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The No-Name God

A Bible Study by Fred Kenison

 

11  Matthew


Son of David

 

 

John, the Baptist

Jesus

John's ministry

Jesus begins his ministry

Sermon on the mount

The ministry of Jesus continues

 

Summary Highlights of Chapter 11

Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus

 

 

Matthew wrote about Jesus as the son of David, the king of Israel. The words of Jesus, however, indicated that his ministry included much more than simply Israel; his ministry was to the entire world.

 

So far, we have learned that Jehovah was the god of Israel. He was also the word of the invisible creator god, of whom the Old Testament people had no knowledge. Therefore, they gave credit to Jehovah for all the things created, not realizing that Jehovah was only a secondary influence in that creation. Jehovah was worshiped as their god, and the only god they knew, except for the heathen gods around them.

 

The prophesies of the coming messiah, or christ, were not considered in the earlier chapters which dealt with the Old Testament. The burden of the study thus far has been to discover how the people of the Old Testament regarded Jehovah, and what they knew of him. This knowledge was shown in the scriptures as the attributes of Jehovah.

 

These attributes were then correlated with attributes of Jesus in the New Testament. We discovered that, for the most part, the attributes of Jehovah were also the attributes of Jesus. We also set forth numerous reasons for why Jehovah should be regarded as the christ, or messiah, or the man, Jesus.

 

We will comment on the Old Testament prophesies about the messiah in the chapters dealing with the New Testament. The reason for delaying our discussion of these prophesies until now is so we could discuss both the Old Testament prophesy and its New Testament fulfillment together.

 

Girdlestone makes several comments about the linkage of the names Jehovah and Jesus showing that Jesus is the Old Testament Jehovah. For example (p. 38):

"His dealings with man, the unchangeableness of his Promises, and the whole revelation of his redeeming mercy, gather round the name Jehovah. ‘Thus saith Jehovah’ not ‘thus saith elohim,’ is the general introduction to the prophetic messages. It is as Jehovah that god became the Saviour of Israel, and as Jehovah he saves the world; and this is the truth embodied in the name of Jesus which is literally Jehovah Saviour."

 

He continues (p. 39):

"The Patriarchs are frequently represented as worshiping and holding spiritual communication with Jehovah, who seems to have revealed himself in a human form to these privileged children of Adam, whether through visions or otherwise."

 

Finally (p. 43):

"It is to be noticed, in connection with this subject, that there are several passages in the Old Testament referring to Jehovah which are adopted in the N.T. as fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ." Then, he lists several of those passages which will come up later in this study.

 

These quotes by Girdlestone help substantiate our claim that the people of the Old Testament knew, and worshiped, only Jehovah, who was the word of the invisible god, the one which gave substance to the will of the invisible, unknown god.

 

The fact that Girdlestone also substantiates the truth that Jehovah became Jesus might help dispel the notion that this is some kind of far-fetched idea promulgated only by this author. Whether or not Girdlestone perceived that Jesus was not the invisible god of heaven, as set forth in the doctrine of the trinity, remains unclear. However, he clearly sets forth the truth that Jehovah became Jesus of the New Testament.

 

I Timothy 6:16:

"Who alone has immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no one of men did see, nor is able to see; to whom honor, and might eternal. Amen."

 

John 1:1:

"In [the] beginning was the word, and the word was with the god, and the word was a god."

 

These two scriptures in John and I Timothy, together with the comments that Jehovah of the Old Testament appeared at times in human form, make it difficult to substantiate the teaching that Jesus is the invisible god. This is especially true since scriptures say that no man has ever seen that invisible god of heaven, nor ever will see him (I Timothy 6:16). However, both Jehovah and Jesus were the word, or the expression, or the manifestation, of the invisible god.

 

As we turn our study to the New Testament, we will also try to resolve the questions of why Jehovah was made flesh, and how Jesus went about making whatever revelations he was called to make. Did he appear on the scene like a flash of light? Or, did he appear more or less quietly, and slowly went about the business to which he had been called?

 

The first part of John 1:1 is an apt place to begin the New Testament portion of our study.

"In [the] beginning was the word, and the word was with the god."

 

As was discovered earlier, Jehovah was the word which was in the beginning with The God, or the invisible god, who was unknown to the people of that time. Jehovah was spoken into existence when the "a god" of Genesis said,

"Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3).

 

After that, it was Jehovah, the word, who gave substance to the words, will, and desires of that "a god."  In this capacity, he was worshiped as the god of Israel. All the sacrifices were offered "before" him. The priesthood served him. Although these things were done for his benefit, still he was only the "front man" for the other "a god."

 

Keep in mind, however, that the word was with The God. This was according to John, who was given a later revelation and made privy to knowledge which not even Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or David knew about. They knew only Jehovah, and they assumed he was the greatest god of all. In reality, he only represented the greatest god of all.

 

In the first part of the New Testament, the word "lord" usually refers to Jehovah, the only god these people knew about. Matthew began his gospel before the birth of Jesus, so his use of lord did not apply to Jesus.

 

The word lord comes from the Greek kyrios, which is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew adonai. These words emphasize that men are the servants of those designated as lord, whether men or gods. For example, when Abraham became aware of his duty to obey Jehovah, he addressed him as adonai.

 

Matthew 1:20-23 says,

"And when he had pondered these things, behold, an angel of [the] lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, not fear to take Mary thy wife to [thee], for that which in her is begotten of [the] spirit, is holy. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. Now this all came to pass, that might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, the god with us."

 

The beginning of this passage notes the fulfillment of a prophesy found in Isaiah 7:14:

"Therefore, the lord (‘adonay:H136) himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman is pregnant and bearing a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

 

It was Jehovah, the Old Testament lord, who spoke these words through Isaiah. Specifically, it was an angel of the lord who appeared to Joseph, and that angel was representing Jehovah because Jesus was not yet born.

 

One purpose for the birth of Jesus was stated above: "for he shall save his people from their sins."  Many who read this today assume that this includes the Gentiles too, but it did not. Initially, Jesus was sent only to the Jews, not to the Gentiles.

 

John 1:11 says,

"He came to his own, and his own received him not."

 

His own were the Jews, the remnant of the people Jehovah had chosen for himself. The "not" comes from the absolute no.  There was no question about it, they absolutely did not receive him.

 

Matthew 1:23 says,

"they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, the god with us."

 

Again, this is a portion of scripture often misused, abused, and mostly misinterpreted. Emmanuel means "The God with us," but it does not mean that The God came in a physical sense. It means rather that The God is on our side, that he is for us, not against us.

 

Many preachers too often claim that God is somehow against people until they meet the requirements laid down by a particular denomination. Once people meet the denominational requirements, God supposedly will then love them, or be on their side, because of something they have done. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Matthew 2:13 says,

"Now they having withdrawn, behold, an angel of [the] lord appears in a dream to Joseph, saying, Having risen, take the little child and his mother with [thee], and flee into Egypt, and be there until I shall tell thee; for Herod is about to seek the little child, to destroy him."

 

Later, after Herod had died, the angel of the lord appeared again to Joseph and told him it was safe to return to Israel. This fulfilled the prophecy in Hosea 11:1, which says,

"when Israel (was) a lad, then I loved him, and from Egypt I called my son."

 

Since Jesus revealed him, we know that these were the words of the invisible god, which were brought to Hosea by the Old Testament Jehovah, the earlier spokesman for the invisible god.

 

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John, the Baptist

 

Luke 1:5-6 states,

"There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest, by name Zacharias, of [the] course of Abia, and his wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name Elizabeth. And they were both just before the god, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the lord blameless."

 

Zacharias and Elizabeth were soon to be the parents of John, the Baptist, but that is not what stands out in these verses.

 

First, Zacharias was a priest, "of the course of Abia."  The year was divided into 24 courses, and the priests and Levites took turns in serving the temple. Zacharias was assigned to the course called Abia.

 

Second, "they were both righteous before [the] god."  The question is, which god does "the god" refer to here? Matthew was writing about a time before the birth of Jesus; therefore, "the god" spoken of would be the god of the temple, or Jehovah.

 

Zacharias and Elizabeth knew no other god, which is shown by the remark that they were "walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the lord blameless."  The ordinances and commandments they followed were the ones given by Jehovah, the lord of the Old Testament.

 

Zacharias’ duty is identified in Luke 1:8-9, which further identifies the situation in which he served.

"And it came to pass in fulfilling his priestly service in the order of his course before the god, according to the custom of the priestly service, it fell to him by lot to burn incense, having entered into the temple of the lord."

 

From our study of the Old Testament, we have been shown that the presence of Jehovah was in the holy of holies in the temple, before whom the priests served. Therefore, the god and the lord of the above scripture are both the same: Jehovah. Temple worship was still in full swing; not even John, the Baptist, had been born. This background will help us understand the following comments about the birth of John, the Baptist, and Jesus.

 

Luke 1:11 says,

"And an angel of [a] lord appeared to him, standing at [the] right of the altar of incense."

 

Again, the definite article does not appear in the Greek; therefore, this verse should read "an angel of a lord." Although this frightened Zacharias, the angel told him

"Fear not, Zacharias, because thy supplication has been heard, and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son to thee, and thou shalt call his name John." (Luke 1:13).

 

The angel even described some of the attributes this son would have.

"For he shall be great before the lord, and in no wise shall he drink wine and strong drink, and he shall be filled with holy spirit, even from [the] womb of his mother. And many of the sons of Israel shall he turn to the lord their god." (Luke 1:15-16).

 

Notice here that John, the Baptist, shall turn many to the "lord their god." This was Old Testament terminology, referring to Jehovah as "the god of Israel."  The angel used that same terminology, although in the light brought by Jesus, we know that he was also speaking of Jesus.

 

However, just because the angel knew, and just because we now know, does not mean that Zacharias understood this to mean anyone other than Jehovah, the god of Israel. Understanding this to be a reference to either Jehovah or Jesus would be correct, depending on where we stood on the time line. Only the angel was looking down the aisle of time to see the double meaning. In the gospels, up until the time that Jesus began his ministry, the words "the lord" and "the god" should most often be seen as Old Testament terminology.

 

John’s purpose is explained in Luke 1:17.

"And he shall go forth before him in [the] spirit and power of Elias, to turn hearts of fathers to children, and disobedient to wisdom of righteous, to make ready a people prepared for [the] lord."

 

Verse 1:16 said that John would precede "a lord their god." Today, we know this to be Jesus, but the people listening to John were still thinking in terms of the Old Testament teachings.

 

Malachi 4:5-6 declares that one would come in the power of Elijah, or Elias.

"Behold, I [am] sending to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the day of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the great and the dreadful, and he will turn heart of fathers unto sons and heart of sons unto their fathers, lest I shall come and I shall smite the earth (with) a ban."

 

The people of John’s day were looking for Elijah to be resurrected. However, John, the Baptist, came in the spirit and power of Elijah. The Pharisees were certainly aware of the prophecy in Malachi; they even criticized John (John 1:25) because he did not say he was Elijah.

 

The real purpose of John’s coming was to "make ready a people prepared for the lord."  John was to preach about the coming of the messiah, so people would be prepared for him when he arrived. John enjoyed a measure of success since many of the common people did believe in the coming of the messiah. For the most part, however, the religious hierarchy did not believe John. But, we are rushing ahead of our story since John was not yet born.

 

Luke 1:19 reveals that the angel involved was Gabriel, who was also sent on another mission to Mary.

"And in the month, the sixth, the angel Gabriel was sent by the god to a city of Galilee, whose name [was] Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name [was] Joseph, of [the] house of David, and the name of the virgin [was] Mary. And coming to her, the angel said, Hail, [thou] favored one! The lord [is] with thee, blessed [art] thou amongst women." (Luke 1:26-28).

 

Gabriel also said to her,

"Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with the god. And, lo, thou shalt conceive in [thy] womb, and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and he shall be called the son of the highest; and the lord the god shall give him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign over the house of Jacob to the ages, and of his kingdom there shall not be an end." (Luke 1:30-33).

 

Notice that the angel Gabriel said the reign of Jesus would be "over the house of Jacob."  So far, the predictions of the coming messiah are all about his association with the Jews. The scriptures have said nothing concerning the Gentiles.

 

Zacharias, in his prophecy, gave an indication of what the Jews would expect from both John and Jesus. Luke 1:67-79 says,

"And Zacharias his father was filled with holy spirit, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the lord the god of Israel, because he looked upon and wrought redemption for his people, and raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David his servant; according as he spoke by the holy mouth of his prophets since time began; salvation from our enemies and from [the] hand of all those who hate us; to fulfill mercy with our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, [the] oath which he swore to Abraham our father, to give us without fear, being saved out of [the] hand of our enemies, [that] we should serve him, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. And thou, little child, shalt be called prophet of [the] highest; for thou shalt go before [the] face of [the] lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation to his people in remission of their sins, through [the] bowels of compassion of our god, in which [the] day-spring from on high has visited us, to shine upon those in darkness and sitting in [the] shadow of death, to direct our feet into [the] way of peace."

 

There are several interesting points in this prophecy given on the day of John’s birth. First, Zacharias prophesied the coming of messiah, or anointed one, or christ (see Psalms 132). Notice, too, that Zacharias said that redemption of the lord, the god of Israel, was limited to his people. As far as Zacharias was concerned, it was according to the covenant, and that meant the Israelite people, the Jews and their converts (see Psalms 105:8-9).

 

In addition to bringing redemption, the messiah would give them salvation from their enemies, which is what many of the Old Testament "anointed ones" did. A good example would be Gideon, who rallied the troops of Israel, and defeated the enemy (see Judges 7:19-23). That was what the people were now expecting from this messiah who was not yet born. After they were delivered from their enemies, they would be free to serve him in "holiness and righteousness all the days of their lives."

 

Zacharias also spoke about the purpose of his son’s birth: "to go before the face of [the] lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation to his people in remission of their sins."  John was to "prepare his ways," the way of Jesus. He was also to "give knowledge of salvation," to tell the people that this coming one would bring not only the salvation of deliverance from their enemies, but that salvation would also consist of "the remission of sins." It is very likely that Zacharias was prophesying far beyond his understanding of what he was saying.

 

Then, Zacharias spoke about the ministry of this coming one. He would be "the dayspring from on high," given to them through the "compassion of our god," or Jehovah, the only god he knew about. This dayspring would also "shine upon those sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death" (see Isaiah 9:2).

 

Luke 1:80 says that John,

"... grew, and was strengthened in spirit; and he was in the deserts until the day of his shewing to Israel."

 

When it came time for John to appear in public, he did not appear as a priestly scholar. A preacher once described John as, "covered with the dirt of the desert; with long, unkempt hair; wearing a goat skin loin cloth; and picking his teeth with a leg of a grasshopper."  John was definitely not equipped to be a socialite, but a wild-eyed prophet of Jehovah.

 

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Jesus

 

Luke 2 tells about the birth of Jesus and some of the circumstances surrounding that event. This story has been repeated for centuries, and is certainly well known in the Western world. Luke 2:13-14 says,

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of [the] heavenly host, praising the god, and saying, Glory in the highest to god, and on earth peace, good pleasure in men."

 

There is no definite article, so this should be translated " a god," but which god? We noted earlier that Zacharias believed the coming messiah would be sent only to the Jews. Although this pronouncement of the angels was to all men, it was overlooked or ignored by most of the Jewish people.

 

Luke 2 also tells how the parents of Jesus took him to Jerusalem for the rite of circumcision. There they met Simeon, who

"was just and pious, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the holy spirit was upon him." (Luke 2:25).

 

Luke 2:26-32 relates the rest of Simeon’s story.

"And it was to him divinely communicated by the spirit the holy, that he should not see death before he should see the christ of lord. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the little child Jesus, that they might do according to what had become customary by the law for him, he also received him into his arms, and blessed the god, and said, Now thou lettest go thy bondman, O master, according to thy word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before [the] face of all the peoples; a light for revelation of [the] gentiles and glory of thy people Israel."

 

This section of scripture shows the fulfillment of Isaiah 52:10:

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has made bare his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our god (‘elohiym:H430)."

 

This was the salvation seen by Simeon, who spoke of the baby Jesus as being the salvation, while Isaiah indicated that salvation came from their god, Jehovah.

 

Anna, an elderly prophetess, was also in the temple at the same time as Simeon. Luke 2:38 says,

"And coming up at the same hour, she gave praise to the lord, and spoke concerning him to all those waiting for redemption in Jerusalem."

 

Therefore, the identity of the christ was verified by two witnesses, and, according to scripture, should have been accepted as true (see Deuteronomy 19:15).

 

Matthew 2 succinctly describes the birth of Jesus, but also provides information about some of his earliest history, such as the magi and their gifts (Matthew 2:1-2), Herod’s attempt to kill him (Matthew 2:7-8), the escape into Egypt (Matthew 2:12-14), the killing of all the male children under two years of age (Matthew 2:16), the return from Egypt after Herod’s death, and settling into Galilee instead of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:19-22).

 

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John’s ministry

 

According to Jewish law, a man had to be 30 years old to minister in any capacity for Jehovah. That is why neither John nor Jesus began their work until they were 30 years old. Remember, both John and Jesus were born under the law. Grace, in the sense we know it today, did not come until after Jesus died. Since John was born six months before Jesus, he started his ministry six months before Jesus started his ministry.

Matthew 3:1-2 describes the beginning of John’s ministry.

"Now in those days comes John the baptist, proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is drawn near."

 

The word "heavens" was actually written in the plural for emphasis. John was preaching the kingdom of heaven. The word "kingdom" means only dominion, not territory. The rest of his message was centered around this theme. [For an interesting commentary on this point, see Bullinger, pp. 580, 662, and 991.]

 

Matthew 3:3 declares,

"For this is he who was spoken of by Esaias the prophet, saying, [The] voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the lord, make straight his paths."

 

Isaiah 40:3 says,

"A voice cries in the wilderness, Prepare the way of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), make straight in the desert a highway for our god (‘elohiym:H430)."

 

Matthew indicates the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words, and establishes that Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.

 

Matthew 3:4 says,

"And John himself had his raiment of hair of a camel, and a girdle of leather about his loins, and the food of him was locusts and wild honey."

 

John was not the sort of man who would automatically attract people by his appearance. However, something drew the people anyway. Matthew 3:5-6 points out that,

"Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the country around the Jordan, and were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins."

 

When the people arrived, John was not a gracious host, nor were his words even tactful.

"But having seen many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Offspring of vipers, who forewarned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance, and think not to say within yourselves, {For] father we have Abraham, for I say to you that the god is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. But already the axe is also applied to the root of the trees; therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is cast into [the] fire. I indeed baptize you with water to repentance, but he who [is] coming after me is mightier than I, the sandals of whom I am not fit to bear. He will baptize with holy spirit and with fire. Of whom the winnowing fan [is] in his hand , and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn up with fire unquenchable." (Matthew 3:7-12).

 

Isaiah 44:3 also foretold that Jesus would baptize people with holy spirit.

"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground. I will pour my spirit upon your descendants and my blessing on your offspring."

 

Jehovah was saying that he was the one who would do what John says Jesus would do. They were both right; Jehovah became Jesus, and Jesus did it. 

 

[Note: The baptism of holy spirit is one baptism with two aspects, not two different baptisms, as some believe. For a detailed discussion of this point, see our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

Matthew 3:13-17 describes what was probably the greatest moment of John’s ministry.

"Then comes Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. But John was hindering him, saying, I have need to be baptized by thee, and thou comest to me? But answering, Jesus said to him, Suffer [it] now; for thus it is becoming to us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffers him. And Jesus, having been baptized, went up immediately from the water; and, behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the spirit of the god descending as a dove, and coming upon him; and, lo, a voice out of heavens, saying, This is my son, the beloved, in whom I have found delight."

 

Notice that only Jesus saw the spirit descending upon himself like a dove. It does not say anyone else saw this event. This was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 11:2:

"And the spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) shall rest upon him...."

 

Jehovah was not the invisible god, but only the word of the invisible god. Please keep that in mind as we discuss many of the Old Testament scriptures which record Jehovah’s words. Therefore, when Jehovah spoke through Isaiah or the other prophets, he could still be the self-fulfillment of those prophecies.

 

Luke 3:19-20 tells of John’s demise and the elevation of Jesus, the Christ. When John criticized Herod for taking his brother’s wife, Herod put him in prison. Luke 7:19 describes John’s doubts while he was in jail.

"And having called to [him] two certain of his disciples, John sent [them] to Jesus, saying, Art thou the coming [one], or are we to look for another?"

 

In response, Jesus sent word back to John telling him that the miracles he performed were proof that he was messiah.

"And in the same hour, he healed many of diseases and scourges and evil spirits, and to many blind he granted to see. And answering, Jesus said to them, Having gone, relate to John what ye have seen and heard, that blind receive sight, lame walk, lepers are cleansed, deaf hear, dead are raised, poor are evangelized; and blessed is whoever shall not be offended in me." (Luke 7:21-23).

 

Once imprisoned, John soon suffered the revenge of Herod’s wife, whom he had spoken against. Matthew 14:6-11 says,

"But a birthday party being celebrated of Herod, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst, and pleased Herod, whereupon, with oath, he promised to give to her whatever she should ask. But she, being urged on by her mother, she says, Give me here upon a dish, the head of John the baptist. And the king was grieved, but on account of the oaths and those who reclined with [him at table], he commanded [it] to be given. And having sent, he beheaded John in the prison, and his head was given to the damsel on a dish, and she brought [it] to her mother."

 

John’s ministry was short, but triumphant! Jesus paid him the highest accolades when he said,

"Verily I say to you, Among [those] born of women there is not risen a greater than John the baptist. But he that [is] less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11).

 

What a compliment for John! And, if the least in the kingdom of The God is greater than he, then what a great hope this gives us!

 

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Jesus begins his ministry

 

At the beginning of his ministry, there was a need for Jesus to reconcile his needs as a man with what would be required of him as the christ, or the messiah. Matthew describes the struggle which Jesus endured as his flesh battled the spirit which had been given to him. Matthew 4:1 says,

"Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the spirit to be tempted by the devil."

 

Unfortunately, most people think of the devil as a person, and miss the entire point of what follows. However, the word translated devil comes from diabolou, which is an adjective, not a noun. Diabolou means a dividing [one]. Therefore, whatever is referred to as a devil is something which divides one from serving God. Jesus was up against the desires of his own natural flesh, a battle he fought for 40 days.  [For a thorough study concerning the devil, see our article, A Study of Satan.]

 

The battle began with a 40 day fast. This was a good beginning, to determine whether or not he could submerge his fleshly desire for food. After fasting, of course, he was hungry; his body needed food. The so-called devil, actually his fleshly desire, told him that since he was the son of The God, he had the power to turn stones into food for his body.

 

What would you have done at that point? Jesus chose a spiritual response rather than a natural one. Knowing the word of The God, he answered by quoting a passage of scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3):

"But he answering said, It has been written, Not by bread alone shall man live, but by every word going out through the mouth of god." (Matthew 4:4).

 

Next, Jesus was faced with some daring, dramatic thoughts, which, if he had carried them out, would certainly have brought him notoriety. Why not, said his flesh, go up to the very top of the temple in Jerusalem, throw himself off the highest point, and have the angels of The God bear him up? This would certainly attract attention to himself!

 

Once again, Jesus chose the spiritual path, and answered this fleshly desire with another passage from scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16).

"Jesus said unto him, Again it has been written, Thou shalt not tempt [the] lord thy god." (Matthew 4:7).

 

The final trial came when Jesus realized that he had enough power to rule the world, if he chose to do so. All he would have to do is give in to his fleshly desires.

 

Again, his response was based on scripture, and Matthew 4:10 reports his answer to the third test.

"Then Jesus says to him, Get thee away, satan; for it has been written, [The] lord thy God shalt thou worship, and him alone shalt thou serve."

 

He literally repudiated his own desires in favor of the Father’s desires.

 

Jesus had faced three of the strongest desires of men: food, fame, and power. He was able to overcome his fleshly desires because he knew that his god would furnish all of his physical and spiritual needs. He did not have to take things into his own hands, or pervert any of the power of holy spirit which had been given to him without measure.

 

After putting these desires behind him, he was ready to serve The God, his father. It had taken 40 days to deal with all his temptations, but he emerged fully committed to The God, even to death.

 

Matthew 4:12-17 relates how Jesus began his ministry to others.

"But Jesus, having heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee; and having left Nazareth, having come, he dwelt at Capernaum, which [is] on the sea-side, in [the] borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim, that might be fulfilled that which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, Land of Zabulon, and land of Nephthalim, way of [the] sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations: the people which was sitting in darkness has seen a great light, and to those which were sitting in [the] country and shadow of death, light has sprung up to them. From that time, Jesus began to proclaim and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near."

 

Jesus picked up right where John left off, with the same message. The reason he went to these particular locations was to fulfill another of Isaiah’s prophecies (see Isaiah 9:1).

 

What was the over-riding purpose for Jesus coming to earth? Much of the preaching in the organized churches leads to the conclusion that his primary purpose was to save humanity. However, this is a great error, and speaks volumes about the enormous egotism of the human race.

 

The primary reason Jesus came is the same reason all humanity was put on the earth: to bring glory to the name of The God (see Isaiah 61:1-3 and John 7:18). His life brought such glory, and ours should do the same. The salvation of mankind was simply one part of his mission to bring glory to his father.

 

Not only did Jesus come to bring glory to the heavenly father, but also to reveal him as the one who loved his creation with a love far beyond human understanding. In addition, Jesus was to reveal himself as the Jehovah of the Old Testament, but he did not rush to do this at the beginning. Instead, he chose to do this gradually as he taught his disciples and other followers (see Matthew 16:20 and John 1:14).

 

When he returned from the wilderness, Luke says that Jesus entered into the synagogue and taught. Luke 4:16-21 says,

"And he came to Nazareth, where he was brought up; and he entered into the synagogue on the day of the sabbaths, according to his custom, and stood up to read. And there was given to him [the] book of the prophet Esaias, and having unrolled the book, he found the place where it was written, [The] spirit of [the] lord [is] upon me, on account of which he anointed me to announce the glad tidings to [the] poor, he has sent me to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim deliverance to captives and recovery of sight to [the] blind, to send forth [the] crushed in deliverance, to proclaim acceptable [the] year of [the] lord. And having rolled up the book, having delivered [it] to the attendant, he sat down, and all of the eyes in the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he began to say to them, This scripture is fulfilled today in your ears."

 

Jesus was saying that he had fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.

 

Although not an exact quote, Jesus’ words conveyed the general sense Isaiah 61:1-3.

"The spirit of the lord (‘adonay:H136) Yahweh (yehovih:H3069) upon me, because Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has anointed me to bring good tidings afflicted ones; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, opening of prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s (yehovah:H3068) favor, and day of vengeance of our god (‘elohiym:H430); to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, mantle of praise instead of a spirit (of) faint; that they may be called (they) (to them) oaks of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), that he may be glorified."

 

"The acceptable year of the lord" is a phrase used to describe what would be the last year of jubilee, in which everything that was wrong would be made right. Slaves, or captives, would be loosed, people would be healed of their diseases, and their spiritual needs would be fulfilled.

 

The former years of jubilee were only a sign foretelling this final year of the lord, or jubilee, which would also usher in the kingdom of God. Jesus did not claim here to be the messiah, or the anointed one, to do this. He did say, however, that he was anointed to announce it.

 

In the Old Testament, when anyone was anointed for special service to Jehovah, they were in fact one of the many "christs" of the Old Testament. The word "christ" simply meant an anointed one. The same holds true in the New Testament.

 

These people were not yet aware that they were in the presence of the son of The God, the eternal king of Israel. It was a big enough shock to realize that an anointed one was in their midst, regardless of his purpose! This meant he was someone anointed (or given holy spirit) to fulfill a duty as a prophet, priest, or some other office holder.

 

To these people, Jehovah, the god of Israel, was still their god. It would be some time before Jesus proclaimed anything about this to them.

 

When Jesus spoke to them, the people of Nazareth were angry and tried to kill him (Luke 4:29). His message was not one they wanted to hear. He said that in the acceptable year of the lord, only a few would be ministered to, that the majority of people would be rejected because of their own actions.

 

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said,

"Enter in through the narrow gate; for wide the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and many are they who enter in through it; for narrow the gate and straitened the way that leads to life, and few are they who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

In Nazareth, Jesus was addressing the religious people of his day. Essentially, he told them that probably few of them would be accepted in the day of the lord. No wonder they were angry. After all, were they not the chosen people? Did they not observe all the sacrifices? Jesus, however, saw their lack, honoring god with their lips while their hearts were far from him. Their religion had become an empty ritual.

 

After leaving Nazareth, his home town in Galilee, Matthew 4:23 says,

"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the glad tidings of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every bodily weakness among the people."

 

Naturally, this drew great crowds, even as it would today. Seeing the great crowds, Jesus took his disciples apart to teach them about the kingdom of god. This has come to be known as the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), in which Jesus told his disciples many truths about different aspects of life, and how they related to the kingdom. He also made it clear that to enter kingdom in a place of glory would require a total commitment.

 

Before leaving this portion of scripture, note carefully that the sermon on the mount was not taught to the crowd, but only to the few disciples. In the scriptures, the crowds are not qualified for further instructions because they will not accept them. Jesus explained this concept when he said not to cast pearls before swine lest they turn and rend the speaker (Matthew 7:6).

Still today, not many are willing to hear the truth of the word.

 

From the beginning, Jesus did not disclose very much about himself. Even though his birth was announced by angels, that occurred 30 years ago, and probably few people associated that event with him. Jesus did not explode on the scene like a streak of lightning, but quietly began to teach about the kingdom of heaven, and its importance to men.

 

Through his teachings, Jesus would gradually reveal the presence of another god, the invisible god of which he was the image. This proved to be an astounding revelation to the Israelites who thought Jehovah, their god, was the only god.

 

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Sermon on the mount

 

Speaking to only a few of his disciples, Jesus said,

"Blessed the pure in heart, for they shall see [the] god. Blessed the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of [a] god." (Matthew 5:8-9).

 

Although not translated in the KJV, the words shown in brackets are included in the Greek text. The Greek has no indefinite articles, such as a or an. The presence of a or an are shown only by the absence of any definite article. Although English may require indefinite articles, Greek does not.

 

Jesus was promising his disciples they would see "the god," who they would understand as Jehovah. Either Jesus was promising them they would see him in his second coming as Jehovah made flesh, or he was speaking of the revelation he will give of The God of whom only he is aware, that invisible god of heaven, whom no man shall ever see.

 

Actually there are three possibilities here. One, they would see Jehovah made flesh. Two, they would see Jesus return as Jehovah, the king, at his second coming. Three, they would "see" The God as he is revealed by Jesus.

 

Concerning peacemakers, Jesus said they would be called sons of a god. If Jesus used the word god to mean the same god in both verses, then the definite article would have appeared before the word god in verse 5:9 since it would have been a renewed mention. But, the definite article does not appear. Why? Jesus was not yet ready to tell them that he was Jehovah, their god, who had become flesh. Neither was he ready to tell them that there was another god they knew nothing about. The peacemakers would be called sons of "a" god who was not yet specified.

 

Matthew 5:16 says,

"Thus, Let shine your light before men, so that they may see your good works, and may glorify your father who [is] in heaven."

 

Jesus was not speaking to them of The God, whom we associate with the word father, the invisible god of heaven, but the god whom David called a father in Psalms 68:4-5.

"But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before god (‘elohiym:H430); let them be jubilant with joy. Sing to god (‘elohiym:H430), sing praises to his name; cast up a highway for him who rides through the deserts; in his name Yah (yahh:H3050), exult before him; father of fatherless, and protector of widows, god (‘elohiym:H430) in his holy habitation."

 

In Psalms 89:27, David wrote,

"He shall cry to me, My God (‘el:H410), thou art my father, and the rock of my salvation."

 

Please remember, in the Old Testament, Jehovah was the god of David, as he was to the other Israelites. It was Jehovah whom David would call to as a father, or the one who provided all his needs. Likewise, the disciples of Jesus understood his words as referring to their god, Jehovah, not the god whom we now know through Jesus’ revelation to be the invisible god of heaven.  [For further discussion about concept of "father," see our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]

 

Matthew 5:33-36 declares,

"Again, ye have heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt render thine oaths to the lord. But I say to you not to swear at all, neither by the heaven, because it is [the] throne of god; nor by the earth, for it is [the] footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is [the] city of the great king; neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou art not able to make one hair white or black."

 

According to the Old Testament, all the things listed here belong to Jehovah. Psalms 48:1-2 says that Jerusalem is the city of Jehovah, the great king. Psalms 11:4 says that Jehovah’s throne is in heaven. Isaiah 66:1 says that the earth is Jehovah’s footstool.

 

So far, all the teachings of Jesus refer to Jehovah, the god of Israel, and this brings him up against one of the great quandaries of his ministry. How will he substantiate his authority to expand the sayings of Jehovah, the god of Israel? And, even more than that, how will Jesus, who is entirely human, convince people that he is Jehovah, their god made flesh, the word of the Old Testament?

 

The TDOT (vol. 9, p. 526) says,

"The Messiah is never a divine figure. Although endowed with special gifts, he is the human king, and teacher of the Law in the end time...."

 

We should also keep in mind that the authors of the synoptic gospels, as well as the other writers of the New Testament, were all writing from hindsight. Therefore, what Jesus was slowly revealing to the people of his own day, is revealed to us early in their writings. However, we are concerned with how Jesus went about revealing who he was, and also revealing The God, of whom these people yet knew nothing.

 

Chapter 1 of Matthew reveals the genealogy of Jesus, and in verse 1:16, reveals that he is messiah.

"And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ."

 

This was one of the things that Jesus sought to keep secret from people, with the exception of his disciples, who still had much to learn about his ministry.

 

The messiah the people believed in would be the one prophesied by Zacharias, who was expecting the messiah to deliver Israel from all their enemies. Many of the disciples, being Jews, believed the same. However, Jesus was unlike many other anointed ones, or christs, described in the Old Testament. They came, organized great armies, and, led by Jehovah of hosts, delivered Israel from bondage. That was what people expected the messiah to do.

 

However, Jesus never did that, which caused many questions about his authenticity. Even John, the Baptist, began to doubt, and sent word asking if he were the real messiah, or if they should look for another?

 

Jesus faced a nearly impossible task. How could he continue his ministry to its fulfillment when the people who should support him expected almost the opposite of what his own commission required?

 

Jesus continually taught his disciples about

"their father which is in heaven" (Matthew 6-7).

 

But it would be some time before they understood that he was not referring to their god, Jehovah, but to the invisible god, the god they still knew nothing about.

 

Jesus was actually preparing his disciples for a greater understanding of the invisible god, their heavenly father. As we read the New Testament today, we have a tendency to substitute what we know and understand now, which makes it difficult to understand what was actually happening at that time.

 

The next theme that Jesus chose to teach his disciples was about their service to him as kyrios, or lord. Kyrios correlates exactly to the Hebrew adonai, both translated as lord, and both meaning the one who is your superior, and to whom you owe your service. The Old Testament adonai was Jehovah, while the New Testament kyrios was Jesus.

 

Matthew 7:21-23 records Jesus saying to his disciples,

"Not every one who say to me, Lord, lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he who does the will of my father who [is] in [the] heavens. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, lord, did we not prophesy through thy name, and cast out demons through thy name, and perform many works of power through thy name? And then will I confess to them, I never knew you. Depart ye from me, who work lawlessness."

 

When he said, "many will say to me in that day," the day he was referring to was the day of the kingdom of the heavens. Jesus was looking forward to his second coming, which his disciples thought would happen in their lifetime. Jesus also said that there was power in the use of his name, even for casting out demons, prophesying, and doing miracles, or works of power. However, he also pointed out that this would count for nothing unless people also obeyed his word.

 

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The ministry of Jesus continues

 

Mark 9:7 provides a supplement to what Matthew said about the spirit of God descending upon Jesus at his baptism.

"And there came a cloud overshadowing them, and there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my son, the beloved: hear ye him."

 

It is the will of the Father above that the disciples are to hear Jesus, and that also includes obeying his commands. They are his servants, or as Paul called himself, a doulos, or love slave.

 

Matthew 8:16-17 says,

"And evening being come, they brought to him many possessed with demons, and he did cast out the spirits by a word, and all who ill were he healed; so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, Himself took the infirmities of us, and the diseases bore."

 

Jesus was gradually revealing who he really was by fulfilling Old Testament prophecies concerning the messiah. When the anointed one of Jehovah, the messiah, came, he would fulfill many prophecies contained in the Old Testament.

 

Today, we know that Jesus was anointed by the invisible god, but the people of his day looked upon Jesus as being anointed by Jehovah. They had yet not realized that he was Jehovah, who had become the man, Jesus, and had emptied himself of all the attributes he possessed as Jehovah.

 

Jesus had lowered himself to the status of being merely human, although holy spirit which had been given to him without measure, provided him with power to perform miracles. It was by the power of holy spirit that he could cast out demons and heal the sick.

 

Isaiah 53:4 says,

"Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows (pains); yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by god (‘elohiym:H430), and afflicted."

 

This part of Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus healed the sick and cast out evil spirits. Unfortunately, many claim that this verse refers to his crucifixion, and that no one today should be ill because Jesus has borne all their illnesses.  However, the passage from Matthew (8:16-17) clearly states that while Jesus was alive, before his crucifixion, that he had borne our illnesses, and that this event alone had fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah 53:4.

 

Isaiah 53:5-6 also prophesies about the crucifixion.

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement that made us whole upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

 

Please note carefully that the crucifixion of Jesus was in regard to "our transgressions, our iniquities, our chastisement, and our being healed." If read in context, it is clear that this healing, unlike the healing in verse 53:4, is about our sin.

 

I Peter 2:24-25 supports this conclusion.

"Who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that, [we] being dead to sins, to righteousness we may live; by whose bruise ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls."

 

Peter was also quoting Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 53:10-12), part of which was quoted previously. However, Peter spoke not about Jesus healing illnesses while he was alive, but about him healing sins, which he bore on the tree.

 

When Isaiah said that Jehovah had laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:11), remember that Isaiah did not know that Jehovah was only the word of the invisible god. Jesus was carefully laying a foundation for proof of his later revelations by noting the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the messiah.

 

The dedication that Jesus expected from his disciples is shown quite clearly in Matthew 8:19-22.

"And one scribe, having come to [him], said to him, Teacher, I will follow thee whithersoever thou mayest go. And Jesus says to him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heavens nests, but the son of man has not where he may lay the head. And another of his disciples said to him, Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said to him, Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."

 

Scribes, the lawyers of that time, were usually wealthy people. Jesus made it quite clear that those who follow him cannot expect the comforts of this world to be part of their mission, at least not in his day. Perhaps things have changed now, or perhaps we do not often see the level of commitment that Jesus expected. After Jesus’ comment, we hear no more of the scribe; however, the comment was weighted with significance.

 

Matthew 8:23-27 relates another instance of Jesus revealing the power he possessed through holy spirit.

"And he, having entered into the ship, his disciples followed him. And, lo, a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the ship was covered by the waves; but he was sleeping. And having come to [him], the disciples of him awoke him, saying, Lord, save us; we perish. And he says to them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then, having arisen, he rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men wondered, saying, What kind [of man] is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

 

Here, the word lord is capitalized since it begins a sentence of dialogue; otherwise it was not.

 

People then believed that storms were caused by demons who supposedly dwelt in the depths and often stirred up the storms in an attempt to destroy people. To them, this was even a greater wonder than when Jesus had cast out evil spirits. He so controlled these demons of the depths that they could not cause a storm.

 

After controlling the storm, Jesus met two demon-possessed men from Gergesenes (Matthew 8:28-34). When he cast the demons out of the men, they entered a herd of pigs, causing the pigs to run into the sea and drown. Here, again, the depths of the sea was the supposed home to which the demons wanted to return.

 

Upon hearing of this event, the people of Gergesenes asked Jesus to leave their territory. They could stand living with the demons, but they could not abide having someone destroy their income!  Sound familiar?  Many people today will serve God up to the point where it would cost them something.

 

So far, Jesus has demonstrated many expected attributes of a messiah. However, some of the scribes claim he is blaspheming. After Jesus returned to Nazareth, a paralytic was brought to him. Jesus said to him,

"Be of good courage, child; thy sins have been forgiven thee" (Matthew 9:2).

 

Some of the scribes standing nearby thought that Jesus had blasphemed. Jesus, knowing their thoughts said to them,

"Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, Thy sins have been forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know that the son of the man has authority on the earth to forgive sins. Then he says to the paralytic, Having arisen, take up thy bed, and go to thy house." (Matthew 9:4-6).

 

Matthew 9:8 says,

"And having seen, the crowds wondered, and glorified the god who gave authority to such men."

 

While people had become accustomed to seeing Jesus heal people, forgiving sins was a new twist. The crowd glorified the god who had given such power to Jesus (they thought that god was Jehovah). This was certainly easier than taking sacrifices to the temple, and dealing with corrupt priests.

 

The lawyers, however, considered this blasphemy, and saw it as a infraction of the law. For centuries, people had taken a sacrifice to kill before Jehovah in order to have their sins forgiven. Was this man, Jesus, saying that he was their god, Jehovah? The split between Jesus and the officials of Judaism began to widen!

 

The split widened even further when Jesus proclaimed himself to be "the son of the man," the term Jesus normally used when referring to himself. By using the term "the son of the man," Jesus was proclaiming himself to be the one and only representative of mankind, above all other men.

 

The two demonic men of Gergesenes had referred to him as "a son of the god," which would equate with being a prophet. However, Jesus wanted to reveal these things in his own time, and in his own manner. It was not until later that others referred to him as "the son of the god," a more specific term indicating king of Israel as well as messiah.

 

When Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector, Matthew 9:10-13 says,

"And it came to pass at his reclining [at table] in the house, that behold, many tax-gatherers and sinners having come were reclining [at table] with Jesus and his disciples. And having seen [it], the Pharisees said to his disciples, Why eats your teacher with the tax-gatherers and sinners? But Jesus, having heard, he said to them, They who are strong have not need of a physician, but they who are ill. But having gone, learn what is, Mercy I desire, and not sacrifice; for I came not to call righteous [ones], but sinners to repentance."

 

Jesus was quoting from Hosea 6:6, where Jehovah had said,

"For I delight in lovingkindness and not sacrifice; and knowledge of god (‘elohiym:H430) instead of whole burnt offerings."

 

Jesus was definitely beginning to meddle when he said that mercy was better than sacrifice, and that the knowledge of God was better than the whole burnt offering, which was one of the greater sacrifices (see our earlier comments about ola kalil, the whole burnt offering).

 

When Jesus referred to sinners, he was speaking of those Jews who did not believe him to be the messiah, the christ, the anointed one. When someone was described as the anointed one, it meant that they were set apart from the world to their god. And when he said that he came to call sinners to repentance, he meant these sinners needed to change their mind about him being the messiah, or the christ.

 

Jesus was referring to the basis of all sin—unbelief that he is what the word of God says he is, the christ, or the messiah. John said this would be the basis for determining who would be saved into the next age. 1 John 5:1-2 says,

"Everyone that believes that Jesus is the christ, has been begotten of god; and everyone that loves him that begat, loves also him that has been begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of god, when we love god and keep his commandments."

 

We are begotten of The God by believing that Jesus is the christ. This is not the same as believing that Jesus is your "personal savior," a non-scriptural term which serves to trivialize Jesus.

 

The disciples of John, the Baptist, who had been baptized only unto repentance, or a change of mind about the coming messiah, asked Jesus about fasting.

"Then the disciples of John came near to him, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said to them, Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will have been taken away from them, and then they will fast." (Matthew 9:14-15).

 

Jesus further explained his point with a parable.

"But no one puts a piece of cloth unfulled on an old garment; for its filling up takes away from the garment, and a worse rent takes place. Nor put they new wine into old skins, otherwise the skins are burst, and the wine is poured out, and the skins will be destroyed; but they put new wine into new skins, and both are preserved together. (Matthew 9:16-17).

 

In this parable, Jesus was teaching them that what he brought into the world would not fit into the Jewish religion. Just as new cloth would tear the garment, and new wine would break the old wine skins, so would the teachings of Jesus destroy the Old Testament religion.

 

What Jesus taught was grace, and grace destroys any structure of law. This is why organized religions with their by-laws will not teach the fullness and completeness of grace. To do so would destroy their religious structure. And, that is exactly what Jesus meant in the parable above. His teaching about grace would destroy the religion based on law.

 

Unfortunately, most people today have not yet learned this lesson, but continue trying to put his teachings in the arena of law, saying "here is what you must do to be saved."  Jesus destroyed all such religious concepts of salvation.

 

When Jesus sent his disciples out to witness to people, he told them,

"A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a bondman above his lord. Sufficient for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the bondman as his lord. If they called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household? Therefore, ye should not fear them; for nothing is covered which shall not be uncovered, and hidden which shall not be known. What I tell you in the darkness speak in the light, and what ye hear in the ear proclaim upon the housetops." (Matthew10:24-27).

 

At this time, the disciples had little idea of the trouble and persecution which would befall Jesus. He was warning them ahead of time that they would not escape the persecution of people who disagreed with them.

 

Jesus was well aware of the consequences of teaching new ideas that would destroy the established religion. In many areas of the world, this is still a death sentence. In others, although persecution must stop short of death, the result is still miserable.

 

Many so-called heretics have died at the hand of established "christian" religions. Organized religions brand as heretics any who seek to widen the parameters of their doctrines and beliefs. Almost all churches have become ossified in their teachings, unwilling to discuss issues which question what they claim as "revealed truth."

 

The word heresy appears only once in the scriptures (Acts 24:14), where Paul says,

"But I confess this to thee, that in the way which they call sect [heresy], so I serve the ancestral god, believing all things which have been written throughout the law and the prophets."

 

The word sect comes from airesin, which the popular KJV translated as heresy.  Thayer (p. 16) says,

"that which is chosen, a chosen course of thought and action; hence one’s chosen opinion, tenet; acc. to the context."

 

Paul was saying that the Jews called him a heretic, or one who had a different opinion that was different from their opinion.

 

Remember, Jesus came under the law. Paul explained this in Galatians 4:4-7.

"But when the fullness of time came, the god sent forth his son, come of woman, come under law, that he might ransom those under law, that we might receive adoption. But because ye are sons, the god sent forth the spirit of his son into your hearts crying, Abba, father. So no longer art thou bondman, but son; and if son, also heir of god through christ."

 

Jesus came under the law to fulfill the law, because men could not, and thus he ransomed them, or paid the cost to redeem them. The law brought death, but grace gave life.

 

Matthew 10:32-33 says,

"Therefore, every one whosoever shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before the father who [is] in [the] heavens. But whosoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before the father who [is] in [the] heavens."

 

Today, we understand that when Jesus spoke about "the father which is in the heavens" he was speaking of the invisible god. However, those to whom he spoke still thought of "their father in heaven" as Jehovah. It was only after the death of Jesus that they would learn for certain that Jesus spoke of a different father in heaven than they had understood earlier.

 

In Matthew 11:21-24, Jesus made it very clear that he was disturbed at the people’s unbelief.

"Woe to thee, Chorazin! woe to thee, Bethsaida! for if the works of power which have taken place in you, had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they had repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, who hast been lifted up to the heaven, shalt be brought down to hades; for if the works of power which have taken place in thee, had taken place in Sodom, it had remained until today. But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for [the] land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee."

 

This was quite an indictment of unbelief. There is the possibility that we today will be punished even greater because we have had more light than they had. The people then saw his miracles which foretold he was messiah. People now have the testimony of the disciples and the holy spirit which testifies to his truthfulness.

 

One of the most poignant pleas Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 11:25-30.

"At that time Jesus answering said, I praise thee, O father, lord of the heaven and the earth, that thou didst hide these things from wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to babes. Yea, the father, for thus it was well-pleasing before thee. All things were delivered to me by the father. And no one knows the son except the father; nor does the father know any one except the son, and he to whomsoever the son may will to reveal [him]. Come to me, all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."

 

Consider the phrase, "I praise thee, O father, lord of heaven and earth."  How could this phrase be understood one way by his disciples, and another way by the people? The disciples knew the Old Testament, and they knew that Jehovah was called the lord, the god of the heaven, and the god of earth (for example, see Genesis 24:3). Jesus was now becoming more specific in terms of what his calling was, stating that all things were delivered to him by his father. Remember, though, that Jesus, having been with the invisible god as Jehovah, spoke of his father as the invisible god of which they yet knew nothing.

 

This was a profound statement of power, even to the disciples. They must have understood Jesus’ words to mean that Jehovah had given him all things. However, if Jesus really was the messiah, this would be expected, since the messiah was to deliver them from their enemies.

 

Had not Jehovah, the god of Israel, granted great power to other "anointed ones" to deliver Israel from enemies? Why should they expect less from this messiah? This messiah was expected to deliver them from the Roman army, and to make Israel the ruling nation of the earth. While they were not wrong to expect this, circumstances over which they had no control would intervene, and the glorious "day of the lord" would be postponed until the second coming of Jesus.

 

By this point, the Pharisees knew there was definitely something different, even wrong, with this anointed one, or messiah. They had come to hate Jesus, who they assumed had to be some kind of charlatan.

 

Matthew 12 says that the Pharisees saw Jesus and his disciples, plucking ears of corn to eat while strolling through the field on the sabbath. They asked him about this desecration of the sabbath, and the breaking of the sabbath law. Jesus told them of how David and his followers ate the shew bread of the temple when they were hungry even though it was supposedly breaking the law, as only priests were supposed to eat it.

 

Then in 12:5-8 Jesus says to them,

"Or have ye not read in the law, that on the sabbaths the priests in the temple profane the sabbath and are guiltless? But I say to you, that a greater than the temple is here. But if ye had known what is, Mercy I desire and not sacrifice, ye had not condemned the guiltless. For the son of the man is also lord of the sabbath."

 

Jesus told the Pharisees that every time the priests circumcise a child on the sabbath, that they are profaning it, or making the sabbath like any other day; but, they are not found guilty.

 

Then, Jesus really became daring when he stated, "A greater than the temple is here."  They must have believed that no man was greater than the temple, where the presence of Jehovah dwelled in the holy of holies. This man, Jesus, was really becoming dangerous!  Then, Jesus went even further, and said, "For the son of the man is also lord of the sabbath."

 

Following this, Jesus went into the synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand, on the sabbath!  When confronted with the healing on the sabbath, Jesus told them that if any of them had one sheep, and it had fallen into a pit, they would pull it out, even on the sabbath. Was not a man, and his needs, he said, more important than a sheep? (Matthew 12:9-13).

 

This so angered the Pharisees that they began planning to kill him. Still, the people followed him, and he healed them all. Then, Matthew 12:16-21 notes,

"And [Jesus] strictly charged them that they should not make him publicly known, so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken by Esias the prophet, saying, Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul has found delight. I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall declare judgment to the nations. He shall not strive nor cry out, nor shall any one in the streets hear his voice. A bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench, until he bring forth the judgment into victory. And in his name [the] nations shall hope."

 

Isaiah’s prophecy, which Jesus quoted, may be found in Isaiah 42:1-3.

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth."

 

Jesus, being Jehovah of the Old Testament, knew that he was only a spokesman for the invisible god. He could still apply prophecies uttered by Jehovah to himself even though he was the Old Testament Jehovah made flesh. They are one and the same—both Jehovah, the word of the Old Testament, and Jesus, the word in the New Testament. Both spoke only what they were instructed by the invisible god under whose authority they acted.

 

When Jesus quoted this scripture as applying to himself, he did not endear himself to the religious rulers of the day. He said that he would bring hope to the nations, or the gentiles. The religious rulers believed that Jehovah, the god of Israel, would never allow the Gentiles to be equal with the Jews. No wonder the Pharisees became so upset when they heard his statements.

 

Jesus gradually became more daring in his assertions, and in applying prophecies concerning the coming of the last messiah to himself. He was claiming to not only be an anointed one, or a christ, but that he was like no other christ. He claimed to be the greatest one who would deliver Israel, and guide her into being the leading nation of the earth!

 

The Pharisees undoubtedly thought he was doing nothing visible to deliver Israel; and their hated grew. He was attracting a great following, but no army to do battle with the Romans. They no doubt considered him to be all wind, and no substance, and accused him of all sorts of trickery.

 

Matthew 12:22-28 says,

"Then one possessed by a demon was brought to him, blind and dumb, and he healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the crowds were amazed and said, Is this the son of David? But the Pharisees, having heard, said, This [man] casts not out the demons except by Beelzebul prince of the demons. But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, he said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. And if satan cast out satan, he was divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebul cast out the demons, by whom do your sons they cast out? On account of this, they shall be judges of you. But if I by [the] spirit of god cast out the demons, then the kingdom of the god has come upon you."

 

The word satan may have a variety of meanings. Thayer (p. 100) says this about the name Beelzebul:

"lord of dung or of filth, i.e., of idolatry; ...the few who follow Jerome in preferring the form Beelzeboub derives from the Hebrew words, lord of flies, a false god of the Ekronites [2K. I.2] having the power to drive away troublesome flies, and think the Jews transferred the name to satan in contempt."

 

Jesus continued to heal the sick as a sign that he was the supreme anointed one. Healing was also an omen of the time when there would be no suffering or illness in the kingdom of The God. In doing what he did, Jesus was offering the Jewish people an authentic kingdom of God, but they rejected it.

 

Many of the people who followed Jesus did so because he healed people, not because they had any desire to serve him. In rejecting him as the messiah, they also rejected the kingdom of God being represented to them in the presence of Jesus.

 

When Jesus cast the demons out of the dumb and blind man (Matthew 12:23), the people wondered if he were the son of David. This was in reference to Psalms 132:11, which says,

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) swore to David a sure oath; he will not turn back from it; I will set up the fruit of thy womb on your throne."

 

They were aware that the scriptures told of a future time when a son of David would sit forever on the throne of Israel as king. They had the truth, but they still questioned.

 

Jesus never avoided a conflict with religious people, or those who had the proper outward actions but no inward dedication to their god. To the Pharisees, he said

"Offspring of vipers, being wicked, how are ye able to speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of the good treasure of the heart puts forth good things; and the wicked man out of the wicked treasure puts forth wicked things." (Matthew 12:34-35).

 

The battle for truth was now joined with the Pharisees and the scribes, and both groups openly opposed Jesus for condemning their religiosity. This open conflict brought about a change in how Jesus proceeded with his ministry. His new method would divide those who truly wanted to serve him from those who followed him only for what they could receive from him.

 

The Pharisees and the scribes, seeking to trap Jesus, asked him for a sign (as though what he had been doing were not sign enough). Jesus told them,

"A wicked and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, and a sign shall not be given to it, except the sign of Jonas the prophet. For even as Jonas was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, thus shall the son of the man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." (Matthew 12:39-40).

 

Jesus used the experience of Jonah as a representation, or precursor, of his own death, burial, and resurrection. However, neither the Pharisees nor the scribes understood—nor did his disciples, as we will see later.

 

Matthew 12:46-50 describes the second time that Mary, his mother, interfered in his spiritual work (the first time occurred when she scolded him for being in the temple, disputing the scriptures with the priests: Luke 2:46-48).

"But while yet he was speaking to the crowds, behold, [his] mother and his brethren were standing without, seeking to speak to him. Then one of them said to him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren are standing without, seeking to speak to thee. But answering he said to him who spoke to him, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching out his hand to his disciples, he said, Behold, my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of the father who [is] in [the] heavens, he is my brother and sister and mother."

 

Jesus was refuting anyone who thought that his mother had more influence on him than any other obedient believer. All of the religious veneration paid to Mary by millions of people around the world is done against the desires of her son, Jesus.

 

Mary had nothing to do with Jesus' spiritual duties, and she is now dead. Her body is in the grave, awaiting the resurrection the same as all the other dead. Her spirit has returned to The God, just as millions of others have. It does not make one bit of difference that some people declare the opposite to be true.

 

Matthew 13:10-14 indicates that his disciples were puzzled about why Jesus used parables.

"And having come to [him] the disciples said to him, Why speakest thou in parables to them? And he answering said to them, Because to you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens, but to them it has not been given. For whosoever has, shall be given to him, and he shall be in abundance; but whosoever has not, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Because of this I speak to them in parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, nor do they understand. And the prophecy of Esias is filled up in them, which says, In hearing ye shall hear, and in no wise understand; and seeing ye shall see, and in no wise perceive."

 

Most of his followers were not considered educated; they were only simple people who had committed themselves to Jesus. Earlier, Jesus had said that many things were hidden from the wise and shown to the simple (Matthew 11:25). Here, in Matthew 13, Jesus said that the parables he used were designed to consciously separate the committed followers from the others.

 

His comments about parables also indicated the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 6:9-10.

"And he said, Go, and say to this people, Hear and hear, but do not understand; and see and see, but do not perceive. Make fat the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn (to them) and be healed."

 

Matthew 13:17 indicates that Jesus considered his disciples as privileged.

"For verily I say to you, that many prophets and righteous [men] desired to see what ye see, and saw not; and to hear what ye hear, and heard not."

 

Jesus was revealing things to his disciples that the Old Testament prophets may have spoken of, but had not lived to see or hear.

 

Jesus continued to teach about the kingdom of God in parables. Matthew 13:24-30 says that his parable about the sower (Matthew 13:3-9) provided a description of how people would react differently to the word of the kingdom. He told them to let the tares, or weeds, grow with the wheat until harvest time, when they would be separated. If they pulled the weeds sooner, it could also ruin the wheat. At the harvest, the weeds would be gathered for burning, while the wheat would be put in the granary. The wheat represented those who committed themselves to him and his teaching, and the weeds represented those who did not.

 

After awhile, Jesus returned to his home town to teach. The people there were both astonished and affronted.

"And having come into country his [own], he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, Whence to this [man] this wisdom and the works of power? Is not this the son of the carpenter? [Is] not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James and Joses and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Whence then all these things to this [man]? And they were offended in him." (Matthew 13:54-57). Jesus replied, "A prophet is not without honor except in his [own] country and in his [own] house." (Matthew 13:57).

 

Jesus continued to slowly unravel who he was, what he was doing, and who he was revealing. In the beginning, he had taught all the people. By turning to the use of parables, he focused his ministry on those who were willing to understand at least part of what he said. He knew, however, that there would be few who were willing to understand his mission and commit themselves to him.

 

Matthew 14 relates that when Jesus went apart to pray, his disciples left in a ship. In the midst of a storm, the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. Peter began to walk on the water toward Jesus, but then he became frightened and began to sink. Jesus rescued him and brought him to the ship, and the storm abated.

 

Then, the disciples said, after they had come to worship him,

"Truly thou art son of a god." (Matthew 14:33).

 

The casual Bible reader would probably think that the disciples finally recognized Jesus for who he really was. However, a little grammar will show how little the disciples really understood about Jesus. The disciples were admitting that Jesus had powers above ordinary men. It had taken awhile, but they were beginning to realize that he was more than just another teacher. Still, they had a long way to go before they would fully recognize who Jesus actually was.

 

There are three ways in which a reference to Jesus being "a son of a god" may be written. One, as in Matthew 14:33, would be to acknowledge that Jesus was some kind of demigod, or "a son of some god."

 

Another way would be to acknowledge that Jesus was "a son of the god," a term commonly used concerning the prophets and kings of the Old Testament, where the god identified was Jehovah, the god of Israel.

 

The third grammatical way this could be written would be to acknowledge that Jesus is "the son of the god," not just one son among many, but a son set above all other sons of the god of whom the people were speaking.

 

Jesus became more and more embroiled in controversy with the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew 15:1-9 says,

"Then the scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, Why thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answering said to them, Why also ye transgress the commandment of the god on account of your tradition? For the god commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother; and, He who speaks evil of father or mother, by death let him die. But ye say, Whoever shall say to father or mother, [It is] a gift whatever by me thou mightest be profited; and in no wise honor his father or his mother. And ye make void the commandment of the god on account of your tradition. Hypocrites! Esaias prophesied well concerning you, saying, This people draw near to me with their mouth, and it honors me with the lips; but their heart is far away from me. But in vain they worship me, teaching [as] teachings injunctions of men."

 

Keep in mind that the god who gave the laws was the Old Testament Jehovah, the word of The God, who had not yet been revealed.

 

Jehovah had told the people to honor their father and their mother, which included monetary care of their parents. It was not about simply being kind and courteous, which we commonly associate with the word honor. Jesus was criticizing them for not supporting their parents financially.

 

Rather than supporting their parents, people would say that they had dedicated their resources to their god. Therefore, since it was a gift to their god, they could not help their parents financially. Although they still retained custody of this "gift," they used the subterfuge that what they did with it involved a stewardship to their god.

 

This tradition had grown up among the wealthy Pharisees and scribes, and Jesus was telling them that they had voided the commandments of Jehovah by ignoring one of the ten commandments, which was worse than eating with unwashed hands. By their tradition, they had nullified the only commandment with a promise.

 

Jesus was now openly opposing the negative part of the Jewish religion that had grown up around the clear concepts of scripture. When that happens, religion becomes ossified, and its traditions replace the laws of god.

 

This is exactly the condition of churches today. For the most part their traditional beliefs are unchangeable, and more than that, they are not even to be questioned. By labeling everybody and every thought opposite to these embedded beliefs as heresy, they have managed to keep their tenets unchanged for centuries.

 

Thank God for heretics who at least try to broaden the parameters of the static religions of our own day. Most will find, as Jesus did, that it is impossible to change anything by staying within the organization one is trying to change. Religion that is only form, without any heart, will eventually drive dissenters out, even as the Jews drove out Jesus. He became an outsider of the Jewish religion, especially the religious leaders, as Matthew makes abundantly clear.

 

Matthew 15:21-29 describes the Canaanite woman, a Gentile, who asked Jesus to cure her sick daughter. When Jesus did not answer her, she persisted. Finally, Jesus said,

"I was not sent except to the lost sheep of [the] house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24).

 

However, he also set a new precedent when he healed her daughter. He not only ministered to a Gentile, he even commended her faith!

 

Matthew 15:29-31 says,

"And having departed thence, Jesus came towards the sea of Galilee, and having gone up into the mountain, he was sitting there. And great crowds came to him, having with them lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others; and they cast down them at the feet of Jesus, and he healed them, so that the crowds wondered, seeing dumb speaking, maimed sound, lame walking, and blind seeing; and they glorified the god of Israel."

 

This "god of Israel" was Jehovah. Keep in mind that the people were still ignorant about the existence of the invisible god we know because of Jesus’ revelation. They thought that Jehovah was the god of Jesus, and they did not realize that Jesus was Jehovah. Jesus still had a long way to go to convince people that he was Jehovah, their god, in the flesh.

 

Matthew 16:13-20 is an amazing section of scripture!

"And Jesus having come into the parts of Caesarea Phillippi, he questioned his disciples, saying, Whom do men pronounce me the son of the man to be? And they said, Some John the baptist, and others Elias, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. He says to them, But ye, whom do ye pronounce me to be? And answering Simon Peter said, Thou art the christ, the son of the god the living. And answering Jesus said to him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonas, for flesh and blood revealed [it] not to thee, but the father who [is] in the heavens. And I also say to thee, That thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and gates of hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatever thou mayest bind on the earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatever thou mayest loose on the earth shall be loosed in the heavens. Then he charged his disciples that they should say to no one that he is Jesus the christ."

 

Jesus referred to himself as "the son of the man," but acknowledged to his disciples that he was "the christ, the son of the living god."  He then ordered them not to divulge this truth. Although Matthew—writing after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—had mentioned this before, Jesus was still not ready to fully divulge that his real mission was to be "the" messiah, not simply "a" messiah.

 

We will discover later that not even his disciples fully understood the implications of what Jesus had just said. To them, he was the messiah of the living god, which to them was Jehovah. They were still Jews of the old school, and even they understood only a small part of what Jesus was telling them.  This will be quite clear when our study reaches John 14 and 16.

 

Matthew 16:21-23 relates that Jesus said something that evoked a negative response from Peter.

"From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that it is necessary for him to go away to Jerusalem, and to suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and the third day to be raised. And having taken Peter to him, began to rebuke him, saying, [God be] favorable to thee, lord, in no wise shall this be to thee. But he having turned said to Peter, Get behind me, satan: thou art an offense to me, for thy thoughts are not of the things of the god, but the things of men."

 

Perhaps Peter saw only the matter of physical death, and completely missed the point that Jesus was to be raised on the third day. Perhaps he did not really believe that Jesus would be raised again. This may have been so incomprehensible to him that it did not even register.

 

Note carefully that because Peter was opposing the will of The God, Jesus addressed him as a satan. This was because the word satan means a divider. Peter, unknowingly, was seeking to divide Jesus from the purpose of The God.

 

The flesh often deceives us this way. Many people believe they are serving God in their lives, but they never make the effort to find out for sure. God said that his ways are far different than our ways.

 

Before leaving this passage of scripture about the death and resurrection of Jesus, Mark 9:31-32, while remarking on this same event, gives evidence that even the disciples were grasping only part of what Jesus was teaching them.

"For he was teaching his disciples, and said to them, The son of the man is delivered into [the] hands of men, and they will kill him; and having been killed, he will arise on the third day. But they understood not the saying, and were afraid to ask him."

 

They were only human, with limited experience, and may have never heard of a resurrection. No wonder they had difficulty understanding what Jesus was saying. Perhaps it was pride that kept them from asking. No one likes to be thought ignorant, and these disciples were only men. Most of us have been in similar situations where we do not understand something, but are afraid to ask.

 

Matthew 17:1-8 describes the event that occurred when Jesus took Peter, James, and John into a mountain apart from the others.

"And after six days, Jesus takes with [him] Peter and James and John his brother, and brings them up into a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone as the sun, and his garments became white as the light; and behold, Moses and Elias appeared to them talking with him. And Peter answering said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here. If thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While yet he was speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and, lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my son the beloved, in whom I have found delight; hear ye him. And hearing [it], the disciples fell upon their face, and were greatly terrified. And having come to [them], Jesus touched them, and said, Rise up, and be not terrified. And having lifted up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus alone."

 

Jesus had taken the three disciples who were closest to him. But even after seeing Jesus transfigured, with his face as the sun and his clothing white as light, Peter only identified him as an equal with Moses and Elijah, another prophet with a glorified body.

 

Note that the disciples were not frightened until they heard a voice speak from the cloud. They believed the voice came from their god, Jehovah, the god of Israel. They did not yet fully understand what they had experienced on this mountain.

 

After the transfiguration, Jesus told them,

"To no one tell the vision, until the son of the man be risen from among [the] dead." (Matthew 17:9).

 

The actual Greek says Jesus would be raised "from among the dead."  This would not be part of a general resurrection. Later scriptures will reveal that these coming events, which Jesus was describing, proved to be a mental overload for the disciples, and only in the future would they fully understand his words.

 

The disciples did have one thing right: they expected Jesus to usher in the kingdom of the heavens. Matthew 18 indicates that they came to Jesus asking who will be the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens? Jesus set a little child in the middle of them, and told them that unless they became as that little child, they would not even enter the kingdom of the heavens.

 

Those who make themselves as humble as a child will be the greatest in the kingdom of the heavens, or the kingdom of The God. Why? Because a child normally worries very little about his present, or his future. He depends on his parents to care for any thing which affects his life.

 

Any person who will enter into the kingdom of The God must also depend upon the heavenly father for all of his needs, not only in this life, but in the one of the future, the life, or what we call eternal life. Entering into the kingdom of The God is dependent on the works of the Father, and of his son, through a body yielded to him for his service. Only those works done through us by The God will stand the fires of the judgment seat of the christ when he comes and judges the works of all men.

 

Lest the reader misunderstand about The God, let us try to clearly state it again. When Jesus used the words "the god," he was speaking of the invisible creator god, of which he had full knowledge. But, to the disciples, that same term, "the god," meant Jehovah, the god of Israel, the only god they knew about.   For the most part, this continued to be true throughout the synoptic gospels.

 

There is nothing more blinding to understanding scripture than many of the orthodox denominational teachings. Whenever we attempt to explain scriptural concepts to those who are saturated with denominational doctrines, they usually interpret them according to what their religious organization teaches.

 

That is exactly the same problem Jesus was having with his disciples as he tried to explain to them the new concept of grace. He told them about himself and what his ministry was all about, but they still interpreted his sayings according to the Old Testament concepts they knew. Those who did understand some of his teachings, such as the Pharisees and scribes, rebelled against him because if they accepted his message they would have to admit that at least some of what they believed was wrong. In spiritual matters, this is a fearsome dilemma.

 

Matthew 19:16-17 says,

"And behold, one having come to [him] said to him, Good teacher, what good [thing] shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he said to him, Why thou callest me good? No one [is] good except one, the god. But if thou desirest to enter into life, keep the commandments.

 

Two concepts stand out here. First, Jesus essentially denied that he is The God. Second, he answered the question that was posed to him, i.e., "what must I do?"  Unless we trust what Jesus did for our salvation, then we must keep the whole law, which is impossible. It is only the work of Jesus that brings salvation.

 

Matthew 19:25-26 adds further support.

"And having heard [this] his disciples were exceedingly astonished, saying, Who then is able to be saved? But looking on [them], Jesus said to them, With men this is impossible, but with god all things are possible."

 

To these disciples, who were under law, this must have been quite a mystery. They had been taught that salvation was in the word, or the keeping of the law. They must have wondered about this new concept, and it would not be until later that they would understand it.

 

Despite this clear statement, organized religions still tell people "what they must do to be saved."  But, they can do nothing!  It is impossible!

 

Matthew 19:27-28 provided the disciples with a further glance into the future.

"Then Peter answering said to him, Lo, we left all things and followed thee; what then shall be to us? And Jesus said to them, Verily, I say to you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the son of the man shall sit down upon [the] throne of his glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

 

They were not promised these rewards because of what they had done. By "following him," they only demonstrated their faith.  However, if they did not rebel against the measure of faith given to them, they will receive what Jesus was now promising them. For this reason, Judas will not be sitting on a throne judging a tribe of Israel in the next age, or as Jesus called it, in the regeneration.

 

This is an important point for all of us.  What any of us do only demonstrates our faith.  However, if we do not rebel against the portion of holy spirit given to us, we will gain entrance into the kingdom.

 

Matthew 20:20-23 contains another example showing how Jesus drew a definite distinction between the Father and himself.

"Then came to him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, doing homage and asking something from him. And he said to her, What dost thou desire? She says to him, Say that these my two sons may sit one on thy right hand and one on [thy] left in thy kingdom. But Jesus answering said, Ye know not what ye ask for. Are ye able to drink the cup which I am about to drink, and to be baptized [with] the baptism which I am baptized [with]? They say to him, We are able. And he says to them, Indeed ye shall drink my cup, and ye shall be baptized [with] the baptism which I am baptized [with]; but to sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but [to those] for whom it has been prepared by my father."

 

This clearly shows that Jesus acknowledged his subordination to "his father."  The disciples were still looking forward to the time when Jesus would defeat the army of Rome, and set up his own kingdom. However, their conception of the kingdom was quite different from that of Jesus. We will discover later that this difference in understanding created disarray and disbelief among the disciples.

 

Matthew 20:29-34 presents another first, when the two blind men address Jesus as lord, son of David. They did this twice, and neither time did Jesus tell them to not speak about this to anyone else. Jesus was now becoming more open about the truth that he was the son of David who would sit upon the throne of Israel. These two men cried out publicly, and Jesus neither rebuked nor silenced them.

 

Matthew 21:1-11 indicates the final step of openness about Beth-phage.

"And when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth-phage towards the mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, Go into the village, that opposite you, and immediately ye will find an ass tied, and a colt with her. Having loosed [them] bring [them] to me. And if any one say anything to you, ye shall say, The lord has need of them. And immediately he will send them. But this all came to pass that might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Say to the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy king comes to thee, meek and mounted on an ass and a colt, [the] foal of a beast of burden. And the disciples having gone, and having done as Jesus ordered them, they brought the ass and the colt, and put upon them their garments, and he sat on them. And the greater part [of the] crowd strewed their garments on the way, and others were cutting down branches from the trees and strewing [them] on the way. And the crowds, those going before and those following, were crying out, saying, Hosanna to the son of David; blessed [be] he who comes in [the] name of [the] lord. Hosanna in the highest. And as he entered into Jerusalem all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the crowds said, This is Jesus the prophet, he who [is] from Nazareth of Galilee."

 

The prophecy referred to comes from Zechariah 9:9:

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; lo, your King comes to you; he is triumphant and victorious; humble, and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass."

 

With this act, Jesus was blatantly declaring that he was the king of Israel, the prophesied son of David.

 

Notice, too, that the people spoke of Jesus coming in the name, or power, of the lord. That lord, to them, was Jehovah. They were still not aware that Jesus was Jehovah, himself. They did not yet realize that Jesus was actually Jehovah, who had become flesh to dwell among them.

 

When the crowds identified Jesus as the prophet from Nazareth, did they also consider that prophet as their king? Whether they did or not, Jesus was not only a prophet and king, but also a high priest. He was the fulfillment of all three of these Old Testament offices. The first two offices can be seen here in this passage, while the third will be revealed later.

 

Matthew 21:12 says that Jesus

"entered into the temple of the god."

 

In the Old Testament study, we found that the temple was built as a dwelling place for the presence of Jehovah. Now, Jesus was returning to the temple, but his presence was no longer hidden by the cloud. He was there in person, but the people did not recognize him for who he really was.

 

However, Jesus did show that he was the lord of the temple by driving the money changers from the outer court of the Gentiles, which was where the converts to Judaism were allowed to worship before Jehovah. Since the Gentile converts were always considered second-class Jews, the Jews who claimed descent from Abraham thought very little about his usurping the only place in the temple where the Gentiles were allowed.

 

What they failed to realize was that when Jesus entered the temple, it was the culmination of an event which had its beginning hundreds of years before. Ezekiel 10 tells of the cherubim who had shown Ezekiel the vision about the coals of fire. The cherubim are described in Ezekiel 10:10- 12:

"And as for their appearance, the same likeness to the four of them, as if the wheel were within the wheel. When they went, unto the four of their four sides they went; they did not turn when they went, but they went after him the place (direction) the head faced; they did not turn as they went. And their whole body and their back and their hands and their wings and the wheels were full of eyes round about to the four of them their wheels."

 

The more interesting part, however, occurs in Ezekiel 10:18-19.

"Then the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) went forth from the threshold of the house and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight as they went forth, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the door of the eastern gate of the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and the glory of the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel above over them."

 

This describes the time when the glory cloud which stayed in the holy of holies had departed from the temple. Jehovah was no longer maintaining a presence in the temple, nor with his people, Israel. The significance of Jesus returning to the courts of the temple was that once again the presence of Jehovah, now in the person of Jesus, had returned to the temple for a short period of time. However, the people of Israel also did not understand this point.

 

Jesus said,

"It has been written, My house shall be called a house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of robbers" (Matthew 21:13).

 

Here, he was clearly stating that the temple, the house of Jehovah, was his own. Jesus was referring to Isaiah 56:7, which says,

"For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

 

Matthew 21:23 says,

"And on his coming into the temple, there came up to him, [when] teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people, saying, By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave this authority to thee?"

 

Rather than answering them, Jesus asked a question which placed them in a quandary.

"And answering Jesus said to them, I will also ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I also will say to you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or from men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we should say, From heaven, he will say to us, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we should say, From men, we fear the multitude, for all hold John as a prophet. And answering Jesus they said, We know not. He also said to them, Neither I tell you by what authority I do these things." (Matthew 21:24-27).

 

Although he silenced his would-be accusers, Jesus did not endear himself to them. He was now openly antagonistic toward those who were only outwardly religious. He was fully aware that these were the very people who would later call for his crucifixion.

 

Jesus continued speaking in parables, but often spoke plainly in condemning the scribes, Pharisees, and elders of Israel, the religious rulers. Matthew 21:31-32 says,

"Verily I say to you, That the tax-gatherers and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of the god. For John came to you in [the] way of righteousness, and ye did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and the harlots believed him. But ye, having seen, did not repent afterwards to believe him."

 

The word metemelethete, repent, was used in its proper sense, indicating a change of mind. After they saw that John, the Baptist, came in righteousness, they would not change their minds, or repent.

 

Matthew 21:43-44 says,

"Because of this I say to you, That the kingdom of the god shall be taken from you, and it shall be given to a nation producing the fruits of it. And he who falls on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."

 

Again, Jesus spoke bluntly to the Jews. No longer will they be the chosen people to demonstrate the glory of God to others. There will be another nation, or people, through whom this would be done in the future.

 

In prophesying the future judgment of Israel, Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 8:13-15, which these religious leaders were sure to understand as referring to Jehovah.

"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble thereon; they shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken."

 

Jesus was clearly applying Isaiah’s prophecy to himself. The religious leaders also knew that he was applying the prophecy to them. They were the ones who would be broken and ground to powder.

 

The scribes and Pharisees continually tried to test and trap Jesus with questions, but he stymied them with his truth. Matthew 22:41-46 represents such an attempt.

"But the Pharisees having been assembled together, Jesus questioned them, saying, What think ye concerning the christ, of whom son is he? They say to him, Of David. He says to them, How then David in spirit does call him lord, saying, Said the lord to my lord, Sit on my right hand until I place thine enemies [as] a footstool for thy feet. If therefore David calls him lord, how is he his son? And no one was able to answer a word, nor dared anyone from that day to question him any more."

 

The Pharisees knew that Jehovah had promised that at some time in the future he would raise up a descendant of David to sit upon the throne of Israel. However, without the knowledge which Jesus had, they could not answer the question he posed to them, which came from Psalms 110:1.

"A psalm to David. Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) says to my lord (‘adown:H113), Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool."

 

In the Hebrew, this represents a play on words. In the KJV, the word for Jehovah is written with all capitals (LORD), while the other word, meaning to be lord, or master, of someone is written in lower case with only the first letter capitalized (Lord).

 

In Matthew 22:43, Jesus said that David was speaking "in spirit," or under the power of holy spirit by which he was prophesying, and called him lord, or master. The question was this: How could David speak both of a son and of his lord in the same breath?

 

Jesus knew something the Pharisees did not: that he was the lord, or Jehovah, who had become flesh. By becoming flesh, he was both the lord, or master, of David, and yet was descended from him. If the Pharisees answered Jesus, they would have to admit this, and they were not about to do that. Therefore, they answered nothing. Jesus had trapped them into facing the truth that he was Jehovah, the god of Israel, now in the flesh. As such, he was also their lord, or master. They must either acknowledge him or deny him. They chose the latter by their silence.

 

This was the same hurdle that most of the leaders of Israel would not cross. No wonder they sought to kill him. They thought that by killing him they would be finally rid of him, that his death would prove he was an imposter. They thought that Jehovah, their god, could not die. What they failed to realize was that Jehovah was only the spokesman for the invisible god, and it was the invisible god who could not die. When Jehovah of the Old Testament became the man Jesus, he could die like any other person.

 

The difference, of course, was that the grave would not hold Jesus. He would be resurrected out from among the dead ones as a kind of first-fruits to the invisible god, his father.

 

Jesus, by quoting Psalm 110:1, did not explicitly say he was Jehovah, but he strongly implied it. This implication would be plain for anyone who wanted to consider it carefully. This was the closest he had come to admitting who he really was. He had already told his disciples this much, but they did not understand how the messiah could die before delivering Israel from the Romans.

 

Jesus taught the crowds, and his disciples, about humility. Matthew 23:8-12 says,

"But ye be not called rabbi, for one is your leader, the christ, and all ye are brethren. And call not [any one] on earth your father, for one is your father, who [is] in the heavens. Neither be called leaders, for one is your leader, the christ. But the greater of you shall be your servant. And whosoever will exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever will humble himself shall be exalted."

 

The message is clear. We, as humans, have no ability of our own to boast about. Anything we have has been given to us. If we boast about what The God has done through us by his son, and by holy spirit, we shall be humbled. If we follow the advice of Jesus, and humble ourselves, we shall be exalted.

 

The verbs in verse 23:12 are future tense, both in the Greek and the English translation. When will the proud be humbled, and the humble be exalted?  This will occur at the second coming of Jesus, when all men’s works will be tested. This testing will show whether men’s works were done out of love and commitment to The God, or done only in the flesh for their own glory.

 

It is often difficult to know whether we are truly humble in our work for Jesus, the Christ. As scripture points out, pride is deceitful, and it always precedes a fall.

 

Again, Matthew 23:37-39 points out how Jesus proclaimed that he was Jehovah, the god of Israel.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who killed the prophets, and stoned those who have been sent to her. How often would I have gathered together thy children, in the way a hen gathers together her brood under [her] wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, In no wise shall ye see me henceforth until ye say, Blessed [is] he who comes in [the] name of [the] lord."

 

Jesus was stating that in the past, or in Old Testament times, he had sent prophets to Jerusalem, and they had been killed. Also, that many times, as Jehovah, he would have gathered the people together, but they would not. They were stiff-necked and stubborn people!

 

As time progressed, Jesus became more forthright, virtually saying that not only was he messiah and king to the people, but since he had been the god of Israel, he was also their lord.

 

Matthew 24 relates how Jesus told his disciples about many of the events which would come to pass before he returned. He told them that many messiahs would come in his name, saying, "I am the christ," but that they should not follow such false messiahs.

 

He also told them that there would be wars pitting nation against nation, and that the disciples would be delivered up for persecution, some even killed.

 

He pointed out that his return would not be hidden, that it would be highly visible, but that it would still be a surprise to those not watching for it. Matthew 24:27 says,

"For as the lightning comes forth from [the] east, and appears as far as [the] west, so also shall be the coming of the son of man."

 

[For a thorough treatment of Jesus’ return, see our book, The Apocalypse of Revelation.]

 

Matthew 24:30 describes another sign of Jesus’ return.

"And then shall the sign of the son of the man appear in the heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the land wail, and they shall see the son of the man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory."

 

No one will be able to miss the return of Jesus, the Christ. Note that Jesus was still referring to himself as "the son of the man."  He did this to note his close identification with mankind. He was the greatest of any man who has ever lived. He was unique, or "the" son, there was none other like him, nor will there ever be one like him.

 

For two millennia, various people have prescribed a specific time for the return of Jesus. They have all been wrong, and they have all ignored Matthew 24:44, which says,

"Wherefore also ye be ready, for in what hour ye think not the son of the man comes."

 

Jesus clearly intended that we should not waste time trying to predict the time of his return, but that we should intently watch for it. When can Jesus come? At any time!

 

When Jesus spoke like this, it must have puzzled his disciples. Jesus, whom they believed to be messiah, was with them now, yet he spoke as though he, or another, would come sometime in the future. What did it all mean? Theologians are still arguing about whether Matthew 24-28 referred to the destruction of Jerusalem around 60 A. D., or whether it referred to a time still in the future.

 

Matthew 25 contains several parables about when and how the son of the man will come in his glory. Matthew 25:31-32 describes how great this son of a man will be.

"But when comes the son of the man in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then will he sit upon [the] throne of his glory. And shall be gathered before him all the nations, and he will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

 

The early theme in Matthew was that Jesus was the son of David who would rule on the throne of Israel. The term "the son of David" related specifically to no one but the house of Israel.

 

However, Jesus had now widened the scope of his influence. Just as the thousands of sacrificial lambs killed at the first passover in Egypt became an "it," now Jesus, in a sense, was fulfilling the mystery of why Exodus describes those many slain lambs in the singular. Jesus was not only the lamb that takes away the sin of the world, but he was now showing that he will also be king over all the nations, and that he will judge them.

 

Matthew 26:1-2 refers to the imminent death of Jesus.

"And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days the passover takes place, and the son of the man is delivered up to be crucified."

 

Matthew 26 goes on to describe how the enemies of Jesus would conspire to kill him. Then, describing the last supper Jesus had with his disciples, Matthew 26:29-30 says,

"But I say to you, that not at all will I drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of my father. And having sung a hymn they went out to the mount of Olives."

 

Finally, after coming to Gethsemane, Jesus went apart from his disciples to pray, asking the Father, if possible, to

"let this cup pass from me"  (Matthew 26:39).

 

Luke 22:42-44, describing the same event, says,

"Saying, Father, if thou art willing to take away this cup from me, but not my will be done, but thine. And an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. And being in conflict, he prayed more intently, and his sweat became as great drops of blood falling down to the earth."

 

When Jesus was fighting his fleshly instincts in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, that was a tremendous trial; but, this trial was even worse. He was not only facing a terrible death by crucifixion, but he knew that when he became sin for all the people he would be separated from his father’s face. The God will not look upon sin, even when it is his only unique son. This was the ultimate test of will that Jesus faced. From here on, he willingly submitted to what his enemies were preparing for him. Hallelujah! What a savior!

 

Jesus knew that it did not matter what he said in his own defense, that his doom was already sealed. Therefore, he answered not a word in his own defense.

 

Matthew 26:63-64 indicates that he gave a prophecy for the future, but nothing that would cause him to be acquitted.

"But Jesus was silent. And answering the high priest said to him, I adjure thee by the god the living, that us thou tell if thou art the christ, the son of the god. Says to him Jesus, Thou hast said. Moreover, I say to you, Henceforth ye shall see the son of the man sitting at [the] right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven"

 

By remaining silent, Jesus fulfilled another prophecy recorded in Isaiah 53:7.

"He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. Like a lamb to the slaughter is led, and like a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."

 

Matthew 27:35 tells how the soldiers cast lots for his garments as Jesus was dying on the cross.

"And having crucified him they divided his garments, casting a lot; that might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet, They divided my garments among themselves, and for my vesture they cast a lot."

 

This was foretold in Psalms 22:19:

"They divide my garments among them, and they cast lots for my raiment."

 

While Jesus was still hanging on the cross, a sign was placed over his head:

"This is Jesus the king of the Jews." (Matthew 27:37).

 

They did this to mock him, never realizing that they were telling the truth. Ironically, Jesus would die under the title that the Jewish leaders had denied him.

 

The chief priests, scribes, and elders railed at Jesus, telling him that if he really were the king of the Jews, he would take himself off the cross (Matthew 27:40). Perhaps worst of all was when they said,

"He trusted on the god; let him deliver him now, if he will [have] him, for he said, I am the son of god." (Matthew 27:43).

 

Matthew 27:45-46 says that just before his death, Jesus made a sorrowful cry as the one thing he had most dreaded took place.

"Now from [the] sixth hour darkness was over all the land until [the] ninth hour; and about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is, My god, my god, why me hast thou forsaken?"

 

Never before had Jesus felt any separation from The God, the one who had spoken him into existence as Jehovah, and the one who had sent him to die as Jesus, the man.

 

After Jesus had expired, one of the centurions made a remark which is often misconstrued to mean that the centurion was converted by what he saw. Matthew 27:54 says,

"But the centurion and they who with him kept guard over Jesus, having seen the earthquake and the things that took place, feared greatly, saying, Truly this was a son of a god."

 

Earlier, we noted the three methods this statement could be said, or written. The centurion was not making a statement of faith, but only saying that Jesus seemed to be more than a common man, someone equal to one of his Roman demi-gods.

 

Jesus, however, did not stay dead. Matthew 28:1-10 says that an angel told the women seeking the body of Jesus, that he was not there, that he was risen, or resurrected. On the way to tell the others what had happened, they met Jesus, who said to inform the others that they would see him in Galilee.

 

Matthew 28:16-20 contains what has commonly been termed "the great commission," a passage of scripture which has been severely abused by evangelicals.

"But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain whither Jesus appointed them. And seeing him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And having come to [them] Jesus spoke to them, saying, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Going therefore, disciple all nations, baptizing them to the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you. And, lo, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age. Amen."

 

We have pointed out many times that the word "name," when it concerns The God, his son, or holy spirit, conveys the sense of power, rather than designation.

 

The word in comes from eis, which means into. Therefore, when anyone became a follower of Jesus, he was to be baptized "into the power of the father, into the power of the son, and into the power of holy spirit."

 

This simply meant that as people became believers, and committed themselves to The God, this allowed the power of The God, his son, and holy spirit to operate in their lives. Unlocking this power enabled them to fulfill God’s will for their lives, and thus retain the inheritance freely given to them: the right to enter the next age, the kingdom of The God, in a place of great blessing.

 

Before leaving this verse, please note that this commandment "to go" was given only to the 11 disciples. Throngs of well-intentioned people have been placed under bondage by misguided preachers who misinterpret this scripture to mean that everyone is supposed to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This command was given only to the 11, not to everyone. There would be a lot less guilt among Christians if preachers would learn to properly interpret scripture.

 

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Summary Highlights of Chapter 11

 

# Jesus indicated that his ministry included much more than simply

     Israel; his ministry was to the entire world.

 

# So far, we have learned that Jehovah was the god of Israel. He was also

     the word of the invisible creator god, of whom the Old Testament

     people had no knowledge. Therefore, they gave credit to Jehovah for all

     the things created, not realizing that Jehovah was only a secondary

     influence in that creation. Jehovah was worshiped as their god, and the

     only god they knew, except for the heathen gods around them.

 

# We discovered that, for the most part, the attributes of Jehovah were

     also the attributes of Jesus.

 

# These two scriptures in John and I Timothy, together with the

     comments that Jehovah of the Old Testament appeared at times in

     human form, make it difficult to substantiate the teaching that Jesus is

     the invisible god. This is especially true since scriptures say that no man

     has ever seen the invisible god of heaven, nor ever will see him

     (I Timothy 6:16).

 

# The word lord (Greek kyrios or Hebrew adonai) emphasize that men

     are the servants of those designated as lord, whether men or gods. For

     example, when Abraham became aware of his duty to obey Jehovah,

     he addressed him as adonai.

 

# One purpose for the birth of Jesus was to "save his people from their

     sins."  Many who read this today assume that this includes the Gentiles

     too, but it did not. Initially, Jesus was sent only to the Jews, not to the

     Gentiles.

 

# His own people were the Jews, the remnant of the people Jehovah had

     chosen for himself.

 

# Emmanuel means "the god with us," but it does not mean that The God

     came in a physical sense. It means rather that The God is on our side,

     that he is for us, not against us.

 

# The real purpose of John’s (the Baptist) coming was to preach about the

     coming of the messiah, so people would be prepared for him when he

     arrived. John enjoyed a measure of success since many of the common

     people did believe in the coming of the messiah. However, for the most

     part, the religious hierarchy, did not believe John.

 

# There are several interesting points about the prophecy given on the

     day of John’s birth. First, Zacharias prophesied the coming of messiah,

     or anointed one, or christ. Zacharias also said that redemption of the

     lord, the god of Israel, was limited to his people. As far as Zacharias

     was concerned, it was according to the covenant, and that meant the

     Israelite people, the Jews and their converts.  In addition to bringing

     redemption, the messiah would give them salvation from their enemies,

     which is what many of the Old Testament "anointed ones" did.

 

# John was also to tell the people that this coming one (messiah) would

     bring not only the salvation of deliverance from their enemies, but that

     salvation would also include the remission of sins.

 

# Simeon spoke of the baby Jesus as being the salvation, while Isaiah

     indicated that salvation came from their god, Jehovah.  Anna also

     identified Jesus as the salvation.  Therefore, the identity of the christ

     was verified by two witnesses, and, according to scripture, should have

     been accepted as true.

 

# According to Jewish law, a man had to be 30 years old to minister in

     any capacity for Jehovah. That is why neither John nor Jesus began

     their work until they were 30 years old.

 

# John preached the kingdom of heaven.

 

# Jehovah said that he was the one who would do what John said Jesus

     would do. They were both right; Jehovah became Jesus, and Jesus

     actually did it. 

 

# Jehovah was not the invisible god, but only the word of the invisible

     god.

 

# At the beginning of his ministry, there was a need for Jesus to reconcile

     his needs as a man with what would be required of him as the christ, or

     messiah. Matthew describes the struggle which Jesus endured as his

     flesh battled the spirit which had been given to him.

 

# Most people think of the devil as a person, and miss the entire point of

     what follows. However, the word translated devil (Matthew 4:1) comes

     from diabolou, which is an adjective, not a noun, and simply means a

     dividing [one]. Therefore, whatever is referred to as a devil is something

     which divides one from serving God. Jesus was up against the desires of

     his own natural flesh—food, fame, and power—a battle he fought for

     40 days in order to repudiate his own desires in favor of the Father’s

     desires.

 

# The primary reason Jesus came is the same reason all humanity was

     put on the earth: to bring glory to the name of The God (see Isaiah

     61:1-3 and John 7:18). His life accomplished that glory, and ours

     should do the same. The salvation of mankind was simply one part of

     his mission to bring glory to his father.

 

# Not only did Jesus come to bring glory to the heavenly father, but also

     to reveal him as the one who loved his creation with a love far beyond

     human understanding. In addition, Jesus was to reveal himself as the

     Jehovah of the Old Testament.

 

# "The acceptable year of the lord" is a phrase used to describe what

     would be the last year of jubilee, in which everything that was wrong

     would be made right. The former years of jubilee were only a sign

     foretelling this final year of the lord, or jubilee, which would also usher

     in the kingdom of God.

 

# The word "christ" simply meant an anointed one. These people were

     not yet aware that they were in the presence of the son of The God, the

     eternal king of Israel. It was a big enough shock to realize that an

     anointed one was in their midst, regardless of his purpose!

 

# The sermon on the mount was not taught to the crowd, but only to the

     few disciples. In the scriptures, the crowds are not qualified for further

     instructions because they will not accept them.

 

# Jesus did not explode on the scene like a streak of lightning, but quietly

     began to teach about the kingdom of heaven, and its importance to

     men.  Through his teachings, Jesus would gradually reveal the presence

     of another god, the invisible god of which he was the image. This

     proved to be an astounding revelation to the Israelites who thought

     Jehovah, their god, was the only god.

 

# The disciples of Jesus understood his words as referring to their god,

     Jehovah, not the god whom we now know through Jesus’ revelation to

     be the invisible god of heaven.

 

# All the teachings of Jesus refer to Jehovah, the god of Israel, and this

     brings him up against one of the great quandaries of his ministry. How

     will he substantiate his authority to expand the sayings of Jehovah, the

     god of Israel? And, even more than that, how will Jesus, who is entirely

     human, convince people that he is Jehovah, their god made flesh, the

     word of the Old Testament?

 

# The authors of the synoptic gospels, as well as the other writers of the

     New Testament, were all writing from hindsight. Therefore, what Jesus

     was slowly revealing to the people of his own day, is revealed to us

     early in their writings. However, we are concerned with how Jesus went

     about revealing who he was, and also revealing The God, of whom

     these people yet knew nothing.

 

# Jesus was unlike many other anointed ones, or christs, described in the

     Old Testament. They came, organized great armies, and, led by

     Jehovah of hosts, delivered Israel from bondage. That was what people

     expected the messiah to do.  However, Jesus never did that, which

     caused many questions about his authenticity.

 

# Jesus faced a nearly impossible task. How could he continue his

     ministry to its fulfillment when the people who should support him

     expected almost the opposite of what his own commission required?

 

# As we read the New Testament today, we have a tendency to substitute

     what we know and understand now, which makes it difficult to

     understand what was actually happening at that time.

 

# Kyrios correlates exactly to the Hebrew adonai, both translated as lord,

     and both meaning the one who is your superior and to whom you owe

     your service. The Old Testament adonai was Jehovah, while the New

     Testament kyrios was Jesus.

 

# Today, we know that Jesus was anointed by the invisible god, but the

     people of his day looked upon Jesus as being anointed by Jehovah.

     They had not realized that he was Jehovah, who had become the man,

     Jesus, and had emptied himself of all the attributes he possessed as

     Jehovah.  Jesus had lowered himself to the status of being merely

     human, although holy spirit, which had been given to him without

     measure, provided him with power to perform miracles.

 

# Jesus gradually revealed who he really was by fulfilling Old Testament

     prophecies concerning the messiah.

 

# By using the term "the son of the man," Jesus proclaimed himself to be

     the one and only representative of mankind, above all other men.  It

     was not until later that others referred to him as "the son of the god," a

     more specific term indicating king of Israel, as well as messiah.

 

# When someone was described as the anointed one, it meant that they

     were set apart from the world to their god. And when Jesus said that he

     came to call sinners to repentance, he meant that these sinners needed

     to change their mind about him being the messiah, or the christ.

 

# Jesus was referring to the basis of all sin—unbelief that he is what the

     word of god says he is, the christ, or the messiah.  John said this would

     be the basis for determining who would be saved into the next age.

 

# We are begotten of The God by believing that Jesus is the christ. This is

     not the same as believing that Jesus is your "personal savior," a non-

    scriptural term which serves to trivialize Jesus.

 

# Jesus was teaching them that what he brought into the world would

     not fit into the Jewish religion. Just as new cloth would tear the

     garment, and new wine would break the old wine skins, so would the

     teachings of Jesus destroy the Old Testament religion.  What Jesus

     taught was grace, and grace destroys any structure of law. This is why

     organized religions will not teach the fullness and completeness of

     grace. To do so would destroy their religious structure.  Unfortunately,

     most people today have not yet learned this lesson. 

 

# Jesus came under the law to fulfill the law, because men could not, and

     thus he ransomed them, or paid the cost to redeem them. The law

     brought death, but grace gave life.

 

# Today, we understand that when Jesus spoke about "the father which is

     in the heavens" he was speaking of the invisible god. However, those to

     whom he spoke still thought of "their father in heaven" as Jehovah. It

     was only after the death of Jesus that they would learn for certain that

     Jesus spoke of a different father in heaven than they had understood

     earlier.

 

# Both Jehovah, the word of the Old Testament, and Jesus, the word in

     the New Testament, spoke only what they were instructed by the

     invisible god, under whose authority they acted.

 

# Many of the people who followed Jesus did so because he healed

     people, not because they had any desire to serve him.

 

# The Pharisees and the scribes both openly opposed Jesus for

     condemning their religiosity. This open conflict brought about a

     change in how Jesus proceeded with his ministry. His new method

     would divide those who truly wanted to serve him from those who

     followed him only for what they could receive from him.

 

# Jesus was refuting anyone who thought that his mother had more

     influence on him than any other obedient believer. It does not make

     one bit of difference that some people still declare the opposite to be

     true.

 

# Jesus said that the parables he used were designed to consciously

      separate the committed followers from the others.

 

# The disciples recognized that Jesus had powers above ordinary men. It

     had taken awhile, but they were beginning to realize that he was more

     than just another teacher. Still, they had a long way to go before they

     would fully recognize who Jesus actually was.

 

# By labeling as heresy everybody and every thought opposite to these

     embedded beliefs, churches have managed to keep their tenets

     unchanged for centuries.  Religion that is only form, without any heart,

     will eventually drive dissenters out, even as the Jews drove out Jesus.

 

# Not even his disciples fully understood the implications of what Jesus

     said. To them, he was the messiah of the living god, which they

     believed was Jehovah. They were still Jews of the old school, and even

     they understood only a small part of what Jesus was telling them. 

 

# Because Peter was opposing the will of The God, Jesus addressed him as

     a satan. This was because the word satan means a divider. Peter,

     unknowingly, was seeking to divide Jesus from the purpose of The God.

 

# The flesh often deceives us this way. Many people believe they are

     serving god in their lives, but they never make the effort to find out for

     sure. God said that his ways are far different than our ways.

 

# Entering into the kingdom of The God is dependent on the works of the

     Father, and of his son, through a body yielded to him for his service.

     Only those works done through us by The God will stand the fires of

     the judgment seat of the christ when he comes and judges the works of

     all men.

 

# Lest the reader misunderstand about The God, let us try to clearly state it

     again. When Jesus used the words "the god," he was speaking of the

     invisible creator god, of which he had full knowledge. But, to the

     disciples, that same term, "the god," meant Jehovah, the god of Israel,

     the only god they knew about.  For the most part, this continued to

     be true throughout the synoptic gospels.

 

# There is nothing more blinding to understanding scripture than many

     of the orthodox denominational teachings. Whenever we attempt to

     explain spiritual concepts to those who are saturated with

     denominational doctrines, they usually interpret them according to

     what their religious organization teaches.

 

# What any of us do only demonstrates our faith.  However, if we do not

     rebel against the portion of holy spirit given to us, we will gain

     entrance into the kingdom.

 

# The disciples' conception of the kingdom was quite different from that

     of Jesus. This difference in understanding created disarray and disbelief

      among the disciples.

 

# This describes the time when the glory cloud which stayed in the holy

     of holies had departed from the temple. Jehovah was no longer

     maintaining a presence in the temple, nor with his people, Israel. The

     significance of Jesus returning to the courts of the temple was that once

     again the presence of Jehovah, now in the person of Jesus, had returned

     to the temple for a short period of time. However, the people of Israel

     also did not understand this point.

 

# Jesus spoke bluntly to the Jews. No longer will they be the chosen

     people to demonstrate the glory of God to others. There will be another

     nation, or people, through whom this would be done in the future.

 

# Jesus had trapped them into facing the truth that he was Jehovah, the

     god of Israel, now in the flesh. As such, he was also their lord, or

     master. They must either acknowledge him or deny him. They chose

     the latter by their silence.  This was the same hurdle that most of the

     leaders of Israel would not cross. No wonder they sought to kill him.

 

# They thought that by killing Jesus they would be finally rid of him,

     that his death would prove he was an imposter. They thought that

     Jehovah, their god, could not die. What they failed to realize was that

     Jehovah was only the spokesman for the invisible god, and it was the

     invisible god who could not die. When Jehovah of the Old Testament

     became the man Jesus, he could die like any other person.

 

# The message is clear. We, as humans, have no ability of our own to

     boast about. Anything we have has been given to us. If we boast about

     what The God has done through us by his son, and by holy spirit, we

     shall be humbled. If we follow the advice of Jesus, and humble

     ourselves, we shall be exalted.

 

# When will the proud be humbled, and the humble be exalted? This will

     occur at the second coming of Jesus, when every man’s work will be

     tested. This testing will show whether men’s works were done out of

     love and commitment to The God, or done only in the flesh for their

     own glory.

 

# It is often difficult to know whether we are truly humble in our work

     for Jesus, the Christ. As scripture points out, pride is deceitful, and it

     always precedes a fall.

 

# Jesus clearly intended that we should not waste time trying to predict

     the time of his return, but that we should intently watch for it. When

     can Jesus come? At any time!

 

# The early theme in Matthew was that Jesus was the son of David who

     would rule on the throne of Israel. The term "the son of David" related

     specifically to no one but the house of Israel. However, Jesus had now

     widened the scope of his influence. Just as the thousands of sacrificial

     lambs killed at the first passover in Egypt became an "it," now Jesus, in

     a sense, was fulfilling the mystery of why Exodus describes those many

     slain lambs in the singular. Jesus was not only the lamb that takes

     away the sin of the world, but he was now showing that he will also be

     king over all the nations, and that he will judge them.

 

# When Jesus was fighting his fleshly instincts in the wilderness for 40

     days and nights, that was a tremendous trial; but, this trial was even

     worse. He was not only facing a terrible death by crucifixion, but he

     knew that when he became sin for all the people he would be separated

     from his father’s face. The God will not look upon sin, even when it is

     his only unique son. This was the ultimate test of will that Jesus faced.

     From here on, he willingly submitted to what his enemies were

     preparing for him.

 

# Ironically, Jesus would die under the title (king of the Jews) that the

     Jewish leaders had denied him.

 

# As people became believers, and committed themselves to The God, this

     allowed the power of The God, his son, and holy spirit to operate in

     their lives. Unlocking this power enabled them to fulfill God’s will for

     their lives, and thus retain the inheritance freely given to them: the

     right to enter the next age, the kingdom of The God, in a place of great

     blessing.

 

# This commandment to go was given only to the 11 disciples. Throngs

     of well-intentioned people have been placed under bondage by

     misguided preachers who misinterpret this scripture to mean that

     everyone is supposed to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

     This command was given only to the 11, not to everyone. There would

     be a lot less guilt among Christians if preachers would learn to properly

     interpret scripture.

 

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Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus

Some of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus that indicated he was the messiah, and that he was also Jehovah, in the flesh.

 

# Jesus was born of a virgin.  Isaiah 7:14

 

# Jesus was called from Egypt.  Hosea 11:1

 

# Jesus got the throne of David forever.  Luke 1:30-33

 

# Jesus would be the salvation of all nations.  Isaiah 52:10

 

# Jesus was identified as the christ by two witnesses. Luke 2:26-32,

    Luke 2:38

 

# Matthew indicates the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words, and establishes that

     Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.  Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:3

 

# Jehovah said he would pour out spirit, and Jesus did it.  Isaiah 44:3,

     Matthew 3:7-12

 

# Jesus received spirit from heaven.  Isaiah 11:2

 

# Jesus went first to Zebulun, Naphtali, Jordan, and Galilee.  Isaiah 9:1

 

# Jesus said the spirit of the lord was upon him, that he was anointed to

     announce glad tidings, heal the broken-hearted and blind, and

     proclaim the year of the lord.  Isaiah 61:1-3

 

# Jesus healed the sick and cast out evil spirits.  Isaiah 53:4,

     Matthew 8:16-17

 

# Jesus took on the iniquities of us all.  Isaiah 53:5-6, Matthew 8:16-17

 

# Jesus healed our sins.  Isaiah 53:10-12, I Peter 2:24-25

 

# Jesus was rejected by his own people. 

 

# Jesus said that he would bring hope to the nations, or the gentiles. 

     Isaiah 42:1-3

 

# Jesus spoke in parables.  Isaiah 6:9-10

 

# Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt.  Zechariah 9:9

 

# Jesus called the temple his house.  Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:1

 

# Jesus claimed to be the stumbling-block.  Isaiah 8:13-15,

     Matthew 21:43-44

 

# Jesus indicates he is Jehovah.  Matthew 23:37-39

 

# Jesus did not defend himself to his accusers before his crucifixion. 

     Isaiah 53:7

 

# The soldiers cast lots for his garments.  Psalms 22:19

 

 

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October 2009

 

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