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The Gospel of St. Matthew

By Pastor Maurice A. West West Side Church of God in Christ Rockford, Illinois

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INTRODUCTION Blessings upon you, people of the most high God! As you prepare to read this study in the Gospel of St. Matthew, it is my prayer that it will be a blessing to you. This study was conducted at West Side Church of God in Christ in Rockford, Illinois, between January 2003 and March 2003. Throughout the text, I have added what I call "Leadership Principles" and "Saints' Principles." The intention of these principles is to point out truths, strictly as I see them, based on something that has occurred in the Scriptures. I have directed the Leadership Principles to everyone in the church who has responsibility for instructing or leading God's people in some capacity, no matter how small. On the other hand, the Saints' Principles are for EVERYONE that names the name of Christ as their Savior. (Actually, I believe we can benefit from all the principles whether we are in a leading capacity now or not.) I hope this study is a blessing to you and gives you the encouragement you need to dig deeper into the Word of God.

Pastor Maurice A. West ­ March 2003

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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BACKGROUND TO OUR STUDY: At various times in this study, you may find the following labels, shown within the brackets in the next sentence. They are references to various sources that were used on a recurring basis in putting together this material: · · · · · · · {AC}Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Whole Bible {JF&B} the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary {MH} Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible in One Volume {Dake} Dake's Annotated Reference Bible by Finis Dake {MacArthur} the MacArthur Study Bible by Dr. John MacArthur {Thompson} the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible {McGee} Thru the Bible Commentary Series by Dr. J. Vernon McGee.

If other references are used they will be called out at that time. There will also be various translations of the Scriptures used in our study. When we deviate from the King James Version (which will be our standard), the other versions will be noted as follows (with all the legal disclaimers): · · · · Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®. NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Scriptures quotations marked NLT are taken from The Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. Scripture quotations marked Amplified Bible are taken from The Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1965, Zondervan Publishing House. INTRODUCTION WRITER: The writer of the book is important because the Gospels are intended to give us eyewitness accounts of the actions of Jesus Christ and, more importantly, personal insights into His character so that we can walk like He walked. In Christendom, it is an established fact that Matthew (Levi the tax collector) was the author of this book. In keeping with our approach in these studies, let's also hear what various commentators say regarding the author of the Gospel of St. Matthew. · {MacArthur} "Matthew, meaning "gift of the Lord," was the other name of Levi (Matthew 9:9), the tax collector who left everything to follow Christ (Luke 5:27,28). Matthew was one of the 12 apostles (10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 1:13). In his own list of the 12, he explicitly calls himself a "tax collector" (10:3). Nowhere else in Scripture is the name Matthew associated with "tax collector"; the other evangelists always employ his former name, Levi, when speaking of his sinful past. This is evidence of humility on Matthew's part. As with the other 3 gospels, this work is known by the name of its author." {MH} "The penman was by birth a Jew, by calling a publican, till Christ commanded his attendance, and then he left the receipt of custom, to follow him, and was one of those that accompanied him all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out, beginning from the baptism of John unto the day that he was taken up, Acts 1:21, 22. He was therefore a competent witness of what he has here recorded." Ray Stedman, October 1966, Discovery Publishing, a Ministry of Peninsula Bible Church ­ "As you know, this Gospel was written by Matthew, otherwise known as Levi. He was a publican, and publicans were

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

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those men who took the taxes from the people. His name means "the gift of God," and to call a tax collector by that name obviously indicates that he was converted. It was perhaps our Lord himself who designated him Matthew, just as he changed Simon's name to Peter, and perhaps the names of others of the disciples as well. Tradition tells us that Matthew lived and taught in Palestine for 15 years after the crucifixion, and then he began to travel as a missionary, first to Ethiopia and then to Macedonia, Syria, and Persia. Finally he died a natural death in either Ethiopia or Macedonia, but this is not certain. It is one of the legends or traditions that have come down to us about Matthew." DATE: This information will allow us to answer certain facts about the book. For example, the Gospel of St. John brings out information and names that are not mentioned in the other Gospels. Many speculate that since this was one of the last books, if not the last book, of the New Testament, these names could be mentioned because the people involved were now dead. This is particularly true with Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, who had a death warrant against him by the Jews. The Gospel of St. Matthew was said to be one of the earliest Gospels and in widespread use by the early church. According to Matthew Henry, "He is said to have written this history about eight years after Christ's ascension." JF&B states that there is much division on the exact date or even approximate date on the writing of the Gospel but they state that common consensus is that this was the first of the Gospels written. With these two opinions, this would also put Matthew in the correct order as the first book of the New Testament. STATISTICS: {Dake} The Gospel of St. Matthew is the 40th book of the Bible. It contains 28 chapters and 1,071 verses. There are also 25 Old Testament prophecies mentioned in this book as compared to 11 in Mark, 9 in Luke, and 15 in John. This keeps with the theme of this book in the next section. WHY THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN: What is the key theme of the book? Each Gospel has a theme. They are not intended to be biographical sketches but rather character sketches written to different audiences. Before getting too far into that, though, some facts important to studying the Gospels need to be brought out: 1. There are three "synoptic" Gospels, or Gospels with similar points of view. These three are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John presents a totally unique perspective. For example, the synoptic Gospels record numerous parables but John records none. The synoptic Gospels focus on the Lord's ministry in Galilee but John focuses on His ministry in Judea. 2. When studying the Gospels the "harmony" of the Gospels, or how they all fit together in timelines and events, is important. Most decent study Bibles will include this in their reference material. 3. These are not the only "Gospels" known to be in existence. Ray Stedman (same source as before) states "There is the Gospel of Barnabas, for instance, and the Gospel of Peter, and yet other gospels. They can be found in a book called The New Testament Apocrypha if you would like to read them. The critics say that it is mere chance that these four Gospels survived. There is a legend that began with a German theologian named Pappas in about the 16th century who said that the Gospels were selected at the Council of Nice in 325 A.D. by gathering together all the many gospels that were circulating at that time, throwing them all under a table, and then reaching in and pulling out four which happened to be Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The foolishness of such a claim is evident to anyone who reads the Gospels with thoughtfulness. They are stamped with the fingerprints of God. The very pattern of these books reflects the divine imprint, and you cannot read them or compare them with the Old Testament without seeing that they come from an inspired source. Furthermore, you have merely to compare them with the Apocryphal gospels to see how foolish such a claim is." Now to the point of this section, all of the Gospels had a unique audience. Mark targeted a Gentile audience that was particularly Roman. The theme of Mark was that Jesus Christ came as a servant. Luke targeted a

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Gentile audience also but a more generic audience. His theme was that Jesus Christ was a man. As a learned man, who was not only a physician but also a historian, his writings are said to be the best literary documents of the New Testament. Luke brought out historical details and references in his Gospel. John wrote his Gospel to the church to reveal Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Finally, Matthew portrays Jesus Christ as the Messiah to the Jewish people. In this book we will find many references to Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah. Because his was the first Gospel, he wrote it to strengthen the new believers, who at the time were for the most part Jewish, and to use it as a tool to win other Jews to Christ. Finally, as we prepare to go into this study, we will have a three-fold purpose in this study. While going through this book, it is our intention to: · · · Expose myths ­ Fables and "nice" ideas that are not Scriptural. Uncover truths ­ Key information that may have been missed in other studies. Find out who Jesus really is according to the Scripture.

This chapter has two sections: verses 1-17 tell of the Messianic genealogy of Jesus Christ; verses 18-25 tell of His birth and the circumstances surrounding His birth.

Chapter 1

1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Being the son of David and the son of Abraham were essential characteristics of the Messiah and Matthew brings these out in the very first verse. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; 3 And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; 4 And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; 5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; 6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; When we studied the Books of Chronicles, we pointed out how that David's sin with Bathsheba marred his testimony and continued to haunt him long after his death. Here it is brought up again. 7 And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; 8 And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; 9 And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; 10 And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; 11 And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: 12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; 13 And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; 14 And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; 15 And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary was the mother of Jesus, who is called the Messiah. Matthew does not boldly say, "who is Christ" or "who is the Messiah" but says, "who is called

Christ" and appears to let the readers draw their own conclusion as they go into the Gospel. 17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations. These seventeen verses may represent for you the most boring verses in the Bible. However, remember that the original audience for this Gospel was Jewish. To them, genealogies were important because they told the story of your "pedigree" or where you came from. They were, and yet are, diligent in their care of who they would embrace. With this genealogy, Matthew shows that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the prophetic genealogy required for Messiah. MYTH: Before leaving these verses, let us also

make a clarification regarding verse 17. Often preachers will get excited and tell how Jesus came through FORTY-TWO GENERATIONS. However, this is only partially true. If you look at the genealogy that Luke presents, you'll find that he goes back farther than forty-two generations. Why is there a difference? Matthew is presenting Messiah as part of the seed of Abraham (important to the Jewish people), of the line of David (vitally important to ANYONE looking for the Messiah) and continued in David's royal lineage. Luke presents Jesus Christ as a man who came from the first man. This slight difference made a big difference to the readers of that time.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. We read this Scripture, especially during the Christmas season, but do we really understand how awful this event could have been? In this brutal time of religious intolerance, Mary was found to be pregnant before she married Joseph. Had this become publicly known, she would have been labeled an adulteress and stoned to death. Watch what the Pharisees did in the Gospel of St. John when confronted with a similar situation ­ John 8:4-5 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This is what could have happened if Joseph hadn't been a righteous man! 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. We often focus on Mary and her righteousness but everyone could not have handled this situation like Joseph did. Tradition says that he was a much older man than Mary was and, after having waited so long to be married, to receive "damaged" goods would have really worked on his male ego. But before we think too long on that, we have a big "however" in this principle. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Male ego

or feminine modesty or whatever we have within us or whatever tradition we hold to must be made subject to the righteousness of God, which we have in Christ Jesus.

20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. Joseph was a dreamer. This is the first of four dreams that he will have providing him direction and guidance in the Gospel of Matthew. The only way that God spoke to Joseph was in dreams but God DEFINITELY spoke to him. MYTH: A major denomination extols the virtues of Mary in

guiding the early days of the Lord Jesus, however, the truth is that every move the young family made was by direction of God given to the priest of that family, Joseph.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. This often quoted verse has a significant truth in it: TRUTH: Joseph was responsible for

naming Jesus through the direction he received from God.

22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. This is in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: A great virtue of Joseph's to be seen repeatedly in these early chapters of this Gospel is his unwavering obedience to God. It is no wonder that God chose him to be the head of the household that Jesus would be raised in. 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. Mary remained a virgin until after she had delivered Jesus. Once He was delivered, JOSEPH called his name Jesus. MYTH: The same major denomination mentioned before also teaches that Mary remained a virgin

throughout her life. However, in truth, she was a virgin at the delivery of Jesus. After that, she had other children by Joseph. Matthew 13:55-56 Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called

Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? If this were true, where did Jesus come up with all of

these family members that are specifically named in Matthew?

This chapter has two sections: verses 1-12 tell of the visit of the wise men; verses 13-23 tell of the travels of the holy family in order to preserve the life of the Lord Jesus. CAUTION: There are a lot of myths to be exposed in this chapter!

Chapter 2

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, MYTH: "We Three Kings" is a beautiful and touching Christmas song

even though it has NO Scriptural backing. No where in this Gospel, the ONLY Gospel that speaks of their visit, is a number given. MYTH: No where in this Gospel is there any indication that these were kings. The Greek word used for "wise men" is magoi from which we get the term "Magi". The word actually means royal astrologers, which is why they were so impressed with the star.

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. MYTH: They did not come following a star but came because they saw a star from their homeland east of Jerusalem. We'll see later that they followed the star only a short period. {Dake} "In the east at this time there was a general expectation of a king to be born in Judea who was to rule the whole world." 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Naturally he was troubled ­ he has visitors who have come not to pay respect to him but to someone who was born to replace him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

The Gospel of St. Matthew 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

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6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. This is the fulfillment of Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. Herod wanted to know this because he already had a demonic scheme in mind. If he could pinpoint the timetable of the star, he could get close to the age of the child and carry out his plan of massacre. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. NOW they begin to follow the star. They followed the star from Jerusalem to where Jesus was. Herod sent them to Bethlehem but obviously Jesus was somewhere else. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Look at their excitement! There's no indication that these men knew God but they knew that God had done something and they wanted to be part of it. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. MYTH: The wise men did not see Jesus at the stable. We're going to see in coming verses that if they had come to the stable, Jesus would have been there a long, long time. There are three key points in this verse: (1) The holy family is now living in a HOUSE, not the stable; (2) Joseph was alive but the presentation of the wise men was made to Mary and Jesus; (3) these men may not have been kings but they were wealthy and they shared their wealth with the holy family. Isn't it ironic that God made provision for His son by the hands of strangers so that He could be protected from those whom He was sent to? SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: God's provision goes far beyond what our natural eyes can see. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. God used a dream to speak to these men also. 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. This is the second time that God has led Joseph through a dream. The direction was very specific and, we'll see in the next verse, Joseph was again obedient. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. This is the fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. NLT Herod was furious

when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. This verse gives a timetable of the approximate age of Jesus

based on the appearance of the star. He was no longer an infant as portrayed in Nativity scenes but a toddler. This is why Herod killed all of the babies in that region in his (not his but the devil's) attempt to kill Jesus. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. This is the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, This is now the third time that God has spoken to Joseph through a dream. 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: There is a great principle in this verse ­ Joseph was afraid but he didn't make a move until he got a word from God. This is now the fourth time that God has spoken to Joseph through a dream. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Let

God give you a Word before you make a move.

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. There is no Scripture reference for this word spoken by the prophets. Dake says that it was a spoken word not a written word but others have said nothing on it. Also, it was not unusual for Joseph to return to Galilee and Nazareth. Luke points out that this is where they started from when they left their home to go to Bethlehem: Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

This chapter deals with the first public display of the Jesus, the adult, at His baptism by His cousin, John the Baptist.

Chapter 3

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, Matthew brings out nothing about the origin of John the Baptist and his familial relationship to Jesus. To get this type of history, you have to read the Gospel of St. Luke. 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. John had one message, which is the message that God gave him. Sometimes preachers are criticized for having a single focus in their ministry (such as

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Bennie Hinn and healing, Creflo Dollar and prosperity, or Billy Graham and salvation) but none other than the Lord Jesus Himself later hailed John for his work. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. At a time when people were wearing better quality clothes, John the Baptist shunned anything having to do with comfort and basically dressed as a barbarian. However, this was not unusual for prophets in Bible days. He wore what God gave him to wear and he ate what God gave him to eat. He had nothing to hinder him from fulfilling the ministry that God had given him. 5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, He had a single focus ministry, a rough delivery, and one set of clothes and the people flocked to him. The time was right and his message was right. 6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. NLT And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. We're in a day now where people think it's too much to ask to come to the altar for salvation. But John the Baptist required public confession of sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. This is a tough set of verses until you see it in the New Living Translation: NLT But when

he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized, he denounced them. "You brood of snakes!" he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee God's coming judgment? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. 9 Don't just say, `We're safe--we're the descendants of Abraham.' That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. 10 Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire. John the Baptist

was a tough preacher! 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: John the Baptist foretold the coming power of the Holy Ghost coming through the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. 12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. NLT He is ready to separate the chaff from the

grain with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, storing the grain in his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. At the point when John the Baptist was vigorously preaching about Jesus, that was when He appeared. He came with the intention of doing as the people were doing ­ being baptized. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? There is false modesty and there is real humility. This is real humility. John knew who stood before him and would dare not think to baptize him. He said earlier (verse 11) that he was not worthy to bear (unlatch) his shoes. 15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. The term "suffer" here has nothing to do with physical pain. It is an Old English term (the language the King James Version was written in) meaning, "to allow". This was done so that everything could be done "right". 16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: The account of the baptism of Jesus is one of the few events mentioned in all four gospels. The Second Person of the Trinity came out of the water and Third Person of the Trinity descended upon Him like a dove. 17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. With the events of the previous verse complete, the First Person of the Trinity speaks from heaven. These two verses together provide significant evidence of the proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. We have all three persons of the Godhead represented. It also disproves the myth of the "Jesus only" doctrine. Would Jesus split Himself all of these ways and why?

This chapter has two sections: verses 1-11 tell of the inaugural fast and temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness; verses 12-25 tell of the start of His earthly ministry and the selection of the first apostles.

Chapter 4

Introduction: The temptation of Jesus Christ followed the same pattern as the temptation of Eve and the formula given by the Holy Ghost to the Apostle John. It is the pattern of the world system of which the devil is the king. 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. The devil brought these three temptations to tempt the Lord in these three areas. · · · The first temptation ("command that these stones be made bread") fit into the lust of the flesh. The second temptation ("cast thyself down ... He shall give his angels charge concerning thee") fit into the pride of life. The third temptation ("All these things will I give thee") fit into the lust of the eyes.

Caution: This is NOT a formula for everything the devil does. The fact is that only two cases out of thousands of years of Scripture can be put into 1 John 2:16. (There's another formula in James 1:14-15 that fits other cases such as David with Bathsheba.) 1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The Holy Ghost did not move upon Him to make him feel good but to move Him into a place of trial and testing by the devil. SAINT'S

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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PRINCIPLE: We must be careful what "test" we use to find out if the Lord is leading us ­ His direction

does not always follow what we expect.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. This Scripture indicates that He was hungry and at the end of the fast but other Gospels indicate that temptations were throughout the fast. {JF&B} "Had we only this Gospel, we should suppose the temptation did not begin till after this. But it is clear, from Mark's statement, that `He was in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan' (Mark 1:13), and Luke's, `being forty days tempted of the devil' (Luke 4:2), that there was a forty days' temptation before the three specific temptations afterwards recorded." 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. THE FIRST TEMPTATION. Now that Jesus was at the conclusion of His fast, the devil tempts him to break His fast prematurely and lose the blessing at the end. The supernatural has given way to the natural and hunger has come upon Him greatly. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: The devil is going to tempt you with something that appeals to YOU (James 1:14). Jesus was hungry and that was where the devil went after Him. He was not so much interested in the Lord's hunger as he was in the Lord's power and His demonstration of that power for personal gain. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Jesus responded to the devil with the word quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3. Jesus did not let the flesh dictate to Him but He dictated to the flesh. 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. NLT I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, THE SECOND TEMPTATION. The devil is not finished. No one knows today what the pinnacle of the temple was but it was obviously some high place within the building. Dake and Josephus speculate as to what it could be. Dake says that it was 700 feet to the bottom of the valley from there. 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. {JF&B} "'But what is this I see?' exclaims stately Bishop Hall. `Satan himself with a Bible under his arm and a text in his mouth!' Doubtless the tempter, having felt the power of God's Word in the former temptation, was eager to try the effect of it from his own mouth." SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: If the devil

can put a Bible under his arm and get a text in his mouth, why cannot we that are saved do at least the same? Why is it so difficult for us to have anything to say for the Lord? In the second temptation, the

devil tempts Jesus to prove Himself. Jesus' whole ministry revolved around people believing Him for the Word's sake. Performing this "stunt" at the bidding of the devil would nullify the direction of His ministry. Note: it may seem like something harmless but David's numbering the people in First Chronicles seemed harmless also but God called it sin...and many died because of that sin. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Anything done

in response to the devil, no matter how seemingly harmless, if it is not sin then, is definitely leading you on a collision course to sin. The devil quotes a verse from Psalms 91:11-12 but omits some key words

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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at the end. Since Jesus used the word, the devil came back with the Word. This is why it is so important to not only know the Word but the intent of the Word. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Jesus was not shaken. He quotes from Deuteronomy 6:16. Indeed God has promised to keep us from danger. Shall we then create danger to certify God's Word? God forbid! 8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; THE THIRD TEMPTATION. The devil is still not finished but may be reeling on the ropes. {JF&B} "Luke (Luke 4:5) adds the important clause, `in a moment of time'; a clause which seems to furnish a key to the true meaning." MYTH: Many teach that the devil was offering Jesus

something that was not his. However, Luke 4:6b adds these words of the devil, "...for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it." How did the devil get this? He received it from Adam.

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. In this temptation, the devil throws off all masks and boldly confronts Jesus to blaspheme. This is no doubt a desperate act probably based on the fact that he felt that Jesus should have weakened in the previous temptations, but He did not. 10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. This was quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13. Well did James say that if we resist the devil he would flee from us. But just as with Jesus, it will only be "for a season". Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. 11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. When Jesus told the devil to leave, he did just that. 12 Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; There is no indication where Jesus was when He went through the wilderness experience but this verse indicates that it was not in Galilee. Once He heard of the fate of His cousin, He departed back into His home region. 13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: Capernaum (kuh PER nay um) became the Lord's base of operations. It was the home of many of His disciples. 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. This is the fulfillment of Isaiah 9:1-2 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. 2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. This region was in the far northern part of the Northern Kingdom. This was a region that was invaded by Assyria and repopulated with Assyrian people. It was a land of great idolatry (darkness) but now the light of the Lord has shined upon them in the presence of Jesus Christ.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Note: This is now the SIXTH written prophecy (SEVENTH of all prophecies) that has been verified to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Matthew's intent was to take the Old Testament and show that it came together in Jesus so that the Jewish people might believe. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus picked up the same exact message that John was preaching. His message remains to be to REPENT. 18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. Peter and Andrew were the first two chosen by Jesus to be His disciples (and ultimately His apostles). This was not their first encounter with Jesus when you compare all of the gospels. Andrew met Him in the first chapter of John while he was still a disciple of John the Baptist. Peter met Him when Jesus nearly sank His boat with a huge catch of fish. Now they are ready to make an immediate decision for Him. Peter and Andrew were brothers who had a fishing business. Peter also owned a boat. They left a nice living to follow Jesus. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. {JF&B} "Mark adds an important clause: `They left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants' (Mark 1:20); showing that the family were in easy circumstances." What these learned men are trying to say is that James and John also left a comfortable life to follow Jesus. 23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. Jesus' ministry was threefold: teaching, preaching, and healing. When He sent out the apostles, He sent them out with the same mission and added to that, casting out devils. 24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. Galilee was next to Syria. Jesus' fame has spread into the Gentile lands and areas where mixed-blood Jews were also present. 25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. In this inaugural year, His popularity has grown greatly and quickly to beyond the region of Galilee all the way into Jerusalem.

This chapter begins the Sermon on the Mount which goes through Chapter 7. There are only three times in the four gospels (two of these times are brought out in Matthew) that Jesus sat down and really poured out His heart in a lengthy teaching session. These three are the Sermon on the Mount (called the Sermon on the Plain in Luke's Gospel), the parables in Luke, and the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24-25. Because this is so important and reveals the heart of the Lord Jesus, we want to carefully map out what He said and understand it clearly. Therefore, we'll break the whole sermon into "bite size" sections and complete the sections in the next class.

Chapter 5

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: Jesus was a master at using opportunity well. He did not shy away from "working the crowd" when the opportunity presented itself. This chapter and the next two, known as the Sermon on the Mount, begin with Jesus establishing His pulpit in a mountain.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Though it is known as the "SERMON on the Mount," Jesus employs the art of teaching in His sermon. SECTION 1 ­ THE BEATITUDES. There are nine Beatitudes but eight tell of the state of a person

who is "blessed" or "happy" and what they will receive. The ninth is a recap of all of the prior ones. It basically says that if you have all of the above, then you will experience this and be blessed.

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. THE FIRST BEATITUDE. {JF&B} "Since God's people are in so many places styled `the poor' and `the needy,' with no evident reference to their temporal circumstances, it is plainly a frame of mind which these terms are meant to express. Accordingly, our translators sometimes render such words `the humble' (Psalms 10:12, 17), `the meek' (Psalms 22:26), `the lowly' (Pro 3:34), as having no reference to outward circumstances. But here the explanatory words, `in spirit,' fix the sense to `those who in their deepest consciousness realize their entire need'. This self-emptying conviction, that `before God we are void of everything,' lies at the foundation of all spiritual excellence, according to the teaching of Scripture. Without it we are inaccessible to the riches of Christ; with it we are in the fitting state for receiving all spiritual supplies." After studying this verse since a child, this explanation by the classic commentators, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, really brings this first Beatitude into focus. The one who wants to enter the kingdom of heaven must realize that nothing they bring with them will guarantee them access ­ they must rely totally upon God and come empty. This is borne out by the translation of this verse in the NLT God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to

them.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. THE SECOND BEATITUDE. There are two parts to this Beatitude. First there is the natural which is so obvious. God has always been a Comforter to those in great emotional distress. He told us in Psalm 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. However, the second part has to do with the prior Beatitude. Because we are poor in spirit, we mourn. We mourn because of our woeful state. The Prophet Isaiah reminds of his call to the prophetic ministry when he realizes how low he is before a Holy God. Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. It is at this point of mourning that we will be comforted. There are times when we mourn naturally and we refuse to be comforted as Jacob did when he mourned the loss of his son, Joseph (when his other sons deceived him). This type of mourning can bring distress because we refuse God's comfort. However, the soul of man desires to be comforted, to know that it is in right standing with God. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. THE THIRD BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them. It is often said and it bears repeating with this third Beatitude, meekness is NOT a sign of weakness. The dictionary definition of meek is mild of temper; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated. If you'll recall in 1 Corinthians 13, in Paul's discourse on "love", he also brings up the point that charity is not easily provoked (verse 5). Meekness is one of the attributes of love and therefore an attribute of God. A person who will work to maintain this attitude will own the world. This is not just a sign of prosperity but a sign of favor. People flock to and listen to those that are mild of temper; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated. God works with those that take on His nature and will give them whatever they desire. Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. THE FOURTH BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice, for they will receive it in full. This verse represents an example of where we, as Spirit-filled believers must heed the leading of the Holy Ghost when reading other translations. The New Living Translation is a beautiful rendition but in this verse, it moves away from the meaning conveyed in the King James Version ­ a meaning that keeps us in line with the other Beatitudes and focuses on how we individually live before God. Our hunger and thirst must not be after justice, which is more general to all mankind, but after righteousness, which effects ME. If we have a mind, a hunger, a thirst, or a passion to do right, God will empower us to allow this to come to pass. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. THE FIFTH BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses

those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on

whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. According to the Scriptures, we have no guarantee of the mercy of God. The mercy of God is given at God's discretion. However, the Lord Jesus let us know through this Beatitude that mercy can be triggered or obtained by being merciful ourselves. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. THE SIXTH BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. My wife often instructs the people of God to "protect their hearts". Her appeal is for us to keep our hearts pure. This lines up with this Beatitude. The pure in heart, those who have protected their hearts from the entering in of evil, will see God. Therefore, we can look at the opposite also and realize that if we allow things in our hearts that are not like God, we're not going to stand before Him in peace. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. THE SEVENTH BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. Most of the themes of the Sermon on the Mount are picked up again in the Epistles to re-establish what the Lord has already said in the doctrine of the New Testament church. The writer took this same theme in the Book of Hebrews and made it even tighter. The Lord Jesus gives us a goal for sonship. The writer of Hebrews gives us a goal for heaven. Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. THE EIGHTH BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. They that live godly SHALL suffer persecution! 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. THE NINTH BEATITUDE. NLT God blesses you

when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too. When you finish reading this Beatitude, especially in the New Living Translation, the

natural man may say, as I did, "What!? Be happy and very glad about getting all of this grief?" Yes, that's exactly what it says.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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SECTION 2 ­ THE INFLUENCE OF THE BELIEVER. In this section, we'll see who we really are through the eyes of the Lord Jesus. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Since this section shows us how Jesus

views us, this is how we should view ourselves.

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. MYTH: The term

used in this verse is "savor" not "savior". Jesus is our Savior but He is not mentioned here. Savor refers to a specific flavor or smell, a distinctive quality, or to enjoy or delight in. {JF&B} "The meaning

is: If that Christianity on which the health of the world depends, does in any age, region, or individual, exist only in name, or if it contain not those saving elements for want of which the world languishes, how shall the salting qualities be restored it?" When we lose, as the people of God, our "savor" we have lost our distinctive quality. Salt has a quality or taste that makes it salt. Without it, what good is it? It can't even be called sand because at least sand won't dissolve. The distinctive quality of salt is what makes it salt. The distinctive quality of the believer distinguishes us from the world. If we lose this, we are good for nothing. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Let us confess this from this verse ­ "I AM THE SALT, THE DISTINCTIVE

QUALITY DISTINGUISHED FROM OTHERS, IN THIS EARTH."

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. As a light, WE are a beacon, a giver of direction, and a way through the darkness. This is the attribute of Christ and He has shared this with us. Because we are the light, we must allow this light to shine in such a way so that people see the reality of Christ in our lives. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Because I am a light, a

beacon, and a way where there is no way, I must keep my light shining and must let it shine right ­ so that men glorify God and not me.

SECTION 3 ­ CHRIST AND THE LAW. The Sermon on the Mount took place during the Old

Testament because Jesus had not yet been crucified and risen. Therefore, He tells His Jewish listeners what the role of Messiah will be as it relates to the law. This section is important to the New Testament believer who thinks it necessary to embrace the Old Testament law.

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. {JF&B} "Not to subvert, abrogate, or annul, but to establish the law and the prophets--to unfold them, to embody them in living form, and to enshrine them in the reverence, affection, and character of men, am I come." In other words, Jesus came to DO the law. No one else could do it but Jesus did. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. {JF&B} "One jot--the smallest of the Hebrew letters. One tittle--one of those little strokes by which alone some of the Hebrew letters are distinguished from others like them." There's an interesting point in this verse ­ Jesus came to fulfill the law (from the prior verse) and the law would not pass "till all be fulfilled" therefore, Jesus has done what is necessary to have the law pass away. Hebrews 8:6-7 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. In other words, a second covenant, or a New Testament, appeared because Jesus fulfilled the first to make way for the second.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. But the work is not done yet so if you teach someone to break even the smallest of the Old Testament commandments (these are the words of Jesus to the Jews of that time), you will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. However if you do and teach them, not just teach them, you will be called great in that same kingdom. 20 FOR I SAY UNTO YOU, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! Therefore, since the law is still in place, you have to obey it and make sure your life is in better shape than the scribes and Pharisees or you won't have any part in the kingdom of heaven. But understand that this section was to the Old Testament Jews at that time. It is here for us to understand what Hebrews says in saying that we have a "better covenant." SECTION 4 ­ CHRIST'S HIGHER STANDARDS. In this section, the Lord Jesus deals with

commandments from the law and shows HIS higher standard regarding relationships (or dealing with another person). He provides what the law or tradition says and elevates it with the words, "But I say unto you." Since these are the direct commandments of Jesus Christ, we cannot handle them lightly. Remember, He's talking to people in the Old Testament about what will be required under His New Testament. There are six sub-sections here and they all deal with stressful situations: broken relationships, burning lust of the flesh, divorce, handling our speech, handling those that oppress us and handling our enemies.

1. Jesus Teaches Us How to Deal With Broken Relationships 21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: Not only was it said of "old time," it was one of the Ten Commandments. Notice how that the Lord shows that it has now been reduced to a criminal offense rather than a matter of the heart. Therefore, He has to change it. 22 BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! In each of these situations, Jesus begins with what His way is. In this matter, it's not just a matter of killing but it's a matter of what's in your heart toward your brother or sister? Under Moses' law, killing someone could put you in danger of judgment. Under Jesus' law, being angry with your brother (or sister) without a cause would do the same thing. Taking that anger to the next level would take your punishment to the next level. The New Living Translation gives us a better understanding of some of the terms in this verse: But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are

subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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come and offer thy gift. Therefore ­ because of what has preceded ­ you MUST make sure your relationships are in right standing before you are so bold as to come before God with anything. FIRST be reconciled with your brother or sister. Jesus emphasized the importance of peace among His people. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. This verse has two meanings to me: first, there is the obvious ­ if you are in a legal dispute, settle it quickly. If you lose, you could end up in prison and that's not a time to be looking for the Lord's deliverance. You will stay there until what you owe is paid (according to verse 26). The second meaning to this verse is this: while you are reconciling with your brother or sister, don't get into a big thing about who's at fault. Accept all blame so that the reconciliation can proceed. If you don't, this situation could get worse and at the end, you will end up losing out. 2. Jesus Teaches On Adultery and the Danger of Lust 27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: Again Jesus quotes from the Old Testament law and part of the Ten Commandments. (It's interesting that He has gone after these areas because these are areas that saints yet today look to find the "legal" way out. In other words, we look to figure out if or when it is adultery and focus only on that sin but watch how Jesus tightens the requirement.) 28 BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! Jesus elevated the standing of women. Prior to this, this commandment focused on the actions of the woman. Jesus turned it toward the man. He focuses on the thoughts and intensions of the heart. Under this standard, David sinned toward Bathsheba before he ever called for her. And remember, this standard is not just in men toward women but vice versa also. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: We must do whatever it

takes to stay right with God. We cannot accept excuses for our actions because the consequences are too great.

3. Jesus Teaches on Divorce 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: This was also in the Old Testament law. 32 BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! Jesus tightened the requirement considerably. In some of the standards He laid down in the Sermon on the Mount, the apostles clarified their meaning in the Epistles. {JF&B} put together some interesting thoughts on this verse: "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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adultery--that is, drives her into it in case she marries again...and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced ­ for anything short of conjugal infidelity ­ committeth adultery ­ for if the commandment is broken by the one party, it must be by the other also. Whether the innocent party, after a just divorce, may lawfully marry again, is not treated of here." However, Paul deals with this issue and expands it further in 1 Corinthians 7. 4. Jesus Teaches Us How to Handle Our Speech 33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: Again the Lord quotes from the Old Testament law as He has and will do in each instance. It was the practice of the Jewish people to make vows unto the Lord and to swear by His name. 34 BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! The Lord's standard is to not swear at all or, better stated, don't make frivolous vows. The Jews would vow based on something as is brought out in the NLT 34

But I say, don't make any vows! If you say, `By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. 35 And if you say, `By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is his footstool. And don't swear, `By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Don't even swear, `By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black.

MYTH: This verse has NOTHING to do with swearing in a courtroom. If that were true, the Lord Himself already violated His own command: Hebrews 6:13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. Now the natural inclination would be to say that this was before this command but God understood this and practiced this before Jesus said it. Jesus came to correct the errors brought in by man. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. I love how the New Living Translation brings this out. With this translation, nothing more needs to be said.

NLT Just say a simple, `Yes, I will,' or `No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.

5. Jesus Teaches Us How to React to Those That Oppress Us 38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: Again, yes, this is exactly what the Old Testament law said. In this section is some of the toughest spiritual "meat" that you'll find in the Word of God. However, through the Spirit of God, we can achieve victory in this also. 39 BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! {JF&B} "Our Lord's own meek, yet dignified bearing, when smitten rudely on the cheek (John 18:22, 23), and not literally presenting the other, is the best comment on these words. It is the preparedness, after one indignity, not to invite but to submit meekly to another, without retaliation, which this strong language is meant to convey." In other words, Jesus is not saying for His people to be punching bags but neither are we to be warriors. Meekness must be the key in all that we do.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. Wow! You already lost your coat which says that you lost the lawsuit. Jesus now tells us to offer the one that won the case even more? Jesus is teaching us that His kingdom is beyond material things. He's trying to move us toward verse 45. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. {JF&B} "[This is] an [indirect reference], probably, to the practice of the Romans and some Eastern nations, who, when government dispatches had to be forwarded, obliged the people not only to furnish horses and carriages, but to give personal attendance, often at great inconvenience, when required. But the thing here demanded is a readiness to submit to unreasonable demands of whatever kind, rather than raise quarrels, with all the evils resulting from them. What follows is a beautiful extension of this precept." 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. What is implied in this verse, because of the verse that precedes it, is unreasonable requests. 6. Jesus Teaches Us How to React to Our Enemies 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. No, this is not in the Old Testament. It tells us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) but the religious leaders added "and hate thine enemy". 44 BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! Paul picked up this same theme and expanded it in Romans - Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Not only do we bless them, or speak blessings into their lives but we don't curse them at all. In addition, we are to do good to them that hate us and pray for them which persecute us. In that same chapter of Romans, Paul brings out why we should do this - Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. We're not trying to burn a hole through our enemy's head, as I once stated shortly after coming to the Lord, but we're trying to spur their conscience to repentance and salvation. After all, if we truly love them, nothing else will do. 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. If we will do this, we take on the nature of the Father who sends sunshine on Sunday's knowing that those that curse Him will use this time for golf and never show their appreciation to Him. Yet, He does it repeatedly. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? If we only love those that love us, we're no better than the lowest form of human beings. 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? If we only speak to those that we know, again, we're no better than the lowest form of human beings. 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Therefore, when it's all done, if we want to be perfect, we have to be as our Father in heaven.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Chapter 6

SECTION 5 ­ HOW TO PERFORM CHRISTIAN DISCIPLINES. In this section, the Lord Jesus

deals with three areas where pride has entered in and stolen the reward of the people God. This is important for in each case He uses the statement, "They have their reward." Therefore, we should be performing these disciplines with a mind to receive in return. Also, the Lord Jesus cautions His people to not behave as the hypocrites do. Let us make us sure that we are not found in any of these, and if so, let us repent. There are three divisions to this section ending at verse 18. The Lord Jesus Christ deals with giving, prayer, and fasting.

1. Jesus Teaches Us How to Give 1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Take heed ­ be careful how you do it. We must be careful to give in a manner that allows us to be rewarded by our Father in heaven. This is not an unusual concept because it was Jesus Himself who said Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. The continued spread of the Gospel will only happen as the people of God give, and give in the correct manner. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THEY HAVE THEIR REWARD. So here's how you don't do it ­ don't let everyone know what you're doing or you're acting like the hypocrites. This receives glory of men and that's the end of the reward. Have we lost our blessing trying to impress someone who cannot adequately bless us in return? 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The key to giving is to give secretly. This does not mean that you have to sneak around and give but it does mean that you shouldn't make a show over what you have given. 2. Jesus Teaches Us How to Pray 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THEY HAVE THEIR REWARD. There is a time for public prayer (before the congregation, at church gatherings, etc.) and this type of prayer is not what the Lord is dealing with. He is talking about the kind of prayer where you are looking for a personal answer from the Lord. This is NOT to be done publicly to demonstrate your spirituality. If you do this, you have your reward ... not your answer to prayer. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. When going after God, this should be a private time. Notice how clearly Jesus makes this ­ not only should we go into the prayer closet (or private place of prayer) but also close the door! I knew of a friend in college who would literally

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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pray in his closet but always left the door open and prayed so loud he could be heard in the dormitory hallway. Many often wondered why his spiritual growth was so stagnant with as much praying as he did. Jesus gives us the answer ­ he had his reward and got no more. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. This is an area where I believe Church of God in Christ people need to be careful. Let us not say the same things over and over because we really don't know how to pray. Sometimes people pray a long time but don't say much and expect to get something from God because they stayed on their knees a long time. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Jesus makes it very clear ­ DON'T BE LIKE THEM! Don't pray in a manner so that everyone knows you're in prayer and don't use vain repetition. Why? Our Father already knows what we need before we ask but He's waiting for us to ask. We don't have to develop a "mantra" to be heard by Him. 9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Jesus gives us the Lord's Prayer which others have also called the Disciples Prayer. The understanding of all aspects of this prayer is a teaching session all by itself. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. This seeming afterthought has to do with verse 12. There's no sense praying and leaving our knees with unconfessed and unforgiven sin. Who cares what we get from God here if we die and go to hell? 3. Jesus Teaches Us How to Fast 16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THEY HAVE THEIR REWARD. I always like to point out in this verse the word, "when". This word is different than "if" which implies an option. "When" says that you will do it. Again, the Lord's comparison is to the hypocrites. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: The attitude of the hypocrite is to impress those around them without working to impress the Father. This is another area where we must be so careful. Fasting is something that is severe and the natural inclination is to let people know that you've been doing it. However, DON'T DO IT! You will lose the reward of the pain you have endured. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Just like He was with prayer, Jesus is very specific. Let me here quote from a booklet I wrote titled The Fasting Seminar. The principles given by the Lord Jesus were a key topic of discussion in the booklet so we would know how to fast correctly.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

The Gospel of St. Matthew To begin a fast the Bible way is to do the following: A) "Be not as the hypocrites of a sad countenance"

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Don't put on your worst face and attitude. People will end up thinking that something is deathly wrong with you, and of course, when they ask, you'll have to admit that you are fasting. Remember, your fast is sacred and private. Don't discourage others from fasting by your attitude. (Is it such a horrible task to obey our beloved Lord?) B) "Anoint thine head" When beginning a fast, carry on your usual daily hygiene and then some. When you are fasting you must be careful to keep your personal hygiene at a peak because of the various odors and oils your body will be emitting during this period without food. Be especially aware of this fact as you go through each day and discipline yourself to use breath drops and freshen yourself at regular intervals since you may not be aware of your "personal presence." This passage has a secondary meaning also which goes beyond our personal hygiene. It is good to anoint yourself with anointing oil (usually olive oil) that has been consecrated through prayer to sanctify the fast in your heart. During the difficult times of the fast, you'll think back to the vow you have made, and the anointing of oil, and be amazed how that this will help you through those rough times. C) "Wash thy face" Not only is this a renewed exhortation to smell good and look good but this applies also to the oil you have just applied to your forehead. I remember a certain brother who would always give away the fact that he was fasting when others would see an obvious spot of oil on his forehead. Had he followed the Lord's specific instructions by anointing his head and then washing his face, his fast would have remained a private affair between him and the Lord. Before I leave this point I will say this: the anointing of the fast is not in the physical oil but in the spirit behind what you have done. Washing it off will certainly not nullify what you have done. SECTION 6 ­ UNDERSTANDING OUR FOCUS ESPECIALLY WITH POSSESSIONS. Jesus shows

us the heart of man. He teaches on money, possessions, and our attitude toward the things of this life. This section also has three parts so we'll break it up as we have in the past.

1. Jesus Teaches Us to Re-prioritize What We Value 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: Our focus, naturally, is on what we can see and appreciate in the natural. Jesus says, "Don't make these the things that move your heart." SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: The priorities of the believer must be different than those of the world. We must change our priorities. 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: Instead, we must change our focus to the eternal things which are not impacted by the actions of the unscrupulous.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. {JF&B} "What a man loves," says Luther, "that is his God. For he carries it in his heart, he goes about with it night and day, he sleeps and wakes with it; be it what it may--wealth or pelf, pleasure or renown." You haven't got to tell someone what is valuable to you ­ your actions will reveal this. If church is important to you, your actions will show it. If it is not, all the words you say cannot overcome the actions of your heart. 2. Jesus Teaches Us How to Know if Our Priorities Are Out of "Whack" 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. NLT Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. What is a "pure eye?" It has been discussed in this Sermon on the Mount. Jesus taught us that a pure eye will not lust after members of the opposite sex and if it does, it's better to gouge it out than to jeopardize your soul. A pure eye will look at earthly treasures correctly and with the right priority. A pure eye will never make the things of this world an obsession. {JF&B} "As with the bodily vision, the man who looks with a good, sound eye, walks in light, seeing every object clear; so a simple and persistent purpose to serve and please God in everything will make the whole character consistent and bright." 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! If that eye that is supposed to be healthy (in your eyes) is really not healthy, friend, you have a huge mess on your hands that must be resolved.

3. Jesus Teaches Us to Avoid Worldly Cares and Worries 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. {JF&B} "Serve - belong wholly and be entirely under command to. The word `mammon' is a foreign one, whose precise [origin] cannot certainly be determined, though the most probable one gives it the sense of `what one trusts in'. Here, there can be no doubt it is used for riches, considered as an idol master, or god of the heart. The service of this god and the true God together is here, with a kind of indignant curtness, pronounced impossible." The word "mammon" is often translated as "money" but it apparently covers anything that has the opportunity to become your "treasure." 25 THEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: Here is the Lord Jesus' command to us. Let us be careful to do it! "Take no thought" doesn't mean to forget about your family. We must put all Scripture in context and compare one with another. If you "take no thought", as some have taught, our families become unimportant. That does not mix with this verse - 1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. No, the true context of this verse is brought out in the next verses. 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Jesus was a master at capturing the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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attention of the people. He used God's creation as a perfect example. If the birds can make it, we are better (in the eyes of God) than they are or, as the New Living Translation puts it, we are of much more value to God than they are. 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? NLT Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. Worrying gives more harm than good in spite of those that seem to comfort themselves in that which they worry about. 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: This verse is well brought out by Oswald Chambers in his classic, My Utmost for His Highest - "[Lilies] grow where they are planted. Many of us refuse to grow where God plants us. Therefore, we don't take root anywhere. Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things. Did Jesus Christ lie to us? Are we experiencing the "much more" He promised? If we are not, it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us and have cluttered our minds with confusing thoughts and worries. How much time have we wasted asking God senseless questions while we should be absolutely free to concentrate on our service to Him? Consecration is the act of continually separating myself from everything except that which God has appointed me to do. It is not a one-time experience but an ongoing process. Am I continually separating myself and looking to God every day of my life?" 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? {JF&B} "The expression, `Little-faithed ones,' which our Lord applies once and again to His disciples (Mat 8:26 14:31 16:8), can hardly be regarded as rebuking any actual manifestations of unbelief at that early period, and before such an audience. It is His way of gently chiding the spirit of unbelief, so natural even to the best, who are surrounded by a world of sense, and of kindling a generous desire to shake it off." Also, the last part of this verse points to the real issue. If we maintain faith in God, worry cannot remain in us. When we must drum these verses into ourselves through our confessions, our faith is small. 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? In everything the Lord says here, we must be balanced. He is speaking about that consuming thought called "worry." What we should eat or drink or wear are not things to worry about. 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Those that don't know the Lord (Gentiles in that day) worry about these kinds of things because they have no hope. We that have placed our hope in Jesus Christ must comfort ourselves and build up our faith on the fact that our heavenly Father KNOWS that we have need of these things. With this knowledge also comes the fact that we can expect Him to answer our needs. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. This is a key verse. It is a Saints' Principle by itself. The understanding of this great verse is well brought out by the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary. {JF&B} "The precise sense of every word in this golden verse should be carefully weighed. `The kingdom of God' is the primary subject of the Sermon on the Mount--that kingdom which the God of heaven is erecting in this fallen world, within which are all the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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spiritually recovered and inwardly subject portion of the family of Adam, under Messiah as its Divine Head and King. `The righteousness thereof' is the character of all such, so amply described and variously illustrated in the foregoing portions of this discourse. The `seeking' of these is the making them the object of supreme choice and pursuit; and the seeking of them `first' is the seeking of them before and above all else. The `all these things' which shall in that case be added to us are just the `all these things' which the last words of Mat 6:32 assured us `our heavenly Father knoweth that we have need of'; that is, all we require for the present life. And when our Lord says they shall be `added,' it is implied, as a matter of course, that the seekers of the kingdom and its righteousness shall have these as their proper and primary portion: the rest being their gracious reward for not seeking them." 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. NLT So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today. {JF&B} "Every day brings its own cares; and to anticipate is only to double them."

Chapter 7

SECTION 7 ­ A JUDGMENTAL SPIRIT FORBIDDEN. The Lord Jesus instructs the church to

avoid a harsh, critical and not only avoid it but realize that this type of spirit will be used against us. The great principle in this section is that the hypocrite sees others problems but never see their own.

1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. {JF&B} "To `judge' here does not exactly mean to pronounce condemnatory judgment, nor does it refer to simple judging at all, whether favorable or the reverse. The context makes it clear that the thing here condemned is that disposition to look unfavorably on the character and actions of others, which leads invariably to the pronouncing of rash, unjust, and unlovely judgments upon them. No doubt it is the judgments so pronounced which are here spoken of; but what our Lord aims at is the spirit out of which they spring. Provided we eschew this unlovely spirit, we are not only warranted to sit in judgment upon a brother's character and actions, but in the exercise of a necessary discrimination are often constrained to do so for our own guidance. It is the violation of the law of love involved in the exercise of a censorious disposition which alone is here condemned." We often use this verse to keep folks from telling us about ourselves. How often have I heard someone say, "Now don't judge" when pointing out areas that needed improvement to go with God? Does this verse mean that there is never a time that we should judge? No. In fact, the commentator brings out the fact that Jesus refers to the spirit behind what we have done. In just looking at Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth you'll find a number of examples where judgment is not only appropriate but also necessary: · SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The people of God must have the wisdom to handle judgment in this present world. 1 Corinthians 6:2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? (This verse was the result of a situation that could not be resolved within the church and was taken to the world's legal system.) LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: The leadership of the Church must be able to make a judgment about a

situation and pronounce a remedy that maintains the integrity of the Church. 1 Corinthians 5:35 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present,

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

·

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concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. · SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The people of God must be able to make a judgment regarding prophecy that goes forth in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. The same "measuring stick" that you use on your brother or sister will be used on you. The key is the spirit behind that measurement. If you use the Word of God but don't handle "skillfully" as the writer of Hebrews speaks of, you may end up with incorrect judgment based on a wrong spirit. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? And while we're dealing with the subject of how we view others, how is it that you can see a tiny speck in your brother's eye but can't see that telephone pole in your eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? If that weren't enough, how can you tell your brother, "I'm going to do some detail, critical work on your eye" when you can't see clearly because of that telephone pole in your eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. The Lord, in coming to the end of His message, uses strong language to reinforce what He is saying ­ YOU HYPOCRITE! Remember the principle of this section is that the hypocrite never sees their own problem but always sees everyone else's problem. SECTION 8 ­ HOW TO HANDLE HOLY THINGS. The Lord Jesus told us in the prior section to

avoid a critical, harsh spirit. In this section, He goes in the opposite direction and tells us to be cautious with what we have received.

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. {JF&B} "Dogs ­ savage or snarling haters of truth and righteousness ... Religion is brought into contempt, and its professors insulted, when it is forced upon those who cannot value it and will not have it. But while the indiscriminately zealous have need of this caution, let us be on our guard against too readily setting our neighbors down as dogs and swine, and excusing ourselves from endeavoring to do them good on this poor plea." Everything you receive from the Lord is not for everyone. The commentator restricts this to those of the world who have no use for God. However, this verse even goes to those in the church who make no real time for God. These will not appreciate the deep things of God. SECTION 9 ­ PROMISES REGARDING PRAYER. The Lord shows us the beauty of prayer and

gives us promises for answer to prayer.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: What a simple but powerful truth. If we ask, we shall receive. If we seek, we shall find. If we knock (or do what's necessary to get the Lord's attention), we will have doors opened for us.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Jesus further emphasizes what He said in the prior verse to let us know that we have, in this verse, a firm promise from God. The principle of this verse and one prior is that if we will do our part (ask, seek, or knock), God will do His part and answer prayer. The coming verses illustrate why we can stand on this principle. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Even though mankind is evil (if we weren't, we wouldn't need a Savior!), mankind responds to their children in a positive manner. If evil mankind does this, how much more our loving, kind, and holy heavenly Father? SECTION 10 ­ THE GOLDEN RULE. From this passage is where the world has put together the

proverb, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Whenever you see the word "therefore," think to look back in the verses before it to find out what that "therefore" is there for. In this case, it connects with our promise of answered prayer. Because we have such a promise, we also have a great responsibility to live the life of Christ and allow the righteousness of God to shine forth in us. We can't stand upon our rights and embrace the habits of the world because we are living in a different realm than they are. They walk after the flesh but we walk after the Spirit. SECTION 11 ­ MAKING THE CORRECT DECISIONS IN LIFE. There are choices for us to make

in life to insure our eternal happiness. Jesus encourages us to choose wisely! He also, in His conclusion, gives us instruction on how to live this life.

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: MYTH: Notice how "strait" is spelled. This is not the same as

"straight" even though many try to convince us otherwise. The word "strait" means narrow; affording little space or room; confined; fitting tightly; constricted; strict; rigid; or righteous. (Side note: Isn't interesting that the dictionary equates righteous with being strict or rigid as if to say it's too hard to do?) The Bible tells us in the Old Testament that the "way of the transgressor is hard" and

Jesus will soon tell us in the Matthew Chapter 10 that His yoke is "easy." So then, how do we put this with a strait gate? The key is that it is the gate. The way is narrow, which we'll see in the next verse but it's that first step that few are able to make ­ that step through the gate. 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The gate, or starting point, is where the enemy fights so vigorously but even after that, you still have to live this life. It's a narrow way because you can't do everything (and there's much to choose from) that the world does. 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. While you're walking the narrow path, watch out for those that look like they're on the path but really have evil motives. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. How can I tell who these people are? Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits or what they produce. If they produce confusion and every evil work, and we're not judging, we're following the instructions of Jesus, then we know that these are ones that we have to beware of. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. In continuing on with His theme of understanding those that only have a testimony, Jesus cautions us regarding falling into their attitude. Just because you call Him Lord will not get you into heaven. Performing the will of God gets us into heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? There's a tragic word that begins this verse ­ MANY. Many people will allow themselves to be deceived that because of their great works, they are doing the will of God. 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. {JF&B} "What they claimed--intimacy with Christ--is just what He rejects, and with a certain scornful dignity. `Our acquaintance was not broken off--there never was any.'" These are NOT backsliders because the Lord NEVER knew them. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth THESE SAYINGS OF MINE, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth THESE SAYINGS OF MINE, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. As He concludes, Jesus emphasizes the importance of HIS word. How this must have upset the religious leaders who were present! This is probably why the people were astonished in the next verse. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Jesus showed forth His divine authority in His teaching and it was evident to the people in His words and in His spirit.

This chapter begins the history of the public ministry of Jesus Christ. Some words were mentioned in Chapter 4 but now the writer goes into more detail. This chapter can be broken into these sections: Jesus heals a man with leprosy, the centurion's servant, Peter's motherin-law, and many with various diseases; Jesus challenges the disciples and disciples now on the sacrifice necessary for discipleship; and Jesus encounters a demonic storm on the way to ultimately giving deliverance to two men bound by demons.

Chapter 8

1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Notice this man's faith! He said, "My healing will happen based on what YOU want to do." 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. This is one of the most powerful verses in the New Testament because it points to the great compassion of the Lord Jesus. First, Jesus didn't have to touch him to heal him. By touching this man,

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Jesus made Himself unclean according to the law and risked infection with the same disease. Second, He didn't hold a conversation but just said, I WILL, be thou clean. Third, the man received the answer to his faith. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. In fulfilling the law, which Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount that He was sent to do, he tells the man to obey the precepts of the law and have himself officially declared clean by the priest. (Remember Matthew's audience. If Matthew had not included this in the text, he may have turned off his Jewish readers.) NLT Then Jesus said to him, "Go right over to the

priest and let him examine you. Don't talk to anyone along the way. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy, so everyone will have proof of your healing."

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, The centurion was a Roman officer who was the captain over 100 soldiers. It was obviously a position of some prominence since he had a servant in his home. 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. Palsy - Complete or partial muscle paralysis, often accompanied by loss of sensation and uncontrollable body movements or tremors. The best way to think of it is to think of paralysis. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I WILL COME AND HEAL HIM. Notice the Lord's confidence! He didn't say, "I will come and pray for him" but He made an emphatic statement that the servant would be healed. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Notice the humility of this Roman officer. He could have been arrogant. He was in charge of soldiers living in a conquered land ruling over conquered people but he considered himself unworthy. Though he was a Gentile and not of those the Lord was sent to minister to, his faith moved God! 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. This outsider demonstrated more faith than those that should be familiar and comfortable with the ways of God. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Jesus warns not only the Jews of that time but the church of today that we must be careful or we'll lose our place in God. The kingdom, according to Jesus, will consist of those who come from all over (including us Gentiles, praise God!) but those that should have had the right to it, the Jewish people, will be cast into "outer darkness" or HELL. This same principle applies to those Christians who lose their place in God. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. The servant was healed based on the faith of the centurion. Jesus confirmed his faith and it was done.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When you look at the Gospel of St. Luke (4:38), you'll see that this was done on the Sabbath day. 16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: The people waited until the evening because the Sabbath ended at 6:00 p.m. The Jewish leaders had the people in so much bondage that they refused their healing until they had satisfied their leaders. 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. This is in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. Jesus was never moved by the possibility of popularity and, in fact, shunned it. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: If Jesus

Christ was vigorous in avoiding popularity and the praise of men, how much MORE so must we be!

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. People are always excited in the presence of the anointing and make promises that they're not ready to keep. However, Jesus knew this and challenged him in the next verse. 20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. He made a simple statement and we don't have any indication how the man received this. The statement indicates that there will be a natural sacrifice (not just in our character and in our actions) required to follow Jesus. {JF&B} "The preaching of Christ had riveted and charmed him; his heart had swelled; his enthusiasm had been kindled; and in this state of mind he will go anywhere with Him, and feels impelled to tell Him so. `Wilt thou?' replies the Lord Jesus. `Knowest thou whom thou art pledging thyself to follow, and whither haply He may lead thee? No warm home, no downy pillow has He for thee: He has them not for Himself. The foxes are not without their holes, nor do the birds of the air lack their nests; but the Son of man has to depend on the hospitality of others, and borrow the pillow whereon He lays His head.' How affecting is this reply! And yet He rejects not this man's offer, nor refuses him the liberty to follow Him. Only He will have him know what he is doing, and `count the cost.' He will have him weigh well the real nature and the strength of his attachment, whether it be such as will abide in the day of trial. If so, he will be right welcome, for Christ puts none away. But it seems too plain that in this case that had not been done." 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. This man was already one of the Lord's disciples or at least had just made up his mind to become one. However, he wanted to put other things, even though it was a tragic incident, in front of Jesus. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. Jesus was not, in my opinion, being callous to the emotional distress of this man but He was trying to impress upon him the urgency of following Him. The commentators also generally agree that the man's father was not dead at that time because, if so, he would not have been there. The Jewish practice was, and still is, to quickly bury their dead, usually before sundown. Instead, their opinion is that his father was old and he wanted to see his father

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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through the last days of his life and then come follow Jesus. How much is this attitude like those that would "have their fun" or make their mark in society before deciding to follow Jesus. PRINCIPLE TO ALL MANKIND: JESUS CHRIST MUST BE FIRST IN OUR LIVES. 23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. The next few verses, all the way to the end of the chapter, are some of the most fascinating in Scripture. We receive a glimpse of the awesome power of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ. Many split this section into two parts but I see it as one. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. This was an unnatural storm. Many well meaning commentators have said that this is a fable because the small Sea of Galilee could not spawn a storm of this magnitude. They say that it really should be called the LAKE of Galilee. However, this is where we see the devil's hand in evidence. Across this lake is a man in desperate need of deliverance. The enemy has many demons working through him. There are so many that you just KNOW this man must be one that would be a danger to the devil. Otherwise, why would he assign so many demons to him? 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. It was a great storm but it didn't phase Jesus. He had confidence in the ministry and mission that God had given Him therefore He knew He would not die in that storm. Other Gospel writers say He was sleeping in the bottom of the ship (or large boat). His confidence allowed Him to sleep through the storm and in the water. 26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. Jesus did that which NO other man could do. However, He did say that we would do greater works but at this point you have to marvel at our Savior! 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! And we yet marvel. 28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. This country is called the "Gadarenes" in the Gospels of Luke and Mark. They also say there was only one man. According to MacArthur, he speculates that perhaps one of them was more dominant that the other. Regardless of the number involved, the deliverance was complete. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? {MacArthur} "Evidently, even the demons not only recognized the deity of Jesus, but also knew there was a divinely-appointed time for their judgment, and He would be their judge." 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. Mark says the number was 2,000 of these unclean animals (according to the law of Moses). This would suggest that either Gentiles dominated the area or the Jews in that region had no use for the law. Remember that this region is in the far northern section of the country. This is the region that was part of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, in the Old Testament.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. Luke points out that they preferred the pigs over going to the abyss, the demonic prison mentioned in the Book of Revelation and the Epistle of Peter ­ 2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. The animal rights people would be upset with Jesus about this but, according to the Law, these animals were unclean and a sin for the Jewish people to even touch. Therefore, to allow them to go into the swine would not only purify the land but, more importantly, deliver these men. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts. Basically, Jesus was rejected in place of a pig. He had caused great calamity on their economy but they took no notice to the great deliverance that had taken place. Also, Mark and Luke point out that they were afraid. Luke 8:37 says "they were taken with great fear." Why didn't they have this fear when they had these lunatics running around with supernatural strength? Instead, they wanted Jesus GONE. So, He left.

In this chapter, Jesus heals another man with palsy, calls the author of this book, raises Jairus' daughter from the dead, heals two blind men, and heals a man that could not speak.

Chapter 9

1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. This chapter continues on from the prior where Jesus has left the country of the Gergesenes. In returning to "his own city," He returned to Capernaum. Remember that He had made this is base of operations in 4:13. 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. The "their faith" mentioned here is not fully explained. These are the four men that tore off the roof of a house to let their friend down in front of Jesus. Forgiveness should make us happy. Thank God for healing, for favor, for peace, and everything else that goes with salvation but it is forgiveness that is the key to all. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. The scribes mention often in the Scriptures that only God can forgive sin. Therefore, we see who Jesus is. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? Nothing is hid from Him. 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. Jesus dealt with the most important issue first ­ sin. However, to demonstrate that He was fully in His right to forgive sin, He healed the man with a word. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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8 But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. The common people were not allowing themselves to be all worked up over whether Jesus blasphemed or not. They were excited about the fact that God had empowered Jesus to do this. Notice that they didn't focus on the man with the power but on the giver of the power. Jesus is living what He preached in the Sermon on the Mount ­ Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 9 And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. Only in this gospel does the author use his name. In Mark and Luke, he is referred to as Levi. However, there is no doubt that this is the same man. Mark 2:14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. Luke 5:27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. Notice how they all agree. 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. Mark and Luke bring out that this was not just a house but Matthew's house. Jesus called Matthew and Matthew called his friends, publicans and sinners. They warmed to Jesus in spite of their sin. {JF&B} "The modesty of our Evangelist ...appears here. Luke says (Luke 5:29) that `Levi made Him a great feast,' or `reception,' while Matthew merely says, `He sat at meat'; and Mark and Luke say that it was in Levi's `own house,' while Matthew merely says, `He sat at meat in the house.'" 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? They didn't ask Jesus. They asked His disciples. This is the kind of foolishness that has always gone on in the church! But notice that it starts with a Pharisee spirit, NOT among those that are really saints. 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. What's done in the darkness will always come to the light. Our mission is to those that are in need, NOT to those that are whole (members of other churches, for example). 13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. This is quite a rebuke by Jesus. The Pharisees were of the most learned class of Jews at that time. In spite of this, Jesus said, "Go and learn what this means." He quotes from Hosea 6:6 (For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.) in His rebuke. 14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? The disciples of John did not do like the Pharisees, they came right to Jesus and asked their question. It almost sounds like they're saying, "It's not fair that we have to fast a lot and Your disciples don't fast at all!" It's a fair question. 15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. As long as Jesus, the bridegroom, was on earth, His disciples enjoyed His presence but once He went back into heaven, THEN shall the disciples of Jesus Christ fast. That THEN yet applies.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Jesus uses this opportunity to tell the disciples of John, who were living in Old Testament truth, that you can't mix the new principles of the New Testament with the principles of the Old Testament. It's like trying to patch an old garment with a new piece of cloth. It will make it look worse because it will make the garment an eyesore. Fasting was an Old Testament principle but it was to carry on into the New Testament. However, the purpose of the fast would change in the New Testament. 17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. New wine is unfermented wine. The wine skins would stretch as they wine fermented in them because they still had their elasticity. Old skins no longer had this and would rupture. The principle He is getting across to the disciples of John is that the Old Testament has gone as far as it can. The rituals and ceremonies of the Old Testament don't fit with the newness of life of the New Testament. 18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. The name of this ruler is Jairus (Mark 5:22) and he was a ruler of the synagogue. Look at his great faith! "My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live." In another Gospel, the ruler says that she was at the point of death. This is a minor discrepancy that shouldn't trouble us. The reality is that when Jesus got there, she was dead. 19 And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Faith moves the Lord. Once Jairus made his request and faith known, Jesus moved. 20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: This woman was in a terrible situation. She had this twelve years, which means not only twelve years of disease but also twelve years being ostracized by Jewish society. Look at what the Law said about a woman in this case.

Leviticus 15:25-27 And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the

time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean. 26 Every bed whereon she lieth all the days of her issue shall be unto her as the bed of her separation: and whatsoever she sitteth upon shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her separation. 27 And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. When one was unclean according to the Old Testament, they could not participate in any of the Temple worship activities. So no matter how well this woman felt during these twelve years, she could not go to church. The other Gospel writers point out the futility of her situation: She had this problem 12 years; she suffered many things of many physicians; she had spent all that she had and it was at this point, no doubt, that the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

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doctors gave her up as incurable; just as today's doctors give you up when the insurance runs out; she only grew worse and not better. 21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. Watch this! This is her word of faith. 22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. Matthew omits some key information that is mentioned in the other Gospels. What made Jesus turn around was the fact that "virtue" or power had gone out of Him. He was so sensitive to the Spirit of God that He knew when the Spirit was moving around Him even in the midst of this mob. 23 And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, 24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. It was "fashionable" for the wealthy Jews to hire "professional mourners" who would really cause a commotion regarding the loved one that they had lost. Jesus showed their true nature though with His word. They went so quickly from mourning to laughing that He had no problem getting them put out. 25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. Jesus raised the little girl from the dead. 26 And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land. When you do this, you'll be popular too. 27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. {JF&B} "It is remarkable that in the only other recorded case in which the blind appealed to Jesus for their sight, and obtained it, they addressed Him, over and over again, by this one Messianic title, so well known--`Son of David' (Mt 20:30)." It is also remarkable that those that could see the least, saw the most. 28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH BE IT UNTO YOU. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. 31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. Their healing was obtained by the power of God working through their faith. However in their excitement over their healing, they disobeyed His command (it was still a command in spite of how excited they were) and probably made it more difficult for others because eventually Jesus withdrew Himself from the crowds. 32 As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. 33 And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. 34 But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. The people marveled at the wonderful power of God. But notice verse 34. there's always someone to sit back and criticize and try to change the thoughts of the people. LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: No matter what you do, YOU CANNOT

ESCAPE CRITICISM ­ if Jesus went through while He was going about everywhere doing good, you will go through it.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

The Gospel of St. Matthew

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35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. We have a Savior FULL of compassion. But in His compassion, He commands the church to be diligent in prayer to send forth those that can help the people. I believe that this remains His prayer for the Body of Christ. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. Jesus didn't tell us to pray for members but WORKERS. He didn't tell us to pray that HE would do it. He told us to go back to God and ask Him to do something that would help the people that are like sheep without a shepherd. This "something" involves asking for those that will actually do some WORK. The harvest is there, but truly the laborers are not there. There are many saved but not many willing to do what it takes to bring in the harvest.

Jesus commissions twelve men to share in His ministry and to ultimately work in the ministry of an apostle or messenger of God. Matthew Henry calls this chapter an "ordination sermon" as the Lord appoints and charges these men.

Chapter 10

1 And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. At the end of the previous chapter, Jesus had made it clear that LABORERS were needed to work in the Lord's vineyard. There were many more disciples than these twelve but these were the men that Jesus would name "apostles" in the next verses. Understanding the Role of the Apostle in the New Testament Church

1 Corinthians 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets,

thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. After the establishment of the gifts and the placement of members in a particular location in the body, the development of ministries (offices) begins or goes hand in hand. APOSTLE - apostolos - A DELEGATE; ONE SENT WITH FULL POWER OF ATTORNEY TO ACT IN THE PLACE OF ANOTHER, THE SENDER REMAINING BEHIND TO BACKUP THE ONE SENT; ONE SENT FORTH BY ANOTHER. Some well-meaning saints and many commentators have said that the apostles were only those that saw Jesus in bodily form. Therefore, they conclude that the ministry of the apostle ended at the end of the Book of Acts. Others look at this title as "popular" and have taken the title in place of "Reverend" or "Elder" without performing the work of an apostle. Neither position is accurate. Our definition (a delegate, one sent with full power of attorney to act in the place of another, the sender remaining behind to backup the one sent), as applied to apostles in Christianity, means that Jesus sends them to do what He himself would do if He went. Because of this, the apostle must be totally in tune with the perfect will of God. According to Unger's Bible Dictionary, "The office was preeminently that of founding the churches and upholding them by supernatural power especially

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bestowed for that purpose." Let's look at some of the key reasons for this ministry from the Word of God. · THE APOSTLE ESTABLISHES THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH. The role of the apostle must be first for without it, the local ministry cannot begin or have proper guidance. Without the apostolic ministry, doctrinal differences cannot be adjudicated. Acts 2:42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Peter also hit this same theme in 2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: (See also Acts 15:22-31.) The commandments and the doctrine of the apostles were vitally important at the beginning of the church age and, because other gifts and ministries don't disappear, continue to be important. THE APOSTLE IS AN OFFICE THAT ONE IS CALLED TO NOT APPOINTED TO. Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE, separated unto the gospel of God. The question that would arise from this verse is whether God is calling all of the ones today who have taken the title "apostle" to the ministry of an apostle? In addition, if they are in that position, why are they not doing the work in establishing the doctrine of the church? Just food for thought. THE SIGNS OF AN APOSTLE ARE SHOWN IN THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT AND THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. 2 Corinthians 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. Too often just the Gifts of the Spirit are emphasized but the apostle shows forth their ministry in both the Gifts of the Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit. THE OFFICE OF THE APOSTLE IS PART OF THE CHURCH'S FOUNDATION ALONG WITH THE PROPHET AND THEREFORE, VITALLY IMPORTANT. Ephesians 2:19-20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The church at Ephesus (and the whole church for that matter) is compared by Paul to a building. We are all stones in that building but the foundation is based on the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles. The connecting point of both the Old Testament and the New Testament is Jesus Christ, the Chief Corner Stone. What does that mean to us? The ministry of the apostle is a key ministry in the church that must continue to establish foundation principles and doctrines for the church. THE APOSTLE AND THE PROPHET ARE THE SOURCE OF REVELATIONS OF CHURCH MYSTERIES. Ephesians 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. The apostle provides revelation knowledge into what God is doing. What does that mean? It means that, for example, no one understood the rapture of the church until Paul, through revelation knowledge, revealed that in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4. This was not revealed by Jesus or by the Gospel writers but by the apostles. We need this type of revelation knowledge today to understand what

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is difficult to understand out of the Scripture regarding the Second Coming of Jesus and the signs that we see in the earth today. Is this ministry still needed or has it died as so many affirm? I say, "Absolutely YES it is needed and ABSOLUTELY no it has not died out. The purpose of this ministry reaffirms its importance in this present day with so much error in the church. We especially need the doctrine of the church to be established today more than ever! However, understand that there is a difference between the apostles chosen by the Lord Jesus and apostles today. Those chosen by the Lord Jesus make up the foundation of the church and their names are in the foundation of the Holy City in the future (Revelation 21:14). 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. There are some interesting points about some of these twelve men that JF&B bring out in their commentary: Philip and Bartholomew--That this person [Bartholomew] is the same with "Nathanael of Cana in Galilee" is justly concluded for the three following reasons: First, because Bartholomew is not so properly an individual's name as a family surname; next, because not only in this list, but in Mark's and Luke's (Mk 3:18; Lu 6:14), he follows the name of "Philip," who was the instrument of bringing Nathanael first to Jesus (John 1:45); and again, when our Lord, after His resurrection, appeared at the Sea of Tiberias, "Nathanael of Cana in Galilee" is mentioned along with six others, all of them apostles, as being present (John 21:2). Matthew the publican--In none of the four lists of the Twelve is this apostle so branded but in his own, as if he would have all to know how deep a debtor he had been to his Lord. James the son of Alphaeus--The same person apparently who is called Cleopas or Clopas (Lu 24:18; John 19:25); and, as he was the husband of Mary, sister to the Virgin. James the Less must have been our Lord's cousin. and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus--The same, without doubt, as "Judas the brother of James," mentioned in both the lists of Luke (Lu 6:16; Ac 1:13), while no one of the name of Lebbaeus or Thaddaeus is so. It is he who in John (John 14:22) is sweetly called "Judas, not Iscariot." Simon the Canaanite--Rather "Kananite," but better still, "the Zealot," as he is called in Lu 6:15, where the original term should not have been retained as in our version ("Simon, called Zelotes"), but rendered "Simon, called the Zealot." The word "Kananite" is just the Aramaic, or Syro-Chaldaic, term for "Zealot." Probably before his acquaintance with Jesus, he belonged to the sect of the Zealots, who bound themselves, as a sort of voluntary ecclesiastical police, to see that the law was not broken with impunity. and Judas Iscariot--That is, Judas of Kerioth, a town of Judah (Jos 15:25); so called to distinguish him from "Judas the brother of James"

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5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: {MH} "They must not go into the way of the Gentiles, nor into any road out of the land of Israel, whatever temptations they might have. The Gentiles must not have the gospel brought them, till the Jews have first refused it. As to the Samaritans, who were the posterity of the mongrel people that the king of Assyria planted about Samaria, their country lay between Judea and Galilee, so that they could not avoid going into the way of the Samaritans, but they must not enter into any of their cities. Christ had declined manifesting himself to the Gentiles or Samaritans, and therefore the apostles must not preach to them. If the gospel be hid from any place, Christ thereby hides himself from that place. This restraint was upon them only in their first mission, afterwards they were appointed to go into all the world, and teach all nations." 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They were sent to the same ones that Jesus was sent to. MYTH: (This is going to probably make some upset.) The Scripture says, Jesus Christ the same

yesterday, today, and forever, and this is true. However, we use this to say, "God never changes." That is NOT true. In this passage, Jesus sent His disciples to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." At the end of this same Gospel, He will tell them to "go into all the world." Let us understand what the

Scriptures are trying to say. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is the same message that John the Baptist preached and the same message that Jesus preached. This wasn't the whole message, just the theme of the message. 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. No price is to be given on what the Lord gives us. This doesn't meant that the laborer is not worthy of their hire but it does mean that I shall not withhold from you what God has given me. 9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. They were instructed to go out trusting in the Lord to provide for them. This was also later modified by the Lord but the basic premise of trusting in God never changed. 11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. {JF&B} Worthy ­ "not in point of rank, of course, but of congenial disposition." So when they went into a city, they were to find out who was hospitable and abide with them. 12 And when ye come into an house, salute it. To salute it was to use the salutation, "Peace be unto this house." 13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. If they receive your civil greeting, stay with them peaceably and let the blessing you have spoken on the house remain. Otherwise, recall the blessing upon that house. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: As the people of God,

we have great power to move the blessings of God upon others.

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. I noticed something here. This was not only to a city but also to a house. This was also not done to pronounce a curse upon the city or house. {JF&B} " `for a testimony against them,' as

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Mark and Luke add (Mk 6:11; Lu 10:11). By this symbolical action they vividly shook themselves from all connection with such, and all responsibility for the guilt of rejecting them and their message. Such symbolical actions were common in ancient times, even among others than the Jews, as strikingly appears in Pilate (Mt 27:24). And even to this day it prevails in the East." This action, though symbolic, was an action recorded in eternity. 15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. This tolerance is exhibited in the Day of Judgment and says a lot about how God views the sin of rejection of Christ above the sodomy and homosexuality of those wicked cities!

In the next few verses, Jesus gives points about what the life of the Christian Worker (not just preachers) will be like. None of this is glamorous enough to make anyone want to do it but He yet encourages us to be laborers in His harvest.

16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (1) The Christian Worker is sent forth AS a sheep (weak and helpless) in the midst of ravenous wolves. Because of that, we must have the wisdom and gentleness of God.{JF&B} "Alone, the wisdom of the serpent is mere cunning, and the harmlessness of the dove little better than weakness: but in combination, the wisdom of the serpent would save them from unnecessary exposure to danger; the harmlessness of the dove, from sinful expedients to escape it. In the apostolic age of Christianity, how harmoniously were these qualities displayed! Instead of the fanatical thirst for martyrdom, to which a later age gave birth, there was a manly combination of unflinching zeal and calm discretion, before which nothing was able to stand." 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; (2) The Christian Worker will be persecuted even in the midst of "Christianity." Yet today we must be cautious of people. They will love you one moment and do what they can to destroy you and your name the next. Notice the last part of that verse, "they will scourge you in their synagogues." Jesus lets the disciples know that the trouble will not just be with the Gentiles (the world) but with the established church. Today, we may not be beaten in our churches (YET!) but the scourging takes other forms that are just as painful to our emotions. 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. (3) The Christian Worker will be brought before magistrates and prosecutors for the sake of Christ. Today, we see this happen but we too often side with the "law of the land" against our brothers and sisters. How often have I heard, "Well, if they weren't doing something wrong, they wouldn't have been arrested." Friend, that foolish statement can also apply to Jesus! 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (4) The Christian Worker has the promise of Holy Ghost empowerment in the midst of crisis. What a tremendous promise! After we have seen so much bad news about the Christian Worker's walk, now we see a tremendous promise that says, "He will NOT leave us alone!" 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. (5) The Christian Worker can expect

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trouble even in his or her own family, even to the point of being turned against by their own children.

Now this is scary. Notice the words of Jesus. It's one thing to be mistreated within your family because of your belief in Christ. However, His words say that the Christian Worker will be persecuted to the point of betrayal and death among CLOSE family members. This could make one that's zealous to go for Jesus, not so zealous. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (6)

The Christian Worker will live a life of being ostracized and HATED but we must endure this throughout our life (to the end) in order to receive the promise of our salvation. What more needs to be

said? 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. (7) The Christian Worker will live a nomadic life going from place to place after the persecution has increased. We are blessed to not experience such persecution NOW but that doesn't mean it will not return. In fact, the Book of Revelation points to the nomadic life returning as the antichrist persecutes the Tribulation saints. The context of this verse all seems to say that this was directed to the disciples of Jesus at that time. However, this is the same life the Christians of the Book of Acts had to live and Christians in other centuries when persecution arose. This country was born out of the nomadic moves of Christians seeking freedom from persecution. 24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (8) The Christian Worker can expect to be treated no

better than our Lord was treated. After all, our goal is to be like HIM.

26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. WOW! In spite of what has just been told you, don't fear these people. We have a promise of having the revelation knowledge of the Spirit of God. 27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. {JF&B} "Give free and fearless utterance to all that I have taught you while yet with you. Objection: But this may cost us our life? Answer: It may, but there their power ends:" 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. When we come right down to it, our fear must be of God for only He has the power to completely destroy. This makes the charge of verse 26 even stronger. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Don't fear man because we are more valuable to God

than all of His other creation.

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Jesus uses a principle that is repeated many times in the Scripture ­ the way that we treat Him is the way that He will treat us when it comes to being an advocate for our prayers before the Father.

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34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. The Lord repeats for emphasis what He said in verse 21. Jesus is viewed in the Scripture as the Prince of Peace but notice that He lets us know that if you plan to live this life, there WILL BE division. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. This is the first time in Matthew that the Lord mentioned the cross. This is the same principle that is often repeated in the Gospels ­ JESUS CHRIST MUST BE FIRST IN OUR LIVES. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. As the Lord concludes His charge to these newly commissioned preachers, He ends on a positive note letting them know that, in spite of all the negative He stated before, they are blessed and others will be blessed through them. This principle yet applies.

Jesus resumes His ministry after sending out the twelve; He receives ambassadors from John the Baptist who is still in prison (see chapter 4); He eulogizes John who is near the end of his life; He rebukes people and cities for their unbelief; and He gives the first general invitation to all mankind to "come unto Him".

Chapter 11

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Not only did He send the disciples, He went also. 2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Don't criticize John for his words. He's been wrongfully imprisoned and he sees his death as imminent. 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and show John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. Jesus answered John in "code". He sent him an answer from the Scriptures that John should understand quoting from Isaiah 29:18-19 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. 19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.. Jesus said nothing more because He knew John would understand. 7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. Knowing what was to lie ahead, Jesus gives His personal eulogy to John the Baptist, His forerunner and His cousin. He was NOT a reed shaken with the wind

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­ he was not a man of instability but a man of great strength. He was NOT a man of dainties and luxuries ­ he was totally sold out to the work of the Lord. He was a prophet but not only a prophet, he was MORE than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. This is in fulfillment of Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. {MacArthur} "John was greater than the Old Testament prophets because he actually saw with his eyes and personally participated in the fulfillment of what they only prophesied. But all believers after the cross are greater still, because they participate in the full understanding and experience of something John merely foresaw in shadowy form ­ the actual atoning work of Christ." 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. {Dake} "The idea here is that before John the kingdom could only be viewed in the light of prophecy, but now it was preached, men pressing into it with ardor resembling violence or desperation. They appeared as if they would seize it by force. It expresses the earnestness that men must have in getting rid of sin, all satanic powers, the world, and in standing true when relatives oppose them." It's interesting that the definition of the word "violent" also bears this out ­ "proceeding from or marked by great physical force or activity; caused by or exhibiting intense emotional or mental excitement, passionate; characterized by intensity of any kind." Based on this passage, the character of the Christian is one of passion for Christ and His ways. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. John the Baptist represents Elijah the prophet in spirit but Elijah is yet to return. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. This is the first of fifteen times that Jesus used this expression. It was used to call attention to something of importance that was just said. 16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. Jesus, in His preaching, rebukes the people for their unbelief. There is a great principle here. CHRISTIAN WORKERS' AND CHRISTIAN LEADERS' PRINCIPLE: You can't please anyone so work to please God. John came in a style that should have pleased them but they said, "He has a devil." Jesus came in another style and received different ridicule. They would ridicule any righteous person because they wanted to continue in their evil deeds. 20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in

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you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. Jesus' works were not done just because the people had needs, they were done to persuade them to repent and turn to the Lord. What an indictment He pronounces against these cities! Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom are cities that receive continually curses in the Old Testament but the cities where the Lord was based and saw His mighty works will have less mercy in the Day of Judgment than these. 25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Jesus' prayer of thanksgiving is for those that will receive the truth of the Gospel in simplicity, as babes. Those that will do this have the opportunity to understand the Father. This knowledge only comes through Jesus Christ. 28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. This is one of the most beautiful verses in Scripture. It is the Lord's first general invitation to everyone to come to Him. He invites people that not just labor by working hard but those that are fatigued by the rigors of everyday life. He invites those that are heavy laden with burdens and distress. The promise is that REST will come through Jesus Christ. In the midst of this passage there is also a charge. To receive this rest, you must become yoked up with Jesus and you must work to learn of Him. He promises that when we do this, His meek spirit will receive us and it won't be difficult. His yoke is easy, much easier than the way of the transgressor, which is hard. His burden is light which means that it's almost a shame to call it a burden because it is so light. What a great promise from our Savior! However, realize that though it's an easy yoke and a light burden, it's still a yoke and a burden. Never feel that Christianity is intended to be a "bed of roses".

Jesus wrestles with the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath; He heals a man with a withered hand and a man possessed with a devil; these events prompt the first of many confrontations between Him and the Pharisees.

Chapter 12

1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? 6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. 7 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. This was the Lord's first encounter in Matthew with the Pharisees over the Sabbath day. This started in motion a series of events that led Him to the cross as is evident in the next series of Scriptures. There are a number of points that Jesus makes in His defense of plucking the ears of corn because they were hungry: · · David did a similar thing, and then some, when he ate the showbread which was consecrated for the priests only. God did not charge him with sin for eating when he was hungry. The priests have to do a number of things more strenuous than plucking an ear of corn to satisfy the requirements of their duty, things such as offering the sacrifices. God did not charge them with sin for performing their duty as specified by God's law. This is the big one! One that is greater than the temple is in their midst, that is Jesus. (This is a direct claim to deity which also got them upset.)

·

9 And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: 10 And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. 11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? 12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. 13 Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him. The Pharisees couldn't deal with Jesus. Now He went from one warning to doing exactly what they warned Him about in the prior passage. How foolish they were! Their problem was that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day. Why didn't they have a problem with God that gave the power to heal? 15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 And charged them that they should not make him known: Jesus is moving into a period of opposition to the point that He has to withdraw Himself from the cities. In addition, He charges those multitudes to not reveal where He was. This is in fulfillment of the prophecy in the next verse which speaks to the meek and gentle nature of our Savior. 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. This is in fulfillment of Isaiah 42:1-4 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. 2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. 3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. 4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. 22 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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son of David? 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Before going on in this passage, let us repeat a principle from earlier in this Gospel. LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: No matter what you do, YOU CANNOT ESCAPE CRITICISM ­ if Jesus

went through while He was going about everywhere doing good, you will go through it.

{MH} "The Pharisees were a sort of men that pretended to more knowledge in, and zeal for, the divine law, than other people; yet they were the most [firmly established] enemies to Christ and his doctrine. They were proud of the reputation they had among the people; that fed their pride, supported their power, and filled their purses; and when they heard the people say, Is not this the Son of David? They were extremely irritated, more at that than at the miracle itself; this made them jealous of our Lord Jesus, and apprehensive, that as His interest in the people's esteem increased, theirs must of course be eclipsed and diminished; therefore they envied him, as Saul did his father David, because of what the women sang of him, 1 Sa. 18:7, 8. Note, Those who bind up their happiness in the praise and applause of men, expose themselves to a perpetual uneasiness upon every favorable word that they hear said of any other. The shadow of honor followed Christ, who fled from it, and fled from the Pharisees, who were eager in the pursuit of it." 25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: 26 And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? 27 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. 29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. {MH} "Divisions commonly end in desolations; if we clash, we break; if we divide one from another, we become an easy prey to a common enemy; much more if we bite and devour one another, shall we be consumed one of another, Gal. 5:15. Churches and nations have known this by sad experience." What a truth! Division brings desolation or better said, annihilation. The latter part of this passage also has a great truth. If you want to enter a strong man's house uninvited, you must first bind him. You cannot cast our Satan without first having bound him so that you can spoil his house. How then can Satan cast out Satan? 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. SAINTS PRINCIPLE: There is no neutral ground in Jesus ­ you have to be either for Him or against Him. If you

don't actively work to gather into His kingdom, you are, by default, actively working to scatter souls from His kingdom.

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. {MacArthur} "The sin He was confronting was the Pharisees deliberate rejection of that which they knew to be of God. They could not deny the reality of what the Holy Spirit had done through Him, so they attributed to Satan a work that they knew was of God." The writer of Hebrews brings out the various steps involved in the committing the unpardonable sin. Hebrews 6:4-64 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. Don't be deceived. There is a sin that is unpardonable. 1 John 5:16b says "there is a sin unto death." That means there is a sin that will seal your eternal destiny. MacArthur's definition provides an easy to understand view of it. The writer of Hebrews shows the many steps. The key is having once been not only saved but having experienced so many things of God. How can I tell if I have committed such a sin? I often counsel people to not worry about this. As long as you worry about it, you more than likely have not done it. Your worry is an indication that God is yet dealing with your heart. When this sin has been committed, your conscience is seared and the judgment of Romans 1:28 comes to pass: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. 33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. This is a repeat of the theme the Lord brought up in His Sermon on the Mount. 34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. There is no way that good can continually come from an evil heart. It may spring up on occasion but not always. Likewise, a good heart will continually bring forth good things. But here is the key for us to understand. SAINTS PRINCIPLE: You must give an account

on judgment day of every idle word you speak. Therefore, put a guard over your heart and your mouth.

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. {JF&B} " `a sign from heaven' (Lu 11:16); something of an immediate and decisive nature, to show, not that His miracles were real--that they seemed willing to concede--but that they were from above, not from beneath. These were not the same class with those who charged Him with being in league with Satan (as we see from Lu 11:15, 16); but as the spirit of both was similar, the tone of severe rebuke is continued." Jesus made it abundantly clear to those that wanted to "be sure," ­ no sign shall be given except, if you can figure it out, the sign of Jonah. 43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. The unclean spirit lays claim to the soul that it came out of. Jesus taught this in Luke when He was casting out a devil. The devil leaves with the intent of finding a similar situation that will "fit" just right for him. Instead, he walks through "dry places" or places where there is no opportunity for him to take root. A "dry place" for a demon is a lively place for God ­ it is a place that has not allowed "openings" or fertile ground for the devil. That's why, after salvation, we must DISCIPLINE ourselves in the walk of Christ to keep the devil from having the opportunity to regain a foothold. The principle for that day was that this was how it would be for that wicked generation. The principle for us is that we must stay filled with the Holy Spirit to not allow the devil the opportunity to come back and lay claim to our soul. We must also realize that the devil will not give up his claim on us. He had us for many years and he looks at us as his. Therefore, don't think it strange when you are tempted in so many areas. He's trying to reclaim his home. 46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Notice where His mother and brothers are. They are outside of the group that Jesus is talking to, not with that group. They are not catching hold of the truths because they are outside. Notice also who is involved. {JF&B} "For what purpose these came, we learn from Mk 3:20, 21. In His zeal and ardor He seemed indifferent both to food and repose, and `they went to lay hold of Him' as one `beside Himself.'" Let us look at the Scripture the commentators reference in light of this same passage. Mark 3:21 And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. The "friends" in this passage were actually kinsmen. Look at how the New Living Translation reads: When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him home with them. "He's out of his mind," they said. This incident was really an attempt by his brothers to stop him. His mother somehow got caught into the midst of the confusion but Jesus' problem was that His own brothers didn't believe in Him. (See John 7:5.) 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. I often wondered how Mary, the mother of Jesus, got caught up in this incident. She was NOT with those that heard the Word but stood outside with those that wanted to stop the Word. Notice also that they didn't come to Him but wanted Him to come to them. The principle that Jesus already taught at the end of the 11th chapter was "come unto Me." 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? {JF&B} "Absorbed in the awful warnings He was pouring forth, He felt this to be an unseasonable interruption, fitted to [drive away] the impression made upon the large audience--such an interruption as duty to the nearest relatives did not require Him to give way to. But instead of a direct rebuke, He seizes on the incident to convey a magnificent lesson, expressed in a style of inimitable [disregard]." Instead of responding to the request of His mother and His brothers, Jesus used this event as an opportunity to instruct the people, as He so often did. This was His style, to use life events as teaching lessons. The question was not asked to get an answer but to give Him the chance to give the answer on who we owe our allegiance to. 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! Those that will sell out their lives to Jesus become those that He wants to share with as part of His family.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. The way to be a part of the family of God begins with salvation but continues and ends with doing the will of the Father.

This chapter is filled with parables, seven in fact, which was one of the characteristics of the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament. The chapter will be broken up to show where each begins and ends. Jesus also gives the exposition of two of the parables to His disciples.

Chapter 13

1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. The Parable of the Sower 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. Rather than spend time talking about this parable here, we'll wait for the next few verses when the Lord Jesus explains the meaning behind this parable to His disciples. Notice, though, before leaving this parable, that He ends it with the statement, "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." As stated before, He used this statement only when something He said was vitally important to the listener. Therefore, we have to make sure we have a good understanding of this parable. 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto YOU to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. What a powerful benefit to the believer! SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The understanding and

knowledge of the mysteries, the revelation knowledge of God, of the kingdom of heaven are reserved for the people of God and NOT to others.

12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. {JF&B} "This is a principle of immense importance, and, like other weighty sayings, appears to have been uttered by our Lord on more than one occasion, and in different connections. As a great ethical principle, we see it in operation everywhere, under the general law of habit; in virtue of which moral principles become stronger by exercise, while by disuse, or the exercise of their contraries, they wax weaker, and at length expire." What is he saying in this? If we have or keep on using the things of God, we gain more and more until we have abundance. However, if we only have them by testimony or words and not deeds, they shall be taken away. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Abundance in the Lord comes from

using not from hording.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. JF&B point out that the Lord did not begin to speak in parables until His miracles began to be credited to Satan in the prior chapter.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. This is in fulfillment of Isaiah 6:9-10 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. And we who believe are blessed also with the disciples. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. What a powerful Word! Consider the exploits and the lives of the Old Testament prophets and righteous men and how God reserved the blessing of seeing the Messiah to these few. It's also a Word to us for we have not seen Him but we yet experience Him! Explanation of The Parable of the Sower 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. NLT James 1:5 If you need wisdom--if you want to

know what God wants you to do--ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.

Jesus lives the Word in giving an understanding of the parable. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. THE INDIFFERENT, UNCONCERNED HEARERS. They may want to have a chance to think about the Word that was spoken but the enemy comes and takes the Word that was sown out of their hearts. The thing that I want to focus on is "where the Word is sown." The Word is sown, typically, in the church. So these are the actions of the devil IN THE CHURCH. That's the location. Second, notice the speed. Mark 4:15 shows us that the work of the devil happens IMMEDIATELY. He wants no opportunity for the Word to take root. The destruction of the Word's opportunity to make a difference in your life begins before you leave the pew, before you close the Bible from the message. Notice that BY THE WAY SIDE is a location IN the church. These don't have a chance to enjoy the excitement; they're unconcerned, indifferent, and not ready. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. THE EMOTIONAL HEARERS. How often have we seen people like this? They receive the Word, they're excited, they're joyful but they have no real roots in themselves. They look like they have a passion for Jesus but they only last until they get pushed or pressed because of the decision they have made. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. THE CARNAL HEARERS. These hear the Word but they're just too wrapped up in "stuff" for the Word to do them much good. They

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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need deliverance! Once we have conquered "the deceitfulness of riches" and "the cares of this world," the real concern for the average saint should be, as the Gospel of Mark put it in the same parable, the "lust of other things entering in." This last category covers everything else that just gets in the way of the Word doing us any good. The end result is that the hearer is unfruitful. I once thought, "Well, that can't be too bad. At least you're still saved." Then I discovered this powerful Scripture ­ John 15:22 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. God forbid that we be the one that He "takes away"! 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. THE PASSIONATE HEARERS. This last group hears the Word and understands it so they can respond to it. We know that they have received it because there is a multiplication that goes on in their lives. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Every believer will not benefit from the same Word the same way. Just like a

farmer rarely sees a single seed yield a hundred-fold, every believer will not get to the hundred-fold. It's up to your degree of passion, your degree of sell-out, your degree of desire for the Lord. Thirtyfold is blessed! The thirty-fold blessing may not always cast out every devil. The sixty-fold is wonderful. The sixty-fold won't get every revelation. The hundred-fold takes a passion that goes beyond what others think of us, how we think of others, what bothers us, and changes our whole focus to no one, but Jesus.

The Parable of the Tares and The Wheat 24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. {JF&B} "The subject of [this] parable ... is: the mixed character of the kingdom in its present state, and the final absolute separation of the two classes." The "visible" church, according to Jesus, will always be a "mixed multitude." However, there will be a final separation of those who go to church and those who live church. The Parable of the Mustard Seed 31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. The characteristic of the grain of mustard seed is that it has a strong flavor that is released when the seed is crushed. This is the nature of the church ­ its strength is perfected in tribulation. Also, this small seed, when planted grows into a large tree ­ large enough for many birds to build nests in it.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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The principle of the parable is that the church, if it retains that mustard seed characteristic, will grow to immense proportions. The Parable of the Leaven 33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. This parable continues the same theme as the prior parable ­ the church will grow even if it is hidden. The key is for the church to retain its basic characteristic, as the leaven did. The leaven did not become as the meal (grain), the meal became as the leaven. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: If we expect to achieve the blessing of this parable, we have to retain our

basic Christian characteristics and NOT become as the world.

34 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. This is in fulfillment of Psalm 78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Explanation of The Parable of the Tares and the Wheat 36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. Now the disciples also understand the principle of James 1:5 and boldly ask the Lord for wisdom on the parable. (However, their boldness will be lessened in coming chapters because there were things they were expected to know.) 37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The Son of man being Jesus Himself. 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; A tare looks just like wheat but has none of the good properties of wheat. These are the children of the devil. 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. Judgment on who is right versus who is wrong is left to the end of the world. However, the obvious sheep versus wolves must be known by those mature saints who can warn others. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. Just like the tares are gathered and burned at the end of this world, those who fall into the category of a "tare" will be gathered and burned in hell FOREVER. What an unnecessary fate to suffer! 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; This is a significant verse because of the following points: (1) Jesus plainly declares Himself as God when He says that He will send forth HIS angels. (2) They shall gather out of His kingdom ­ the gathering shall not be out of the church but out of the kingdom. During the Millennial reign of Christ, when His kingdom is on earth, it's obvious that there will be unsaved people in the earth for these shall come up against the camp of the saints (Revelation 20:8-9) and be destroyed by fire from heaven. (3) All things that offend ­ though the gathering is out of the earthly kingdom, we must also be careful to not be caught in that number by understanding what things "offend" the Lord. What things "offend" the Lord?

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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This is plainly seen in Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Until we have mastered removing these offensive traits from us, we are in jeopardy of hell. 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure 44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Now that Jesus has explained the parables of the tares and the sower, He gives three quick parables to the disciples for them to figure out on their own. This first one speaks of a man who found a treasure that was hidden in a field. We don't know who hid it or where they are but that is unimportant in this parable. The key is that once he found this treasure, or stumbled across it, he found it to be so important that he bought the whole field to preserve the treasure for himself. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. {JF&B} "The one pearl of great price, instead of being found by accident, as in the former case, is found by one whose business it is to seek for such, and who finds it just in the way of searching for such treasures. But in both cases the surpassing value of the treasure is alike recognized, and in both all is parted with for it." The Parable of the Good and Bad Fish 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. This parable is similar to the parable of the tares. Notice that once again, the Lord Jesus focuses on the theme of the judgment and the importance of being prepared for it. Also notice that the net is cast dragging in everyone but everyone is not prepared for heaven. 51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Jesus, as a wise teacher, gives instruction and then makes sure that His people understand the instruction. 52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe (or every teacher) which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. 53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. He left where He was with the intention of going to Nazareth to try to win His own one more time. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the

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carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?{JF&B} "These particulars of our Lord's human history constitute the most valuable testimony, first, to His true and real humanity--for they prove that during all His first thirty years His townsmen had discovered nothing about Him different from other men; secondly, to the divine character of His mission--for these Nazarenes proclaim both the unparalleled character of His teaching and the reality and glory of His miracles, as transcending human ability; and thirdly, to His wonderful humility and self-denial--in that when He was such as they now saw Him to be, He yet never gave any indications of it for thirty years, because `His hour was not yet come.'" 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. Jesus said this by way of principle and by way of rebuke. This was not taught to the disciples when they first went out to preach the Gospel but now they understand it in action (for no doubt they are there with Jesus). 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief. The city of Nazareth had the dubious "honor" of being a place that turned off the mighty power of God. They witnessed Jesus. They say Him grow up. They saw Him return and they rejected Him. Luke brings out that they were so enraged at Jesus that they tried to kill Him. Luke 4:28-30 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way. What a way to receive the Savior!

Chapter 14

In this chapter we have the awful circumstances surrounding the execution of John the Baptist; Jesus feeds the multitude; and Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee.

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, a "tetrarch" was properly the sovereign or governor of the fourth part of a country (Matt. 14:1; Luke 3:1; 9:7; Acts 13:1). The title was, however, often applied to any one who governed a Roman province, of whatever size. The title of king was sometimes assigned to a tetrarch (Matt. 14:9; Mark 6:14, 22). Herod's province that he was the governor of was Galilee as is stated in the Gospels during the prosecution of Jesus before the cross. 2 And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. I thought at first that Herod, though a Jew, was a superstitious man. However, as I read the commentators it became clear ­ he was a man wrestling with guilt. He had cruelly murdered John the Baptist, a man that he enjoyed during his ministry. (Mark 6:20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.) He heard him gladly but he still murdered him because he was a coward and he knew he was a coward and this was eating at him. SAINTS' AND LEADERS' PRINCIPLE: Don't get excited

about those who "gladly" hear you when you know they have not given their lives to the Lord. Those that love you today will crucify you tomorrow, if not tonight.

3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5 And when he would have

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. Herod was a weak man. He loved to hear John but as soon as John said something against him, he was ready to kill him. 6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. 8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. The mother was also offended by John and had concocted a plot to have him executed regardless of the people. 9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. Weak ruler! This brings to mind a leadership principle brought to Bishop Gilbert Patterson by Bishop O.T. Jones, Jr., after Bishop Patterson lost the first election for Presiding Bishop. The principle is vitally important in the fact of so many "Herod" leaders today. There is no middle ground if you intend to be a leader. LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: Lead or be led. 10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. 11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. 13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. Jesus no doubt knew of this ahead of time but was yet moved to grief at the loss of this great prophet. His grief was not as the world but more so for those who would miss out on his ministry and He shared the grief of John's disciples who brought Him the news. 14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. In the midst of His grief, the Lord thought it best to continue the work rather than dwell on His grief. 15 And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. Notice that this miracle took place in the evening. 16 But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. Jesus challenged His disciples. 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. Take special note of this miracle of provision by the Lord ­ the disciples did not. 22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. I often wondered why the disciples never questioned how He would get back. Perhaps they have learned obedience in the face of what doesn't make sense. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves:

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for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. Once Jesus was off the scene, the enemy once more attacked. (Remember our discussion of the fact that the "Sea" of Galilee was really a large lake.) Before going forward, let us compare this passage to Mark 6:48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. There are two points from Mark that should be pointed out: (1) They were in the midst of the sea but Jesus could see them, which once again speaks to the small size of the Sea of Galilee. (2) Jesus was so focused on what He was doing that He almost walked right past them. All of this took place in the early hours of the morning. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. The disciples, many of whom were superstitious fishermen, may have thought they were seeing the "death angel" coming for them. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. I can see Peter saying, "Only Jesus would be crazy enough to call me out to walk on this troubled sea." Peter saw this as the test. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. PETER DID THE WORK OF CHRIST ­ HE ALSO WALKED ON THE WATER. This point needs to be emphasized before we criticize Peter for losing faith. After all, he joins only Jesus as one that has actually walked on water. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. The wind did not make him sink, he own fear made him begin to sink. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. There's a miracle here that's rarely mentioned ­ once Jesus was in the ship, the devil stopped acting up and the wind ceased. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: If we will allow the Lord to maintain control in our lives, we won't have to

worry about the actions of the "wind".

33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. This miracle was not just done because Jesus wanted to get to the other side of the lake, the real purpose was to solidify the faith of the disciples. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The ultimate purpose of miracles is not focused

on the natural but the focus is on how it will impact the soul.

34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, Gennesaret (garden of the prince) is generally believed to be the fertile crescent-shaped plain on the western shore of the lake, extending from two or three miles south of Capernaum on the north to the steep hill behind Magdala on the south. Additional interest is given to the land of Gennesaret by the probability that its scenery suggested the parable of the sower. 35 And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. This small area had a great enthusiasm and passion for Jesus.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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Chapter 15

Jesus once again has a confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees but this time over keeping traditions; Jesus heals a Gentile woman's daughter based on the mother's great faith; Jesus feeds four thousand.

1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. The Gospel of Mark brings out the details about this tradition: NLT Mark 7:3-4 (The Jews, especially the Pharisees, do

not eat until they have poured water over their cupped hands, as required by their ancient traditions. 4 Similarly, they eat nothing bought from the market unless they have immersed their hands in water. This is but one of many traditions they have clung to--such as their ceremony of washing cups, pitchers, and kettles.) This was not written in the Scriptures, this was their personal tradition. Notice that

the religious leaders sent a delegation from Jerusalem probably with the expressed purpose of watching Him so as to catch Him in a fault. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? Jesus threw it right back in their faces. Instead of answering the question, He gave them another question, NLT Jesus replied, "And why do YOU, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? It's one thing to violate a man-made tradition. It's quite another to violate the commandment of God by following the tradition. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The commandments of God must take priority over

everything.

4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. The teaching of the religious leaders of that time was that one could dedicate to the Lord all of the "profiting" that a father or mother would obtain from them and then be free from having to "fool" with them any longer. To modernize that thinking, if you, as an adult, were called upon by one of your parents to, for example, cut their grass, you could say, "I won't do it - I have dedicated all of that to the Lord." Then you could "legally" ignore their request hiding behind the fact that all of the energy you were going to use for them now belongs to God. To be truthful, it's amazing that anyone would embrace such foolish teaching. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. This is in fulfillment of Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men. 10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. This seems very clear but, as we'll soon see, the disciples didn't understand. They were bound by their traditions. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? The disciples still had the fear of man in them. When you think of the fact that the Pharisees could have people executed, would we have also had the same fear?

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13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Jesus was not concerned. They were not "planted" by God so therefore they would be rooted up. He instructed His disciples as we must do now ­ SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Leave blind leaders alone. 15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. Peter thought he was acting in the principle of James 1:? But he was actually moving in the principle of being bound by tradition. He couldn't understand because of his bondage. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Bondage to traditions blinds you from truth no

matter how "religious" those traditions may seem.

16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was much more forceful in His rebuke of the disciples and Peter in particular. In the next three verses, He expresses His disappointment with their lack of spiritual sensitivity regarding the principles He had taught them. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The Lord expects us to grow and holds us accountable for what we should know as we

grow in Him.

17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. The religious leaders of that day dealt too much with the natural while Jesus emphasized the importance of the heart. Do we do the same today? 21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. I don't believe that the Lord did anything by accident. He went into this region of the Gentiles KNOWING that He was not sent to them. I used to think that He went there for a rest but JF&B speculates that He pulled aside from ministry after thoroughly embarrassing the Pharisees in rebuking them regarding their traditions. He knew it was not yet His time so He pulled aside. The Gospel of Mark seems to bear this out: Mark 7:24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and WOULD HAVE NO MAN KNOW IT: but he could not be hid. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. This Gentile woman addressed Him as the Jews' Messiah, something the Jews were slow to do. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. {JF&B} "The design of this was first, perhaps, to show that He was not sent to such as she. He had said expressly to the Twelve, `Go not into the way of the Gentiles' (Mt 10:5); and being now among them Himself, He would, for consistency's sake, let it be seen that He had not gone thither for missionary purposes. Therefore He not only kept silence, but had actually left the house, and--as will presently appear--was proceeding on His way back, when this woman accosted Him. But another reason for keeping silence plainly was to try and whet her faith, patience, and perseverance. And it had the desired effect: `She cried after them,' which shows that He was already on His way from the place." Notice the attitude of the disciples. They wanted Jesus to do what it would take to get her away from them. Their lack of compassion at her situation and focus on their own is troubling.

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24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. Notice this cry for help out the heart of this hurting mother! 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs. But notice our Savior's reply. Jesus is not insulting her, He is trying her to see if she will carry through in faith or give up. What will we do in the face of what seems to be unanswered prayer? What will we do when things get worse after prayer and not better? Will we give up? 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. I detect a change in this woman's attitude. She answers confidently because Jesus gave her an opening to exercise her faith. She was willing to accept the insult to get what she wanted from God. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. {JF&B} "Jesus `marveled' only at two things--faith and unbelief." We have seen faith change the laws of nature as Peter walked on the water. Now we see faith change the law of God as this woman claims the blessing that was meant for the Jews. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE AND MYTH EXPOSED: Never let yourself get caught up on the idea that God won't hear the prayer of

sinners ­ God is moved by faith.

29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. 30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: 31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: AND THEY GLORIFIED THE GOD OF ISRAEL. Jesus continues to demonstrate the principle that He taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. In this use of the term "fasting," the people have not actually been on a fast, a set time of denial from food of spiritual purposes, but this term just means that they haven't eaten. 33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? Didn't you all pay attention in the previous chapter? SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: We build our

faith on what the Lord has already done so we must take heed and take it to heart.

34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. 35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. 36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. 38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. Now Jesus fed 4,000 more. This was done again, in my opinion, not so much for the people but for the disciples. They hadn't learned the principle from when it was done before otherwise they would have never asked the question in verse 33.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

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39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala. As we saw at the end of the previous chapter, Magdala was not far from where He was in Gennesaret. It was the home town of Mary Magdalene.

Chapter 16

Jesus confronts the religious leaders once again and uses this as an opportunity to teach His disciples; Jesus confronts His disciples to confess who He is; He teaches once again on the price of the kingdom.

1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed. This encounter with the religious leaders penalized those of Magdala because Jesus went across the lake when He departed from them. He gave them an answer but not an answer as clear as when He responded to this in the past. He is speaking to them more and more in parables and dark sayings as He moves toward the cross. 5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus also adds "the leaven of Herod." All of the Jewish sects had teaching and ways that would take the follower to hell. 7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. They didn't get it as we often don't either. 8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? 9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? 11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Jesus rebuked them strongly with question after question. In the Gospel of Mark, He asked nine questions. Matthew summarizes them but the theme is abundantly clear ­ Jesus went "off" on His own. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: If Jesus

rebuked His own then, won't He do it now? Hebrews lets us know clearly that if we be without chastening, we are NOT His children.

12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. The rebuke had the desired effects because they now understood what He meant. 13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? This is one of the most misunderstood Scriptures in the Bible ­ misunderstood because of the way it is taught in the churches. · I have heard some say that Jesus was discouraged because of the pressures of ministry and needed a word of encouragement from those closest to Him. However, God said this about His character in the Old

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Testament: Psalm 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. If He wouldn't come to us if it were possible for Him to be hungry, why would He come to us if He were discouraged? · Others have said that He was second-guessing His mission. Would Jesus have forgotten why He was sent? It was He that said in John 8:29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. And still others say that the devil was fighting Him on His deity. But this was resolved in the Lord's first temptation. Every temptation began with, If thou be the Son of God. Jesus convinced Himself and the devil that He was the Son of God.

·

No, this Scripture has NOTHING to do with how Jesus viewed Himself but everything to do with how others viewed Jesus. 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Even today, people have all kinds of opinions about Jesus. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Jesus is not asking this for Himself but to find out what's in them. 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter says the words that will save him. Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. The lordship of Jesus means to declare Him as the Messiah, the Christ. As the Christ, he Lord of all. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. The response from Jesus lets us know that this was not motivated by discouragement. He was looking for an answer from them to that would reveal where their thinking was. When Peter gave the correct answer, Jesus rewarded him by saying, "Blessed art thou." 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. {JF&B} "[The church will not be built] on the man Simon Bar-jona; but on him as the heavenly-taught confessor of a faith." Dake says that two different "rocks" are mentioned in this verse. He calls Simon, in the Greek petros, a fragment of a rock, when He names him Peter. When the Lord says, "upon this rock", the Greek word petra, an immovable stone, He is not referring to Peter but to Himself. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. {MacArthur} "These represent authority, and here Christ gives Peter (and by extension all other believers) authority to declare what was bound or loosed in heaven. This echoed the promise of John 20:23 where Christ gave the disciples authority to forgive or retain the sins of the people. All this must be understood in the context of Matthew 18:15-17, where Christ laid out specific instructions for dealing with sin in the church." 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. Today Jesus tells His disciples to tell everyone everywhere that Jesus Christ is Lord. At that time, however, He was

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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interested in people making a decision for Him based not on the words of others but because they believed themselves. 21 From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. From this time on, Jesus will often go back to the theme of His pending execution so that the disciples are prepared for it. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. This is the same Peter that said He was the Son of God. Would one really rebuke the Son of God? Let us be careful that we don't allow ourselves to be so "common" with the Lord that we forget that He is God. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. {Dake} "The Law of Double Reference. In such cases a human being is addressed, but an invisible person is also referred to. Part of what is said applies to each and this is determined by what is applicable to either. Other examples of this law are Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 14:4-27; Ezekiel 28:11-19." Jesus spoke to Peter but He also spoke to the unseen motivating force behind the words of Peter, Satan. How amazing it is that this same man can be led by the Spirit only moments ago and pronounce, "THOU ART THE CHRIST!" and then seconds later be moved by Satan himself. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Jesus reminds His disciples of the truths He told them earlier. Yes, they understand that He is the Christ but don't forget that there is a price associated with following Him. This is the same thing He told the disciples in Chapter 10 when they were commissioned to preach the Gospel. He repeats it now as He sees them straying off course. 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. {MacArthur} "In all three of the synoptic Gospels, this promise is made immediately prior to the Transfiguration. Furthermore, the word for `kingdom' can be translated `royal splendor.' Therefore, it seems most natural to interpret this promise as a reference to the Transfiguration, which `some' of the disciples ­ Peter, James, and John, would witness only six days later."

The "inner circle" of the disciples witnesses the glory of Jesus Christ as He is transfigured; He casts out a demon out of a child; He pays His taxes through a miraculous fish caught by Peter.

Chapter 17

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, Peter, James, and John were known by theologians and commentators as the "inner circle" because they were privileged to experience and see things that the others did not. {JF&B} "[They were] sole witnesses of the resurrection of Jairus' daughter (Mk 5:37), the transfiguration, and the agony in the garden (Mk 14:33)."

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. According to Luke, Moses and Elijah were talking with the Lord about His soon coming death in Jerusalem. Moses represented the Old Testament Law and Elijah the Old Testament Prophets. They stand before the one who is about to usher out the old and bring in the new. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto 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. Peter only said this because he didn't know what to say. SAINT'S PRINCIPLE: When you don't know what to say, don't say anything! 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. I've always looked at this verse with a double meaning. First, the Father speaks from heaven to silence Peter. It's not time to speak, it's time to hear. Second, He speaks to end the preeminence of the Old Testament and focus the people of God on hearing the words of Jesus. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. No doubt the disciples did obey because they did not understand what it means to be risen again from the dead. I don't blame them. It had never been spoken of before it occurred. 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? The scribes did not originate this. This came from the last two Scriptures in the Old Testament in Malachi 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. As stated before, John the Baptist came in the spirit and mannerisms of Elijah but Elijah is yet to come before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus (the great and dreadful day of the Lord). No doubt, he is one of the two "olive branches" mentioned in the Book of Revelation. 14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. THE FAILURE OF THE CHURCH IN THE MISSION OF JESUS CHRIST. This passage is a tragic passage that is repeated many times today. Jesus had empowered the disciples to heal the sick and to cast the devil out. This was not new to them. They had done it earlier in the gospel when Jesus sent them out two by two. Now they have run into a devil that has refused to move. What has happened?

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. Jesus' strong rebuke was for two reasons: lack of faith now (directed to the disciples) and lack of future consecration (directed to the church). This will be evident in coming verses. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Jesus took charge of the situation and the man obtained the blessing he was looking for. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? SAINTS' PRINCIPLE:

When we are not able to do what Jesus promised us that we can do, we need to go back to Him and find out what happened.

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and NOTHING shall be impossible unto you. Jesus started out with a principle that could be applied to much of what we go through ­ unbelief stops God. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Faith moves our answer from the

impossible to the possible.

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. This seems at first to be a contradiction of the prior verse. If unbelief was the problem and faith can cure all unbelief, why would this passage be added? I liked the response to this question given by {JF&B} "though nothing is impossible to faith, yet such a height of faith as is requisite for such triumphs is not to be reached either in a moment or without effort--either with God in prayer or with ourselves in self-denying exercises." In other words, it will take some effort and time before God to get our faith to the level to deal with "this kind." 22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. {JF&B} " `The son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men.' Luke adds (Lu 9:45) that `they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not'--for the plainest statements, when they encounter long-continued and obstinate prejudices, are seen through a distorting and dulling medium--'and were afraid to ask Him'; deterred partly by the air of lofty sadness with which doubtless these sayings were uttered, and on which they would be reluctant to break in, and partly by the fear of laying themselves open to rebuke for their shallowness and timidity." 24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Peter was a fearful man and yet an impetuous man who would take actions without thinking. Jesus was living with Peter at the time and the tax man came. Peter gave him a quick answer to get rid of him and Jesus used it for an opportunity to teach him about the kingdom. The teaching is that taxes are not received of the "inner circle" of a nation (is that still true?) but of those that are not of privilege and those that have been conquered. Because of that, the children are free. In other words, Jesus and Peter, as children of the kingdom of God, should be free but notice what Jesus does next.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. However, so as not to make this a big issue, pay the taxes. When Peter obeyed, he received enough for his taxes as well as the Lord's.

After receiving a disturbing question, Jesus spends much of this chapter dealing with discipline in the church and concludes with profound teaching on forgiveness and the danger of not forgiving.

Chapter 18

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? The disciples had an "issue" with the subject of greatness. Perhaps because they were obscure relative "nobodies" of their time who had the opportunity to become acquainted with the King of the universe, they saw an opportunity for the fame of the world. 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. This is a great principle that the Lord has put forward. Look at a child. What are their ambitions, their drives? They are motivated by the simple things of life. What hurts them, beyond physical pain, is the loss of a friend or disappointing a key adult. They're not interested in worldly greatness. Until we get to that point, we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven! With that, let me give an excerpt from a booklet I wrote entitled, "Dealing With the Pain" where I gave some thoughts on this verse. I will quote from it again in this chapter. I want you to notice some things in this verse: (1) Jesus is not addressing this to the world but to those who had walked with Him for three years at that time, i.e., He's telling the church to repent; (2) Jesus did not use an older child but specified that we must become as little children. That means that if I want an example, I'd better get hold of one before they get the opportunity to be polluted by some of the nonsense that many of us parents dish out in the name of "nurturing." Having said this, I want you to promise yourself that you will be willing to take some bold steps in order to maintain the peace among the brethren. You may have to go back and do something that seems utterly distasteful but think of young children - they haven't developed particular "tastes". To follow Jesus all the way in, we're going to have convert our tastes also. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. This is not a new topic but a continuation of His answer on being the greatest in the kingdom. The drive and deceit associated with ambition has a tendency to offend others or be an offense. The term "offenses" means more than just hurt feelings or misunderstanding. The word means "to stumble" or, in easier language, to backslide, or nearly backslide, and leave the Lord because of the actions of someone. Because God's number one business is souls, Jesus makes it abundantly clear how harshly God views these types of actions. 7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! We'll get enough to potentially make us stumble from the world and Jesus

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promises that they WILL come (we just don't have to let them knock us all the way out). {MacArthur} "It is expected that those in the world will cause Christians to be offended, stumble and sin, and they will be judged for it. But it should not be that fellow believers lead others into sin, directly or indirectly. One would be better off dead." 8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. This is a repeat of teaching the Lord gave during the Sermon on the Mount. With this verse, let us recall the principle brought up out of chapter 5: SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: We must do whatever it takes to stay right with God. We cannot accept excuses for our actions because the consequences are too great. This verse goes even further in saying that we must rid ourselves of whatever causes OTHERS to sin that is in us. Paul taught on this subject in Romans 14 and concluded his teaching by saying: Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. {JF&B} "Among men, those who nurse and rear the royal children, however humble in themselves, are allowed free entrance with their charge, and a degree of familiarity which even the highest state ministers dare not assume. Probably our Lord means that, in virtue of their charge over His disciples, the angels have errands to the throne, a welcome there, and a dear familiarity in dealing with "His Father which is in heaven," which on their own matters they could not assume." 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. {JF&B} "Since the whole object and errand of the Son of man into the world is to save the lost, take heed lest, by causing offenses, ye lose the saved." I believe that this verse and the verses around it are directed to the church, NOT to the world. The Parable of the Lost Sheep 12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. This brief parable shows the importance of EVERY soul to God. Even if a man has a large flock, he is not willing to part with one sheep that is lost and when he finds that one, he rejoices more for the one he found than for the 99 that didn't leave. When discouraged, this last verse is a good verse to remember: IT IS NOT THE WILL OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER THAT EVEN ONE OF US SHOULD PERISH. Since it's not His will, whatever has the tendency to take us under is not His doing! 15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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thee as a heathen man and a publican. Again, I want to go to what I wrote in, "Dealing With the Pain" for an understanding of this passage and how we can apply it today. If you find yourself the subject of an injustice (perceived or otherwise) and the source is one of your brothers or sisters in the Body of Christ, this verse is your remedy. Don't begin a negative gossiping campaign against the brother but follow the Bible steps: (1) TALK TO THEM ONE ON ONE AND TRY TO GET IT STRAIGHTENED OUT. Unfortunately, many "Christians" today will, without blinking an eye, lie and tell you that "nothing is wrong -- you've got this all wrong" when they KNOW what they did. This is the point where you exercise forgiveness. Don't cast aside everything that has been presented to this point. Our mission is reconciliation not retribution. However, if the situation gets worse and you can't get the situation worked out, the Bible saw this time also and gave a secondary remedy. (2) GET SOMEONE ELSE (ONE OR TWO OR MORE) TO GO WITH YOU WHO HAS PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE (NOT HEARSAY FROM YOU) ABOUT THIS SITUATION TO TRY TO GET IT WORKED OUT. Perhaps when the person hears that their actions have been viewed by a number of people, they will repent. But again, the Lord saw how we are today and presented an ultimate solution. (3) BRING IT TO THE CHURCH. In bringing it to the church, you need to bring the one, two, or more witnesses that you had in step 2. The church must be convinced that this is not in your mind but is truly a problem that the other person should have dealt with. Now if they refuse to repent, you and the church are to separate yourselves from them. Now let me throw a monkey wrench into the situation. If the incident proceeds all the way through step 3 without resolution, YOU STILL HAVE TO FORGIVE THE OFFENDER. The church has exercised discipline to keep the church clean but the believer (the offended person) and the church must forgive the offender and work to restore the offender in a spirit of love. Finally, you will find that if you will follow the instructions of the Word of God, you are guaranteed success. If you feel like these instructions are too difficult and you have your own ideas, nothing is promised except hard times (the way of the transgressor is hard). Let me also point out that there is nothing in Scripture that encourages us to just let things "blow over". We must always first try to come to a resolution so that we can be reconciled. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Jesus concludes His teaching on verses 15-17 by repeating a principle He spoke earlier in this Gospel in 16:19. The reference is repeated here in case you might have missed it. {MacArthur} "These represent authority, and here Christ gives Peter (and by extension all other believers) authority to declare what was bound or loosed in heaven. This echoed the promise of John 20:23 where Christ gave the disciples authority to forgive or retain the sins of the people. All this must be understood in the context of Matthew 18:15-17, where Christ laid out specific instructions for dealing with sin

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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in the church." This reference pointed to the verses that preceded and help us to understand how the authority of the church must be exercised. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. The principle of verse 18 is demonstrated in this verse. Remember, this dialogue began when the disciples came to Jesus early in this chapter on the subject of "greatness" and preeminence in the kingdom. At this point, Jesus emphasizes the power of the unity of the believers. The principle of binding and loosing is not left to one but left to the unified body of Christ, no matter how small the gathering. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then He goes further to say that if we will just come together in unity (in His name), He promises to be in our midst. 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Now that the Lord has dealt with the issue of "greatness" and He is sharing so much with His disciples, Peter uses this opportunity to ask a question that has plagued the church since that time in spite of having this answer. 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. The key is not to count out how many times you have forgiven someone but to the point is to make your forgiveness limitless. The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. The servant was accused of embezzling or wasting through mismanagement 10,000 talents. The talent was the greatest weight and largest measure of money among the Hebrews and it was used for gold or silver. A gold talent was equal to approximately $8,215 or $82,150,000 in this case! A silver talent was equal to approximately $515 or $5,150,000 in this case. Both of these numbers are based on an estimate of today's money and you will also find various commentators who will give different amounts but the key is that this was a huge sum of money and there was no way a slave could see a means to pay this back! 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The king intended to have this servant, his wife, his children and all that he had sold to satisfy a portion of the debt. This would not even begin to pay the debt but it would help to satisfy the king's wrath. This was not an idle threat but it represented the true intention of the king. It also represented the legal remedy the king had at his disposal to deal with this man because of his crime. Before you begin to think unkind thoughts about the king, remember, the servant had committed a crime (legal word for sin) and the approach the king took was the legal remedy provided by the law of that day. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. The word that leaped out at me in this verse is WORSHIP. This is the only reference in the New Testament of this word being used towards a man without the worshipper being rebuked. To worship is to make obeisance, do reverence to or to pay homage to. This man was desperate and had gone so far as to give this man what was rightfully only God's. He not only worshipped but he promised. He worshipped one who did not

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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deserve it and promised what he could not pay in his desperation. He demonstrated his remorse, his sorrow, his need for forgiveness. This attitude is what reduces sentences in our legal system today. This also demonstrates the true attitude of sorrow for sin. Unfortunately, in this man's case, it was more so motivated by fear of the punishment rather than sorrow for the sin. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. What forgiveness! Take notice of this because it's a type of the forgiveness of God. Our sins are overwhelming in their weight and God completely forgives us. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. Now the servant has been forgiven but look how he responds to his forgiveness. This same servant finds one of his fellow servants (a type of our brethren in the church or people that we run into in general). This fellow servant owed him 100 pence which was the equivalent of 100 days wages. (The parable in Matthew 20 supports the fact that a penny or denarius was a day's wage during this time.) To modernize that, based on an average salary of $30,000 per year, this would equate to $12,100. Quite a difference when compared to what the forgiven servant owed the king. Also notice how he treated him: he laid hands on him and took him by the throat! This is NOT how the king treated him in spite of the gross difference in debts. (Do you see where this parable is going?) 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. The fellow servant entreated the first servant in almost the exact same manner as the first servant had entreated the king a few minutes prior. This should have been enough to jog the servant's memory and help him to respond in a more compassionate manner but it did not. Has God tried to give you a wake up call like this when you have held on to something without exercising forgiveness? 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. Look at the first servant's response: (1) he refused to have patience with him any longer; (2) he demanded immediate and full restitution; (3) when he could not get the restitution he wanted, he had him imprisoned. We'll see later that the imprisonment had nothing to do with restitution as much as it did with punishment. He wanted his money and he didn't care about anything else. He had a right to his money but so did the king. You have a right to be treated in certain ways but so did the Lord before you came to Him. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: He forgave us, we

must also forgive.

31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. When you respond in the manner of the first servant, there will always be someone to see you and go to the Lord, directly or indirectly, about what you have done. How often has the world wagged their head and questioned the reality of our salvation when they have seen how we act to others! We must realize that God sees and hears this response from the world because it is really directed towards Him. (Romans 2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles THROUGH YOU, as it is written.) 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? This is the main principle of Christian forgiveness: SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: We

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forgive because we are forgiven and we must forgive in the same manner as we are forgiven. The

servant should have exhibited compassion on his fellow servant based on what happened to him. 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. There are three points that should be brought out in this verse. First, The king delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due the king. What was due the king? A few million dollars? Yes. But more so, the king wanted this servant to exhibit the same attitude of forgiveness towards his fellow servants that the king had shown him. And the torment would continue until this attitude was worked into the servant. As stated earlier, this was more about punishment and correction than restitution. Second, let us remember that this man is in prison. By being in prison, he is making less money than when he was a servant so the re-payment is even slower. As a result of his unforgiveness, he's going through the suffering and pain of judgment that Jesus paid for on the cross and he's going through longer than normal. Third, this was a transgression from which he had received forgiveness (see verse 27). But when he refused to similarly forgive, the transgression came back upon him. Remember this thought as we look at the next verse. The tormentors are the result of the bondage of unforgiveness and bitterness. They come to afflict in any number of ways and develop in you the correct attitude towards forgiveness. The tormentors appear when our hedge comes down. It cannot help but come down with unforgiven sin in our lives. Remember, since you won't forgive, God won't forgive you. TRUTH: When you are unforgiving, you are unforgiven. It calls to mind the verse in 1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. God will allow the devil to "open up" on us until the carnality that caused this unforgiveness is worked out. This is not done maliciously but in order to save us. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Likewise - in similar manner. This means that similarly, God the Father will deal with us when we don't forgive from the heart. This forgiveness must be from the heart for when the heart has changed, actions will follow to bring about complete forgiveness. Before leaving this parable and this important principle, let us get an understanding of the "similar manner" that the Father will deal with those that don't forgive: TORMENT - to have extreme pain; to be in anguish of mind; to cause such pain; to afflict; to tease, vex or harass; to annoy. {Vine's Expository Dictionary} (Greek) basanizo - to put to the test; to examine by torture; distress; sickness; the retributive judgments of God upon impenitent mankind at the close of this age. TORMENTOR - {Vine's Expository Dictionary} (Greek) basanistes, a torturer, one who obtains information by torture, it is used of jailers. One who has been turned over to the tormentors is one who is in bondage to this spiritual jailer until what should be exacted from them (an attitude of forgiveness) is paid.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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In this chapter, the Lord moves His ministry out of Galilee into Judea; He confronts the Pharisees on the subject of divorce; He blesses the children; and He challenges the rich, young ruler.

Chapter 19

1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; 2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. {JF&B} "This marks a very solemn period in our Lord's public ministry. So slightly is it touched here, and in the corresponding passage of Mark (Mk 10:1), that few readers probably note it as the Redeemer's Farewell to Galilee, which however it was." Up to this point, nearly everything in Matthew took place in Galilee. Now Jesus moves His ministry south to Judea as He prepares for the cross. 3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? LEADERSHIP AND SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The spirit of the Pharisee puts a damper on the work of the Lord. It throws a wrench into the work. Where did this question come from? While the Lord was healing, the Pharisees throw in a controversial question out of the blue. Notice the last part of their question because that's the key ­ "for every cause". 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Jesus rebukes and instructs at the same time in saying, "have you not read?" by quoting from Genesis. By quoting from Genesis, Jesus let's the Pharisees know that divorce was never in the heart of God. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? The Pharisees came right back with another question. (It sounds like they're trying to justify their actions.) 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. {JF&B} "Moses--as a civil lawgiver having respect to the hardness of your hearts--looking to your low moral state, and your inability to endure the strictness of the original law -suffered you to put away your wives--tolerated a relaxation of the strictness of the marriage bond--not as approving of it, but to prevent still greater evils. But from the beginning it was not so--This is repeated, in order to impress upon His audience the temporary and purely civil character of this Mosaic relaxation." If you examine this verse in light of marriage in the book of Genesis, you'll see that early on, polygamy was not widely practiced. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Jesus often repeated truths that He had brought out earlier as a good teacher would. This was originally mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount. 10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. With no way out, the disciples now looked at marriage as a snare rather than a blessing. They still had the carnal mind of men of the world today, many of whom look at marriage as an institution to be tolerated.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. Jesus had to stop this thought before it went to far because everyone wasn't ready to receive the life of being single. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. A eunuch is, by definition, a castrated male. However, Jesus is talking about three types of eunuchs of which only one fits this category. The first is someone who is born either without sexual organs or with no sexual drive. The second is actually a castrated male. The third, which is the one He is focusing on, is someone who has chosen to sacrifice this drive, as Paul did, for the sake of the Gospel. He also points out that this is NOT for everybody. 13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15 And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence. Jesus loved little children because they are examples of the kingdom. The passage in Mark on this same Scripture is more descriptive of what really went on here. Mark 10:13-16 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. 16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. The term "much displeased" is better translated "indignant." Jesus was downright upset that the disciples had rebuked those that brought children unto Him. He continued to try to get the point across to them that the childlike spirit is the only one that He will receive. 16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? This is one of the saddest passages in the Bible. This man had the world by the "tail". He was wealthy, young, a ruler, and he had desire for the things of God. However, down inside of him, he reserved some things for himself, that is, he refused to totally sell out. 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. {JF&B}had an interesting comment on this passage. Their point was that Jesus was not trying to diminish Himself as much as make the young man to realize that He is not in the same category as other "good" masters. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Before we're ready to move up in God, we must take care of the basics revealed through the Scriptures. People so often want deep revelations and insights from God without understanding the basics of salvation. Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Jesus challenged HIM with his possessions ­ the god that ruled him ­ and the young man couldn't handle it. God, help me ­ can I handle it? 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus uses a proverb of the time to describe the difficulty of those that "trust in riches (Mark 10:24)" to enter into the kingdom of God. Many use this verse to teach a doctrine of poverty for the saints but Jesus will soon point out that this is not the point. The point is that if you intend to make it, you must be surrendered to God who makes the impossible, possible. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. 27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? I detect a tone of remorse in Peter's voice. He was like so many of us today. He worked his whole life to provide some level of comfort for his family. When he heard the voice of Jesus, he left what he was doing and the pursuits he had to follow Jesus. Now he tells the Lord that they have done what He asked the rich young ruler to do. Now what? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. {JF&B} "In Matthew (Mt 19:29) `an hundredfold,' to which Mark (Mk 10:30) gives this most interesting addition, `Now in this present time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions.' We have here the blessed promise of a reconstruction of all human relationships and affections on a Christian basis and in a Christian state, after being sacrificed, in their natural form, on the altar of love to Christ. This He calls `manifold more'--'an hundredfold more'--than what they sacrificed...These promises are for every one who forsakes his all for Christ. But in Matthew (Mt 19:28) this is prefaced by a special promise to the Twelve: `Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me in the Regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.' Ye who have now adhered to Me shall, in the new kingdom, rule, or give law to, the great Christian world, here set forth in Jewish dress as the twelve tribes, presided over by the twelve apostles on so many judicial thrones. If the promise refers to the yet future glory (as may be thought from Lk 22:28-30, and as most take it), it points to the highest personal distinction of the first founders of the Christian Church." 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. {MacArthur} "This statement means that everyone ends up the same, a truth that is explained by the parable that follows." This parable begins the next chapter.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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The first part of this chapter is a continuation of the prior chapter. Jesus first teaches on the principle in the last verse of Chapter 19. He then once again deals with the issue of ambition among the disciples and heals two blind men on the road to Jerusalem and the cross.

Chapter 20

The Parable of the Laborers ­ {JF&B} This parable, recorded only by Matthew, is closely connected with the end of the nineteenth chapter, being spoken with reference to Peter's question as to how it should fare with those who, like himself, had left all for Christ. It is designed to show that while they would be richly rewarded, a certain equity would still be observed towards later converts and workmen in His service. 1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. The commentators agree that this usually occurred during harvest when day laborers would congregate in the market waiting to be hired. 2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. The penny then was not the same as now. It represented a day's wages. 3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. 5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? 7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. All day long, the householder continued to bring men into his vineyard to work even up to the end of the day. 8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. Notice the order of those being paid. 9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. The natural man would say (and did say), "Hey, if they received a penny and only worked an hour, surely I'll receive more!" 10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. Uh-oh! Now they're disappointed and upset. 11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, 12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. Watch this saints! The natural (carnal) tendency is to expect more because you served longer. Notice that nothing was said about their level of service but the Scripture said they all worked in the vineyard. We expect more honor and recognition for longer service. That may occur here but at the time of our reward, it will not occur. Those that are saved right from the worst parts of the world and are called to glory are received like those that toiled hard for the Lord many, many years. Personally, I believe this is why many have a problem with the salvation of the thief on the cross. 13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? 16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. The householder was kind in his response in

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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saying that this is what was agreed up front. The Scripture only says that he negotiated with those that worked the longest. Also, it was his vineyard and his money ­ wasn't it lawful or right to do what he wanted to do with his own vineyard and his own money? 17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. Jesus continually repeated this theme beginning in chapter 16 so that the disciples could be prepared for what lay ahead. 20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. This event really seems to occur at the most inappropriate time. Jesus is steadily moving toward Jerusalem and His death. His teaching of the disciples is continually on the same theme ­ His death. In the midst of this, here comes the mother of James and John with a "special" request that shows a great lack of spiritual sensitivity and the spirit of the Pharisee. (I'll repeat an earlier principle here.) LEADERSHIP AND SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The spirit of the Pharisee puts a damper on the work of the Lord. It throws a

wrench into the work.

21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. Mom means well but her request is based on a carnal understanding of the kingdom and the role of Messiah. {JF&B} "Salome was her name (Mk 16:1). We cannot be sure with which of the parties the movement originated; but as our Lord addresses Himself to James and John, taking no account of the mother, it is likely the mother was merely set on by them. The thought was doubtless suggested to her sons by the recent promise to the Twelve of `thrones to sit on, when the Son of man should sit on the throne of His glory' (Mt 19:28); but after the reproof so lately given them (Mk 9:33) they get their mother to speak for them." The disciples have not yet dealt with this issue of ambition. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. Their ambition has clouded their thinking. They have not thought through the question that Jesus has just asked. {JF&B} "To `drink of a cup' is in Scripture a figure for getting one's fill either of good (Ps 16:5; 23:5; 116:13; Jer 16:7) or of ill (Ps 75:8; Jn 18:11; Re 14:10). Here it is the cup of suffering." 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father . {JF&B} "Doubtless they were perfectly sincere in professing their willingness to follow their Master to any suffering He might have to endure. As for James, he was the first of the apostles who was honored, and showed himself able to be baptized with his Master's baptism of blood (Ac 12:1, 2); while John, after going through all the persecutions to which the infant Church was exposed from the Jews, and sharing in the struggles and sufferings occasioned by the first triumphs of the Gospel among the Gentiles, lived to be the victim, after all the rest had got to glory, of a bitter persecution in the evening of his days, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. Since they all had the same problem, they were probably more upset because they were beaten to the punch.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. Jesus, instead of rebuking, teaches on this subject once again. Jesus was a wise, master teacher. There were times He rebuked sharply. There were other times when He treated them with gentleness as dealing with children. The disciples could have been easily offended since the majority of them were older than Jesus, but they knew who He really was. In the world, greatness means that you can have authority or lordship over someone else. But look how Jesus responds to that. 26 BUT IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: This is a strong truth that we must not forget. The commandment of Jesus Christ is that this type of behavior (lording over the people) shall not be so among the people of God. 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. {JF&B} "In the kingdom about to be set up, this principle shall have no place. All My servants shall there be equal; and the only greatness known to it shall be the greatness of humility and devotedness to the service of others. He that goes down the deepest in these services of self-denying humility shall rise the highest and hold the chiefest place in that kingdom; even as the Son of man, whose abasement and selfsacrifice for others, transcending all, gives Him of right a place above all!" Does this mean that all will be the same? No, for Jesus makes it plain that greater service brings greater position in God. 29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. Jericho is on the road leading toward Jerusalem as the Lord moves closer to the cross. 30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. In the Gospel of Mark, this is Bartimaeus. In the Gospel of Luke, there is only one man mentioned. Also, they disagree as to whether this occurred going INTO Jericho or OUT OF Jericho. {JF&B} gives a good answer to this: "Many ways of accounting for these slight divergences of detail have been proposed. Perhaps, if we knew all the facts, we should see no difficulty; but that we have been left so far in the dark shows that the thing is of no moment any way." 31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David. {JF&B} "It is remarkable that in the only other recorded case in which the blind appealed to Jesus for their sight, and obtained it, they addressed Him, over and over again, by this one Messianic title, so well known--'Son of David' (Mt 9:27)." I will repeat what I said at that verse also: Isn't it remarkable that those that could see the least, saw the most? 32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? {JF&B} "To try them; to deepen their present consciousness of need; and to draw out their faith in Him." {MH} "Christ knew well enough; but he would know it from them, whether they begged only for alms, as from a common person, or for a cure, as from the Messiah. Note, It is the will of God that we should in every thing make our requests known to him by prayer and supplication; not to inform or move him, but to qualify ourselves for the mercy. The waterman in the boat, who with his hook takes hold of the shore, does not thereby pull the shore to the boat, but the boat to the shore. So in prayer we do not draw the mercy to ourselves, but ourselves to the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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mercy." When you study in the Gospels, when there is a miracle by the Lord Jesus, there is nearly always some evidence of faith being exercised either by word or by deed. 33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. The Scripture lets us know to let our requests be made known unto God. Jesus also taught in the Sermon on the Mount, Ask, and ye shall receive. 34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. {MH} "Note, None follow Christ blindfold. He first by his grace opens men's eyes, and so draws their hearts after him. They followed Christ, as his disciples, to learn of him, and as his witnesses, eye-witnesses, to bear their testimony to him and to his power and goodness. The best evidence of spiritual illumination is a constant inseparable adherence to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Leader."

This chapter begins "Holy Week," as we call it in the church calendar. It represents the beginning of the last 47 days of the life of Jesus Christ among us on earth. He begins this week with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. During this week, He will be confronted and almost tormented by the presence of the religious leaders until He sets them permanently in their place in the next chapter.

Chapter 21

1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, {JF&B} " `house of figs,' a village which with Bethany lay along the further side of Mount Olivet, east of Jerusalem." 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, What a bizarre command! Would we have been so faithful to just go and look for someone's property to seize because the Lord said so? However, these, no doubt, were disciples who had spent some time with Jesus and had learned blind obedience. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Our

obedience to the Lord in the "tough" commands is based on our closeness to Him when times are not as tough.

5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. This is in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: We must do as Jesus

commands us!

7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed them in the way. These are the actions we celebrate on Palm Sunday. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. {JF&B} "Mark (Mk 11:9, 10) more fully, `Hosanna,' that is, `Save now,' the words of Ps 118:25, which were understood to refer to Messiah; and so they add, `to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord (Ps 118:26), Hosanna in the highest.' This was the very loftiest style in which He could be saluted as the promised

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Deliverer." The people have given the Lord the highest honor ­ they have recognized Him as the Messiah. However, if this had not changed by the end of the week, we would not be saved today. (The Jews had to reject Jesus as Christ in order for the Gentiles (US!) to be saved.) 10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? Jerusalem was the major city of Israel at that time. Jesus made such an entry that the entire city was stirred. This was quite a feat when you compare this Gospel with the Gospel of John which shows that He had been to Jerusalem at least twice before this. Only now, as He heads toward the cross, does the city "seem" to accept their Messiah. 11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. Though they praised Him as Messiah, their real testimony was less ­ He was the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. Perhaps they were caught up with words of flattery towards Him but, when pressed, their real testimony came out. 12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. {JF&B} "As the first cleansing was on His first visit to Jerusalem (Jn 2:13-22), so this second cleansing was on His last. `den of thieves'--banded together for plunder, reckless of principle. The mild term `house of merchandise,' used on the former occasion, was now unsuitable." Remember I said earlier that this was not the Lord's first visit to Jerusalem. This is why it is so important to compare all of the Gospels to get closer to a complete picture of our Lord. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, Notice the wickedness of the RELIGIOUS leaders. They were upset because they saw (1) the blind and lame healed; (2) the wonderful things that He did; and (3) the children (whom Jesus loved so much) crying in the temple and saying "Hosanna to the Son of David". What really vexed them, in my speculation, though is the fact that the children continued using that term "the Son of David". Remember, this was a term used only for the Messiah and the religious leaders were probably yet bitter from their past dealings with Jesus. 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? This is in fulfillment of Psalm 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. When you read all of the accounts of Holy Week, Jesus never spent the night in Jerusalem during that week. The house in Bethany that He stayed in was more than likely the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. 18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. This begins the day after "Palm Sunday" or the first day that He entered into Jerusalem. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. In Mark's Gospel, he states that the withering away of the fig tree took place over a day. This is why we must

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remember that the purpose of the gospels was NOT to be a historical reference but to give us insight and understanding into the life of Christ. {JF&B} "The precision with which Mark distinguishes the days is not observed by Matthew, intent only on holding up the truths which the incident was designed to teach." 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Again, in Mark, this was said on the following day. However, this wasn't the key to this lesson. The key comes up in the next verses. 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. What a great truth! If we have faith, and do not doubt, the promises of the next verse are available to us. Why then, does this not seem to occur as frequently as it should? Jesus gave us two conditions and somewhere those two conditions (have faith and doubt not) are not being met. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. When we get through telling people what they CAN'T have when they pray, come back to this verse. Jesus said, ALL THINGS and then added WHATSOEVER. TRUTH: ALL THINGS and the WHATSOEVER THINGS will be received by

us if we pray and believe! Jesus said it, therefore it must be true.

23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? This verse exhibits two issues the religious leaders had with Jesus. The immediate issue was that Jesus had run their "vendors" out of the temple. In the process, there was lost revenue for the temple and unrest with businessmen who had made contracts with the religious leaders. I can hear them saying in great anger, "Who do you think you are?" Also, the religious leaders continued with the same problem with Jesus that they have been exhibiting throughout this Gospel ­ they wanted to make sure that He was from God (who gave thee this authority?). The answer our Lord gave in the Gospel of John should be sufficient for all people: John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. In other words, "If you can't believe that I'm from God, then believe me because of the works." This is the same test that we should use today. We don't often like to do this, though, because this type of test takes time. This type of test is a test of reputation (from reputable people that can be trusted) and past works in other places. The Scripture tells us to try the spirits whether they are of God (1 John 4:1). This is one way that we try them. (Caution: that Scripture does NOT say to "try the spirits by the Spirit" ­ that Scripture does not exist in the Bible and is one more myth we continue to spread in the church.) 24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. Jesus had no intention of answering their question. He wanted to stir their conscience and, if they failed, publicly embarrass them. He's moving Himself toward the cross. 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? 26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. Jesus was a MASTER at dealing with His opposition. These were men of great learning and scholarly achievements but every time they ran into

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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Jesus, they left there looking foolish. 1 Corinthians 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. God, at His lowest if that were possible, is still far superior than men in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. This was a simple question that one with the spirit of a child could have easily answered. However, when sin and ambition is in the way, it becomes a problem. Now to the actual text, Jesus wasn't concerned with John the Baptist's baptism as much as his whole mission. His question is basically saying, like they have been asking Him, "Was John the Baptist of God or not?" Their reasoning is very incriminating ­ they KNEW that they had caused problems with John the Baptist and they could even foresee the Lord's response. Their reasoning condemned themselves. LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE:

Everyone that opposes you from within the church is not innocent in their actions. However, realize that everyone is not a Pharisee either.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. In their earthly wisdom, they thought they had Him by saying, "We can't tell you that." Notice that they didn't say that they didn't know but that they can't tell Him. Since they wouldn't answer His question, He refused to answer theirs. {JF&B} "What composure and dignity of wisdom does our Lord here display, as He turns their question upon themselves, and, while revealing His knowledge of their hypocrisy, closes their mouths! Taking advantage of the surprise, silence, and awe produced by this reply, our Lord followed it up immediately by the two following parables." The Parable of the Two Sons 28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. {JF&B} "The publicans and the harlots were the first son, who, when told to work in the Lord's vineyard, said, I will not; but afterwards repented and went. Their early life was a flat and flagrant refusal to do what they were commanded; it was one continued rebellion against the authority of God. The chief priests and the elders of the people, with whom our Lord was now speaking, were the second son, who said, I go, sir, but went not. They were early called, and all their life long professed obedience to God, but never rendered it; their life was one of continued disobedience." What an indictment that the Lord gives the religious people of that time ­ the tax collectors and prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God before you! 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. In other words, John the Baptist lived an obviously holy life and you didn't believe him. However, the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him (with this belief, I believe is also saying that they changed their lives according to John's preaching). But then, when you saw the reality of his preaching, you didn't do as the first son and repent that you might believe and be saved. People of God, we must be careful that this same indictment doesn't fall upon us when we see the wicked turn their lives over to Jesus! The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen

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33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: These husbandmen or gardeners were to take care of this man's vineyard while he was in the far country. 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. He sent his servants because it was still his vineyard. The husbandmen were hired servants. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. {JF&B} "In Mark (Mk 12:6) this is most touchingly expressed: `Having yet therefore one son, His well-beloved, He sent Him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence My Son.' Luke's version of it too (Lu 20:13) is striking: `Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send My beloved Son: it may be they will reverence Him when they see Him.' Who does not see that our Lord here severs Himself, by the sharpest line of demarcation, from all merely human messengers, and claims for Himself Sonship in its loftiest sense?" 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. These foolish and wicked husbandmen felt that if they killed the heir, they could steal the vineyard. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? Jesus' parable is very clear this time and He challenges the religious leaders to answer the question related to the parable. 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. NLT The religious leaders replied, "He

will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest." Notice the passion in their answer ­ "he will MISERABLY destroy

those wicked men." Jesus has "pushed their button." Their issue with Him was their lost revenue and His "take over" attitude. They're upset because this man has lost revenue...like them. They don't yet get it but they soon will. {JF&B} "If this answer was given by the Pharisees, to whom our Lord addressed the parable, they thus unwittingly pronounced their own condemnation: as did David to Nathan the prophet (2Sa 12:5-7), and Simon the Pharisee to our Lord (Lu 7:43, &c.). But if it was given, as the two other Evangelists agree in representing it, by our Lord Himself, and the explicitness of the answer would seem to favor that supposition, then we can better explain the exclamation of the Pharisees which followed it, in Luke's report (Lu 20:16) ­ 'And when they heard it, they said, God forbid'--His whole meaning now bursting upon them." 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? This is fulfillment of Psalm 118:22-23 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. This is a promise to US and a prophecy to them. The opportunity for kingdom living will be given to the nation that will bring forth the type of fruits the Lord is concerned about in Galatians 5. 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. The "stone" the Lord is talking about is Himself again. This looks back to when He spoke that "upon this rock, I will build My church". Whoever will fall upon this stone in submission and looking for salvation and deliverance will be broken in their spirit. The end result will be the salvation of the Lord. However, those that rebel against the Lord's salvation will fall under the Stone in judgment and be ground to powder through the eternal judgment of hell. 45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. They finally figured it out. 46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. JF&B says they could hardly restrain their rage at Jesus. However, had they done what was in their heart, it would have been suicidal for the people would have gone to the Lord's defense. They will soon have their opportunity and the people will have a different heart.

Jesus begins this chapter with a parable and then goes into an encounter against the Herodians, Sadducees, and Pharisees. In all cases He roundly and thoroughly defeats them.

Chapter 22

The Parable of the Marriage of the King's Son 1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen. This parable speaks of the Old Testament rejection of God's law, the New Testament rejection of Christ, and the grafting in of the Gentiles in the Book of Acts. However, once the Gentiles are grafted in, they must put on Christ (the wedding garment) and not make provision for the flesh as Paul teaches. The man in this parable was called but not chosen because he did not give his life over to the Lord completely. Jesus Confronts and Defeats the Religious Leaders

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For the rest of this chapter, Jesus will meet His final confrontation with the religious leaders prior to His prosecution before Pilate. He will be met by three groups that have often been discussed throughout this Gospel without taking the time to understand them. Let us do that now. (This information comes from Smith's Bible Dictionary. Smith states also, as a general introduction, "The chief sects among the Jews were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes, who may be described respectively as the Formalists , the Freethinkers, and the Puritans. A casual study of the Gospels is enough to show that Christ's teaching was thoroughly contrary to theirs. He denounced them in the bitterest language in the Gospel of St. Matthew." This last part will be seen in chapter 23.) HERODIANS ­ This was a party among the Jews who were supporters of the Herodian family as the last hope of retaining for the Jews any part of national government, instead of having Israel completely rely upon Rome as a province of the empire. These supporters of the family of Herod, who held their positions by the grant of the Roman emperor, would be in favor of paying tribute to Rome in order to keep their jobs. They differ from the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes in that they were more of a political party rather than a religious party. They just wanted to make sure that everything went smooth so they could keep their jobs and their elaborate lifestyles. This sounds like many saints doesn't it? SADDUCEES ­ This was a religious party or school among the Jews at the time of Christ, who denied that the oral law (the Word of the Lord through prophets) was a revelation of God to the Israelites, and who deemed the written law alone to be obligatory on the nation, as of divine authority. The Sadducees made up what may be termed a kind of priestly aristocracy or high society. To these were afterward attached all who for any reason reckoned themselves as belonging to the aristocracy; such, for example, as the families of the high priest, who had obtained consideration under the dynasty of Herod. These were for the most part judges, and individuals of the official and governing class. The leading belief of the Sadducees was the contradiction of the leading beliefs of their opponents. If the Pharisees believed it, the Sadducees denied it. In opposition to the Pharisees, they maintained that the written law alone was required on the nation, as divine authority. The second distinguishing doctrine of the Sadducees was the denial of man's resurrection after death. In connection with the disbelief of a resurrection by the Sadducees, they likewise denied there was "angel or spirit," and also the doctrines of future punishment and future rewards. Josephus states that the Sadducees believed in the freedom of the will, which the Pharisees denied. They pushed this doctrine so far as to almost to exclude God from the government of the world. (M. West ­ the Sadducees, because they didn't believe in the resurrection, lived lives that basically said, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die." Others have said they had little, if any, moral restraint. The Herodians, as said earlier, were politicians but religiously, most of them were Sadducees.) PHARISEES ­ This was a religious party or school among the Jews at the time of Christ, so called from a word which meant "separated." (M. West - The Sadducees had the money but the Pharisees had the hearts of the people because they occupied the most critical positions in the Jewish church. This is why Jesus condemns them so strongly in the next chapter.) Jesus Confronts and Defeats the Herodians

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15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. This verse begins a series of confrontations that Jesus had with the various religious leaders. Remember that each of these confrontations were begun by this conspiracy meeting with the Pharisees. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. The first group to come against the Lord was the Herodians. {JF&B} "These Herodians were supporters of Herod's dynasty, created by Caesar--a political rather than religious party. The Pharisees regarded them as untrue to their religion and country. But here we see them combining together against Christ as a common enemy." These people thought that Jesus would be moved by flattery but, as we have seen before, it did not. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? This seems like an innocent question but it was another one of those "no-win" questions. This group came to attack Jesus in such a way as to make Him appear as either a rebel or a Roman sympathizer. If Rome viewed Him as a rebel, He would be crucified. If the people viewed Him as a Roman supporter, they would turn on Him and the religious leaders could do with Him as they wished. This was their "top gun" question and they felt like there was no "good" answer to it. 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Jesus immediately saw right through this and condemned them in bitter language before giving His answer. 19 Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? In other words, whose picture and title are on this coin? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. Since Caesar has his picture on it, it must be his so give him what is his and give God what is His. 22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way. They were amazed at the answer but their hearts had not changed. Jesus Confronts and Defeats the Sadducees 23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, The conspiracy is thick as "the same day" came more of the religious leaders to tempt Him with a seemingly "hard" question to embarrass Him. 24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. This was one of those silly parables that yet exist in the church that no one can answer. When I was younger, some would ask, "Where did Cain get his wife if there were only four people on the earth?" This is a question that can't be answered at this time but it won't help or hinder you from getting into the kingdom unless you use it for an excuse. The parable and question put before

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Jesus was one of the foolish questions of that time that none of them could answer. The Sadducees were like some denominations today ­ they emphasize one issue and have tons of Scripture to support that one issue. However, if you take them into the Word beyond this issue, they fall apart. One of their key issues was that there was no resurrection. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. Jesus' answer is the same answer to any church or group that focuses on one issue: YOU DON'T KNOW THE SCRIPTURES AND YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND GOD'S POWER. If you know the Scriptures, you cannot focus on any single issue except Jesus and His great salvation. Paul warned Timothy that in the last days, perilous times would come and that people would have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. Paul's instruction to Timothy was to turn away (AVOID) such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5). We must yet embrace that warning. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Never forget this verse ­ this is the starting place for error

in a church or an individual!

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. TRUTH: There is no more marriage after death. We become as the angels whose focus is on

God rather than the things of the flesh.

31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Jesus counterattacks the Sadducees with the Word of God. "If God said `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob', in the present tense after their natural deaths, then they live on and He remains their God." 33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. The scheme is falling apart because the people are turning more toward Jesus. Jesus Confronts and Defeats the Pharisees 34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. They plainly saw that Jesus had defeated them and they continued in their conspiracy to embarrass Him so they could kill Him. (If they could turn the people from Him, they could do whatever they desired.) 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, In Mark, this man is called a scribe. The terms scribes and lawyers were often interchanged. The law these lawyers were interested in was God's law. According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, the scribes were a class of people who made the knowledge of the Jewish law their profession; they were the real teachers of the people. The scribes had three main functions: a) JURISTS - They were responsible for the theoretical development of the law. Where the written law made no direct provision they created a compensation either by establishing a precedent or by inference from other legal decisions. Because this part of the law was unwritten it took careful study with other teachers to understand. By doing thus, the law became a complicated science. b) TEACHERS - Because the law was unwritten, the scribes had the job of gathering students around them to constantly repeat the law to them. A pupil had two duties: (1) to memorize all that he learned; (2) to teach only what he had been taught.

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c) JUDGES - Since the scribes were the ones most familiar with the law, they were the ones called upon to pass sentence in situations dealing with law breaking. 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? His question was, "Which is the first commandment of all? (first in order of importance)" The attempt here is to get Jesus to emphasize one part of Scripture over another and give them a chance to discredit Him before the people. 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Jesus answered the scribe (lawyer) out of the law: Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 38 This is the first and great commandment. Even though it was a trap, Jesus answered plainly that there IS a commandment that is more important than others. His concern was more so for those that stood around listening. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The second is similar but without the same intensity as our love for God must be. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Our love for God must be first. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. {JF&B} "It is as if He had said, `This is all Scripture in a nutshell; the whole law of human duty in a portable, pocket form.' Indeed, it is so simple that a child may understand it, so brief that all may remember it, so comprehensive as to embrace all possible cases." 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Now that He has silenced them in all things, Jesus goes on the counterattack. 42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. It seemed an easy question. Christ, of course, would be the son or ancestor of King David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? But Jesus moves in for the real question ­ If Christ is an ancestor of David, how does David give Him a title of One that was before him? {JF&B} "There is but one solution of this difficulty. Messiah is at once inferior to David as his son according to the flesh, and superior to him as the Lord of a kingdom of which David is himself a subject, not the sovereign. The human and divine natures of Christ, and the spirituality of His kingdom--of which the highest earthly sovereigns are honored if they be counted worthy to be its subjects--furnish the only key to this puzzle." 46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. Jesus so roundly defeated the religious leaders that they did not dare come to Him with any more questions. His answers and His counter questions began to jeopardize their standing in the eyes of the people so they decided to remain ignorant.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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{MH} "We find not Christ, in all his preaching, so severe upon any sort of people as upon these scribes and Pharisees; for the truth is, nothing is more directly opposite to the spirit of the gospel than the temper and practice of that generation of men, who were made up of pride, worldliness, and tyranny, under a cloak and pretence of religion; yet these were the idols and darlings of the people, who thought, if but two men went to heaven, one would be a Pharisee. Now Christ directs his discourse here to the multitude, and to his disciples (v. 1) to rectify their mistakes concerning these scribes and Pharisees, by painting them out in their true colors, and so to take off the prejudice which some of the multitude had conceived against Christ and his doctrine, because it was opposed by those men of their church, that called themselves the people's guides. Note, It is good to know the true characters of men, that we may not be imposed upon by great and mighty names, titles, and pretensions to power. People must be told of the wolves (Acts 20: 29, 30), the dogs (Phil. 3:2), the deceitful workers (2 Cor. 11:13), that they may know here to stand upon their guard. And not only the mixed multitude, but even the disciples, need these cautions; for good men are apt to have their eyes dazzled with worldly pomp."

Chapter 23

1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Notice how Matthew points out the classes to which this statement was to be addressed. The religious leaders who had just been so soundly defeated are yet present but the words of the Lord Jesus are to the multitude around Him and to His disciples. 2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: That is to say, the scribes and the Pharisees have the key to the understanding and interpretation of the Law of Moses. Their job was to interpret it, teach it, and judge based on it. Because of this, they held an important position and could not be viewed lightly. 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Because of their position and understanding of the law, whatever the people were told to do by them, they were to do it. HOWEVER, do not watch their lives because they live as hypocrites ­ saying what to do but not doing. They lived under that foolish proverb that says "Do as I say, not as I do". LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: The spirit of the Pharisee cannot lead the people with their lives, only with

their words. Their words must be obeyed but these leaders look forward to great condemnation. Do not fall into the same condemnation!

4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. {JF&B} "Referring not so much to the irksomeness of the legal rites, though they were irksome enough (Ac 15:10), as to the heartless rigor with which they were enforced, and by men of shameless inconsistency." This is also seen today. How often do church leaders make pronouncements about what one can or cannot do to be saved, without Biblical backing, but they themselves allow many liberties in their own lives! 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, {JF&B} "Whatever good they do, or zeal they show, has but one motive--human applause. ­ `they make broad their phylacteries' ­ strips of parchment with Scripture-texts on them, worn on the forehead, arm, and side, in time of prayer ­ `and enlarge the borders of their garments' ­ fringes of their upper garments (Nu 15:37-40)." All of these actions were to be seen of men to APPEAR to be more spiritual. Notice what Numbers 15:37-40 says (from the New Living Translation): 37 And the LORD said to Moses, 38

"Say to the people of Israel: `Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach the tassels at each corner with a blue cord. 39 The tassels will remind you of the commands of the LORD, and that you are to obey his commands instead of following your own desires and going your own ways, as you are prone to do. 40 The tassels will help you remember that you must obey all my commands and be holy to your God. The mind of the Pharisee

said, "If a little was good, a lot will make me LOOK better." And so they did. They worked hard to LOOK

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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spiritual. If they had taken that same energy and used it to BE spiritual, they could have been the most holy of men. 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, They LOVED the places of highest honor at feasts and the main seats in the synagogues. LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: This is why

ministers today must beware of the attitude that says, "I should be treated better ­ after all, I am a preacher."

7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. {JF&B} "It is the spirit rather than the letter of this that must be pressed; though the violation of the letter, springing from spiritual pride, has done incalculable evil in the Church of Christ. The reiteration of the word `Rabbi' shows how it tickled the ear and fed the spiritual pride of those ecclesiastics." Even today this spirit has resurfaced with great fervor in the Pentecostal churches. We have too many that are "stars" here that don't point to the real star, Jesus. 8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. {MH} "It was but a little before Christ's time, that the Jewish teachers, the masters of Israel, had assumed the title of Rabbi, Rab, or Rabban, which signifies great or much; and was construed as Doctor, or My lord. And they laid such a stress upon it, that they gave it for a maxim that `he who salutes his teacher, and does not call him Rabbi, provokes the divine Majesty to depart from Israel;' so much religion did they place in that which was but a piece of good manners! For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches is commendable enough in him that gives it; but for him that teaches to love it, and demand it, and affect it, to be puffed up with it, and to be displeased if it be omitted, is sinful and abominable; and, instead of teaching, he has need to learn the first lesson in the school of Christ, which is humility." 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Shall I not call my own natural father, "father" based on this Scripture? Did Elisha sin when he called Elijah "my father, my father" when Elijah was translated? No, the point of this Scripture is that the religious leaders expected certain titles to be thrust upon them and expected the people to view them with the type of respect that one should rightfully give to their natural father. The problem was their lust for titles. {MH} "[Make] no man the father of your religion, that is, the founder, author, director, and governor, of it. The fathers of our flesh must be called fathers, and as such we must give them reverence; but God only must be allowed as the Father of our spirits, Heb 12: 9. Our religion must not be derived from, or made to depend upon, any man. We are born again to the spiritual and divine life, not of corruptible seed, but by the word of God; not of the will of the flesh, or the will of man, but of God. Now the will of man, not being the rise of our religion, must not be the rule of it. We must not swear to the dictates of any creature, not the wisest or best, nor pin our faith on any man's sleeve, because we know not whither he will carry it. St. Paul calls himself a Father to those whose conversion he had been an instrument of (1 Cor. 4:15; Phil. 10); but he pretends to no dominion over them, and uses that title to denote, not authority, but affection: therefore he calls them not his obliged, but his beloved, sons, 1 Cor. 4:14." 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. Only Jesus Christ is our Master, our Teacher, and our Guide. Notice what Jesus says in John 13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. This is a principle that Jesus has repeated over and over again. No doubt this repetition is based on the fact the issue with man is pride and pride will take you to hell!

Jesus, at this point turns His attention to the religious leaders in His midst and pronounces eight woes upon them. By comparison, the only other book in the New Testament that uses the word "woe" so often and so forcefully is the Book of the Revelation. We must observe the condemnations that the Lord Jesus put upon these religious leaders today lest we fall into the same condemnation!

13 But WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe ­ anguish, affliction, sadness, despair. A "woe" is indicative of the worst type of judgment that can be laid upon man. The religious leaders blocked people from going to heaven by teaching weakness and indulgence. They also discouraged those that were zealous for God to keep them from entering in. Today, the "scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" of our time say, "It doesn't take all of that" or "You're just too heavenly minded to be any earthly good." 14 WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. {McGee} "In other words, these men made long prayers but they were heartless and crooked in their business dealings." 15 WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. The religious leaders went out of their way to make one proselyte (convert, follower, disciple) and when they had convinced that person, they made them worse than they were. 16 WOE UNTO YOU, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. {JF&B} "Our Lord, here and in some following verses, condemns the subtle distinctions they made as to the sanctity of oaths--distinctions invented only to promote their own [greedy] purposes." 23 WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. The religious leaders tithed on everything down to the level of kitchen spices but, in the process, left out the more important things in the Law. Jesus said that the tithes should have been paid AND these other things done. They were like many today, they strain at a gnat (a small principle in the Word of God is too much for them) but swallow a camel (embrace some tradition of man that means nothing).

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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25 WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. The religious leaders of that time emphasized the outside but let the inside go. They LOOKED good but they weren't good. Jesus said to take care of the inside FIRST (not only) and then the outside will come in place. 27 WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Jesus continued on the same theme ­ they hypocrisy of the religious leaders. They looked wonderful, much the same way that a sepulchre or mausoleum looks nice. However, inside that above ground tomb is nothing but dead people. In the same manner, the scribes and Pharisees outwardly appeared to be the holiest of men but they were FULL of hypocrisy and iniquity (a character with a tendency toward repeated sin). 29 WOE UNTO YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. {JF&B} "That is, `ye be witnesses that ye have inherited, and voluntarily served yourselves heirs to, the truth-hating, prophet-killing, spirit of your fathers.' Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, `If we had been in their days, how differently should we have treated these prophets?' While all the time they were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets, convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent." In other words, they may SAY they would have done differently but how could they when they maintained the same spirit as those that killed the prophets? 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Jesus used the same words that John the Baptist used toward them ­ generation of vipers. The only difference, a frightening difference from the Judge of all men, is that He added, "How can you escape the damnation of hell?" or what's going to keep you from going there? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: Jesus changes the tone of His preaching and speaks out of the heart of God: "I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes." In spite of them being God-sent, they will be killed, they will be crucified, others will be scourged IN THE CHURCH, and others will be persecuted from city to city. This began to be very evident in the Book of Acts for Jesus said in verse 36 that it would come up THIS generation or the generation of that time. (That doesn't mean that persecution ended in Bible days.) 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. The intent was to fill the indictment of the religious leaders of that time with the rebellion of mankind from Abel to Zacharias. (This is probably the incident mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21 And the Spirit of God came

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. 21 And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king IN THE COURT OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.) The character of these men is under indictment ­ this is the character that did all of these heinous things and rejected the pleadings of God. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. This pronouncement sets the timetable of this prophecy. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. {McGee} "Not only were the religious rulers in shock, but His apostles were in shock, also. This seemed to them a strange turn of events. They expected Him to establish the kingdom, with Jerusalem as the capital. But now He says that their house is to be left desolate and that they will not see Him again until they say, `Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' You see, although He is on His way to the cross at this time, He gives them the assurance that He will return--and that will be His triumphal entry! Obviously, the kingdom is going to be postponed. There are many who object to that teaching, but to do that, they must object to the language of our Lord. He tells His disciples that He will not establish the kingdom on earth at this time but that He will come again to establish it. That means that the kingdom is postponed, doesn't it? The apostles were surprised and disappointed at the idea of a postponement; so they come to Him with three questions, which we will see in the following chapter."

This entire chapter is dedicated to what the theologians call "The Olivet Discourse." (It is so named because this discourse (conversation) was held on the Mount of Olives.) This chapter exists because of the question asked of Jesus in verse 3 which was in response to His statement in verse 2. This question was asked privately and, once again, the church was privileged to receive information not available to all. The questions were (1) WHEN shall these things be? and (2) What shall be the SIGN (warning sign, evidence) of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Before going further, every Christian should understand that Jesus is speaking primarily to the Jewish people in this chapter. There are some references that apply to the Church which will be pointed out but most of it applies to the Jews. The discussion is about events that will occur in the last 3½ years of what is known as the "Great Tribulation." The warnings are addressed to Jewish people because the unsaved Jews will have the heaviest impact from the prophecies of this chapter. (The severe 3½ years of the Great Tribulation are discussed in Revelation 11:23, Revelation 12:6, and Revelation 13:5. In these verses, they reference either 42 months, 3 years and 6 months, or 1,260 days, which is 3½ years when divided by 360 days.)

Chapter 24

1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. The Lord left the Temple right after His scathing condemnation of the religious leaders. He was well aware of the Temple from past visits. I wonder if the disciples gave Him this tour to get His mind off the events that just took place in the last two chapters? 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Jesus prophecy was very clear. The Temple will be destroyed to the point where the won't be a stone left on top of another. The Jewish historian Josephus points out that when the Roman general, Titus, came into Jerusalem after besieging the city, he was determined to get

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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the gold out of the walls of the Temple. Therefore, he set the Temple on fire so the gold would melt out of the walls and he had his soldiers dismantle the walls, stone by stone, in fulfillment of our Lord's prophecy. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? Many criticize people for watching the signs of our Lord's return but when the disciples came to Jesus asking about His return, He gave an answer of what to look for. Before going further into this section, we must understand some things. First, Jesus did not give an answer in the Gospel of Matthew regarding "when these things shall be" or when the Temple would be destroyed. You have to go to the Gospels of Luke or Mark to see this. Second, the answer He did give has to do with His Second Coming (NOT the rapture) and the establishment of His kingdom on earth (the end of the current world system). Therefore, the signs we see here are signs that apply to His Second Coming, which is at the end of the Great Tribulation. However, they also prepare us for the rapture, which will begin the Great Tribulation. They also don't have a timetable for their occurrence. In other words, there is nothing in the Scriptures to say that these will take place within a year, two years, or one hundred years before the Lord's return. Some of them began in Bible times. A lot of this is seen NOW. 4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. The first thing that Jesus said regarding His Second Coming is the main thing that most people do ­ allow themselves to be deceived. Paul wrote an entire epistle (Second Thessalonians) to address the issue of people being deceived when it had to do with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. God will also allow deception to run rampant in the land at this time: 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. The time before and during the Great Tribulation shall be a time of great deception, especially with Antichrist present. Notice that Jesus does not bring up Antichrist but allows His apostles to receive this revelation and give it to the church. This will be a time when many will make the claim to be either Jesus Christ or the long awaited Messiah. They are already in the land so we must not be deceived. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The Word of the Lord gives us

specific instructions regarding the return of Jesus Christ. We have no need to be deceived.

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. The period before the Lord's return will be a time of great unrest in the earth ­ more than we have ever seen. This will help to usher in the Antichrist who will come as a man of peace. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Pray for the trouble in the world today but don't let it trouble you ­ these

things must come to pass.

7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. Not only will there be wars, there will be great famines, there will be pestilence (disease from known and new sources), and earthquakes in various places. Recent events and occurrences on the earth seem to indicate that we could easily say that we're in this time.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. What?! Yes, this is just the start. That's why we can't fall in love with this current life. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. After the preceding signs are completed, some say the next step will be the persecution of the church. Some commentators mark this verse as the beginning of the Great Tribulation and the persecution of the Jews. I believe it has a dual meaning as so many Scriptures dealing with end times have. The Jewish people have definitely gone through YEARS where this has been their testimony. The church went through this right after the Lord's return to heaven but, no doubt, it will occur again. Easily, it can be seen that the time is ripe for the world to begin to turn against the church. The current attitude in the land is that we must embrace ALL beliefs. The Church of Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ, has never allowed this openness (see Acts 4:12) and is viewed by many as bigoted and rigid to the point of being dangerous. Also, with the unrest in the Middle East, the mood of the world toward Israel is also turning against the Jews. As you read the rest of this chapter and put it all in context, we'll see that the rest of the Lord's discussion has to do with the impact of the Second Coming on the Jews. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. Remember our discussion on the term "offended"? Jesus is saying that many will backslide and turn against the church. Paul raised the same theme when he wrote to correct the errors in the Thessalonian church: 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, EXCEPT THERE COME A FALLING AWAY FIRST, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. However, since the focus is on the Jewish people, we'll see many that used to support Israel turn against them and hate them. America, will you be one? 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Dr. McGee said that the church is warned against false teachers while the Jew is warned against false prophets. I believe that both groups must be warned against both. At the time of this study, "the prophetic" is such a prevalent and desired theme in the church that we allow much misuse of the prophetic gift and many are deceived. This is occurring now. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Iniquity refers to a character with a tendency toward sin. One living in iniquity is NOT morally clean. A carnal Christian is also in this category. Because this trait will ABOUND, people will have no care for another person. Murder will be rampant and judgment on such crimes weak. Again, doesn't this sound like our time? 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Is this a Christian verse or a Jewish verse? In some ways it is both but the main theme is to the Jew living during the Great Tribulation. If that one can resist the deception in the land, resist the false prophets, and resist the tendency toward hatred, they will have the possibility to receive the Gospel as discussed in the next verse. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. World-wide saturation with the Gospel will occur before the Second Coming. Is it safe to say that it has already occurred? 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) The next few verses are DEFINITELY written to the

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Jewish people. The Jews understood this verse from the writings of Daniel: Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. This event occurs midway through the Great Tribulation (actually thirty days prior to the mid-point of the Great Tribulation). The reference is to someone desecrating or defiling the Temple by setting up an idol in the Temple. Others have said this can be done by sacrificing a pig or other unclean animal in the temple. This brings up the question, "Must the Temple be rebuilt before the Lord returns?" It would definitely seem so. However, it may not be necessary to be built before the rapture of the church. 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: The prior verse is a triggering event and the Jews in Israel at the time of this event are to IMMEDIATELY flee into mountains for safety. 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: All of these verses apply to those that are running for their lives IN Israel. 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. I have loosely called the last seven-year period of time on the earth the Great Tribulation but it really begins at this point. It will be the worse time on earth ever since the history of the earth began. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Who is the elect in this verse? It is NOT the church because the church has been raptured by this time. This verse refers to the obedient Jews who fled into the mountains. The first part refers to the entire earth. If the Great Tribulation went much longer, there would be no one left on the earth because of the death to reign down at that time. 23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. In the midst of this pain, if anyone says that Christ is in a certain place, DON'T BELIEVE IT. Don't use this lie to come out of hiding. Again, this is directed toward the hiding Jews in the mountains of Israel. (It can also be used by those that miss the rapture and desire salvation during the Great Tribulation.) 24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. The Book of Revelation speaks of the lying wonders that will be performed by the Antichrist and the false prophet during the Great Tribulation. These are REAL miracles but the power behind them is demonic. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Beware! Don't be so

caught up in desiring the supernatural that you forget that there are two forces at work and one of them is demonic. Try the spirits!

25 Behold, I have told you before. The greatest authority ever has warned us. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. Again, the Lord encourages the Jews to not leave their hiding place and He tells them why in the next verse.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be a visible, striking event. As the lightening illuminates the sky, so will His Second Coming be. You haven't got to go look for Him when He returns. 28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. This verse seems out of context until you apply this chapter with Book of Revelation. Revelation 19:17-18 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. The Second Coming will not be a parade, it will be a slaughter of those that have deceived the earth (again, read Revelation 19). 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. This verse also does NOT refer to the church. The elect are those that have obeyed and gone into hiding 3 ½ years prior. 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. MYTH: This brief parable by our Lord has nothing to do with whether the changing of the

seasons is a sign for His Second Coming. All He is saying is to watch what goes on, like you would with a fig tree, and you'll be able to tell when these events are near.

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. {JF&B} "Whether we take this to mean that the whole would be fulfilled within the limits of the generation then current, or, according to a usual way of speaking, that the generation then existing would not pass away without seeing a begun fulfillment of this prediction, the facts entirely correspond. For either the whole was fulfilled in the destruction accomplished by Titus, as many think; or, if we stretch it out, according to others, till the thorough dispersion of the Jews a little later, under Adrian, every requirement of our Lord's words seems to be met." 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. This was directed to His audience ­ the church. The words of Jesus Christ are the words of God and they shall not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. This is an interesting verse in light of all that the Lord has just said. He's been giving us instruction on how to know of His return but comes to the end by saying that we won't know the specifics. This is important and speaks to a balance that we must have as the people of God: we must watch the signs and know that His appearance is near but realize that we're just approximating and can't know the day or hour.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. The coming of the Lord Jesus shall occur at a time when it will be "business as usual" for mankind. Yes, there will be signs but many will miss them as they did in Noah's day. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Some have looked at this as the rapture but remember our audience ­ the Jews going through the Great Tribulation. I like Matthew Henry's explanation. This refers to the fact that in the midst of all of this destruction, one will be taken (destroyed) and the other one left. {MH} "Distinguishing preservations, in times of general destruction, are special tokens of God's favor, and ought so to be acknowledged. If we are safe when thousands fall on our right hand and our left, are not consumed when others are consumed round about us, so that we are as brands plucked out of the fire, we have reason to say, It is of the Lord's mercies, and it is a great mercy." 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. {MH} "To watch implies not only to believe that our Lord will come, but to desire that he would come, to be often thinking of his coming, and always looking for it as sure and near, and the time of it uncertain. To watch for Christ's coming, is to maintain that gracious temper and disposition of mind which we should be willing that our Lord, when he comes, should find us in. To watch is to be aware of the first notices of his approach, that we may immediately attend his motions, and address ourselves to the duty of meeting him." Also, JF&B says that to watch comes under the official duties of ministers ­ to give warning of approaching danger. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Our duty is to be prepared for the Lord's return. In spite of the warnings of this chapter, He will come unexpectedly. We must not allow our soul to be "broken up" in hell fire! 45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Peter said that men count on slackness or delay. When we begin to do that, the next step is to allow things to come in that have no business in our lives. Then we get comfortable doing those things and the Lord appears without warning! What shall a person give in exchange for his soul?

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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Jesus continues His discussion of the end of time from the prior chapter by giving two parables that speak of the importance of readiness and then gives us a glimpse of the requirements of the final judgment.

Chapter 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins 1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. {MacArthur} "[The term virgins would be better rendered as bridesmaids.] This wedding would begin at the bride's house when the bridegroom arrived to observe the wedding ritual. Then a procession would follow as the bridegroom to the bride to his house for the completion of the festivities. For a night wedding, `lamps,' which were actually torches, were needed for the procession." This parable points to those believers who do as the servant at the end of the previous chapter ­ they allow themselves to be slothful and unprepared for the Lord's coming. They have not watched. But notice, are they truly believers? The bridegroom answered them, "I know you not." They may have been in the church building but not in the church. The Parable of the Talents 14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed: 27 Thou

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. {MacArthur} "The parable of the talents illustrates the tragedy of wasted opportunity. The man who goes on the journey represents Christ, and the servants represent professing believers given different levels of responsibility. Faithfulness is what He demands of them but the parable suggests that all who are faithful will be fruitful to some degree. The fruitless person is unmasked as a hypocrite and utterly destroyed." 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: This passage looks forward to the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:1115. This will take place after the devil and his angels have been cast into the Lake of Fire. There is some controversy regarding this passage because it speaks of the judgment of the saints. By this time, the saints will have come back to earth with the Lord in His Second Coming (see Jude 1:14) and we will have reigned with Christ for 1,000 years during the Millennial reign (Revelation 20:4). Therefore, our judgment will only be a ceremonial judgment because we will have already received our reward. 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. The judgment of the saints will occur first. Revelation brings up the additional factor of the Book of Life in the judgment but the key is that all of these who are first judged will have had their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. The late singer and songwriter, Keith Green, said on this passage, that the key to the life of the Christian is what we DO or DO NOT do. This must extend beyond our comfort zone to whosoever we find in need. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. {JF&B} "Sentence, it should seem, was first pronounced--in the hearing of the wicked--upon the righteous, who

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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thereupon sit as assessors in the judgment upon the wicked (1Co 6:2); but sentence is first executed, it should seem, upon the wicked, in the sight of the righteous--whose glory will thus not be beheld by the wicked, while their descent into `their own place' will be witnessed by the righteous."

This chapter gives us the final days and hours of the Lord's ministry here on earth leading up to His arrest and His prosecution before the high priest.

Chapter 26

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, 2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. This is the fifth time in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus has warned the disciples about His coming death (see 16:21; 17:9; 17:22; 20:18). Now He adds a key variable time ­ it's now two days away. They have had ample warning and now they know the timetable. I believe this was given so that they would not fall into the sin of forsaking Christ. 3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. The religious have had it with Jesus. They have called a meeting for the express purpose of secretly getting hold of Jesus and killing Him. Notice that they are not trying to mince words ­ they want Jesus dead. 5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people. Just as Jesus had indicted them about in Chapter 23, they continue to work on the outside without any concern for the inside. This statement just reeks with hypocrisy. 6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. In John's Gospel, John points out that the woman having the alabaster box was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12:3). This event occurred while Jesus was staying in their city but eating at another home in the city. 8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? Isn't it interesting that the closer the disciples got to Jesus and the more time they spent with Him, the more carnal they became? This is probably because of their need for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost to help them to be kept. The Gospel of John points out that the ringleader of this event was Judas Iscariot (John 12:4-5 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?) I have not found anything to validate if Judas Iscariot was the son of Simon the Leper in whose home this took place but it does not add or detract from the incident anyway. 9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. That's one thought and the other thought he had was to skim off the proceeds for himself. (John 12:6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.) 10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. The words in the Gospel of John are much stronger when He says, "LEAVE HER ALONE!" I believe that Judas Iscariot took this strong rebuke to heart, was insulted by the fact that his "issue" had been revealed, and used this as an excuse to get money by selling out Jesus.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. {MacArthur} "Jesus certainly was not disparaging ministry to the poor ­ especially so soon after the lesson of the sheep and goats judgment. However, He revealed here that there is a higher priority than any other earthly ministry, and that is worship rendered to Him." 12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Or rather, it was symbolic of His anointing for His burial. 13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. 14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, The rebuke of Judas Iscariot in the earlier passage was just enough to send him over the edge. Based on this rebuke, he immediately went out and made a deal with the devil that would eventually backfire and cost him his life. 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. I'm sure the religious leaders looked at this as a "blessing from God" because they had just met on how to get rid of Jesus. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Everything that seems good is not

always good.

16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. Judas went back to the rest of the apostles and acted like nothing had happened even though he is in their midst looking for a reason to betray Jesus. What could have pushed this man to this level? Easily, Satan can be blamed for the Scripture says, Luke22:3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. However, the opportunity for him to come in was provided by Judas by his sinful acts (theft, covetousness, greed, lack of compassion) that he refused to deal with. 17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. This passage we're about to review could also be known as the last Passover. After Jesus' death and resurrection, there was no need to commemorate Passover any longer. As Christians, we pick up the Lord's Supper instead of Passover. Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Jew. The Lord's Supper commemorates the deliverance of the Christian. 21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? I've always looked at this as a very interesting verse. Instead of the mind of Peter, they viewed themselves as capable of doing anything even though it was not their desire. They began to ask who it would be because they knew that they weren't sold out to Jesus and they were unsure what they would do under pressure. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: The

uncommitted life cannot be trusted under times of pressure or stress.

23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. There's been some controversy about this

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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verse. Those that believe that a loving God could not send anyone to hell believe that Judas had a terrible life but yet was saved. Personally, I believe that it's crystal clear ­ a life that is lost in hell for eternity is a life that were better off never having been started. This is the continuing fate of Judas Iscariot. 25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. Jesus used some of the same type of language in His prosecution before Pontius Pilate to basically say, "What you're saying is true." According to the other Gospels, the disciples did not hear this and thought that Jesus had sent Judas on an errand which seemed to have been typical. 26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. These verses represent the institution of the Lord's Supper yet celebrated in the church to commemorate the suffering of our Savior. 30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives was a place that Jesus often liked to resort to for solitude. It's interesting that when He returns, according to Zechariah, His feet will land upon this same area (Zechariah 14:4). 31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Jesus plainly foretells the failure of the disciples after three years of walking with Him. They weren't the one that would betray Him but they betrayed Him nonetheless in not remaining true to Him. This is in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. After 3½ years of living with Him, you might have been as bold as Peter was to say that it would never happen. Peter went so far as to really show that he was full of himself and didn't really understand where he was in God. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: DON'T CONTRADICT THE WORD. God's Word is true. The

key is to find out how we can keep bad things from coming to pass.

34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Jesus went further after Peter's bold statement and let him know exactly what he would do and what would be the sign of his denial of Christ. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. Sometimes people, in emotion and before a crowd, make statements that we're not ready to support in our lives. Too often this happens in church when we're supposed to be testifying to the goodness of the Lord. 36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. Gethsemane was in a valley across from Jerusalem about 200 yards from the city walls. It was a favorite place of retirement for Jesus. It probably belonged to Nicodemus or Joseph or another

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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follower of Jesus living in Jerusalem. The name means oil press. No doubt this was an area where olive oil was pressed out. {MH} "There our Lord began His passion; there it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, that fresh oil might flow to all believers from Him." 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. These were known as the inner circle. He wanted them with Him to pray with Him during this difficult time. Very heavy - overwhelmed with anguish. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. Jesus was in such anguish that He felt that if there was not some respite, the only next recourse must be death. He desired the help of these His friends even though, at their best, their help would be feeble. But He was in such agony, little help would be great help. {MH} "It is good to have, and therefore good to seek, the assistance of our brethren, when at any time we are in an agony." 39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? He probably addressed this to Peter because of the great confession he had made only hours before. {MH} "He speaks as one amazed to see them so stupid. Consider (1) Who they were... `from you I expected better things'; (2) Who He was...He awoke out of His sleep to help them but they could not keep sleep away to help Him; (3) How small a thing He asked of them...only to watch with Him; (4) How short a time that He expected it - but one hour." Peter was going to die for Jesus but he couldn't pray one hour for Him. It makes you think about the bold statements we make and the little things we let get in the way. 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Jesus gave them a mild rebuke and a stern warning: the spirit of man may testify and be willing to do something but the flesh is the issue that will keep it from being done. This flesh must be brought under subjection. We must follow the admonition of Paul: 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Nothing was said to the sleeping disciples this time. 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. Jesus prayed in the garden until He had the victory. When He had the victory, He no longer rebuked them for their sleep because He was ready. 47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. God held back the mob from finding Jesus until He was prepared through prayer. Once He was ready, here comes Judas and the multitude. Based on the betrayal of one who had lived, eaten, fellowshipped, and prayed with Him for 3 ½ years, Jesus was arrested. 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? The other Gospel writers point out that this was Peter who drew his sword. They also point out that Jesus healed the servant's ear. (This act of compassion by Jesus was not enough to change the mind of this mob, though.) In spite of all of this, Jesus was prepared through prayer and focused to fulfill His ministry. 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then ALL the disciples forsook him, and fled. Once they had Jesus out of the way, the disciples did exactly what they said they would not do. SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: We may think we know ourselves but this is why God uses pressure to force out of us

what's in us so we won't do this.

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. The conspiracy was launched and the conspirators were ready. 58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. The language used by Matthew here is very negative however he may be trying to help us understand the mood of Peter. So quickly, he has thrown in the towel and has prepared himself "to see the end". To this day, there are those that continue to await "the end" of what Jesus started and have not. 59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; 60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. They didn't want real witnesses because they knew there were none. They just wanted someone to come forward so that there would be no "issue" with the Romans or with the people on how they had administered the law. The "council" mentioned here is the Sanhedrin. The word SANHEDRIN is a Greek word referring to "council-chamber"; the supreme council of the Jewish people in the time of Christ and earlier. From the few occasional references in the New Testament, we conclude that it consisted of chief priests, or the heads of the twenty-four classes into which the priests were divided, elders, men of age and experience, and scribes, lawyers, or those learned in the Jewish law. The number of members is usually given as 71 so there were a lot of religious leaders involved in the death of Jesus Christ. (All of this information is from Smith's Bible Dictionary.) The Sanhedrin tried Jesus for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death. Leviticus 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death. It really wasn't so much the crime they were interested in as much as the punishment. This is why they brought false witnesses to testify against Jesus

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003 e-mail: [email protected]

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because they wanted to make sure they could find Him guilty of a capital crime ­ one punishable by death. This council convened not for a mission of justice but for a mission of death. They brought many witnesses but they just couldn't get their testimony to agree. The Jewish principle was, 2 Corinthians 13:1b In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. How ridiculous! If Jesus had answered the question, He would have been condemned to death. If He had not answered the question, they would have found another reason to condemn Him. Therefore, why say anything? 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Jesus answered the high priest knowing that His answer would move Him directly to the cross. 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. Can you hear behind this the glee in the tone of the high priest? They have wasted time looking for witnesses and they found what they wanted right in front of them. 66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DIE. 67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, 68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? SAINTS' PRINCIPLE: Once the devil

has you where he wants you, all restraint ends. We need to know this for our sake (so that we don't get there) and the sake of others in the grip of the enemy (so we know how to go into spiritual warfare on their behalf).

69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. This is another sad account in the Scriptures. This is an example of failing God but, thank God, He is so merciful and Peter had another chance. Because of how good God was to Peter, we can also take heart! Peter was put into this position because of two things but the first is the biggest by far: (1) He refused to submit himself to the Word of the Lord spoken by the Lord Jesus; (2) He allowed his flesh to rule him (which he also did in #1) through his desire for comfort while waiting for the outcome of Jesus' trial. He had watched the Lord pray, but he didn't pray. The Lord has now been arrested and he STILL didn't pray. Instead, he warmed himself at the fire with the enemies of Jesus. Mark

14:54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and HE SAT WITH THE

SERVANTS, and warmed himself at the fire. Peter denied the Lord three times in an attempt to save himself and could have suffered the fate of Judas except for the mercy of God.

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This chapter is dedicated to the events of Good Friday, the day of Jesus' death. It begins in the early hours of the morning long before dawn when Jesus appears before Pilate. The account in this chapter should be familiar to almost every young child. Because this is a familiar chapter, it is one that we could easily overlook but without it, we are not saved.

Chapter 27

1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: They pronounced the official sentence of death on Jesus of Nazareth for the crime of blasphemy. 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. They could not execute Him because of the rule of the Romans so they had to put this in Pilate's hands. 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Judas was as clueless as his fellow disciples. What did he expect the outcome would be? Had he not paid attention to the ongoing conflict between the Lord and the religious leaders? 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. They didn't care! The devil doesn't care when you get yourself in a fix. That's the time when his ruthless nature comes out the most. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. What a waste! 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. What hypocrites! It is the price of blood that THEY are going to shed. Jesus well said of them that they omitted the weightier matters of the Law (chapter 23). 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. "Potter Fields" are still in use today to bury the unknown and poor that can't afford the normal cemetery. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me. Actually, the prophecy came out of the Book of Zechariah. The commentators have various reasons for why Matthew gave the credit to Jeremiah but the reality is, here is another prophecy, very specific prophecy, of Messiah which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Zechariah 11:12-13 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

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Pilate interrogates Jesus without success because He would answer none of his questions. This no doubt marveled Pilate because he expected Jesus to beg for His life. 15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? Pilate tries to release Jesus but the people want Barabbas, a terrorist, instead of the Messiah. 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. Since he KNEW this, he was no longer guiltless and must share the blame for the death of the Lord Jesus. 19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. Up to the end, the Lord made a way for Pilate to escape this. Yes, it is true that Jesus was destined for the cross but that didn't mean he had to be part of it. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Who were these people who spoke such a curse upon themselves? They spoke this curse upon the whole country for it was soon destroyed. {MacArthur} "The Jews accepted the blame for the execution of Jesus and did not hold the Romans responsible." 26 Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Pilate, showing political motivation and no courage of conviction, delivers Jesus to be crucified to content the people. Who were these people that made up the multitude? Were these the same ones that had received Him into the city only days earlier? Some have put forth the theory that these were chosen people sympathetic to the council, "yes men." The common people were not out at this hour of the night but were in bed with their families. Luke brings out that by the time He was on the road to Calvary, the common people were out to support Him. Luke 23:27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. 28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. 29 And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! 30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. 31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. The soldiers cruelly torture Jesus by beating Him nearly to death (Jews used 39 stripes but Romans had no limit and these were Roman soldiers). They spit on Him. They hit Him on the head with a reed. They put a crown of thorns on His head. They mocked Him. Then, after the beatings and humiliation, they led Him out to finish the job ­ execution by crucifixion. This

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verse is also in fulfillment of Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Also, the events of this entire terrible night are in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:5-8 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 32 And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. Jesus carries His cross to Calvary. Along the way, the soldiers tell Simon of Cyrene, a Jew, born at Cyrene, on the north coast of Africa, who was returning from the country, to bear the cross when Jesus himself was unable to carry it any longer. Mark describes him as the father of Alexander and Rufus, perhaps because this was the Rufus known to the Roman Christians in Romans 16:13. 33 And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, 34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. This drink was a pain killer used to help the accused through the execution pain. Jesus, however, chose to bear it all for our sakes. Thank you, Jesus! The term "Calvary" is from the Latin word "calvaria" which also means "skull." MYTH: MacArthur points out that no where in the Gospels is Golgotha mentioned as a hill. 35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. Jesus is crucified at 9:00 in the morning. The Roman day began at 6:00 in the morning and ended at 6:00 in the evening. Jesus was crucified at the third hour of the day according to the Gospel of Mark. The last part of this verse is in fulfillment of Psalm 22:18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 36 And sitting down they watched him there; {Clarke} "[This was done] to prevent His disciples or relatives from taking away the body or affording any relief to the Sufferer." 37 And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. This is slightly contradictory to the other gospels but does not add or detract from our salvation. Every criminal had their crime clearly displayed above them as a warning to others who might try the same thing. Jesus' accusation was a sarcastic statement by Pilate. 38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. 39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, 40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. 41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. 44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Actually, it was only one of them for the other found repentance on the cross.

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45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. The extreme darkness began at noon (the sixth hour according to the Roman clock) and continued until 3:00. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. In fulfillment of Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. They attempted to give Him something to drink because, as stated in another Gospel, He said, "I thirst." 49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Since the Jews did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah and Malachi had prophesied that Elijah would come before the great day of the Lord, they sarcastically want to see if Elijah will show up. Since they didn't believe in Jesus, they didn't expect anything to happen. 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. Jesus hung on the cross bleeding from the nail prints and struggling to get air by pulling Himself up. Crucifixion was a slow painful death where the convicted person died from suffocation. Because of the cruel punishment of Jesus, however, He died from blood loss and from His personal will to fulfill the Scripture. That's why He "gave up the ghost" before they had a chance to break His legs in order to hasten death. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Only Matthew records these events in his Gospel. These events could especially be appreciated by Jewish readers for the veil of the Temple was something they were well familiar with and the saints of old were Jewish heroes of the Old Testament. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. The centurion, a captain over 100, confesses that Jesus was the Son of God. How did he come to this revelation? First, the superscription that Pilate wrote over Jesus stated that He was Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. He had probably also heard the real crime of blasphemy ­ stating that He was the Son of God. But when he saw all that occurred at the death of Jesus, he could not help but come to the conclusion that this was indeed some notable person, the Son of God. One would only wonder, at least I do, if this centurion was Cornelius of Acts 10. 55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. Mary Magdalene had been delivered from seven demons by Jesus (Luke 8:2). The other two women were mothers of the disciples who had already scattered. However, according to the Gospel of John, the disciple John must have returned at some point to the cross. 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be

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delivered. Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man, an honorable counselor, a member of the same Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus, came for the body of Jesus and placed It in his own tomb. Even though he was a member of the Sanhedrin, Luke says that he did not consent unto the death of Jesus. Luke 23:51a (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;). How can this be since Mark says that ALL condemned Him to be guilty of death (Mark 14:64)? Some say that Joseph and Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin, must have refused to be present at the meeting. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. This verse provides fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. These saw Jesus go into the tomb and saw Him after His resurrection. They were to be eye witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. {Clarke} "While these wicked men are fulfilling their own vicious counsels, they are subversing the great cause of Christianity. Everything depended on the resurrection of Christ. If it did not appear that He rose from the dead, then the whole system was false, and no atonement was made. It was necessary, therefore, that the chief priests should make use of every precaution to prevent an imposture, that the resurrection of Christ might have the fullest evidence to support it." These became eye witnesses of the resurrection from the secular point of view. 65 Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66 So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. Pilate put the security of the tomb back in the hands of the religious leaders since they had a militia (Temple guard) that they could use for these purposes. I can see Pilate's frustration with the events of the day and, no doubt, himself at what he had done.

As we conclude this great Gospel, this chapter brings us the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, His final days on earth, and His charge to the church.

Chapter 28

1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. What day of the week this occurred on is completely irrelevant. Some get into worrying about this as if it would save their soul! The "other Mary" was Mary, the mother of James and Joses. She was at the cross with Jesus in the prior chapter. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. {JF&B} "And this was the state of things when the women drew near. Some judicious critics think all this was transacted while the women were approaching; but the view we have given, which is the prevalent one, seems

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the more natural. All this august preparation--recorded by Matthew alone--bespoke the grandeur of the exit which was to follow. The angel sat upon the huge stone, to overawe, with the lightning-luster that darted from him, the Roman guard, and do honor to his rising Lord." Jesus has finished His ministry. He has fulfilled what God promised Adam and Eve in the garden and what He promised all mankind. He is not the same, He is the Victor! As the Victor, He does not announce Himself but God sent an angel in full angelic display to roll back the stone for the King of King to victoriously walk out of the tomb! 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. How ironic that the angel didn't mind causing great fear to the enemies of the Lord but, in a tender manner, approached these women who loved Jesus so dearly to "fear not". 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. This is the central theme of Christianity and our salvation. We are saved because of this verse ­ HE IS RISEN. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem and buried outside of Jerusalem in Joseph's new tomb (Arimathaea was about 20 miles from Jerusalem so the tomb was probably near by). After appearing to His disciples in Jerusalem, He leaves the region and does not reappear until He is in Galilee, the base of His ministry especially in Matthew. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. What a joyous reunion by these women that loved Jesus so! They did not desert Him as His chosen men had but stayed with Him to the end and came to the tomb early to take care of Him. How appropriate it is that they should be the first to see the risen Savior. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. {JF&B} "The brethren here meant must have been His brethren after the flesh (compare Mt 13:55); for His brethren in the higher sense (see John 20:17) had several meetings with Him at Jerusalem before He went to Galilee, which they would have missed if they had been the persons ordered to Galilee to meet Him." Jesus instructs these women of Galilee to prepare the other sons of Mary and Joseph to prepare for His return. (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. Also look at Galatians 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.) 11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. In the midst of the joy of this chapter, we have this pitiful event that easily brings anger. These had SEEN the resurrection of Jesus. They had SEEN the angel come down. They went and TOLD all of these events and the leaders of the people HEARD these things. They had to KNOW that they had crucified the Messiah but instead of repenting and hoping for God's mercy, they went to cover up these events! {JF&B} "The wonder is that so clumsy and incredible a story lasted so long. But those who are resolved not to come to

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the light will catch at straws. JUSTIN MARTYR, who flourished about A.D. 170, says, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, that the Jews dispersed the story by means of special messengers sent to every country." 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. There's a large time gap between this verse and the prior verse which is brought out in Luke and John in their gospels. However, for his audience, Matthew has said as much as need be said. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. This dysfunctional order started here and remains in the church. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. May the Lord add a blessing to the reading of His Word.

© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

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© Maurice A. West ­ 2003

e-mail: [email protected]

The audio tapes of this series are available upon request to the author at West Side Church of God in Christ, 228 S. Hinkley Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 61102 or electronically at the above e-mail address

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