COMMENTARY ON JOHN 2

The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!

Verses 1-2 — So there was a wedding on the third day. That would be Tuesday on the Jewish calendar. Why would someone plan a mid-week wedding? We’re going a little deep here. What happened in Genesis 1 on the third day? In Genesis 1:10, on the third day, the Lord spoke and the land and water separated, so there was dry land and bodies of water. And He saw that it was good. And then, on that same third day, He  spoke and vegetation came, and He saw it was good. Two “He saw it was good” statements in one day! That’s a double blessing! So couples often married on Tuesdays, so their marriages would be doubly blessed.

Jesus’ mother was at the wedding, and both Jesus and His disciples were invited. Mary probably was related to the bride and groom in some way. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have done Verses 3-5. It would not have been proper for her to direct such things, unless she was a relative.

Verses 3-4 — They ran out of wine. In Jewish culture, to run out of wine at a party dishonored the family. So Mary, being a relative, said to Jesus, who was also a relative because she was His mother, “They have no wine.”

“Woman, what does that have to do with us?” Calling her “woman” is not derogatory. He is not insulting her, but He may be separating Himself from her motherhood over Him, since His ministry is about to begin.

He said His time had not yet come. What does that mean? Was He saying that it was not yet time for Him to begin doing miracles to show that He was the Son of God? It seems that way, if we go to Verse 11. But He did a miracle, as we will see in a few verses. None of what transpired here was a surprise to Him, as with Nathanael.

But we can go deeper, as usual. We will see, as we go, along that the Holy Spirit inspired John to write of the actual events, but also to hint at the deeper meaning of them.

Who was bringing the new wine of the new covenant (Matthew 9:17)? Whose blood was represented by the wine He shared with His disciples at the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:28)? On the cross, He began the new covenant between God and man (John 3:16 and many other places we’ll review), when His blood was poured out onto the earth. He is the embodiment of new wine, sweet like grape juice, unfermented, and non-alcoholic, pure and clean. But it was not yet time for His crucifixion.

Verse 5 — Mary said to the servants, “Whatever He says, do it.” Great word! Whatever instruction or command Jesus Christ gives you, do it! And God will be revealed and glorified through what happens next.

Verses 6-7 — These stone waterpots contained water combined with ashes of a red heifer, used by the Jews for ritual washing and purification (see Numbers 19:2 and forward). There are a lot of hints of Christ in the ritual described there. For example, He was crucified outside the camp (Jerusalem), and His death provides us with cleansing, if we come to Him. The waterpots were large containers, 20 or 30 gallons each. Think about their size as we continue.

Jesus ordered the servants to fill them to the brim, and they did. I tell you, when He takes you — a jar of clay (2Corinthians 4:7) — and fills you to the brim with His new wine, you will be changed! Oops, I’m giving away what happens next.

Verses 8-9 — Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter. So the servants took a sample to him. The headwaiter brought the bridegroom. Why? It had become wine. When did it become wine? When Jesus said, “Draw some out now.”

The servants knew they had drawn wine from clay pots they had filled with water. And they knew when He said, draw some and give it to the headwaiter, it was wine! They knew Jesus had done a miracle. It is impossible to change water to wine. It defies all natural law.

That is how God operates. The Bridegroom (John 3:29) gave the bridegroom new wine. The Bridegroom gives the church (His bride) His new wine.

Verse 10 — The bridegroom came to the headwaiter, who said the good stuff is served first, and the lower quality stuff is served later, when everyone has drunk freely. But look! This wine is excellent! You’ve kept the good wine until now!

Jesus is the good wine. He is the best. It was time for Him to be sent by the Father. And so He tastes better than anything previously experienced (Psalms 34:8, 1Peter 2:3)!

Verses 11-12 — So this was the beginning of the signs Jesus did in Cana and Galilee. And by them, God attested that Jesus is God the Son, and glorified Him by proving that He is God the Son. And as a result, His disciples believed in Him.

Then He went to Capernaum, the city He chose for the center of His ministry (Matthew 9:1).

Verse 13 — It was the Passover, a feast established when death passed over the Jews in Egypt, just prior to their release. Every Jewish man was required to be in Jerusalem for this feast. The place was packed with people.

Verse 14-17 — Jesus cleans house in the Temple. There was business going on there. But His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7), a holy place where such things were not done.

What was the business about? The pilgrims who had come for Passover needed sacrificial animals to offer in the Temple. The Jewish religious ones in the Temple, who sold the animals, cheated those who bought them. The Pilgrims were required to buy them with Temple money. So their Roman money had to be converted to Temple money. The weights and measures were rigged in favor of the Temple. So, if you gave them a dollar, they said it was worth only 50 cents in Temple money. Thus, they robbed the people. Well, that was one way they robbed them.

But they also robbed them of the experience of entering a holy, sacred place and sensing the presence of God. The Father surely was not present as they cheated His people.

Well, Jesus was not “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” as some of us have been taught. His disciples remembered later that it was written of Him in the Old Testament, “Zeal for Your house consumes Me” (Psalm 69:9). He is a righteous judge, and will someday judge the works of those who are His, and the works of those who do evil. You will see it in John 5.

He judged the robbers in this passage. Matthew 21:13 records that He called the Temple a den of robbers. Not only did they rob the people, but they used the Temple to plan their next caper.

I wonder how much robbery takes place in today’s churches, with the sale of trinkets, books, and cool coffee shops just outside their sanctuaries.

Verse 18 — The Jews wanted to know who gave Jesus the authority to cleanse the Temple. Who gave Him authority? The same One who gave Him authority to cleanse your temple (your heart) to make it a place where His Spirit dwells and has full rule and reign. You will see that in John 14. It is God who gives Jesus Christ authority. He is God’s Son.

Verse 19-21 — So, destroy My body, Jesus says, and I will rebuild it in three days. Yes, He did. He rose from the grave three days after He was crucified and placed in a tomb! But the Jews did not understand Him. They thought He meant the Temple, the building in Jerusalem. But the Apostle John makes it clear in Verse 21. He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Verse 22 — So, when Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, the disciples finally understood what He said in Verse 19. And they believed the Scripture (Hosea 6:2 and Isaiah 53:10) and the word Jesus spoke.

Verses 23-25 — So while Jesus was at the Passover, many believed in His name. They believed He was who He said He was. They believed because they saw the signs, the attesting miracles that proved that He is God the Son.

But Jesus did not entrust Himself to them (believe them), because He knew what was in all of mankind (in their hearts). (See Jeremiah 17:10.) He didn’t need anyone to explain man to Him. He Himself knew what was in man, way back from before Adam sinned, way back in beginning, before time was and before the earth was formed. He was the Lamb prepared before the world was founded (Revelation 13:8, King James Version). He knew man inside and out, because He made man. Through Him all things were created, at the command of the Father (Hebrews 1:2).

 

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COMMENTARY ON JOHN 1

NOTE: Please see John 3 notes for comments on 1:12-13. I missed saying anything about these verses in the commentary below.

The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!

Please bear with me while I get just a bit technical in parts of the first few verses of the Book of John. He wonderfully sets the foundation for faith in Jesus Christ, right from the start. Many have misinterpreted these verses over the centuries, so I asked the Lord to help me, by using some word definitions, put an end to all those misinterpretations.

Verse 1 — I could spend a week on this verse alone! In the beginning (literally, in beginning), before anything was created, was the Word.

The Word? What is that? You will see. This Word was literally geographically located with God somewhere. And this Word was God. This Word was divinity. This Word existed before anything was created.

How can this Word be located with God and be God? You will see.

Do you hear the echo from Genesis 1:1? In beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Verse 2 — He (literally, this one, the same one John has just described in Verse 1) was in beginning, before anything was created. This Word is a “He.”

Verse 3 — All things came into being (were created) through Him — through this Word. All things. Nothing was created until He created it. Nothing simply created itself. Nothing came into being and was created except through Him.

Verse 4 — In Him was life (zoe), defined as “life as God has it, eternal life.” And this zoe was the light of men. This life from this Word shone on men, like rays of light. It was luminous. It lit up this Word.

Verse 5 — This Word, this luminous, shining light, this one who had the life of God in Himself, shines — here and now —  in the darkness. Everything was in the past tense until this verse. His light shines here and now. But the darkness did not comprehend it. The darkness could not overcome it. The darkness could not seize it. The darkness could not perceive it. The darkness could not possess it.

Why? In the natural world,when you flip a switch in a dark room, the darkness goes away. It cannot remain in the presence of light. You will later see that darkness (a symbol or “type” for evil in the Book of John) flees when the light of this Word shines on it. It cannot remain in His presence.

Verses 6-8 — John the Baptist is introduced. He was sent from God. He was a prophet of God. His marching orders are in Isaiah 40.

John the Baptist came as a witness, as one who testifies. What was he going to testify about? This Light, this luminous one, this one who shined on people, this one that made darkness flee, this Word, this one who was both with God and at the same time was God, about Him. Why? So that through John the Baptist’s words, given to him by God, all might believe.

John the Baptist was not the Light, but John the Baptist came to testify about the Light. He came to say, “This is the Light!”

Verse 9 — There He was! The true Light, the Light who the Apostle John is writing about. This Light, this God, this one who was with God, CAME into the world. He entered the world, He appeared in the world. He was not from the world, or He would not have needed to enter it from somewhere else.

And this Light enlightens every man. He shines upon every man. This light is not in every human being, but it shines upon every human being. When it does, it brings light, and makes the human being able to see.

Verse 10 — He was in the world. He entered the world and was geographically located in it.

He made, He created the world. This one who entered the world was the Word, was God who created the world and was with God at the time it was created.

But the world (human beings in the world) did not know Him. They did not recognize the One who created the world. They saw Him standing before them, but they did not know Him or perceive Him as their Creator.

Verse 11 — He came into His own. Again, He came. He entered into and met up with His own. He met up with all He had created. He met up even with a particular people who were set apart from the rest of His creation. But they did not receive Him. They did not associate themselves with Him, they did not have any kind of relationship with Him. They did not take Him, they did not receive Him. The opposite of receive? Deny, renounce, turn away.

Why did He come? You will see.

Verses 12-13 — But whoever (as many as) received Him, associated themselves with Him and had a relationship with Him — they became children of God. Prior to receiving Him, they were not children of God. They became children of God when they received Him.

What exactly did they do to receive Him? They believed He was exactly Who He said He was. Who did He say He was? You will see. John says He was God, was with God before anything was created, and entered the world, and was the One who shone like a light in the darkness.

Verse 14 — Now I can answer who this Word is. He became flesh. He was not flesh to begin with, but became flesh. He took on a body —

Hebrews 10:5  Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,

But a body You have prepared for Me;

Psalms 40:6    Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;

My ears You have opened;

Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.

7  Then I said, “Behold, I come;

In the scroll of the book it is written of me.

8  I delight to do Your will, O my God;

Your Law is within my heart.”

Not only did He take on a body, but He dwelt (abided, stayed for a while) with us. “Us” means the writer of this gospel. “Us” means human beings, also.

And we saw His glory — John and the rest who saw Him and with whom He stayed for a while — saw His glory, His dignity, we experienced His weighty presence and His majesty which was deserving of honor and praise.

It wasn’t just any glory. It was glory given Him by the Father. Who is the Father? This is the first mention of a Father. This One is the only begotten (monogenes, which means always existing). This One is the Son.

This One is God, the Word that was with God in the beginning, and God is the Father of this One. Now you know the answer to the first question: How can this Word be located with God and be God? It is because God was the always existing Father of this always existing Word who was God. So we have God the Father, and God the Son — they are both God. They are not separate Gods. They are one God.

Genesis 1:26   Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Let Us — We make. The Hebrew word for “make” has a “we” on the end of it, in my Hebrew-to-English Bible. “We” is more than one. Both are God. They speak the same things, they do the same things. They are Father and Son, in one.

This is hard to “reason out” with the natural mind with which you were born. It is hard to grasp. But they operate as one and are both God, so they are God. Just accept it for now. You will see.

And this Word, this One who came, this Light, this Son of the Father, became flesh. He was not flesh before, but He became it.

He dwelled among us. He came here. He came to us. He stayed, He abided, until all that He had to do was finished.

He was full of grace and truth. He was completely filled with it. He was covered with it.

This Word was full of grace. What is grace? I looked it up. Most say grace is “unmerited favor.” But the Strong’s Dictionary says it is the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life. He was God, and filled with God, and His heart was entirely God’s, and it was reflected in His life. And He had a divine influence upon the hearts of humans, and on their lives. I like that!

This Word, was full of truth. What is this truth He was completely filled with? He concealed nothing. He was truthful. He told the truth about God. He was filled with truth and was the Truth, the embodiment of all that is truly true, not just truths humans have discovered, not truths espoused by philosophers or psychologists, but the truth regarding God. No other truth can compared with His truth, because His truth inwardly changes hearts and lives. You will see it.

Verse 15 — John the Baptist testified about Him, about this Word, about this Son. What did John say? “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.”

What does that mean? John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. But Jesus is greater than John the Baptist. Why? Jesus existed before John the Baptist.

But John the Baptist was conceived first. So John is not testifying of their natural age difference. He is saying this One existed before Him. Not “was created,” but “existed.” This One is the always existent Son of God.

Verses 16-17 — Of His fullness (a filled container in view) we all received (the disciples/apostles, including the writer of the Book of John). We were filled with Him, the Apostle John says. He filled us up with the same fullness He has. What was Jesus full of? You will see.

They also received grace upon grace (literally, grace for grace). The Apostles received this divine influence upon the heart, and it reflected in their lives. It was heaped up in them. Jesus gave it to them so they would give it to others. Jesus gave it to them so they would have an abundance of grace in their lives, and abundance of this divine influence upon the heart, reflected in their lives.

Why did they need this fullness? Because the Law was given through Moses. The necessary truth about God, the truth that there had to be a change of heart in humans was realized, came into being, and arose through Jesus Christ. He is the Giver, and we are the Receivers.

Verse 18 — No one has seen God at any time. No human has stood before God and then come to stand before men to say, “I went to God and saw Him.” When humans see God, they are judged, and those who are His remain with Him.

So how do we know what God is like? Through the only begotten, the Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father since He died and rose and was glorified and sat down at the right hand of the Father. This Son of God shows the Father to us, has explained God, declared God, told about God, and reported to us who God is.

Verses 19-24 — Here’s how John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus came about. The priests and Levites (sent by the Pharisees, per verse 24) asked him “Who are you?” Not the Christ (Daniel 9:25, Isaiah 53, etc.). Not Elijah  (1Kings 18). Not the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). Then who are you? John the Baptist quotes from his marching orders in Isaiah 40:3.

Verses 25-28 — So if you’re not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet, why are you baptizing, John the Baptist (in Bethany, by the Jordan, just a couple of miles outside Jerusalem)?

Let me tell you, he says. I’m baptizing in water, but One stands among you that you don’t know/recognize/acknowledge. He’s the One who comes after me. I’m not even worthy to untie the thong of His sandal. (He baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire, per Matthew 3:11.)

Verses 29-31 —-The next day, John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him. What did John say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Why did He come? To take away the sin of the world. He was to be a sacrificial Lamb, killed to remove sin. Not just one or two sins. Not just in some people and not others. But sin, the whole principle of sin, the whole nature of sin that is in humans, the thing that requires the grace, the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.

This is the One who is greater than me, who existed before me, even though I was conceived before Him, here on earth.

John the Baptist did not recognize, did not fully understand and know that Jesus was the Son of God until it was time for Jesus to be recognized by John the Baptist and the world as the Son of God, the Lamb who came from God the Father.

And this Son of God, this Lamb who would be a sacrifice for the sin in all of us, is the reason John the Baptist came baptizing. He prepared the way in hearts, by speaking a message of repentance from sins. That is the first step, for all of us.

We do not come to Christ because He does good things. We come to Christ because we need the change of heart that only He can do.

Verses 32-34 — I am an eyewitness that the Holy Spirit descended and did not come and go as with Old Testament Prophets, but remained on this One. The Spirit descended from heaven like a dove. Heaven is up. That is where the Holy Spirit comes from. The Holy Spirit gracefully descends. And beginning with Jesus Christ,    the Holy Spirit does not come and go. He comes and stays. How does that happen?

By baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire. Baptism with water reflects that a person repents for his way of life and turns from it. Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire is done by Jesus Christ, and it means the Holy Spirit comes and burns something up and fills you with the divine influence upon the heart, and it is reflected in your life. What does He burn up? The sin nature that the divine influence replaces.

John the Baptist says that God, who sent him to baptize with water per Isaiah 40, told John the sign he was to look for — the Holy Spirit descending and remaining. When John the Baptist saw it, that was His sign that Jesus was the One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John concludes his testimony, for the time being. I am an eyewitness. I have seen the sign. I have testified about this One, that this One is the Son of God. He is divine, He is God the Son.

Verses 35-37 — John the Baptist stood with two disciples. Jesus walked by, and John exclaimed again, “Behold the Lamb of God!” That was so these two would follow Jesus.

Verse 38-42 — Jesus saw them following. “What do you seek?” He’ll ask you that, too, when you start to follow Him. They call Him Rabbi, a term of respect for a teacher, and say they want to know where He is staying. That means they want to be with Him. It was about 4 p.m., our time.

He says, “Come, and you will see.” Well, they would see where He was for that day, and later, they would see where He really stays. They would see that He came from God the Father.

One of the two was Andrew, Simon’s brother. First, he went to find Simon, and said, “We have found the Messiah (which translated means Christ).” They had heard the words of John the Baptist and followed this One that John identified as the Christ. Then Andrew brought Simon to Jesus.

Jesus had never met Simon, but He knew his name and his father’s name — Simon bar Jonah, Simon the son of John. That’s because He came from God the Father, and was God the Son, in a human body. He gave him a new name. He will give you a new name too. It was Cephas (Peter), which means “a stone”). He will make you a stone, too, a living stone (1Peter 2:5).

Verses 43-51  — Jesus went to Galilee, and found Philip. He said, “Follow Me,” and Philip did so. Philip lived in the same city as Andrew and Simon Peter.

Philip found Nathaniel and told him this is the One Moses wrote about. This is the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18). This is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the son of Joseph. Philip didn’t know who He really was, yet.

Nazareth was on the northern edge of Judah. Many of its people were non-Jews (Gentiles), and were looked down upon by the Jews around Jerusalem. Galilee of the Gentiles was in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, and to them came God the Son, and when He came, He made it glorious (Isaiah 9:1), filled with God’s weighty presence.

So that is why Nathaniel asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” And Nathaniel said, “Come and see!”

As Jesus saw Nathaniel coming, He told Nathaniel he was an Israelite among Israelites. There was no guile in him. Nathaniel was not a plotter and schemer, not a conniver. He was honest. Jesus saw his heart, though Nathaniel had not yet uttered a word. That’s true for you, too. Nathaniel had nothing to hide. And if you are like him, you will hear those words from Jesus.

The words of Jesus touched Nathaniel. “How do you know me so very well, Jesus?” And Jesus tells him that He saw him under the fig tree. Jesus did not give up His powers when He came from God the Father. He could see hearts, and see where people were sitting, before they ever actually stood before Him. That’s true for you, too.

Nathaniel’s response should be our response. You really are the Son of God. Jesus says, you haven’t seen anything yet! I’ll do much greater things than what I just did with you. Truly, truly — IMPORTANT! You will see the heavens opened (to you) and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. What does that mean? Jacob’s ladder —

Genesis 28:12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Jacob saw, in his vision, a representation of what God would do many years later. God would make heaven, where the angels reside, open to everyone who would believe that Jesus is the Way, the Ladder. He is the Way to God the Father. He is the means by which heaven is opened and the means by which we may ascend to heaven.

 

THE TENTH LEPER

[SW223] 02/26/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“The Tenth Leper”

Texts: Luke 17:11ff, Leviticus 14:1ff

Jeff and I say of the ministry the Lord gave us, “Healing in every way.” What does that mean? You’ll see, with the tenth leper.

What was different about the tenth leper, compared with the other nine?

Ten men stood at a distance.  “Unclean! Unclean!” (See Leviticus 13:45.)

A mustard seed of faith — Jesus, MASTER, have mercy! “Master,” giving Him the honor He deserves, understanding His authority over them.

No cure for leprosy at that time.

He doesn’t say, “Be healed.” He says, “Go show (“as a testimony” per Matthew 8:4).

How did they all know what that meant?

Leviticus 14:1-3

The leper is outside the camp (Numbers 5:2).

When healed, he goes to the priest for a ceremony.

So Who healed him? The Lord, outside the camp!

Testimony? The Lord is outside the camp of the religious.

The Lord healed me there!

Back to the lepers in Luke 17 . . .

They all obeyed, and were healed AS THEY WERE GOING.

All were healed.

But the tenth leper:

Sees he’s healed

Turns back

Glorifies God with a big, intense voice

Worships Jesus Christ as God in the flesh (proskuneo)

Gives thanks

This one is a foreigner — a Samaritan, a despised one, a worshiper of many gods, including the Lord.

Kinda like me, before Jesus healed me.

Where are the rest? They were healed, too.

They went to the priest for the ceremony.

But they never turned back, glorified God loudly, worshiped and gave thanks to their Healer.

So what happened to the tenth leper, after he turned back?

“Stand up and go! Your faith has saved you.”

This one was healed in every way —

Of the leprosy, as he acted and obeyed!

Of the sin-caused chasm between him and the Lord, when he was saved!

Of the power of sin, because I am sure he was among those who were filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost!

And now I ask you — are you standing at a distance? Will you ask Him to heal you in every way, giving Him the honor He deserves as One who has authority over all things, including you?

Will you act and obey on His Word?

RESTORERS OF RUINS

[SW220] 02/12/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Restorers of Ruins”

Nehemiah’s name means, “Yahweh comforts.” Jesus Christ wants you to see that, when you are filled with the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, you will have a front row seat to watch Him work through you to restore ruins!

Texts: Nehemiah excerpts

Chapter 1 specific phrases:

v. 2 — I asked them concerning the Jews . . .

Has the Lord put it on your heart to be concerned about the state of your fellow human beings? Then He is calling you. It is a call to every Christian on the planet.

What is He calling you to?

v. 3 — The report: Great distress, broken down, burned . . .

You will hear a report that your fellow human beings are in great distress. They are in ruins — their walls and gates of protection are broken down by the enemy of our souls. Why? There are so many reasons, there were so many reasons for me, but the bottom line is sin. All have sinned and have fallen short of (lack) the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But He means to restore ruins, and put His glory in them!

v. 4 & 6 — I sat down and wept and mourned, fasting and praying, day and night;

All Israel and I and my father’s house have sinned . . .

The first step for restoration of ruins is for the restorers to weep, mourn, fast and pray day and night, and to confess the sin of those who are in ruins.

Even though Nehemiah was either born in captivity in Babylon, or just a child when captured, he confessed the sin of him and his fathers, though he had not sinned as they had. But he took upon himself their suffering, and carried his burden to the Lord, in prayer.  Sound like Anyone we know? It will be the description of you, when you become a restorer of ruins.

v. 8 — Remember the word, “If you return to Me . . .”

After weeping and mourning, fasting and praying, you may humbly remind the Lord of His promise that, if even you would repent and confess the sins of those who are in ruins, they would turn and He would gather them and bring them back to Himself.

v. 11 — Grant compassion with the king . . .

We serve a compassionate Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. If you go to Him on behalf of those who are in ruins, you will experience His great compassion for them; you will be inwardly moved, as He is.

Chapter 2 specific phrases:

v. 3 — City lies desolate, consumed by fire . , ,

Report to the Lord that you see the desolation, the burned-out ruins.

v. 4 — What would you request? I prayed to the God of heaven . . .

Pray to the God of heaven. He asked the blind man, “What do you want Me to do?” The man said, “Restore my sight!” And Jesus did. And He will show you favor, when you ask Him. Ask Him what?

v. 5-6 — Send me, that I may rebuild it, so it pleased the king to send me . . .

Ask Him to send you. If your cry is, “Here am I. Send me,” the Lord will do it. That cry is always the cry of those who are Spirit-filled, who readily see the ruins of other lives. They are outward-focused, compelled to bless others, to let Christ use them to restore!

v. 7-8 — Letters that they may allow me to pass through, letter to Asaph for timber for beams for gates, the wall of the city, and the house to which I will go.

Tell the Lord exactly what is needed to restore the ruins. You need help to get through Satan’s territory. You need strong foundation-building material — the very Word of God and the power of God — to rebuild gates, walls, and houses.

v. 9 — The king sent me with officers of the army and horsemen . . .

The King of kings will give you more than you ask for. He is the God of more than enough. He will send protecting angels with you, the very hosts over whom He is Lord.

v. 10 — Very displeasing to enemies . . .

Satan will be upset when he hears the news that restoration is on the way.

v. 11 — Night, told no one what my God was putting into my heart . . .

Without making it known, go about the ruins of each life, take note of the damage. Let the ruined ones speak. Be still. Let them pour out their hearts to you. God has put something in your heart, but it’s not time to tell them until you compassionately listen to them tell you about their ruins.

v. 17 — You see the bad situation . . . come, let us rebuild so we are no longer a reproach . . .

Society unfailingly disapproves of and shuns people whose lives are in ruins. But you will hear a word from the Holy Spirit, “You see the ruins. Come, let us rebuild!” And when the ruins are restored, there will be no more shunning. Instead, the world will want to know how the ruined one became restored. That’s the whole plan!

v. 18 —The hand of my God had been favorable. Let us arise and rebuild!

The hand of your God is favorable, Spirit-filled Christian. You will say, with the Holy Spirit, “Let us arise and rebuild!”

Chapter 3:

All build in unity . . .

It is not a superficial, outward unity, but an inward unity of heart that only God can work IN us (John 17:21, 26).

Chapter 4 —

v. 1 & 3 Enemy furious, very angry, mocking, casting doubt . . .

When he sees the work begin, the enemy of our souls will be furious and very angry. He will mock and cast doubt. But you will listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and continue your work. You will run from the voice of the enemy. His voice is nothing like your Good Shepherd’s voice. Spirit-filled Christian, you know Satan is a liar and the father of lies. There is no truth in him. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1John 4:4). Rebuke Satan, in the name of Jesus.

v. 6-8 — So we built the wall to half its height. The repair (healing) of the walls, further enemy threats . . .

You will reach the halfway point in completion of the restoration of the one who is in ruins. The report of the repair (I love that the Hebrew word means “healing”) reaches the enemy’s ears, and he threatens to attack and kill.

v. 9 & 14—  But we prayed to our God, remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight . . .

But you pray and fight! You are equipped with God’s own armor that He has tailored to fit you perfectly! You fight with the sword of Spirit which is the Word of God, and with prayer.

Chapter 6

v. 8 — The enemy spreads lies. But now, O God, strengthen my hands . . .

Satan will try to spread lies about you. But you will pray, and the Lord will strengthen you.

v. 10 — Enemy temptation to sin, I perceived God had not sent him

The enemy will tempt you to sin in order to escape enemy capture, but you will perceive that the one tempting you is really a mouthpiece for Satan (knowingly or unknowingly). So you will not sin.

v. 15 — The wall was completed in fifty-two days . . .

You, the restorer of ruins, will complete the rebuilding in a miraculously short period of time!

How wonderful! How exciting! Hear the promise from the Lord in Isaiah, for Christians who cease their inward focus and look outward, because they have asked the Lord to fill them with His Spirit and God’s actual love —

Isaiah 58:12  “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;

You will raise up the age-old foundations;

And you will be called the repairer of the breach,

The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

Christian, put away your outward piety. The Lord is not impressed by it. Ask Him to clean you up on the inside, to fill you with His Spirit, and then your eyes will be opened to see the ruins around you. And you will have a front-row seat to watch Him use you to restore them!

I know about ruins, beloved. First I was in ruins from drugs, and God graciously restored me after I cried out in the middle of the night. Then, many years later, I was in ruins from MS — feet paralyzed, legs partially paralyzed, bladder paralyzing, knotted muscles no muscle relaxant could ease, severe tremors in my head, eyesight ever decreasing, and cognitive dysfunction — I could not think.

Are you in ruins? Pastor Doc was the restorer God used for my ruins. He asked about me, so the Lord gave him the report of my ruins. Then Jesus gave him a vision of me healed. Pastor Doc wept and prayed and fasted, He asked the King for all he needed to pass through enemy territory and rebuild me, and it was done in a miraculously short period of time!

Those in ruins, I have seen you. I have heard the bad report. I am always weeping, praying and fasting for you. And I will pray with you now.

π

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.

 

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.