Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Fifteen: Jesus Moves On   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible
Story

Chapter Fifteen:

Jesus Moves On



FAITH UNMATCHED

     The Gospel of Luke tells us that after Jesus had ended
teaching the people (which we have seen was His disciples and not
the general crowds), He moved on to the town of Capernaum. In
this town there was a centurion. What was a centurion? Well, the
Roman army was made up of "legions" of soldiers, a legion being
about six thousand men. There were ten divisions of about six
hundred men to a legion. Each division was divided into three
units (two hundred men to a division) and each was divided into
two centuries of men, each under the command of a centurion. So a
centurion was an army man in charge of 100 men of war. The
centurions were always chosen from among Romans who were stable
and reliable and who had demonstrated their courage and maturity.

The army in Judea consisted of Italian and Syrian troops.
Generally no Jews served in the Roman army, hence the Roman
troops and centurions were none Israelites.

     Now, this centurion in the town of Capernaum had a slave who
was very dear to him. But the slave got sick and was close to
dying, so he asked elders from among the Jews to go to Jesus and
ask Him to come and heal his slave. The elders said to Jesus,
"This centurion loves our people and even built us a synagogue.
He is very worthy to receive your help and for you to come and
heal his slave, please we implore you to come and heal this man's
slave."
     Jesus was somewhat impressed by their words and decided to
go to Capernaum. When He was not far from the centurion's house,
the army officer sent some of his friends to Jesus with these
words, "Lord, please do not trouble yourself, for I am not
worthy to receive you into my house, that's why I did not come
myself to you. But I know that if you just say the word my
servant will be healed. For I know what having authority is like,
as I am a man set under authority, yet I have authority over
soldiers under me. I say to one, 'go,' and he goes; and to
another 'come,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'do this,' and he
does it."

     Jesus was humanly stunned at these words, waited for a
moment and then said, "I tell you all, not even in Israel have I
found such faith."
     When those who had been sent by the centurion returned to
the house, they found the slave healthy and healed from his near
death sickness (Luke 7: 1-10).

JESUS RAISES A DEAD MAN

     It was not long after this event that Jesus went with His
disciples and a great crowd following Him, to the town of Nain.
As He got close to the city gates He saw a man being carried out
who had died, the only son of his mother, a widow. A very large
crowd from the city of Nain was with this widow. It was obvious
to Jesus and all, that the widow was in great grief, she was
crying.
     "Do not weep," said Jesus to the mother.  And He came and
touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.  Looking at the
dead man He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." At these
words the young man sat up and began talking. And Jesus turned
him over to his mother.
     The people stood there with dumbfounded amazement and even
fear, some saying, "Oh, indeed a mighty and great prophet has
arisen among us!" and "God has surely visited His people!" 
     After this miracle the report concerning Jesus spread like
wildfire throughout all Judea and the surrounding country (Luke
7: 11-17).

JOHN THE BAPTIST AND HIS QUESTION

     John the Baptist had baptized Jesus, had seen the heavens
open and the Spirit like as a dove descend on Jesus. At that time
he really knew who the Messiah was, but with time passing and the
human heart can leading to "human doubts." Maybe John thought
Jesus would have done things differently than what He did, well
no matter what the reasoning was in the mind of John, he was now
not so sure that this Jesus man was the promised Messiah.
     By the time we reach this point in the ministry of Jesus,
John had been put in prison, and from prison he sent two of his
former disciples to the Lord Jesus with this question, "John the
Baptist has sent us to you with this question, 'Are you the one
who was to come, or shall we look for another yet to come?' "
     Luke in his Gospel records that in that very hour of this
question being asked, Jesus cured many of deceases and plagues
and evil spirits, and to many that were blind He restored to them
their sight.  Then after all that, Jesus answered them saying,
"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive
their sight, the lame walk again, lepers are cleansed, the deaf
do hear once more, and even the dead are raised to life again,
the poor in material wealth have the Gospel preached to them. And
blessed indeed is he who is not offended in me."

     The messengers of John went there way back to tell all these
things to him. After they had gone, Jesus thought it was the
appropriate time to tell the crowds about John and who he really
was or where he fit into the prophetic Scriptures of old.

     "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed
shaken by the wind, weak and unstable? What did you really want
to see? A man clothed in soft and fine raiment? Ah, those who are
dressed in gorgeous apparel and live in luxury are those in
kings' courts. What did you go out to see? A prophet? Oh yes, I
tell you he was more than a prophet. For this was he of whom it
was written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who
shall prepare your way before you come on the scene (Malachi 3:
1).' I tell you, among all those born of women none has been and
is greater than John; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of God
is greater than he." 

     When many heard this, including some tax collectors, they
knew it had been right for them in the sight of God to have been
baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the lawyer scribes had
rejected God's purpose and design and refused to accept John as
from God and thus would not be baptized by him (Luke 7: 18-30).

     Matthew in his Gospel account adds more insight into this
occasion which is well worth noting.  He records Jesus as clearly
stating that, "And if you will accept it, he (talking of John the
Baptist) is the Elijah who was to come. He that has ears to hear
with, should make sure he hears" (Mat. 11: 14).
     Yes, Malachi the prophet of old had it revealed to him by
God that someone in the power and the spirit of the old famous
Elijah the prophet, would come, to prepare the hearts of the
people , so they would be really to note who the Messiah was and
to accept His teachings (Malachi chapter 3).
     The old original Elijah had died centuries earlier. He was
still dead. It was not going to literally be the original Elijah
that somehow would be resurrected to life, that would come back
to earth, but someone of like godliness and boldness (see Matthew
17: 9-13). In this account in Matthew 17, of Elijah and Moses
appearing with Jesus you will note it was a VISION, something
seen with the minds eye, not an actual physical reality. 
And there again Jesus makes it clear that John the Baptist was
the promised Elijah to come, and the disciples then understood it
all.

     The other addition Matthew records are these somewhat
strange words that Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist
until now the Kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of
violence take it by force" (Mat.17: 12).

     There have been various thoughts of interpretation as to
what Jesus meant by these words. Some think He was referring to
the violent death of John (having his head taken off) and the
violent death of Jesus (to come later), by the hands of basically
hurtful and violent in nature, persons. This could possibly be
understood that way, but I feel the context, somewhat before, but
certainly afterwards, in Matthew's Gospel, lends itself to
understand Jesus' words here as explained by Albert Barnes in his
Bible Commentary.

     "From the days that John began to preach.....He says that
there was a great RUSH, or a CROWD pressing to hear John.
Multitudes went out to hear him, as if they were about to take
the kingdom of heaven by force.  See Mat.3: 5. So, says He, it
has
continued. Since the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, or the GOSPEL, has been
preached, there has been a RUSH to it. Men have been EARNEST
about it.; they have come PRESSING to obtain the blessing, as if
they would take it by violence. There is an allusion here to
the manner in which cities were taken. Besiegers PRESSED upon
them with violence, and demolished the walls. With such
EARNESTNESS and VIOLENCE, He says, men had pressed around Him and
John, since they began to preach.....multitudes had thronged
around Him and John to hear the gospel" (emphasis was by Albert
Barnes, who used italics in his commentary, where I used
capitals).

     Jesus also said that "violent men take it (the Kingdom of
heaven) by force." This corresponds to Luke 16: 16.
     Men must have a forceful mindset of really wanting to enter
the Kingdom. They must "hunger and thirst after righteousness" -
obey God, live by His every word (we have seen already Jesus'
teaching on all this in the sermon on the mount), be more truly
righteous than the scribes and the Pharisees. They must be
forcefully determined to enter the Kingdom by the small gate, the
narrow pathway. They must add to their faith in earnest desire
all the things Peter admonished us to add to make our calling and
election sure (2 Peter 1: 3-11).

     To Jesus entering the Kingdom, inheriting the Kingdom, was
not as easy as falling off a log. It would mean a person had to
have a forceful, pressing, eager desire, to believe IN Jesus and
also to believe ON Jesus....to trust and obey!

WHAT JESUS THOUGHT OF HIS GENERATION

     Jesus had now been preaching for some time. He had been to
many towns and cities, proclaiming the good news of salvation and
the Kingdom of God. He had done many a miracle and even raised to
life a few that had died. Yet, despite all this a lot of the
people and certainly a lot of the religious leaders were not
"happy" with Jesus. So, He finally looked around and said to all
within hearing distance, "To what shall I compare the people of
this generation, and what are they like in attitude of mind? They
are like children sitting in the market square or at the shopping
mall, calling to one another, 'We have piped and played our
musical instruments, but you did not dance to our tunes; we
wailed out our songs of depression, but you did not weep with
us.' "
     Jesus went on with these words: "For John the Baptist has
come to you eating no fine bread and food and drinking no wine;
and you have said of him, 'He has a demon.' The Son of man has
come eating fine food and drinking wine; and you say of Him,
'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and
sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by all her children" (Luke 7:
31-35).

     Jesus was telling them here that most of them had little
wisdom. They had certain facts, oh yes, they knew about and had
seen both John and Jesus in action, certain facts they had, but
they could not put them together to make good godly wisdom of it
all. They had preconceived theological ideas of what a prophet of
God should be like and act and live like in their outward
physical life style. They couldn't accept John because he lived
in the wilderness and did not partake of the normal food of the
city dwellers, and didn't even dress like most people, then add
to all that he didn't drink wine. To them he was an outsider, a
man from the "backwoods" as we might say today, someone from the
hills of Kentucky, a "hill-billy" man. And with their view of
"religion" such a man could not possibly be sent from God, so he
must have an unclean spirit within him, possessed with a demon.
     Then, they looked at Jesus. Here was this fellow saying He
was from God, His disciples claiming He was the Messiah to come.
Now, He ate very well, even having meals with "rich folk" at
times in their homes. He also drank wine quite often it seemed.
And He would befriend and keep company with the despised tax
collectors and with the sexual sinners (such as prostitutes) down
on "skid-row" - the ones "across the tracks" from the so-called
"good normal people." To them this fellow called Jesus was a
glutton and a drunkard or an alcoholic, maybe all three together.

     They were wrong of course on every count. They failed to see
that many of the prophets in the Old Testament were not from the
"normal" city dwellers, but from the country-side, from farms and
from the wide open spaces. They failed to see that many of the
old prophets lived out in the country much of the time. They
failed to see that God does not require everyone to look, dress,
eat, and live in the city, as clones of each other. They failed
to see that such outward signs and differences in people, do not
automatically make them from God or from the Devil.
     They failed to see that God does not demand or teach that
you should never enjoy a fine meal with lots of fine food and
wine. They failed to see how at times their great godly kings
such as David lived from time to time, and certainly Solomon (who
was blessed by God, in a physical way, while he walked with God,
more than anyone).

     They had a totally wrong theological mindset as to what on
the outward physical life style, a man of God should be like. And
if it did not fit their preconceived ideas they were ready to
call those who taught and lived differently than their theology,
either from Satan himself or a wild drunken party type fellow.
     They certainly lacked Biblical knowledge, or they were so
set in their ways, with their man made standards of the physical,
that indeed they had no wisdom.

     Sadly, there are some Christian religions today that have
"set physical rules" as to what makes a "Christian."  Some teach
card playing is wrong, some teach going to a movie theatre (even
a fine wholesome movie) is wrong, some say dancing (even between
husband and wife) is sin. Some teach drinking wine or any
alcoholic drink is sin. Some teach wearing colored clothes is
wrong and wear all black. Others will not have a TV or radio
because to them such things are from the Devil. And on and on it
goes.
     It was no different in Jesus' day. It seemed with many that
no matter what you did, how you lived your life in the physical
(that nowhere was forbidden by God), you could not please them.
If you didn't fit in with their physical theology of what was
right and wrong, you could not possibly be sent and inspired of
God.
     Many in so thinking, lost out on the Kingdom of God, their
lack of wisdom kept them from the one true door to the sheep
fold. We need to be very careful we do not make the same mistake.

JESUS BEMOANS THREE CITIES BUT GIVES HOPE TO OTHERS

     Still thinking along the same thoughts of how deceived and
deluded most of the people were, Jesus zeros in on three cities
He had openly taught in and done mighty miracles in,  yet they
had still not repented.

     "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the
mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they
would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell
you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre
and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted
to heaven? Oh, no, you shall be brought down to hades (the
grave). For if the mighty works done in you had been done in
Sodom, it would have remained to this very day. But I tell you
that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the
land of Sodom than for you" (Matthew 11: 20-24).

     This section of Scripture is very important in noting the
plan of salvation that God has for the world and for all peoples
who have ever lived in all nations on the earth. Most people read
right over this section and do not comprehend the importance of
the words Jesus spoke.
     He is speaking of a day called "THE judgment" or "THE day of
judgment." You will notice Jesus said it would be more TOLERABLE
for some than others. This word "tolerable" means, to be tolerate
towards, to be acceptable towards, to be allowable to people, to
be fair, to be gracious towards. You will also note that some
cities never saw the works of God, never really had a chance to
repent, to come to know what sin was, what the laws of God were,
what they were doing wrong, and to turn and repent of those
sins. The cities Jesus bemoaned were cities that had been given
and seen the might miracles of God and also had the truths of God
proclaimed to them.

     When we understand the plan of salvation that God has for
all mankind, when we understand the meaning of the great Feasts
of the Lord as recorded in Leviticus 23. When we understand that
as Jesus later said, no one can come to the Father UNLESS
the Spirit of God draws them, opens up their mind to the truths
and the word of the Lord. When we understand all people are
blinded, as Paul would explain to the church at Rome in Romans
chapters 9 through 11, that people cannot come under grace and
salvation unless God removes that blindness through His Spirit,
usually by the means of teaching and preaching from the human
people God sends forth with His word (Romans 10: 17-21). When we
understand all these things, and that God will have mercy upon
all that are in unbelief and blindness, but in His time frame
(Romans 11: 32), then we can understand what Jesus was saying
here in Matthew chapter eleven.

     The book of Revelation, in the 20th chapter, tells us there
will one day, after the 1,000 year reign of Christ on this earth,
come a time of a great general resurrection of all peoples. The
books (Greek is "biblios" - where we get the word Bible from)
will be opened, and the tree of life, will be available to them.
They will see the word of the Lord, they will have salvation
offered to them, when in their first physical life they were
blinded and had not seen the works of the Lord or heard the
preaching of God's truths to them.  It will be "tolerable" for
them, mercy and a tolerate heart will be shown them. God will
accept that they lived and died without knowing or even being
given a chance to repent of their sins. 
     And Jesus says that at that time, in that judgment, when
they do see the miracles and works and the words of the Lord,
those blinded and yes sinful cities of old, will fast repent.
Jesus knew their hearts and minds and attitudes deep within. He
knew they were of such a mind, that when given in the future the
works and words of God, they will readily repent. But, the mind
and heart of some of the cities where Jesus did do the mighty
works of God, and did preach the wonderful ways to salvation,
were such, were so hardened, so stiff-necked (see again Romans
10: 17-21), that they would be put to shame by the quick
repentance of old sinful city people like that of Sodom, when
they would come up in a resurrection on that judgment day, to be
given the words of God and have the book of life opened to them.

JESUS REMEMBERS THOSE WHO DID BELIEVE AND REPENT

     Then again, it was not all unsuccessful what Jesus had done
and taught. Some did indeed listen, hear, and did repent. They
did come to the knowledge of the truths Jesus was telling them,
and did decide to not only believe IN Him but to also believe ON
Him. Jesus was now about to remember such people, yet He also
knew that it was the Father who had called, removed the
blindness, and given grace to them.

     "I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have
hidden these things from those who are wise and understanding in
their own minds and have revealed them to babes of humility and
repentance. Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All
things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows
the Son except the Father, and on one knows the Father except the
Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him" (Mat.11:
25-27).

     We need to note here that it is both the Son of God and God
Himself who act as one unit to reveal and open up the mind of
people to see and accept their salvation (see also John 6: 44),

     Jesus continued: "Come to me, all you who are heavy ladened
with burdens of all kinds, and I will give you rest and peace of
heart. Come and take my chains upon you, and learn of me, for I
am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest and peace
for your lives. For my chain is easy, and my burden is light"
(Mat.11: 28-30).

     Jesus did not say that coming to Him would free you of
troubles, burdens, trials, a chain or two that life often lays
upon us, but He did promise that with Him, and whatever life
throws at us, the burdens would be bearable. You would be able to
go through them with a gentle peace of heart, and not be boiling
mad (ready to burst a blood vessel), or worried so silly you are
paralyzed with fear, or so depressed you cannot get off the
floor. He promised that with Him life would be easier to live and
burdens lighter to bear.

     You may be asking yourself, "What is the difference between
believing IN and ON Jesus, or the other way around, believing ON
Jesus and believing IN Jesus?"
     The Greek word "en" is often translated and often means,
"INTO." We can think of it this way ... ON is "surface" while IN
is "within" - "inside of." Many can believe on the surface of
Jesus, they can believe God exists, believe Jesus once lived on
earth, believe that He was a great man, with great powers, even a
prophet from God. They can believe all this, and James was
inspired to tell us that the demons believe God is, believe on,
but they still tremble (James 2:19). Their believing ON the facts
that a person exists, and can do miracles, is only SURFACE
belief, a surface belief in the polish, but is not  DEEP, WITHIN,
INSIDE belief of the very nature of the wood.
     Many people I have known over the years have told me they
believed there is a God, but that belief on God did nothing to
their inner character of thoughts, reasoning, speaking, and
actions of life - they still went their own way doing their own
things, without any thought of whether God approved of their
thoughts, words, and actions. Their surface believing on God, did
not effect their life.
     Those people who also with the belief on the existance and
power and glory and holiness of God, have a belief that is IN,
inside, within, into, the God of heaven and Jesus Christ His Son,
within an analogy, they eat the flesh and drink the blood of
Jesus and the Father. They will make them both, and what they
are, their nature and character of mind, a PART of themselves.
They will go INSIDE of God the Father and Jesus, find what makes
them "tick" as we say, and want to "tick" with them and as them,
in their lives (words, mind, thoughts, actions). They will then
be partakers of not only the surface skin of Jesus, but partakers
of His very inner being. Jesus once put it this way to His
followers, as we read in John chapter 4, starting with verse 53.
Jesus said that unless His disciples ate His flesh and drank His
blood they were no part of Him, and those who did eat His flesh
and drank His blood DWELT in Him and He in them.
     Some of His followers could not understand this analogy of
Jesus' and thought He was meaning something of a literal sense -
many walked away from Jesus at this point in His ministry, and as
He Himself said, He knew from the beginning who they were that
believed NOT, believed not into the inner-most being of Himself.
They only had a surface belief, just ON the surface, not IN, or
into His very being of character and mind.
     Jesus was not teaching a literal eating of Himself, for He
went on to explain in verse 63 that it was a "spiritual" inner
matter that He was talking about, and making His WORDS (hence the
Bible) a part of your inner being. Jesus was God's WORD
personified - taking God's word and putting it into a flesh and
blood body so to speak. 
     Believing IN Jesus is living His word - God's Word - the
Bible, living by every word of God as Jesus said in Matthew 4:4.
It will INCLUDE believing ON Jesus automatically, but you could
believe ON the surface and yet never believe INSIDE of Jesus.
Believing IN Jesus includes the "on" part but believing only ON
does not automatically include the "in" part.

     We as true children of the Father need to believe IN Jesus,
and then our whole life will revolve around being fully INSIDE of
their nature and character. Then we shall DWELL IN Jesus and He
will DWELL IN us (see also John 14:23).

THE PARABLE OF A CREDITOR FORGIVING TWO DEBTORS

     One of the more friendly Pharisees one day asked Jesus to
eat with him in his house. Jesus accepted. While they were
eating, a woman of the city, one of the prostitutes,  learned
that Jesus was eating a meal in the house of this Pharisee. She
came to the house with an alabaster container of ointment, and
stood weeping behind Jesus, at His feet. She realized she was a
sinner of great magnitude. She began to wet Jesus' feet with her
tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and also kissed
His feet and anointed them with the ointment she had brought with
her.
     At seeing all this the Pharisee indignantly thought within
himself, "Why, if this man was truly a prophet from God, he would
surely have known what sort of a woman was touching him, a woman
who is a great sinner."
     Jesus knowing what the man was thinking to himself answered
him saying:

     "Simon, I have something to say to you. A certain creditor
had two debtors; one owed him a hundred dollars, and the other
owed him 10,000 dollars. When they could not pay him back, he
forgave them both of their debts. Now Simon, which of the two
will love him the most?"
     Simon answered without much hesitation, "Why, I suppose the
one whom he forgave the most, the one who owed him 10,000
dollars." Jesus replied, "Oh, yes you have answered and judged
rightly." Then turning and looking at the woman He said to
Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave
me no water to wash my feet as is the custom and polite thing to
do, but she has wet them with her tears and dries them with her
hair. You gave me no kiss as is the custom, but she has kissed
my feet continually over and over again. You did not anoint my
head with oil as is often done, but she has anointed my feet with
ointment she brought herself. So I tell you, her sins, which
indeed are many, are forgiven for she loved much; but he who is
forgiven little  loves little. "
     Then looking at her with kindness and mercy He said to her,
"Your sins are forgiven."
     At these words those sitting with Him at the table looked at
each other and among each other began to say, "Who is this
person, who forgives the sins of people?"
     But Jesus looked again at the woman and told her, "Your
faith has saved you; go in peace" (Luke 7: 36-50).

     When God opens the mind and starts to reveal His word and
truths to people, it is often the largest sinners (as we humans
look upon certain sins, like sexual sins) who can clearly see
they are sinners and in need of forgiveness, that are first to
cry (even literally like this woman above) out and come to God in
humble repentance.  Those of us who grow up in nice "respectable"
families, with "good" parents, maybe going to "church" once a
week, and just live middle of the road, average lives in
"acceptable" communities as decent law abiding citizens, often
find it difficult to see themselves in the light of God's
Holiness, often find it difficult to acknowledge we also are
sinners, and in comparison to God, all our human righteousness is
but filthy rags.

     Jesus could and did have the authority to "forgive sins"
because He was God in the flesh. He was as we have seen in
previous chapters, Immanuel, which means "God with us."  Later in
the Gospels we shall again see how some people thought Jesus was
blaspheming and even sinning by saying He could forgive sins; for
they knew only God could forgive sins, and they just would not
accept that Jesus was a member of the Godhead, that He was a part
of what we call "God" - a God member come to earth as a flesh and
blood human.

JESUS HAD WOMEN DISCIPLES

     Many mistakenly think that all the disciples that followed
Jesus around Palestine were all men. The truth of the matter is
that some of those disciples were women. Here is what Luke wrote:

     "Soon afterwards He went through cities and villages,
preaching and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God. And
the twelve were with Him, AND ALSO SOME WOMEN who had been healed
of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary, called Magdalene,
from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of
Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and MANY OTHERS, who
provided for them out of their means" (Luke 8: 1-3).

     Wow, Jesus even had a wife of Herod's steward as part of His
overall companions and disciples. Some in pretty high places of
the elite of the world came to understand the truths of God, so
much so that they became part of the whole of those who followed
Jesus around the country. Luke says there were many other women
also. And why not indeed. God is no respecter of persons. He
created both man and woman. All can be His children. God is going
to have not only sons but DAUGHTERS in His family (see what
Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 6: 17, 18).
     These women provided that womanly touch, provided what women
as so good at, making sure you have your clothes washed and
mended, good cooked meals (even if it was over the camp fire many
times), and all the hundred and ones things that they do in
making a family happy and a pleasure to belong to. We must
remember that with all the disciples following Jesus around all
the time from city to city, village to village, it was indeed
like one large family. It was important that women be a part of
this family. And they most certainly were as Luke tells us.

JESUS AT HOME AND HEALS A BLIND AND DUMB DEMONIAC

     Jesus thought it was time to return  home. We suppose when
Mark put it this way in his Gospel, he was referring to the town
of Nazareth. Such a large crowd surrounded Him that it was even
impossible to evan sit and eat a meal. In fact Jesus' friends,
when they heard about the situation went out to pull Him away
from the crowd, for they thought "He is beside Himself" with
knowing how to cope with so many people all around Him that
He could not even eat a meal (Mark 3: 19-21).
     
     Then, before His friends could catch Him away, someone in
the crowd brought forth a man who was not only possessed of a
demon but could not speak and was blind. Jesus healed the man so
he could both speak and see. All the people round about were
amazed, and began to say among themselves, "Can this be the son
of David?"
     The people were saying this because it was becoming clear to
them that no mere human man could do these things that they were
seeing, but only someone from God, with the power of God in him. 
     Then the Pharisees heard what the people were saying to each
other, and they then said, "It is only by the power of Beelzebub,
the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons."
     Jesus, knowing full well what they were thinking, said to
them, "Every kingdom or government divided against itself will
fall, and no city or house divided against itself can stand; and
if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then
can his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by
whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your
judges. But on the other hand if it is by the Spirit of God that
I cast out demons, then truly the Kingdom of God has come to you.
Or how can someone enter a strong man's house, unless he first
binds up the strong man? Then he indeed can plunder his house. He
who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with
me just scatters abroad" (Mat.12: 22-30).

     Jesus was from God, He was doing everything by the power of
the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. Satan does evil and harm,
that is what he is all about, Jesus was doing good, helping and
restoring lives, giving health, delivering people from the power
of demons. It was ridiculous to think Jesus was doing all this
through the working of Satan. 
     And then we have the clear basic fact that if you are not on
Jesus side, on His team, you are working against Him. You may not
be doing so with a deliberate set mind, but those who are not
with Jesus are living and often thinking and reasoning contrary
to all that He and the Father stand for. Hence if you are not on
Jesus' team you are on the opposing team. The Pharisees in the
main were on the opposite side to Jesus. Let's make sure we are
with Jesus and not against Him.

THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

     Jesus had not finished telling the Pharisees some very
important up front information. Continuing from where Jesus left
off, He said:

     "Therefore I tell you, every sin or evil speaking can be
forgiven - except evil speaking against the Holy Spirit, which
can never be forgiven. Anyone who evil speaks against me, the Son
of man, can be forgiven, but evil speaking against the Holy
Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this age or the age to
come. A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and
its fruit will also be good. Make a tree bad and its fruit will
also be bad. You bunch of snakes! How could it be possible that
evil men like you could speak what is good and right? For
whatever is in your heart determines what comes out of your mouth
in the words you say. A good person brings forth good words from
a good heart, and an evil person brings forth evil words from an
evil heart. And I tell you this, that you must give an account on
judgment day of every idle and evil word you have spoken. The
words you now say reflect your fate then, either you will be
justified, be in right standing with God, or you will be
condemned to die (Mat.12: 31-37).

     Speaking evil against the Holy Spirit has really bothered
some. As Jesus said, doing such can never be forgiven. Some have
been concerned they have literally spoken the "wrong words" at
some point in their life and so they are doomed to never be
forgiven and hence will be condemned on judgment day to die in
the lake of fire (Revelation 20).
     We notice Jesus did say that EVERY SIN and "evil speaking"
(even against Himself as a person, as the Son of man, while He
was walking the earth at that time) CAN be forgiven. The whole
Bible says the same thing. There is not a SINGLE SIN that
cannot be forgiven. But what does the Bible teach as a
fundamental prerequisite to be "forgiven"? The Bible, from
Genesis to Revelation, teaches that REPENTANCE is an
absolute requirement to be forgiven of sins. Upon acknowledging
we have missed the mark, done wrong, done or said evil or sin, we
can REPENT, and God has promised upon heart-felt repentance there
is NO sin that cannot be forgiven.
     Jesus we will notice said of those Pharisees that they were
"evil" and being evil they spoke "evil things" against the Holy
Spirit. Those Pharisees would NOT REPENT! They would not
acknowledge their evil ways and evil words. Here was the Holy
Spirit of God working mightily in Jesus, speaking the truths of
God, doing the magnificent works of God, calling people to REPENT
of their sins, but those Pharisees just would NOT repent, and in
their un-repentant attitude of mind they were even saying that
the "working power" of the Holy Spirit of God, was EVIL and from
Satan the Devil.
     Anyone who will NOT repent when the Holy Spirit is working
to give them the truths and ways of the Father in heaven, anyone
who will not repent when God through His Holy Spirit is calling
them to repentance, just CANNOT then be FORGIVEN! It is only
the humble repentant person that God can look to, that God can
FORGIVE (see Isa. 66: 2; Ps. 103: 8-18; Ps. 1;  Ps.119).  
     Psalm 119 is full of the way of salvation. Grace and mercy
and forgiveness, is given to those who love and serve and
meditate on the laws, commandments, statutes, and precepts of
God. Who love the truth of the word of God. And all of that will
lead one to see their errors and sins, and to REPENT! The New
Testament is full of the truth that we must come to live in an
attitude of mind that is "humble repentance" as a way of life,
a way of the daily heart. If we live the way of life that the
apostle John tells us about in 1 John 1: 6-10 and 2: 1-6, then we
can have full confidence that we have not and never will commit
the "unpardonable sin."
     If, we continue to be of an evil heart and mind,
un-repentant when God's Spirit reveals to us His workings and
truths, we shall bring forth evil fruit, be it in words or
deeds or both, just as the Pharisees were doing. And they were
supposedly "religious."
     When we stand before Jesus on judgment day, it will then
indeed be our words (which is really our heart and mind speaking,
Jesus did say above, "From the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaks") that will make us right before God or make us wrong. If
we are in the wrong it will be because we have been like the
Pharisees, evil and unrepentant, turning our back upon the
working power of the Holy Spirit that reveals light and
righteousness and truth to us, and so in essence saying we want
nothing to do with the Holy Spirit, and that this Holy Spirit is
not from God but from Satan.
     Surely, and indeed it is so, as Jesus said, such an attitude
of un-repentance, can never be forgiven, for God can only forgive
and have mercy upon and show grace to, those who acknowledge that
working power of the Holy Spirit is from Him, and REPENT of their
sins!
     A willingness to let the Holy Spirit work in our lives, to
lead us to truth, to teach us, to correct us, to show us our
errors and sins, and for us to be of a REPENTANT mindset,
is the key. The Pharisees were not of this attitude of mind and
were in danger of being condemned on judgment day. If we are
never like the Pharisees in heart of mind, we shall never be
remotely close to ever committing the unpardonable sin.

THE SIGN OF JONAH - THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHT 

     After all this that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees they put
their tongue in their cheek and probably with sarcasm, said,
"Okay teacher, we wish that you prove who you say you are with a
sign." They wanted a sign like no other, other people had done
miracles similar to Jesus' but they wanted something like moving
the sun back to just above the horizon when it was high in the
sky at noon. They wanted something truly physically spectacular.
     Jesus, probably with some righteous anger for their
unbelief, replied to them, "It is an evil and adulterous
generation of people that seeks for a stupendous sign; but no
such sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet
Jonah. Here's the sign I give. As Jonah was three days and three
nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three
days and three nights in the heart of the earth, the grave"
(Mat.12: 38-40).

     What a sign, the only stupendous miracle sign Jesus would
give to prove He was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. It was
the sign of His resurrection, that after three days and three
nights being dead in the grave, He would come back to life. 
     People have no trouble believing that Jonah was literally in
the belly of the great fish for a literal three days and three
nights. They have no trouble believing Jesus literally fasted for
a literal forty days and forty nights as recorded in the Gospels.
But when it comes to believing He was literally dead in the grave
for literally three days and three nights, for 72 hours, they
just cannot believe that. Most of Christianity believes Jesus
died on a Friday afternoon, put in the grave later that day and
was resurrected early Sunday morning. The time most believe Jesus
was in the heart of the earth is much less than three days and
three nights.
     The truth is when we put together all the verses on this
subject of the length of time Jesus was in the tomb, we see that
Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday afternoon, buried later, what
we call Wednesday evening, and was resurrected on what we call
Saturday evening, making His rest in death in the tomb just
exactly as He said, three days and three nights, a literal 72
hours. As the Gospel writer John tells us in John chapter 20,
when the ladies came to the tomb it was yet DARK that Sunday
morning, and they found the tomb EMPTY, they found that Jesus was
already NOT THERE. Of course He was not there for He had been
resurrected as He said. He had been resurrected Saturday evening,
three days and three nights after being put in the heart of the
earth the previous Wednesday evening.

     Jesus continued to berate, castigate, take to task, the
generation of people He was living among, with similar words that
He had used earlier:

     "The men of Nineveh will rise in THE judgment WITH THIS
generation and shall condemn it; for they REPENTED at the
preaching of Jonah, and behold, someone GREATER than Jonah is
here among you. The Queen of the South will rise in THE judgment
WITH THIS generation and shall condemn it; for she came from the
ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold,
someone GREATER than Solomon is here among you" (Mat.12: 41-42).

     Salvation per se was not given to the people of Nineveh, but
when told by Jonah they had better mend their ways in this life
time or their city, with them in it, was doomed for destruction,
they DID REPENT of their wrong ways and mindset. Yet, the people
in the main, and the religious leaders, would not repent of their
errors and sins, when Jesus, God in the flesh, much greater than
Jonah, was among them telling them to repent. The Queen of the
South, was not given salvation per se, yet she came all the way
from afar to hear what God was doing through Solomon. But those
right next door to Jesus would not come to Him for salvation and
repentance that He was offering. And He was much greater than
Solomon.
     When all these people of old come up in THE judgment
resurrection (mentioned at the end of Revelation chapter 20)
along with most of that generation of people Jesus was living
among, the ones of old, because of their "human attitude"
(something that is often just human and not even God led through
the Holy Spirit) it will be easier to entreat and work with them
and lead them to salvation, relatively speaking, than the ones of
Jesus' time, who saw and heard Him in the flesh. They will be
ashamed and condemned. They will still find it hard to repent,
compared to the ones Jesus gave in His two examples. 

     Still thinking of THAT generation that He lived with and
among, Jesus went on to say:

     "When the unclean evil spirit has gone out of a person, that
evil spirit passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he
finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from where I
came.' And when he does return he finds it empty, swept, and put
in order. Then that evil spirit goes and finds seven more spirits
more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the
last state of that person becomes worse than the first. So shall
it be also with this evil generation" (Mat.12: 43-45).

     Jesus looked beyond His ministry, beyond His death and
resurrection, beyond the first years of the apostles going forth
with power spreading the Gospel, and saw and foretold, that most
would not repent, and accept Him as Messiah and Savior,
especially the scribes and Pharisees. Although many were made
whole, had unclean evil spirits cast out from among them, were
cleansed at least on the physical side of things, but because
they did not PUT the right clean Holy Spirit within them, moving
on from where they were to salvation, they were just empty, easy
targets for not only the original evil spirit to come back and
influence them, but many other evil spirits also. Hence they
would end up worse off than at the beginning.
     So it was for that generation of Jesus' time. By A.D. 70
Titus the great Roman military leader had descended on Judea and
Jerusalem and laid waste the city and killed thousands of Jews. 
It is written that all true Christians had a warning before Titus
and his army arrived, and all fled and escaped with their lives,
but the main populace suffered great slaughter.

JESUS' TRUE MOTHER AND BROTHERS

     Matthew tells us that while Jesus was still speaking to the
people inside where they were gathered, his mother and His
brothers came and stood outside wanting to speak to Him.  "Your
mother and your brothers are outside wanting to talk to you,"
someone said to Him. "Who are my mother and my brothers?" Jesus
replied. "I tell you," looking around at those who were around
Him, "my real mother and brothers are those who hear the
word of God and do His the will. They are my mother, by brother,
and my sister" (Mark 3: 31-35; Luke 8: 19-21).

     Yes, Jesus did of course have a physical mother, her name
was Mary as we saw in earlier chapters. Jesus also had physical
brothers, or to be more technically correct, half brothers. Mary
and Joseph her husband, had a marriage just like most marriages,
they had more children after Jesus was born. We saw in earlier
chapters that it is recorded that Joseph did not "know" Mary (a
Bible way of saying that he did not have sexual relations with
her) until AFTER Jesus was born. But after that event, he did
sleep with Mary his wife and have sexual relations with her, and
they did produce more children themselves, as most married
couples do. Remember it was God the Father not Joseph that was
the "father" of Jesus via the miracle power of the Holy Spirit.  

     Mary did NOT remain a virgin all her life as some teach.
Jesus did have literal brothers. They, with their and Jesus'
mother Mary, came to where He was teaching and wanted to speak to
Him. He used this opportunity of "mother and brothers" to
emphasize how and who His real mother and brothers and sisters
were - it was they who heard the word of God and obeyed it, they
who did the Father's will.

             ..................................

Written September 2002


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