.” We see the secrecy, fear of public opinion, and blindness of His accusers, and we see that we all will deny Jesus until our hearts are made new at our own personal Pentecost.
Verse 1-2 — The spiritually blind priests and scribes seek to arrest Jesus secretly, and kill Him. Secrecy is needed because they fear public backlash, even a large riot because many Jews were in the city for Passover. The irony is that the true Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36), Jesus Christ, was the One sent to take away even the sins of those who plotted to kill Him, if they turn to Him, confess their sins and ask Him to forgive them. He is willing to forgive even those who will soon murder Him!

Would you do that? You will, after you are filled with the Holy Spirit. You will no longer live for yourself, but you will live so that the world would come to faith in Jesus Christ. Look at Stephen! He had the power to forgive even his murderers, because He was filled with God (Acts 7:60)!

You may say, “Amazing! The Jewish religious leaders wanted to kill God’s own Son!” But Jesus is a threat to the position and reputation of all who are in power, even those who believe they can live without Jesus Christ, as I did. I was my own god, doing what I pleased, rejecting Jesus Christ as a myth or legend. But I was simply existing, and under God’s wrath for my sin and rejection of His Son, deceived by the one who kills, steals and destroys.

Jesus Christ sees sinful hearts and calls them to turn to Him. Not a popular message! But if you will heed it — oh, my! Like me, you will find that He will save you from God’s wrath and fill you abundantly with His life (John 10:10), His love, His Spirit, until it overflows!

Verses 3-5 — At Simon the Leper’s home, a woman comes with an alabaster vial of pure spikenard, a rare perfume made from plants and  spices from the Far East. That single vial is worth 100 days’ wages (see verse 5). At $15.00 an hour, 8 hours a day for 100 days, in today’s economy, that one bottle would be worth $12,000. She pours it out. She isn’t thinking about the cost. She anoints Jesus’ head, to honor Him. The air was filled with the fragrance.

IMPORTANT POINT: You honor Jesus Christ when you worship Him with everything that is in you. Like the woman with the alabaster vial, pour out every drop that you possess, regardless of the cost! If you are full of His Spirit, you have truly honored Him by offering yourself to Him completely. Then you are full of HIs love, and you anoint His head with that love. The time has come that you worship God the Father and God the Son in Spirit and in truth. God seeks such ones (John 4:23-24).

The disciples, as usual, do not understand. Why is the perfume wasted? It could have been sold and the money given to the poor. They do not yet understand worship. So they scold the woman for her extravagance.

IMPORTANT POINT: Don’t be surprised if some scold you because you worship the Lord extravagantly. It makes some folks uncomfortable. Love them in spite of it, pray for them, but don’t let them stop you. Go to the back of the church, out into the foyer, whatever you need to do to worship the One you love!

Verses 6-9 — Jesus rebukes them for scolding the woman. She has done a good thing. Don’t bother her. You will always have the poor, but I won’t always be here on earth with you. She’s doing what she can while she’s here. She’s preparing Me for My burial.

Jesus knows what was about to happen. He knows why He was sent by the Father. He knows He will soon be dead and buried in a tomb.

Instead of worshiping the Lord while He was with them, the disciples have chosen to point fingers at an extravagant worshiper who knows she only has that moment to honor and worship Him. They will continue to miss the truth until their blind eyes and hard hearts are healed, at Pentecost. It is the same for every human on the planet.

He also tells you and me that we will always have the poor. Poverty will not be conquered until everything is made new by God. Help the poor, but know that there is no earthly solution to poverty. The greedy will remain greedy. The “haves” will always have far more than they need; therefore, the “have nots” will never have enough, until everything is brought to a close.

The woman exhibits such pure worship, honor, and love that her act will always be told when the gospel is told to the whole world. It will be a memorial to her. That prophecy is fulfilled as I write this to you.

How much does extravagant worship bless God? How important is it to worship the Father in Spirit and truth? More than you can think or imagine.

Verses 10-11 — Judas, one of the twelve disciples, goes to betray Jesus to the chief priests. He is promised money. He will lead them to Jesus. The priests and scribes excitedly plot and plan — they have Him now! The blind lead the blind, and both will fall into a pit.

Look at Zechariah 11:12-13. It was a prophecy of this transaction. Judas will return the money he is paid, after Jesus has been arrested and condemned. He will be remorseful, but not repentant. He will say, “I have sinned,” but not “Father, forgive me.” The priests won’t want to accept the money because it is dirty money now. So the Jewish leaders will use it to buy a potter’s field for the burial of strangers (Matthew 27:17). Then Judas will hang himself because of his shame.

Verses 12-16 — The time has come to sacrifice the Passover lamb, part of the Jewish celebration of their freedom from slavery in Egypt, recorded in the Book of Exodus. But the real Passover Lamb is about to be sacrificed on a cross, so that all who come to Him will receive freedom from slavery to the sin nature they were born with.

The Passover meal is called the seder (SAY-der). Passover, which launches the Feast of Unleavened Bread, starts that evening. Jesus sends His disciples ahead to prepare to eat the seder. They find everything just as He instructed. The man carrying the water pitcher is a highly unusual sight — that task was for women. That man had prepared the room in advance. He probably didn’t know why, until Jesus’ disciples came and asked for it.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus sees everything ahead of time. He sees you, that you are coming near, and He calls you to repent and surrender to Him. You will find as soon as you do, you will have victory in every circumstance and against the temptations that Satan dangles in front of you (James 1:14-15).  Your lusts, upon which Satan plays, will be gone, dead and buried  (1Peter 4:1-2, Galatians 5:24).

Verses 17-21 — Jesus announces that He will be betrayed, and that the betrayer is one of the disciples. They are grieved. Each says to Him, “Surely, not I?” In other words, I couldn’t possibly betray you, could I? They are shocked and not sure of their own ability to stand with Him. Woe to the one who betrays Jesus Christ — it would be better if he had not lived. Even though it is the plan of God that Jesus be betrayed, falsely tried and crucified, Jesus warns of eternal punishment for those who are a part of it.

Verses 22-25 — This is what the church sometimes calls, “Communion.” It is done in remembrance of these verses, and of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus breaks bread, shares it with His disciples, and says it is His body. Indeed, His body will be horribly beaten on their behalf, and ours.

He pours out wine, the Cup of Redemption in the seder meal ceremony, and shares it with them, telling them it is His blood which will initiate a new covenant (a legal promise to perform something), not like the old one (Hebrews 8:9, Jeremiah 31:31). His blood, He tells them, is poured out for many (all who will come to Him).

Indeed, when He hung on the cross, the earth was baptized with massive quantities of His blood. It poured out from His side, when the Roman soldiers pierced it.

He says He won’t drink of wine again until He drinks the Cup of Rejoicing (or Expectation), the final cup of the seder meal, with them when they (and you and I) rule and reign with Him at the end of things. They sing a hymn, a Hallel Psalm, part of the seder meal ceremony. They camp in a familiar location, the Mount of Olives.

Verses 26-31 — Jesus tells them that though just one betrays Him, they will all fall away. They will run. They will abandon Him. It must be so, for it is a fulfillment of prophecy given by God to one of His prophets long ago (Zechariah 13:7).

Jesus tells them He will be raised, after giving His body and blood for them and us. And He will forgive them for fleeing, and restore them. He promises that they will all meet with Him in Galilee.

Peter protests, not understanding that Jesus must die for him and all of us (Isaiah 53:5). He says he won’t fall away. But Jesus tells him he will, that very night. Peter will deny Jesus three times, even before a rooster crows twice. But Peter insists he will be loyal, and the rest join in. We won’t deny You, Jesus! But they will. All of them will, by scattering.

IMPORTANT POINT: Do you see that God is in control, not man? What does that mean to you? It means you must yield to His will and His ways, and He will lead you, He will empower you to obey Him when you ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. He will heal you. He will fulfill His Word in your life.

Verses 32-42 — Jesus is in the garden at Gethsemane. He is grieved. He knows what is coming. He knows He will be beaten so badly that He won’t be recognizable as human (Isaiah 52:14). But worse, He knows that in the moment He carries the sin of the world upon Himself, He will be separated from God the Father for the first time in eternity.

James, John and Peter are to keep watch while He prays. They fall asleep. He asks His Father to take the cup from Him. All things are possible with the Father. YET! YET! Yet not MY will, but what YOU will (see Verse 36).

He finds the watchers sleeping. He warns them that the spirit of man is willing to be on the watch, but man’s flesh is weak.

Again, He asks the Father. Again, He says, “Not My will, but Yours, Father.” Again He finds them sleeping. Again He prays. Again He returns. It is enough. It is time. He is being betrayed. Go! The one who betrays Him is coming.

IMPORTANT POINT: Again, Jesus knows all of these things in advance. He knows when His betrayer is coming, before he arrives. He knows He was sent by the Father to die. He knows in advance that will mean separation from the Father for the first time in eternity. These verses emphasize the tremendous cost paid by the Father and the Son so you and I could be made right with God.

Verses 43-52 — Immediately, while Jesus is speaking, Judas comes with a large crowd carrying swords and clubs. In John 18:3, John records that there are 600 Roman soldiers among the crowd, along with the chief priests and the Pharisees. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Jesus is seized.

One of the disciples (John writes that it was Peter, in John 18:10), cuts off the ear of one of the high priest’s slave. It is useless. Jesus must be taken. It is the fulfillment of prophecy.

Jesus speaks to those who seize Him. Why didn’t you arrest Me earlier? Why do you do it at night, as if I was a robber? I have been among you, teaching every day in the Temple. But this is to fulfill the scriptures. Prophecy must be fulfilled, and you don’t even understand that you are fulfilling it by capturing Me. You do not understand that this event is far beyond your ability to change. God has said it, and it will be done.

Then a young man (probably Mark himself) wearing just a sheet because he had been sleeping, is seized, but he pulls free of the sheet and runs naked and vulnerable into the night. It is the same for you, if you run from Jesus. You run naked into the night, completely vulnerable to the world around you. I ran naked into the night until I was 45 years old. Then I came back to Jesus Christ.

Verses 53-65 — Now begins the illegal trial. It is illegal because it is done at night and Jesus has no legal representation, among other illegalities. Peter has followed Jesus at a distance, as the Roman cohort delivers Him to the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, a council of 71 Jewish religious leaders.

At the illegal trial, some witnesses falsely claim that Jesus said He would destroy this Temple and rebuild it without human assistance in three days. But Jesus really said that if the Jewish leaders destroyed the temple which is His body, He would rebuild it in three days (when He was raised from the dead on the third day (see John 2:19-22).

False testimony is given. None of their testimonies agree. So the high priest asks Jesus, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus says, “I am, and you will see when I come again.”

Considering this to be blasphemy, the high priest tears his clothes in disgust. No further testimony is needed. Jesus has said He is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ. He says He is God. Blasphemy! He deserves death! Then everyone spits on God the Son, blindfolds Him and beats Him with their fists, telling Him to prophesy and tell them who hit Him. They mock Him. They slap Him or strike Him with rods.

Verses 66-72 — Meanwhile, Peter betrays Jesus Christ three times: 1) as he warms himself by the fire, to the servant-girl of the high priest; 2) after he moves to the porch, to the servant-girl again confronts him; and 3) to the bystanders. I do not know Him! And when the rooster crows twice. And Peter weeps, he wails aloud. He had sworn he would not deny Jesus, but it has happened just as Jesus said.

IMPORTANT POINT: Even after denying Jesus three times, Peter was restored after Jesus rose form the dead. And after Peter was filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, he never denied Jesus Christ again. No matter how far you have strayed, no matter how you have sinned, no matter how many times you have denied Him, He will restore you. Then you will ask Him to do the same in you as He did in Peter, and He will fill you with His Spirit. You will never deny Him again.

MARK 13 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

Chapter 13 reflects Jesus Christ’s love for those who are His. He briefs His disciples, and you, about future events that will climax with His return to gather you and me. His instructions, as you see these things unfold? Be ready, take heed, keep on the alert!
Verses 1-2 — Throughout Jesus Christ’s ministry on the earth, He taught in the Temple, surrounded by many disciples besides the Twelve. On this occasion, one comments on the beauty and majesty of the Temple. Jesus says not one stone would be left upon another. Everything will be in ruins. Indeed, this was fulfilled in 70 AD, when Roman soldiers destroyed the Temple.

Why? The Jewish leaders rejected their Messiah, their Christ. God the Father’s will is that our bodies become His temples, and that He and His Son dwell in us, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit (John 14:23). Temple worship is no longer needed, since men and women become His temples. Think of it! God in you, so where you go, He goes. Where you walk, He WORKS!

For those who rejected their Christ the punishment was that the Temple building which they worshiped like an idol or a talisman, would be destroyed.

IMPORTANT POINT: Once you have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, ask Him to make your body His temple by filling you with His Spirit. He will do it! His will is fulfilled when you are filled full!

Verses 3-13 — Now four disciples question Jesus privately. When will the Temple be destroyed? What will be the sign that it is going to happen?

Jesus says this:

— Many will come in His name and say they are the Christ or are of Him, to try to seduce you, to draw you away, to cause you to wander from Him. They will say they are Him, or His representatives, but they will not live as He lived when He was on the earth, nor will they teach what He taught. They will speak ear-tickling words (2Timothy 4:3), for their own financial gain. It is happening even today.

— There will be wars and rumors of wars, but that is still not the end. There will be a ramping-up of unrest and war in the world, earthquakes at an ever-increasing rate, and famines. These are only the beginning of birth pangs, though. Like birth pangs, they will continue to increase in frequency and intensity.

— Be on your guard. Behold, beware, take heed! Christians will be arrested, taken to court, flogged, and stand before governors and kings, as a testimony to the governors and kings. What will be the testimony, when you stand before governors and kings? The testimony is this — the Holy Spirit will speak through you, as you stand before your accusers. And they will know it is Jesus speaking through you (Acts 4:13).

Already, across the earth, many Christians are murdered and martyred because they refused to renounce Christ — more in the 20th and 21st centuries than in all centuries from the time Jesus was crucified. You can find out more by going to persecution.com, the web site for Voice of the Martyrs. Remember the Coptic Christians who were lined up on the beach by ISIS and beheaded because they refused to renounce Jesus? It will become like that everywhere, and worse.

Family ties will mean nothing. Many will (and now do) expose Christian family members so they are arrested or simply killed on the spot.

In Verse 10, the Lord specifies that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. That is nearly accomplished by today’s missionaries, but I believe He also refers to Revelation 14:7, when the angel flies in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tongue and people.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus gives people the opportunity to come to Him until the very last moment of time. He so desires that all be saved, but He knows some will reject, even then.

— You will be hated by ALL because of the name of Jesus Christ. He promises it in John 15:18 and forward, and tells us that it is because you are not of the world system; you simply live in the world. Hatred for true Christians will continue to intensify greatly, even among family members.

And so Jesus says, “Endure! Remain! Stand fast! Persevere! Have courage amidst pain and adversity! If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will have His courage in you. That is Who you need in these last days. Then you will be saved. But aren’t you already saved? Yes, but there is a greater salvation, a time when Jesus will gather His true church. The whole world will see it, when He gathers you (Mark 13:26, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Verses 14-23 — Jesus tells us what will happen just before He returns:

— There will be an abomination of desolation in the Temple. Wasn’t the Temple destroyed in 70 AD? Doesn’t the Muslim Dome of the Rock stand in its place, or near its original footprint? Yes, but Israel is planning a Third Temple. Go to http://templeinstitute.org to learn more.

— To that Temple will come a great abomination — a total sacrilege. At that time, everyone who heeds Christ’s words is to flee, and not take time to gather up any belongings. The references to pregnant women and young mothers, and winter, may indicate that it will be when we least expect it, and perhaps in the hardest season of the year to be without shelter.

—In those days, when the abomination of desolation is in the Third Temple, a tribulation will occur which has never been seen before and which will never be seen again. Great pressure, great affliction, great persecution, great trouble is coming to the church. It will be so difficult, that the time of it will be shortened, so those who are His followers are able to stand it.

— And at that time, false priests and prophets will be more prevalent than ever, performing false signs and wonders. Again, He says that those who are chosen by Him at that time must not believe anyone who says they are the Christ. Those who are chosen by Him at that time will know when He comes.

— He says, take heed, beware, pay attention. He has told you EVERYTHING in advance. He has not left out any detail that you need to know. He has told you in advance because He is God the Son, deity, and sees all that was, is, and ever will be. He was like that even when He dwelled on the earth.

IMPORTANT POINT: Preachers often “humanize” Jesus. He is confused, He is afraid. He is unsure. It is utter nonsense, an attempt to mold Jesus into our image so we are more comfortable with Him or so we can “identify” with Him. Do not listen to such preachers, but run from them.

Verses 24-27 — Then, after the tribulation he speaks about in verse 19, the signs of the end will happen, and the Son of Man (one of the names of Jesus Christ) will come in the clouds with great power and glory. It will be a powerful and glory-filled sight, and everyone will see. Then comes the gathering of His church from across the earth — from the farthest away to the nearest.

There is some difference of interpretation on when the church goes up, and some believe that the church goes up, then another group called “the elect,” perhaps the 144,000 from the Book of Revelation. But the main point is to be ready, be on the alert!

Verses 28-32 — You can tell when a fig tree is about to bear fruit (not the day or the hour, but the season of summer). In the same way, you will know that He is coming soon (not the day or the hour, but the season), when you see what He has described in the previous verses. You will know that He is near, right at the door.

Then He says something that sounds strange. The disciples had asked when this would happen. Jesus said this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. If “generation” means what you and I think it means, it would appear that Jesus was wrong. But the Greek for “generation” means age, generation, or time. So this age will not pass away until these things happen. This age is called the church age, when the church is active in the world. When we are raptured (1Corinthians 15:51-53, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18), that age will end.

Please note that “church” is defined as all believers in Jesus Christ, be they Jewish or non-Jewish (Gentile).

At that time, heaven and earth will pass away; they will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1ff), in which God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and the church will spend eternity with God.

Verses 33-37 — Look! Jesus speaks “take heed” and “keep on the alert” four times in this section! How important is it that you know Jesus Christ and are reconciled to the Father, and are found doing what their Master commanded them to do (Matthew 24:45-46). He has placed you in charge. You are part of an occupying army, until He returns. Don’t be sleeping when He returns. Be ready! Occupy! Be an ambassador (2Corinthians 5:18-20)!

NOTHING TOO DIFFICULT

[SW218] 01/29/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Nothing Too Difficult”

Text: Jeremiah 32:24ff, Mark 9:23, John 17:26

The Lord does the impossible, in human hearts AND in human bodies! And then the world believes that the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ!

In Jeremiah 32:17, Jeremiah says to the Lord, “Behold! Nothing is too difficult for You!”

But in Verse 24, he says, “Behold! Siege ramps!” He thinks it will be impossible for him to return to the land he bought per the Lord’s command.

What is God’s response? Three “Beholds!”

In Verse 27 He says, “Behold! I am the Lord God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?” Nothing is too difficult for Him!

In Verse 28, He says, “Behold!”  Yes, I am giving this city to Nebuchadnezzar. Yes, this city will be burned. Yes, it is because they have turned their back to Me and not their face (verse 33), even though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.

In Verse 37, He says, “Behold!” I will gather them (a remnant of His people) . . .

Jeremiah 32:39 and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.  40 “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

And His promise is fulfilled to all who will believe He can do it. Jesus prayed this, to activate this promise (my emphasis):

John 17:23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.

John 17:26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.

This “one heart and one way,” this “I in them”, this “love of God” (His actual love) in our hearts,  happens when we believe God’s Word and ask Him to dwell in us fully. Then we are filled with His Spirit, and His promise is fulfilled when we are filled full! Nothing is too difficult for the Lord!

And this is so the world may know that God the Father sent Jesus Christ and loves us with the same love He has for His Son!

God receives all the glory because of what happens IN us.

But He receives glory because of what happens TO us, when He miraculously heals our bodies and delivers us from demons. Miracles yield repentance.The world must admit that nothing is too difficult for God!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) He is still doing what He did when He walked the earth — through His church (all who believe in Jesus Christ, Jew or non-Jew), and sometimes, despite His church.

Was blindness too difficult for Jesus? Was deafness too difficult for Jesus? Was paralysis too difficult for Jesus? Was demon possession too difficult for Jesus? He even raised the dead — Lazarus, and the son of the widow at Nain.

Was a demon-possessed child too difficult for Jesus to deliver (Mark 9:22-23)?

All things are possible to him who believes!

I tell you, He heals every sickness, every disease, and demons flee at His command! And when we are His, the Lord will do the same through us, if we believe.

Real-life testimonies:

— Jeff and I traveled with our pastor to a hospital in northern Maine, to minister to a man’s mother. She had not been in her right mind for some time, and now she had lapsed into a coma. Her son was in her room in the ICU, anxiously watching all the monitors.

Unbelief was thick in that room! So we asked our pastor to take the son to the hospital cafeteria for some coffee. After they left, Jeff and I prayed for the Lord to raise her up, to awaken her. Then we traveled home.

The next day, the son called our pastor, his voice filled with excitement! His mother had awakened, and was being discharged to home. For seven days, she was in her right mind and spent powerful times of reconciliation and love with her family, and then the Lord took her to be with Him.

— A man came to our church. He was a Vietnam vet who had suffered an open brain injury in the war. The side of his head bore a huge scar. He constantly struggled to be in his right mind. One day, as he was coming forward for prayer at the altar call, the Lord prompted me to exclaim to him, “You have the mind of Christ!” He held onto that word, and the next week, he testified that he no longer struggled.

And here is my testimony of Jeff’s and my heart change  —

My heart was very rebellious. I went after “new age things” and other religions. Jeff was an atheist.

But nothing is too difficult for God!

I testify that after I was healed of MS because nothing is too difficult for God, when I was filled with the Holy Spirit, my heart was instantly and permanently changed, because nothing is too difficult for God!

I love with a love I never experienced before. All hatred and anger are gone. His love has filled my heart.

Hope does not disappoint, beloved, for God pours out His love to overflowing by the Holy Spirit who indwells you, if you believe Him and ask Him to do it  (Romans 5:5).

Yes, I am still growing, still maturing, going from image to image and glory to glory. But it is easy, because my heart loves God with God’s love, and I continually ask God to make me more and more and more like Jesus Christ!

The same is true of Jeff. You know his physical heart was healed in 2011. But ten years earlier, in 2001, his heart was healed toward God, and he was filled with God’s love. Oh, what a change! And we love each other with God’s love. What a change in our marriage! No more selfishness. No more “what’s in it for me.” No more “I, me, my!” We are both focused on the Lord and loving servants to each other. Now that’s a marriage made in heaven!

All of these things — inward change and outward healing — glorify God, because there is no way we can become obedient by trying really hard. And there is no way I can heal myself of an incurable disease. These things would be too difficult!

But God! With Him, all things are possible! Nothing is too difficult for Him!

Don’t let the devil tell you it’s just for Jeff and Sue. We are not special. He offers this to everyone, everywhere, all the time!

Now, you have come to a fork in the road. When giving directions to his house, Yogi Berra would say, “When you see the fork in the road, take it.” Both ways led to his house.

But with this fork in the road, only one way leads to God’s house.

You have free will to go to the left, or go to the right.

It is your choice!

If you go to the right, you will get down on your knees right now, you will bow your heart, you will humble yourself, you will confess your waywardness, and you will agree with God that you cannot become obedient by trying really hard. And you will ask Him to change your heart. And He will. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

If you are possessed, oppressed, depressed, or sick, you will get down on your knees again, and you will agree with God that nothing is impossible, and He will heal you. Nothing is too difficult for Him!

Right now, the Lord is touching you, and you are confessing. And He has come to heal you, and free you, and change your heart. He is doing this right now. He is doing this right now.

Please, do not go to the left. It is a dead end, beloved.

 

FREELY GIVE

[SW217] 01/22/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Freely Give”

Text: Matthew 10:1, 8 and Matthew 28:19-20

You may freely receive so much — more than you can think or imagine — at no cost to you! What happens next? You freely give!

Matthew 10:1 is a “go out” command. Matthew 28:19 is a “going out” command. Jesus Christ always gives “go out” commands to His followers, never “stay in.”
Why? Because if you are His follower, you surely have received MUCH, at no cost to you. He doesn’t give freely to you so you can hold it for yourself. He gives so you can freely give, at no cost to anyone!

What may you receive from Jesus Christ? I made a list:

Salvation

His grace

Healing

Deliverance

Sonship

His inheritance

His authority, as in this passage

Himself in you

His Father in you

His Spirit in His fullness, in you

His presence in you

His power in you

His love in you

His zeal in you

His boldness

His eyes, so you see as He sees

His wisdom

His understanding

His enlightening of the Word of God

And when you receive these things from Him, you are no longer focused on yourself, your needs, your wants, your security, your plans.

You are outwardly focused, and God-focused. You hear from Him and do what you see Him doing and say what you hear Him saying.

He says, freely give! Go pour out what I have poured into you! Well, when He does, I can tell you that you cannot help but pour it out!

The lost, the lame, the blind, the weak, the straying sheep, the troubled, the oppressed, the depressed, the disheartened — all of these, you see as He sees.

And you are overwhelmed with His compassion, and compelled by His boldness to GO!

Please know that I am still being matured by the Lord, but He has freely given me all that I’ve listed above, praise His holy name! I can’t help but pour it out! Why would I want to stay in?

Just a couple of things He has done through me, because of what He has done IN me:

— A woman deeply hurt from the time she was three years old, who thought her sin was too great for God to forgive her, who thought she was nothing and less than nothing, whose mind was confused. The Lord told me to go and stand beside her, and be the Bible for her. She stood up, her mind cleared, she was saved, she and I prayed for reconciliation with her children. Even the daughter who was hurt the most, came back to her and lived right next door to her, until this woman went to be with the Lord!

— A woman whose lips had turned blue, because she was in status asthmaticus. Jesus directed me to lay hands on her upper chest, and within one minute, she breathed freely. The next day, she said, “I still feel your hand on my chest!” I said, “That’s the hand of Jesus that you are feeling.” We rejoiced together!

— My husband, Jeff, who had a massive heart attack in May of 2011. The doctors called it a widow-maker. The whole front of his heart was completely deprived of blood. The cardiologist on duty put a stent in his heart, but there was a lot of damage. It didn’t look good.

But the Lord gave me a word, and I gave it to Jeff. “I will give life to Jeff’s heart muscle by the Holy Spirit who indwells Jeff.” And then, on the third day (I love it!), the Lord woke me up in the morning and said, “Take your guitar, go to Jeff’s room in the step-down unit, and worship with him.” I called to be sure it was OK with the nurses. They said yes. I unpacked my guitar, began to play “Invitacion Fountain,” and Jesus entered the room! Jeff’s arms went up, even though he was tethered to some machines, his face lit up and he knew he had been healed!

He never had a pain or a complication from all that damage. The fact that his heart was healed was confirmed 41 days later, when his regular cardiologist tested his heart’s efficiency. It was normal!

Jeff said, “Jesus healed me,” and the cardiologist exclaimed “It sure wasn’t us that healed you!” The cardiologist became a true believer!

Jesus Christ doesn’t just work through me. He will work through you, too, IF you have freely received. Beloved, listen closely now. You cannot give what you have not received.

I have seen too many “stay ins” who sit in church pews all of their lives, never going out, even though Christ has commanded them to go out. Neighbors and friends do not even know they are Christians except perhaps by watching them enter and exit a church. They do not mention His blessed name, do not speak, do not go.

The Word of God says they are like the man who was given a talent and buried it (Matthew 25:18ff). He was judged as a wicked, lazy slave by his Master, for what he was freely given, he did not give. His inaction made him useless to his Master. And he was sent to the outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth (agony).

Matthew 25:29 says it all — to everyone who has freely received from Jesus, more SHALL be given, and they will have an abundance. But for those who does not have the humility to ask the Lord for what they need in order to go out, or who receive and yet do not give, eternal life with Him will be taken from them.

If you have sat in a pew, not daring to go out, not feeling adequate to go out, I have a “GO” command from the Lord for you. GO TO HIM!

Tell Him you know you are not adequate (NONE of us are, until we ask Him for His authority and the infilling of His Holy Spirit). Tell Him that is why you have not obeyed Him. Confess it to Him, and ask Him to forgive you and that you want to receive what He freely gives. He will do it!

If you have not obeyed Him because you saw no benefit to yourself in going out, confess it to Him and ask Him to forgive you. Then tell Him you want to receive what He freely gives. He will do it!

MARK 12 COMMENTARY

This is a commentary for you and me. It isn’t complicated, because Jesus wants you to understand it, so you can be healed physically and even more importantly, in your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

Chapters 11-16 show us Jesus Christ’s heart that is completely obedient to His mission to die for us, compared with a heart that rejects Him, and therefore rejects God the Father. There’s nothing about physical healing in these chapters, but there is much about the incurable disease that ails our hearts, and how Jesus is able to heal us.

Verses 1-12 — Here we see evidence of the incurable disease and the resulting blindness. Jesus Christ was rejected by those who should have been able to easily identify Him as their Messiah. These were Jews who studied the Tenakh, the Hebrew name for the Old Testament. They knew it backward and forward. Why could they not see? Pride, desire for power and position, jealousy — in a word, sin.

Jesus refers to Isaiah 5 in the parable of the vineyard. God the Father rents His vineyard out to His own people, Israel. They are to tend it. But when He sends a slave (one of His prophets) to Israel to receive a harvest of souls on behalf of the Father, they beat him and send him away empty-handed. Why? I believe they have no souls to give to the Father, for they have already added much to the Word of God that not only blocks the way for others to enter into God’s kingdom, but they themselves do not enter (Matthew 23:13).

Then the Father sends another slave. They wound him in the head and send him away.

The next one, they kill, and so on. Some are beaten, some are killed.

Finally, the Father sends His BELOVED Son, Jesus Christ, saying, “They will respect my Son.” Note that Jesus Christ is the LAST one God will send. There will be no others.

But Israel’s religious leaders see God’s heir as a threat to their position, and they are jealous of Him. They think that if they kill Him, they will be the next in line to inherit the kingdom of God. How far from God they are, to think such a thing!

So they take Him and kill Him and throw Him out of the vineyard that is Israel. And it happened! At their order, Jesus, the Son, was illegally tried, scourged until he was nearly dead, and then nailed to a cross outside Jerusalem. He was the Stone the builders rejected, who became the Chief Cornerstone of God’s true church, birthed at Pentecost.

So what will God the Father do to those who nail His beloved Son to a cross? He will destroy those who reject His Son, and give the land of Israel to others. In 70 AD, Rome burned Jerusalem to the ground and destroyed the Temple, so Israel was scattered.

But what became of God’s vineyard between Christ’s crucifixion and the reestablishment of Israel in 1948, which happened according to prophecy (Isaiah 66:7-8 and elsewhere)? Did God’s vineyard simply cease? I believe giving it to others meant more than letting Rome overrun it. It meant that the all-Jewish followers of Jesus, who began the church, and Christians world-wide, have taken over the tending of His vineyard and continually present its fruit to Him.

Be assured of this: Israel will come back to Him in the end (Romans 11:25-27). Some already have. They are Messianic Jews, who see that Jesus is their Messiah, as did His first Jewish followers.

Jesus’ words about the vineyard anger the rejectors even more, because they understand the parable is about them. They want to seize Him, but they fear the large crowd. Perhaps the crowd will turn on them.

Verses 13-17 — They attempt to discredit Jesus another way, by trying to trip Jesus up (test Him) by their question about the denarius. They flatter Him. Then they ask Him if they have to pay poll taxes to Caesar. But He knew their hypocrisy. He knows everyone hates paying taxes to Rome, and being under Roman rule. Will His reply be affected by that? He knows their hearts, though they do not tell Him what they are thinking.

I tell you, He knows the hypocrisy of anyone who asks Him a question when they know the answer. He knows the hypocrisy of anyone who asks Him for something that is for their own personal gain. He knows what is in each one’s heart.

So He says that since Caesar’s image is on the money, the tax should be paid. Give Caesar what is his (the denarius was the Roman coin), but don’t forget to give God what is God’s (give tithes, offerings, and sacrifices). They wonder greatly at His response. It is impossible to argue with Him, for He is God in the flesh, possessing God’s wisdom, and able to see men’s hearts.

Verse 18-27 — The Sadducees do not believe in resurrection. So they think they will trip Jesus up by asking Him a resurrection question, regarding a woman who has been married and her husband has died, marries another, he dies, etc. Whose wife will she be in heaven? They do not believe in heaven!

So Jesus tells the Sadducees: 1) you are mistaken; 2) you do not understand the Scriptures; and 3) you do not understand the power of God. That’s because they do not believe in resurrection, which is clearly seen in the Scriptures they claim to understand. And what is worse, they do not understand that God’s power is resurrection power!

Then He explains that in the resurrection from the dead, we are no longer married to anyone.

But His answer goes beyond their foolish question. He proves to them that resurrection is real. Jesus reminds them of the burning bush, when God said, “I AM” the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not “I WAS,” until they died and were annihilated. But “I AM,” which means He presently is their God. He cannot presently be their God unless they have risen from the dead and are alive and with Him. He is not the God of the dead, not the God of corpses (literal meaning of “the dead”), but the God of the living (those who have eternal life, and are with Him, and those who have His eternal  life in them, while they walk about on the earth)!

Verses 28-34 — Next comes an expert of the law of Moses, who heard the Sadducees trying to argue with Jesus. He sees that Jesus answered well. So he asks Jesus to tell him what the greatest commandment is. Jesus quotes the Shema. That is the foremost. He is One God, not many. Love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second is this (“like it,” per Matthew 22:39). Love your neighbor as yourself.

Why does He say both? Why is loving your neighbor like loving God? Because it is when you love God with all that is in you, because His love is in you, that you are able to love others with His love, just as He loves you with His love. Think about that one. It is key to understanding God’s heart and yours.

The scribe tells Jesus He is right, and calls Him Teacher. That is a title of respect. He adds that doing these two things is what is important — all the burnt offerings and sacrifices in the world cannot please God, unless our hearts are His and our motive is His love in us.

Jesus sees that this scribe’s mind has grasped the truth of those commandments. So He tells him he is not far from the kingdom of God. All the scribe needs is to see that God is standing in front of him. He’s that close!

Then everyone is afraid to ask Jesus any more questions. He has defeated their attempts to trip Him up, and has driven home what is wrong with their hearts — they are mistaken, they do not understand the Scriptures, they do not understand God’s power, and they do not love God. The problem is in their hearts, and it is the problem of pride, hunger for power and position, and jealousy.

Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). If the Holy Spirit is now showing you that you have rejected Jesus like those Jewish leaders, seeking to be in charge of your own life, thinking you have some innate goodness that will get you into heaven, then come to Him now and ask Him to forgive you. No one comes to (can be reconciled with) the Father except through Him. We must agree with Him that our hearts need fixing, no matter how many good deeds we may have done in our lives. We must agree with Him that we need hearts that only He can give us.

THEN and only then, He is able to use us to bring others to Himself.

What a great gospel! He gives us what we lack, He takes away our sin, so we may be reconciled to God and be ambassadors of His kingdom, announcing this reconciliation to the whole world!

Verses 35-44 — I’m grouping these together because they are a study in contrast:

First, there are the Jews who are either unable or refuse to answer Jesus’ pointed question about God AND God the Son, who is part of God. Who is this “Lord” that is speaking to the LORD (God)? David calls this one “my Lord.” If the Messiah is to be the son of David, why would David call him “my Lord?” The son should be calling David lord, if he is a natural son of David.  But the Messiah is not David’s natural son (though Mary’s lineage is Davidic). He is the Son of God, the Lord who is the son of the LORD. Otherwise, David would not have called Him Lord. The large crowd loves it when Jesus confounds the Jewish leaders.

And Jesus tells them to beware of the Jewish leaders, who want to be seen, who want to be better than everyone else,  who separate themselves from the people by wearing long robes and expect special greetings as they walk around, and places of honor at banquets.

Church, how often do our leaders demand private jets and fancy hotels and special food, if they come to speak at a church or in a stadium? Are they not also taking from poor women who send them all their money and ask them to sell their homes and give them the proceeds? How often do we see leaders who want to be seen doing pious things like praying? And how many pray long and complex prayers, to impress us? These will receive greater condemnation at the judgment that is coming!

Now the contrast — the widow who has nothing, offers all she has. She is humble, she is not there to impress anyone. She just gives all she has. She is obedient. That’s what He wants from us. Obedience and compassion (mercy) are better than sacrifice (Mathew 12:7). The sacrifice pleasing to Him is when we humbly offer ourselves wholly to Him (Romans 12:1).

So Jesus calls His followers to Himself. See? She put her whole livelihood in the treasury. She gave her whole life for God the Father, trusting Him to take care of her needs. The rich (those who think they are rich) gave only a portion because they did not trust God, and even went so far as to sound a trumpet when they gave, so everyone was impressed. Matthew 6:2). Look at their pride!

If we are humble and obedient, and willing to give our whole heart to God, trusting Him, then God will surely fill us with His Holy Spirit, so we can do it. Then we will bear His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) and be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Amen.