COMMENTARY ON JOHN 4

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!

Chapter 4 gives us a glimpse of what Jesus will do in human hearts, if we ask Him. And we see the power of giving testimony vs. Jesus actual words, and a miraculous healing. Jesus’ influence goes far beyond all we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)!

Verses 1-2 — Jesus knew the Pharisees would persecute Him for making and baptizing even more disciples than John the Baptist. He was an even bigger threat to their religious power structure. And note that Jesus’ disciples baptized, but He did not. Why? His is not water baptism, but baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Verses 3-6 — Jesus began a long journey into Galilee, and passed through Samaria (36 miles from Jerusalem). He came to Sychar, a large city in Samaria. Jacob’s well was there. The reference may be to Genesis 26:22ff, and the well Jacob named “Rehoboth,” (broad place). Jesus is about to show many people the broad place (place of liberty) that is the kingdom of God.

He was weary from the long journey, and sat alone by the well, at noon. The disciples had gone into the city to purchase food (see verse 8).

Verses 7-8 A woman came to draw water at an unusual time of day; normally, water is drawn at sunset. In a few verses, we’ll find out why she came at noon. Jesus simply said, “Give Me a drink.”

Verses 9-10 — The Samaritan woman pointed out that Jews don’t talk with Samaritans. So why did Jesus speak to her? The people of Samaria worshiped God and other gods (see 2Kings 17:24-41), so they were shunned by the Israelites. But Jesus said that if she knew  1) the gift of God and 2) who it was that said, ‘Give me a drink,’ she would have asked Him and He would have given her living water.

It sounds like a riddle, but it isn’t. He is the gift of God to the world (John 3:16). And so He had much more to offer her than she could offer to Him. She could quench His natural thirst with water from the cistern, but His living water is the Holy Spirit (see John 7:37-39), a never-ending fountain of God’s eternal life and power!

Verses 11-12 — She wondered how He could give her water. When she asked, she was thinking of natural water. She likely had a jug with her, and a rope to lower it down into the well (Greek phrear, a hole in the ground, a cistern). He was empty-handed, so how could He give her this living water? Was He greater than “our father,” Jacob (indicating she was a descendant of Abraham), who gave them this well?

Verses 13-15 — Jesus told her that everyone who drinks of the natural water from Jacob’s well will thirst again. It is just natural water.

But His living water is not natural water. And whoever drinks of the water He will give (through the baptism of the Holy Spirit), will never thirst again. How do I know it is the baptism of the Holy Spirit He is speaking of, and not the first step, which is salvation through faith in Christ? Because John identifies this living water as the Holy Spirit WHO WAS NOT YET GIVEN BECAUSE JESUS WAS NOT YET GLORIFIED (restored to His original position at the right hand of God the Father). That living water was given in Acts 2, baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire.

When you are filled with God, He is an unending source. The water He will give will become “like a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Eternal life is the water in His fountain! [NOTE: My translation, the NASB, says “well,” but the original Greek is “fountain.”] Cisterns will run dry. His fountain springs up, gushes, and leaps! What gushes forth? Eternal life! It is the rushing, flood-stage rivers of eternal life flowing from our innermost beings, as in John 7:38, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It flows out to others, and yet we never run dry!

The woman then asked Jesus for His water, but she was still thinking in the natural. She didn’t want to have to come all the way to the cistern to draw water. He said if she drank His water, she’d never thirst again. So she wanted His water.

Verses 16-19 — Now we find out why the woman came alone to draw water at noon rather than sunset, like the others in Sychar. Jesus changed the subject on her, to drive home the fact that He wasn’t talking about natural things. He  told her to call her husband, knowing full well that she has had five husbands, and the man she now had was not her husband.

She said, “I have no husband.” He then told her what had transpired in her life, though this was the first time they had met. And she understood that He was from God and called Him a prophet. There was no other way for Him to know her history. It was because of her history, because she was an adulteress, that she was shunned by the people of her city and forced to go out to the well at noon, the hottest part of the day.

Verse 20 — The woman told Jesus that her ancestors worshiped on the mountain where Sychar was located. God was worshiped in Samaria, at one time. But then many gods were worshiped there, and the Lord sent Northern Israel into exile in Assyria, except for a small remnant. She called into question worship of God on the mountain versus God in Jerusalem. The Jews said God could only be worshiped in Jerusalem, because the Temple was there, signifying God’s presence, in the Holy of Holies.

Verses 21-22 — Jesus responded by saying, “Believe Me.” If you will believe Him today, He will show you that the time is not only coming, but is now here (see Verse 23), when you are able to worship God the Father regardless of where you are geographically, be it the Temple, a church, or a dungeon (see Acts 16:25). This is the first time “the Father” is used in John 4. There is the Father, and then there is Jesus.

In Samaria’s worship of God, they omitted the historical books of the Old Testament (Tenakh), as well as the Prophets and the Psalms. They did not know the full Word of God, so they did not know God.

But “we” worship what we know, He said. The Jews worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and did not omit any of the Tenakh.

And He said salvation comes from the Jews. What did He mean? The Messiah (the Christ) was prophesied to be a Jew, born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Isaiah prophesies, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,” followed by many Messianic titles (Isaiah 9:6-7). So from a Jewish mother and the Holy Spirit comes Jesus Christ the Jew, the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the Savior of both Jew and Gentile (non-Jew), the gift of God to whoever will repent and believe in Him.

Verses 23-24 — Referring back to Verse 21, Jesus said an hour NOW IS when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. They will not just go through the motions and say the right words (lip service). They will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and will truly worship Him, because God the Holy Spirit is in them, leading them into true worship. No more rote rites or mouthing words, but the Spirit, large and in charge, connecting us to the Father and the Son 24/7!!! Halleujah!!!

God the Father is spirit — He is not human — and those who worship Him MUST worship Him in this way, and in truth — truly worship, not just outward acts and not just knowing “Christian-ese.”  It is essential to be filled with the Holy Spirit, after salvation, in order to worship God as He commands.

Verses 25-26 — The woman began to make the connection. First, she identified Him as a  prophet, but then she remembered that Messiah was coming. He would know everything, too, just like this Jesus.

And Jesus said, “I who speak to you am.” He is saying I am the I AM, I am God the Son, the always existent One. I am the One who spoke My name to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). I am God, and was with God before I was sent here. I am the Messiah.

Verse 27 — The disciples returned with food, and found Jesus talking with a woman, and a Samaritan at that! Just the two of them, alone! Oh, the shame! Yet no one questioned Him.

Verse 28-30 — The woman now realized that this Jesus was the Messiah, and left her waterpot (that would be like you leaving your wallet or smart phone) and went into the city. She testified that Jesus told her everything about herself, and asked, “Is this the Christ?”  They went out of the city and came to Him.

Verse 31-34 — The disciples were like I used to be. They were focused on food, on bringing Jesus food, on the questions in their minds about Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman. “Rabbi, eat,” they said.

So He told them that they didn’t know what nourishes Him and satisfies Him. They wondered if someone already brought Him food.

So Jesus made it very clear that what nourishes and satisfies Him is to do the will of God the Father and accomplish the Father’s work. What is God’s will and God’s work? Speaking to the woman, revealing that He is the Messiah, and her testimony causing the whole city to come to see Him and be saved!

Verse 35-37 — Jesus corrects His disciples’ focus. Lift up your eyes and look on the fields! The saying in Israel and among the disciples themselves was, “Four months and then the harvest.” He said, “That’s what YOU say!” That was the natural harvest. But God’s harvest is here and now and continual. The fields are white (the color of the heads of grain)! Lift up your eyes and look!

Already those who reap God’s harvest are being paid and are gathering fruit for life eternal. Salvation is already happening!

If we look and see and act, we will find that the one who sows the gospel seed and the one who reaps (leads a person to salvation) are able to rejoice together. The sowing and reaping can happen one after the other, with no waiting! One will sow, and another will reap. It is an immediate harvest. The seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful! It is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16)!

Already! There is an urgency in Jesus’ words! Don’t be lazy. Your pay awaits! The fields are ready! Get out there! Lift up your eyes! Look!

Matthew 9:38 adds that they should beseech (beg) the Lord of the harvest (Jesus Christ) to send out workers into His harvest. The word “send out” means “eject, thrust out!” Urgency!

He said He sent His disciples to reap that which you haven’t worked for. I am the Sower (Matthew 13:3), I have done the work, and you get to reap what I sow. You have entered into My labor.

I have personally experienced His words in this verse. Those who have come to salvation through an encounter with me were prepared in advance by Him. I had very little to do with it — all I had to do was be there. Their hearts were already prepared, sometimes through words the Lord spoke through me, and sometimes entirely apart form me. Therefore, I cannot boast, except in Jesus Christ. Amen!

Verses 39-42 — The first action of the residents of Sychar was to respond to the woman’s testimony about Jesus being the Messiah. They went out to Him. He stayed there two days. And when they heard His words, they no longer needed to rely on the woman’s testimony. They knew Jesus Christ was the One, the Savior of the world. My NAS Bible stops there, I don’t know why they omitted the additional two words in the original Greek — “the Christ.” Those are essential words. No Bible translation is perfect, but the NASB is generally pretty accurate compared with the original texts. They certainly missed this one, though.

Verses 43-45 — Jesus completed His journey to Galilee. He knew and stated in other Gospel accounts that a prophet has no honor in His own country (where He was brought up). Everyone knew Him as the carpenter, the son of Mary and Joseph (Mark 6:3).

So Galilee’s residents welcomed Him, because they had been at the Feast of Passover in Jerusalem (John 2:13) and had seen what He had done — cleansing the Temple, and the miracles that are in the other Gospel accounts.

Verses 46-47 — Jesus went to Cana, where He had done the sign (attesting miracle) of changing water to wine. A royal official approached him. His son was at Capernaum, sick, at the point of death. He begged Jesus to come and heal him.

Verses 48-54 — Jesus replied that the Jews won’t believe He is who He says He is, unless they see signs. They had no faith in His words and His exhortations to repent and believe. They were accepted by them only because of the signs He did. It is still true today. So sad! We won’t bow at His words, but we are wowed by His wonders.

The royal official persisted, even with the rebuke of Jesus. He said, “Sir (not Lord or Rabbi), come!” Heal my child before he dies!

So Jesus said, “Go, your Son lives.” Jesus did not have to be physically present in order to heal and deliver. Time and space do not inhibit God’s ability to act. He can do it from anywhere! I was not healed of the incurable disease MS in a church, but in my living room, in the middle of the night —  just the Lord Jesus Christ and me.

And the man believed Jesus’ words — when Jesus commands, it must be so. So he turned toward home, but his slaves met him and told him his son was living. When did it happen? Exactly at the hour Jesus said, Your Son lives. And the royal official and his whole household believed in Jesus Christ.

This was a second sign. At the end of the Book of John, he tells us that Jesus did so many more signs and wonders that there aren’t enough books in the world to record them all (John 21:25). But the Holy Spirit directed John to use a specific set of miracles in his gospel. Why? John 20:30-31 tells us these have been written so you would believe Jesus is the Christ and would have life as God has it, eternal life.

Advertisements

MIRACLES CAUSE REPENTANCE

[SW224] 03/04/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“Miracles Cause Repentance”

The purpose of the miracles Jesus Christ did when He walked the earth was to cause people to repent, turning to God. What do you receive when you repent? What happens if you don’t repent?

Texts: Matthew 11:20-30, Matthew 9

In Matthew 11:23, Jesus singled out Capernaum. Why did Jesus tell them they would go down to Hades, and that Sodom would have it easier on the day of judgment than them?

Chorazin and Bethsaida aren’t specifically mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as Jesus walked the earth, but Matthew 9 records what happened in Capernaum, His own city (Matthew 9:1), his ministry’s base camp.

Amazing miracles were done by Jesus in Capernaum —

Matthew 9:1-8 — A paralytic, brought by his friends, was forgiven of his sin and instantly healed of his paralysis! The crowds were awestruck (struck with the fear of God), and glorified God. That is, they believed this miracle done by Jesus was a “God work,” and praised God for it. They repented, turning to God.

Matthew 9:20-22 — A woman with an issue of blood was healed of her illness when she touched His garment and was saved when she fell down before Jesus to worship and praise Him! She repented, humbling herself and turning to God.

Matthew 9:18, 23-26 — The synagogue official came to Jesus, bowed down before Him in worship, and asked Him to raise his daughter from the dead. And she was raised from the dead! He humbled himself and repented, turning to God.

Matthew 9:27-31 — Two blind men approached Jesus, called Him “son of David,” believing He was the Christ, the Messiah, and believing He could heal them. And Jesus opened their eyes. Then they broadcast everywhere that Jesus had set them free! They repented, honoring Him as the Christ, and turning to God.

Matthew 9:32-33 — Jesus cast out a demon from a deaf and mute man. This had never been done before. Jewish exorcists had to know the name of the demon to cast it out. This man could not speak the name of the demon because he was mute. But that was no problem for God the Son. The crowds were amazed and exclaimed, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” They repented, honoring Jesus and turning to God

Matthew 9:35 — Jesus went through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness!

BUT, that’s not all that happened in Capernaum —

Matthew 9:3 — When Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” the scribes, who thought they were wise and intelligent, did not rejoice and praise God. They did not repent and turn to God. They said among themselves, “He blasphemes.” Jesus told them they were thinking evil in their hearts. He knew their thoughts. These had a form of religion, while denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5), and they accused God the Son of blaspheming God the Father.

Matthew 9:10-13 — When Jesus went to sinners to eat, drink and speak the gospel to them, the Pharisees spoke to His disciples and rebuked Him. They did not rejoice that sinners were hearing how they could be reconciled to God and their sins could be forgiven. They did not repent and turn to God.

In response, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing only outward religious acts (ritual sacrifices), but lacking compassion. He also accused them of being self-righteous, because they thought they could keep themselves clean by not having contact with sinners.

Matthew 9:34 — After the demon was cast out of the deaf and mute man, the Pharisees were saying that Jesus cast out demons by the ruler of the demons, Satan. They directly blasphemed the Holy Spirit by attributing the Spirit’s work to Satan (Mark 3:29). They did not repent and turn to God.

Matthew 9:36 — Jesus felt compassion for the people, because they were distressed and thrown down and were like sheep without a shepherd. The scribes and Pharisees never set a captive free, as He did.

Matthew 11:18 — Jesus’ accusers said He was a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners! Amen! I am glad He was a friend to me, and forgave me and delivered me from my sin!

And as for John the Baptist, they accused him of having a demon. That was because he called them to repentance.They never repented and turned to God.

The consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ as God the Son:

Matthew 11:20-24 — Denunciation. He defamed His accusers, railed at them, chided them, taunted them, and upbraided them. He rebuked them.

He said if He done these miracles in the pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon, all the people would have repented and turned to God. But His accusers in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum never repented, never praised God, never worshiped Jesus Christ. They never rejoiced to see God’s work. They only questioned and accused Him.

So, it will be more tolerable for those pagan cities on the day of judgment than for His accusers. Why? They should have recognized God’s Son and given Him the praise and honor He deserved. They should have turned away from having a form of religion while denying its power (2Timothy 3:5), and turned toward God.

They will not be exalted to heaven, but will descend into Hades (hell). If wicked Sodom had seen His miracles, they would have turned to God and praised and worshiped Him.

The scribes and Pharisees claimed they knew the Scriptures. So they knew that He was fulfilling every prophecy about the Messiah. But they refused to worship Him.

The blessings for those who repented

Matthew 11:25-30 — Revelation of God the Father and God the Son.

And this was well pleasing in God’s sight, to hide these things from those who think they are wise and intelligent, and reveal them to those who are childlike in believing God. This pleased God immensely!

1Corinthians 1:19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Verse 27 — Intimate knowledge of God, through Jesus Christ.

Verse 28-30 — For those who are weary and heavy-laden with outward forms of religion, and come to Him, besides healing and deliverance:

—  Rest, rest for their souls

— His yoke

— Rest for their souls

— His easy, good and kind yoke,

— His pleasant, light burden

In today’s church, there are those who are outwardly religious, who are wise and intelligent in their own eyes, who always resist the Holy Spirit and persecute God’s messengers (Acts 7:51-52).

They see Spirit-filled believers doing works that only can be attributed to God. And they say, as the Pharisees and scribes did,

“What you are doing is done in the power of the devil.

“You have a demon.

“You blaspheme God.

“Who do you think you are?

“By what authority do you do these things?

“You shouldn’t associate with sinners.

“You are giving people false hope.

“Those things aren’t for today.”

They have an outward form of godliness, but they deny, disavow, reject and even try to negate, the power of God in a human heart and life!

To them, the Lord says, “Repent!

“Turn away from your outward works of religion. Humble yourselves!

“Turn to Me, honor and praise My Father and Me! Rejoice in what I am doing, and I will gladly bless you with a revelation of My Father and Me!”

HE REVEALS AND HEALS!

[SW216] 01/16/2016 message notes by

Reverend/Evangelist Susan J. Wynn ©2016

“He Reveals and Heals!”

The best time to get the natural house cleaned up is when the sun is shining, because the soil is revealed by the sun’s light. The best time to get our spiritual house cleaned up is when the Son is shining — He reveals and heals!

Psalm 103 — He pardons all our iniquities, He heals all our diseases. He cleans us up and heals our bodies!

Revealing and healing:

Mark 2:1ff — The Son shone on this paralyzed man. Note that Jesus did not point a finger at this man and say, “You sinner!” He simply said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Sin blocked his healing, per verses 10-11, when Jesus said that He would now heal the man, to show that the sin that blocked the man’s healing had been forgiven. That’s amazing! Sin can block healing. Did it cause his paralysis? We can’t say, but sin leads to many physical diseases.

Healing and revealing:

John 5 — The Son shone on this paralyzed man, a sinner (we will see afterward) who didn’t know Jesus at all, but the Son shone on Him. Again, Jesus did not point a finger and say, “You sinner!” Jesus simply said, “Get up, pick up your mat and walk.” The man had to do it, because Jesus said it. But afterward, Jesus met him and told him to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him. (There are many speculations about what Jesus meant by “something worse,” but I am quite convinced that Jesus meant hell, which the man would face if he did not ask for his sin to be forgiven.) Jesus will be sure to let you know if you are sinning, even after He kindly heals you. His purpose is always to heal you in every way; not just your body, but your relationship with God, which was broken by sin.

Revealing the hearts of others, and healing:

John 9 — Again, the Son shone on this man blind from birth. Others attempted to finger-point — who sinned, the man or his parents? Their hearts wanted to condemn the man. But Jesus corrected them, saying his blindness was not caused by sin. Its purpose was to glorify God! What did He mean? From before time, God knew this man would be born blind, and He planned to give Him eyes and sight! And indeed, when he washed at the pool and came back seeing, God was indeed glorified!

Revealing and healing, when the Son shone on me:

Oh, my! The Son shone on even me! Jesus did not point His finger at me and say, “You sinner!” But the Holy Spirit directed Pastor Doc to ask, “Are you right with God?” I prayed, asked, but there was no answer from God.

Then the Holy Spirit directed Pastor Doc to ask, “Do you have any unforgiveness in your heart?” Bingo! I knew immediately that was right! The Holy Spirit used Pastor Doc to show my unforgiveness to me. Just a question, and I knew.

I didn’t realize that I had not forgiven my first husband, Tim, who did many evil things.  But Tim immediately came to mind. The Holy Spirit will do that, when a word from God is spoken to you.

Then I had two choices:

#1 — Ask God to take my unforgiveness from me, so He would forgive me and I would be right with Him. If I had not forgiven, He would not have forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15).

#2 — Remain in my sin and walk away.

But I couldn’t walk away! I knew my unforgiveness was exactly what blocked the way to my heavenly Father. Because I was so desperate and hungry to know Him, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. In prayer that night, I told Him my sin stood between us, and I needed Him to take it because I wanted HIM!

And so He healed me of my sin — I felt the burden of it lift from my shoulders. LITERALLY! And then, just a few weeks later, He healed me of the incurable disease called MS!

He reveals and heals. Dealing with our sin is His first priority. Why? Because it has contaminated all of mankind, and it is eternally fatal.

And He died on a cross so we could be forgiven of our sin, rose, ascended and was glorified, then poured out the Holy Spirit so we would have power not to sin. Glory to God!

Once our sin is cleaned up, He heals in other ways, for it is the Father’s heart to free us, to bind up our wounds, to heal us of physical disease, and even to change our hearts completely and forever so we love Him and live for Him! Now that is full and complete healing. Thank You, Lord!

As I have spoken, I know the Lord has revealed your sin to you. Now, just like me, you have a choice:

#1 — Ask Him to take your sin from you, so you are right with Him.

#2 — Remain in your sin and walk away. He will not follow you, just as He did not follow the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:22).

The Son is shining now . . . He has shown you the soil. Let Him clean your spiritual house, let Him reveal to you what’s wrong — because the purpose of His revealing is HEALING in every way!

MARK 11 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 what incurable disease ails our hearts, and how Jesus is able to heal us.

Verses 1-7 — These verses speak of God the Son’s omnipotence; that is, He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. Even though He was fully human when He walked the earth, He was also fully God, as we see from the works He does and displays like the one in these verses.

Jesus and His disciples are on the way to Jerusalem, where Jesus has told them He will be arrested, tried, and crucified, and then rise on the third day.

He tells them exactly where they are to go, exactly which young donkey to pick, and what to tell the people when they ask to borrow it — “the Lord has need of it.” And of course, the people gave them permission because of Jesus’ words. Jesus fulfills the scripture that prophesies about Him in Zechariah 9:9 by entering Jerusalem in this way.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus, who is God the Son, has all of God’s characteristics — He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, who knows the end from the beginning. What does that mean? He knows everything that has been, is now, and will be. And so, He knows your need for forgiveness. He knows your need for salvation. He knows your need for healing. He knows your need for a changed heart. He knows your need for Him. But you must ask Him for that which you need.

It is humbling to have to ask someone for something. We live in a culture where independence is worshiped. But in the culture of the kingdom of God, to be great, you must become the servant of all. To be rich with His kind of riches, you must set all your earthly treasures aside. Everything seems upside down, when we look at the kingdom of God. But we are really the upside down ones — His kingdom is right side up!

Verses 8-10 — Jesus is worshiped as He comes into Jerusalem. This fulfills the scripture that prophesies about Him in Psalm 118:24-26. When we sing, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” and think it’s about any day, we miss it just a bit. That scripture is really about THE day that Christ came to Jerusalem to take up His cross and bear upon His own body our sins and the punishment we deserved.

It seems they are worshiping Him, but they are looking for an earthly king to set them free from Roman rule. A few days later, many of these will be among the crowd that cries, “Crucify Him!”

IMPORTANT QUESTION: Do you worship Him to get a blessing from Him, or to bless Him? If you do it to “get a blessing,” to be set free of an earthly chain or to get material prosperity or even get Him to physically heal you, that’s the wrong reason because it is selfish and manipulative. Worship Him because He is the Son of God. He is worthy!

Verses 12-14 — This looks like it doesn’t fit here, but if you go back and read what this chapter is about and understand the symbolism here, it will make sense. Jesus is hungry. He sees a fig tree, but when He looks for fruit, there is none. It isn’t the season for figs. He curses the tree — “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”

IMPORTANT POINT: If our heart is not God’s, we cannot bear fruit for Him — the fruit that identifies us as belonging to Jesus. What is the fruit? We live as He does in this world, if our heart is God’s.

Jesus knows He will be rejected in Jerusalem. He must be rejected, In order to complete His mission. He is rejected because many Jewish hearts (especially the Jewish religious leaders and Pharisees) are not God’s, and they do not bear fruit. They are all leaves (outward appearance of godliness) and no fruit.

He chooses to look for figs out of season to make the point that there is no fruit of God-likeness among His people. Those who will soon be His judge and jury are prideful religious men whose hearts do not belong to God. And they are cursed unless they turn to Jesus.

Plants receive water and nourishment from their roots. Just as the roots of this fig tree die and dry up, then the whole fig tree dies (see verses 20-21), the roots of these men will dry up, and then they will die. Jerusalem was destroyed In 70 A.D., approximately 37 years after Jesus hung on that cross. All they knew and loved was burned to the ground, many died, and the rest were scattered. But the Jews will yet return to their God and recognize their Messiah (Romans 11:25-26).

Verses 15-18 — The hearts of the religious are so unlike God that they have turned His house into a den of robbers. They are thieves that plan their next caper in God’s house!

How do they rob? The priests have made a law that people must exchange their coins for Temple coins in order to give their tithes and offerings. The priests use weights rigged in their favor to weigh money brought to the Temple. The priests have also filled the house of God with animals and birds used for sacrifices, charging huge and unfair fees to purchase them.

They do business in God’s house to make money for themselves, but God’s house is supposed to be a place of prayer, worship, reverence, awe, and safety from evil like thievery. In their thievery, they misrepresent God’s nature and character.

So Jesus cleans house! He destroys and casts down all of the things they use to cheat people, and boldly calls them robbers!

God help us if we do the same today in His church, charging money for handkerchiefs or oil flasks that have been prayed over, robbing widows to fill the church’s coffers . . .

Verses 19-26 — We have already talked about the fig tree’s roots being withered, from the roots up. But when the disciples notice what has happened to the fig tree, Jesus tells them that if they have faith, whatever they ask for will be done. Verse 23 is used often, in the church. If you do not doubt and say to a mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and believe it will be done, it will be done. So pray and ask —wait a minute, what happened to “say to the mountain?” Pray and ask before you say, and then believe you have received what you have asked for, and you will receive it.

BUT Jesus goes on to say that if you ask while you have something against someone (a grudge/unforgiveness), your prayer will not be answered. If you do not forgive them, Your Father in heaven (He’s speaking to Christians) will not forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15). What you did against your Father in heaven was many times worse than anything any human could do to you, and yet He forgave you. So you have no right to refuse to forgive. That’s why refusal to forgive is a sin.

And sin separates you from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). He does not hear sinners (John 9:31). Your prayer will not be answered until you forgive and repent before the Lord. He is ready and willing to forgive you then, and will then hear your prayers.

IMPORTANT POINT: Right now, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you if you have unforgiveness or other sin in your heart. He will show it to you, just as He did me when I was desperate to know my Father in heaven. Forgive from your heart (really forgive, not just with empty words), and then ask your Father in heaven to forgive you. If the Holy Spirit shows you a different sin and you turn away from it completely and ask Your Father in heaven to forgive you, He will do it, and then He will hear your prayers.

Verses 27-33 — Again Jesus is challenged by the priests and scribes (lawyers of the law of Moses) and elders. They are spiritually blind, by their own doing, and do not see their Messiah. They want to maintain their position and power. Jesus is a threat to them. They hate Him and want to kill Him.

They question His authority to “clean house” in the Temple. But He answers them with a question. By what authority did John the Baptist call for repentance and baptize? They are caught red-handed. They had questioned and shunned John the Baptist. Now they were questioning and shunning Jesus.

Deep down, they know both John the Baptist preached repentance and baptized by God’s authority, and Jesus’ works could only be done by God and under God’s authority.  There is no other explanation for His wisdom and His miracles.

Notice their self-centeredness in the way they reason to arrive at an answer. What will happen if we say John received his authority from heaven? We are guilty, then, of rejecting one who was sent by God. And if we say he received his authority from men, the people will reject us, because they believe John was a prophet from God. It’s all about them — what will happen to us if we answer this way or that way?

So they say, “We do not know.” Of course they do! And yet they deny it. So Jesus says, if you don’t believe John’s authority was from God, and I have done much more than John, why would you believe My authority comes from God? You will reject Me just as you rejected him. So I will not tell you where My authority comes from. He knows they already know very well where His authority comes from.

IMPORTANT POINT: When people are doing works that only God can do, and speaking and living like Jesus in this world, the spiritually blind will question their authority. The blind will see them as threats to their own man-made authority, to their positions of power, and will want to somehow shut them down. But if you see and are not blind, you will gladly receive them as messengers from God who are working under His authority.

And God will bless you for it!