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.

 

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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!

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.

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.

MARK 10 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.

So what does the Holy Spirit want us to see in this chapter? The effects of blindness.

Verses 1-12 — Jesus is teaching. He does not only heal and deliver, but He teaches. Take heed of His words, and you will be blessed, indeed!

Of course, the blind Pharisees do not receive the truth that Jesus is teaching. The effects of blindness! They are only present because they very much want to make Him stumble in His words. So they ask about divorce. I am sure they were being convicted of their sin, as He spoke.

At that time, Jewish men with roving eyes divorced their wives for the slightest thing — maybe the food was not hot when she served it. That way, they could marry the one that caught their eye. So they used the law Moses wrote (not God) regarding divorce, for their own selfish interests. Moses wrote that law because Israel’s hearts were hardened, even then.

Jesus says that law was written because their hearts were hardened. What does it mean to have a hardened heart? It means you follow the letter of the law, but you use it for self-interest.

A person (I’ll use the pronoun “he,” just to make it easier) goes to church and does good works like feeding and clothing the poor, singing in the choir and going to the church every time the door is open. Others admire him and say, “What a great guy!”  Yet he is secretly disobedient to God, sinning against Him in private.

And if a friend comes and speaks to him about the state of his soul, the friend is rejected and rebuffed. The great guy doesn’t want anyone to make him feel bad about what he is doing. He just wants to keep doing what he’s doing. It was the same with the Jews and divorce for selfish purposes, and Jesus was the Friend they rejected and rebuffed.

After Jesus reminds the Pharisees of why Moses made a divorce law, He uses the Word of God to remind them of the heart of God. Male and female, a man leaving his father and mother, the two (male and female) becoming one flesh. Then Jesus says, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” That is God’s heart and that is a command.

The disciples privately question Jesus about what He means. If you are a man and divorce your wife so you can marry another woman, you commit adultery, He says. If a woman divorces her husband so she can marry another man, she commits adultery, He says.

Notice the reason Jesus calls divorce adultery, in this case. Lust. You have your eye on someone else. You lust after that one. So you divorce your husband or wife. That is adultery. That is exactly what the Jews (including some of the Pharisees) were doing at the time Jesus walked the earth.

Jesus says,”Let no man separate.” Let no man or woman separate. Husband, do not lust after another woman who will separate you from your wife, and wife, do not lust after another man who will separate you from your husband.

Instead, ask God, by His Holy Spirit, to fill and thereby purify your heart so you have no desire for anyone but your own spouse. Amen!

I do not believe that a man or woman whose husband is incurably unfaithful (after counseling is attempted), or abusive, is held to this commandment of Jesus Christ. Such situations have nothing to do with roving, lustful, adulterous eyes.

I support that belief with scripture, and Jeff’s and my case —

1Corinthians 7:15 and 7:24 speak of what happens when you are married and you become a believer. Your husband or wife does not believe, and they leave you. It is not a sin to let them go and to divorce them to avoid legal issues later. You are not bound to them, in the eyes of God. And when you come to the Lord, you remain in whatever condition you were in when you believed. If you are a divorced unbeliever who married another divorced unbeliever, you don’t leave them when you come to faith in Jesus Christ. He forgives those sins.

Jeff and I were both divorcees. We did not know the Lord. We got married. Then we became believers. All of our past sins were forgiven, praise God!

Jeff did not divorce his first wife because he liked me better. He didn’t even know me. Jeff’s first wife abandoned him. I did not divorce my first husband because I liked Jeff better. I didn’t even know Jeff. I divorced my first husband because he beat me until I bled internally. I didn’t have a roving eye, but I had a black and blue body! If we were adulterers in God’s eyes, Jesus never would have healed me, and He never would have filled Jeff and me with His Spirit.

Verses 13-16 — The Pharisees were so blind they couldn’t receive the truth Jesus was teaching.  Now the blindness continues, this time with the disciples. They do not see the kingdom of God that Jesus had told them about previously. They do not understand that little children are as welcome as any others. Everyone is welcome! They see the children as a bother, and rebuke those who bring their children so Jesus can touch them. Do you know what “touch” means? To put a light in them, to set them on fire (with His presence)! The disciples rebuke people for bringing their children so Jesus can put a light in them! Now that’s blindness, a blindness Jesus heals when He fills us with His Spirit. Then we understand, then we see.

So Jesus tells them they have it all wrong. Do not hinder them, let them come! The kingdom of God belongs to those who are like little children before Me! As a matter of fact, if you don’t receive My kingdom like a child, you won’t enter it at all.

What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a child? Complete trust in God. If a family functions as God designed it, a child trusts his father and mother completely. That requires a humble heart. The child knows he can’t fix what’s wrong, but if he brings it to his father or mother, it will be fixed. And the child seeks an innocent intimacy with his parents — appropriate hugs and kisses.

Jesus is saying you cannot be a child of God unless you trust God the Father, even to the point where you tell Him your greatest perplexities and problems, trusting that He will take care of them, and you, knowing that He is a perfect Father. That requires a humble heart. You know you can’t fix what’s wrong, but you know He can. A child of God seeks holy intimacy with God, a holy embrace between Him and His child.

The disciples can’t see that yet, because they are not filled with the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God hasn’t come to them with power, yet. But it will.

Verse 17-27 — Now we see another kind of blindness. A rich young man comes up to Jesus, calling Him “Good Teacher.” Jesus immediately says only God is good. His implicit question is this — do you call me good because you know I am God the Son?

Jesus speaks the last six commandments. So do you do good things, rich young man? And the young man proudly says, I keep all six of them. I do good things. But notice that Jesus doesn’t ask him if he does the first four commandments, which relate to love for God.

Jesus feels love for ones who are physically blind, and He feels love for ones who are spiritually blind and don’t know it. This young man doesn’t see that God must be in you, working through you, in order for you to do the kind of good that God does.

Jesus knows what issue God has with the young man. He is rich. That is his idol. That is his god. So sell everything and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then you can come and follow Me! Jesus knows what the response will be — sadness and retreat, because the young man knows he can’t let go of all of his property. The young man’s riches are his god, but he is blind and can’t see it. The effect of his blindness is that he cannot enter the kingdom.

So he does not follow Jesus, and Jesus does not go after him, either. Instead, Jesus exclaims that it is hard to enter the kingdom of God. Even harder than a camel going through the eye of a needle. He means this literally. It looks impossible.

The entrance to the kingdom of God is not large and grandiose, with a wide path. It has just a small gate, and the way is narrow, and few find it (Matthew 7:14). Few! It is hard to enter. You must be humble.

The disciples are not humble, so they do not understand. Then no one can be saved, they imply, when they say, “Then who can be saved?”

Then Jesus tells us that what looks impossible to man is possible for God. All things are possible with God!

IMPORTANT POINT:  Jesus means this in every way — All things are possible with God. With God, it is possible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, for the proud to be made humble, for the spiritually blind to see, for the incurably sick to be healed and for the demon-possessed to be delivered. With God, it is even possible for a human heart to be filled with God’s actual love!

Verses 28-31 — As usual, Peter (and the rest of the disciples) try to figure out what Jesus means, and Peter takes a stab at it. We’ve left everything! That’s not what Jesus is talking about. The requirement for a humble heart, in order to enter the kingdom of God, is the point He’s making. It isn’t about giving up things. It’s about giving up YOURSELF!

But He tells them (and you) that if, for His sake and the gospel’s sake, you leave your house and your family (He doesn’t mean permanent separation from family) and your work, you will receive 100 times as much now — houses, family, houses, and jobs. All of the coming church will share what they have, every church member will be your brother or sister or mother, every child of a child of God will be like your own, everyone’s home will be your home! That was true of the early church, but as you may have noticed, that is not true in today’s church, because there are proud and spiritually blind ones among us.

And you will also endure persecution, but ultimately, eternal life! It’s a narrow way. Unless you love the world system, it will not love you and it will come against you, even violently (John 15:18-20). They can kill your body, dear one, but you’ll simply go on to be in heaven forever.

But many who are first will be last. The first to have the offer was the Jews. The Pharisees are blind. The young man is blind. The effect of their blindness is that they will not be the first to enter. But the humble ones are able to see, so they will be the first to enter.  And the last to see will be the last to enter.

Verses 32-45 — Now Jesus walks ahead of His disciples, not with them. He is on a mission to get to Jerusalem. They follow, astonished at His behavior and His words. And they are both alarmed and in awe. And with greater detail than ever, Jesus once again tells them that He will be killed and rise three days later.

The blindness of the disciples is once again obvious. James and John want preferential treatment, when Jesus reigns on the earthly throne they are expecting. He will come into Jerusalem on a white horse, and the Romans will be defeated. Their behavior is not humble. They think they deserve to have their request honored by Jesus. Their self interest is clearly in view. It will be to their advantage to have the King’s ear.

He tells them they don’t know what they’re asking. Can they take His cup — a baptism of death? Blindly they say, “We are able.” They don’t know what He’s talking about.

But He tells them they will experience a baptism of death. It will happen at Pentecost, when they die to all of their pride and self-interest. That’s the baptism they will undergo. That’s the cup they will drink. For James, his physical body will die when he is martyred for his faith, with a sword. John will live on, to receive the Revelation before his physical body dies a natural death.

Again, He admonishes them that none is better than any other of them. They must be humble, serving one another, not trying to “best” one another, not trying to jockey for position.

Do you want to be first, He says? Then be a slave to everyone, just as I am!

I did not come for you to serve Me, but to serve you by dying for you, in your place, taking your punishment upon Me; rising again, that you may have eternal life; and pouring out the Holy Spirit, so your spiritual blindness may be healed!

Verses 46-52 — Bartimaeus (whose name means “son of one who is highly prized”) is blind, but he can see before he sees! He knows that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. How do I know that? The crowd says, “It’s Jesus the Nazarene,” but he calls Him by a Messianic title: Jesus, Son of David. Have mercy on me!

Everyone wanted him to be quiet, to leave the Master alone. They spoke sternly and harshly to Bartimaeus. But he kept shouting!

Keep shouting! Pay no attention to persecution from those who are yet blind.

He will have mercy on you, when you see Him for who He really is, and cry out for mercy and refuse to stop crying out!

Jesus heard him calling, and said to the crowd, “Call him here.” And the crowd said, “Take courage (comfort, be of good cheer), stand up! He is calling for you!”

When you refuse to stop calling out to Him, He will call for you and you will be of good cheer. Bartimaeus’ continuous calling out was an indication of his faith. He knew he was coming to his Healer!

He threw aside his cloak, which was probably everything he owned. He was a blind beggar. The alms he received were likely stored there. But he didn’t care! He jumped up! He didn’t just slowly rise. He jumped! And he came to Jesus, feeling his way through the crowd. Can you see it! He was desperate!

Jesus asks a seemingly foolish question. The man is obviously blind, yet Jesus asks him what he wants Jesus to do for him!

What do you want Jesus to do for you? He wants you to tell Him, just like when I had MS and I had to tell Him what was wrong in my brain and spinal cord, what needed to be healed and recreated. It was an act of faith to tell Him. And so it was for Bartimaeus, the blind man who could see, even before he was healed!

And the man said, “Rabboni (Teacher, a title of respect), I want to regain my sight!”

And Jesus says, “Go! Your faith has made you well.” Does that mean the faith Bartimaeus exhibited had some kind of healing power? No! It means that his faith brought him to the One who heals. So, in that sense, his faith made him well. When?

Immediately! Immediately! No waiting! When you have faith, when you know Who you are coming to, the Christ, the Son of God, when you know He is able to heal you and you are so desperate that you’ll throw away everything when He calls your name —

immediately! At that moment, not when he had faith, but when he stood before Jesus and healing power went forth from Jesus. Immediately!
I challenge you, because I love you with God’s own love — if you say, “I can’t wait until Jesus heals me,” you are not yet desperate, and I will tell you that He is waiting for you to come to Him.

Immediately he regains his sight. His response? Does he just walk away? Does he just say, “Thanks, Jesus, now I have my life back.” No! He immediately began following Jesus on the road. Will you?

 

I STAND IN AWE

[SW213] 12/24/2015 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2015

“I Stand In Awe”

I have a song in my heart, a song of the gospel of Jesus Christ! It goes far beyond the manger . . .

Silent night, with velvet sky . . . a baby born to die —

John 10:17 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”

John 12:27   “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”

His life was given . . . a debt to pay —

Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,  14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

You were sent to save, Jesus, You were sent to save — 

Matthew 1:21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Acts 2:21  ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Gift of God to all the earth

John 3:16   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

To redeem mankind

1Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,  19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

The angels speak, the humble hear

Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

And You draw them near, so near, and You draw them near

John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”

Unthinkable, Your sacrifice, on the cross it was done —

Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

Philippians 2:5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness. 8  And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!

You rose and sent Your Spirit Lord, to fill each willing heart, You will, fill each willing heart — 

John 20:16 Jesus  said to her, “Mary!” She turned and  said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).  17 Jesus  said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene  came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

Romans 1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Acts 1:5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” . . . 8  but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Acts 5:32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

For all You did, and all You are, O glorious, brilliant Morningstar —

Revelation 22:16   “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

I stand in awe, what can I do, but bow and praise and worship You!

John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”

You, too, will stand in awe, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. And you, too, will bow and praise and worship Him!