A Voice in the
Teachings of Jesus:
Anointing for Burial: sacrifice & atonement (Mat 26:6-13)
And it happened, when Jesus finished all these sayings, He said to His disciples, You know that the Passover is coming after two days, and the Son of Man is betrayed to be crucified." (vs1-2)
In the past Jesus has already told of His death. In ch16 He has told how He will be betrayed by the religious leaders and be 'killed'. But now He adds a bit more information. If He were to be killed by -only- the Jews, He would be stoned. But now He is adding another detail, "crucified". That indicates a "Roman" style execution.
Over the centuries antisemitic bigotry has labeled the Jews as "Christ killers". It was the 'church' of Rome that commissioned series of Crusades to free the Holy Land from 'pagans', and they also persecuted the "Christ killers". Thing is... THEY, ROME, were the ones who crucified Jesus. It was a Roman ruler, Pilate, who condemned Him. It was Roman soldiers who beat His back to a bloody pulp. And it was Roman spikes that nailed Him to a Roman cross. Yes, the Jewish leadership asked for His death, but Rome did the deed. They were -both- culpable.
You see, God so loved the -WORLD- that He gave His only begotten Son. (Jn3:16) When God looked down from heaven to see if He could find anybody righteous, He saw that -ALL- had "turned aside". (Ps14:1-3) So, the world's condemnation of God's Holy Son to death was a -joint- effort. Both God's 'elect' as well as the 'heathen' world, jointly, crucified Jesus.
These next three chapters of Matthew contain a lot of information about the -events- of the crucifixion. This series from Matthew has been called the "Teachings" of Jesus (from Matthew), not necessarily a historical chronology of the "life of Jesus". Thus, in keeping with that theme, we will concentrate on the passages dealing with Jesus' teaching, words, etc. Somewhat, as though we were considering His words from a red-letter edition of the Bible. In the past we have considered historical aspects, and I expect we will again in the future. Thus, we are not omitting things from God's Word. Also, during the time-frame under consideration, if we are thinking of Jesus' teachings, it might seem appropriate to divert to John's Gospel for the upper room discourse. But again, this series is from 'Matthew'.
With that understanding, we find Jesus and company at Bethany. And a woman comes with "very precious" ointment and pours it on Jesus' head. (vs7) This is a different event from the one where Mary a few days earlier anoints His feet. (Jn12) In both cases, there is indignation from the disciples at such a "waste". In Mary's case, the value was equivalent to a year's wages. In this case, the value is likely even greater. In both cases Jesus shushes the outrage with the fact that these anointings are for His "burial".
In Exodus ch12 is the first Passover. When we considered it in a recent Walk-thru, we observed that many 'tithe' and 'firstfruit' offerings were brought in 'as-is' condition, whether the animal had an illness or blemish. But the Passover lamb was to be "without blemish". It was to be perfect in every respect.
As we see the life Jesus led, they were always at poverty level. Jesus commented that all the animals have their burrows and nests, but the "Son of Man has nowhere He may lay His head." (Mt8:20)
But there were two times when gifts of highest value and quality were given. First, when He was born. The wise men brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Costly things of quality..."fit for a king". After all, they had come seeking the "King of the Jews".
And then, for His burial. Anointed with ointments of highest quality. When the O.T. priests were commissioned for service to atone for the people, they were anointed with special oil. (Ex29:21) The psalmist says, "Behold! How good and how pleasant is the living of brothers, even in unity. It is like the precious oil on the head that ran down on the beard, Aaron's beard, going down to the mouth of his garments.." (Ps133:1-2) When Jesus died, one of the things He accomplished was the "uniting" of Jew and Gentile, alike, to God. Where we (both Jew and Gentile) were at enmity with God, Jesus' death on the cross "reconcile/s both in one body to God through the cross, slaying the enmity in Himself." (Eph2:14-16) Jesus was being anointed for the Sin Offering... Sacrifice of Atonement... going behind the Veil to open the way to the Holy of Holies.
The disciples didn't understand this. All they could see was dollar signs. Just think of how many poor people that money could help! And Jesus responds, "For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me." (vs11)
Notice this statement. There will always be poverty. No matter how many government subsidies there are, or programs to get people on their feet, there will always be need to help the poor. And the early Church made a point of helping the poor, and requested that Paul, the 'rogue' Apostle, do the same. (Gal2:10)
But Jesus is saying to His disciples, I'm a special case. He would not always be around, physically. They did not yet fully understand the significance of His imminent death. But later Peter would write about it, that before that time, even the prophets who wrote the O.T. Scriptures did not understand. But that our redemption comes about "with the -PRECIOUS- blood of Christ, as of an unblemished and unspotted lamb.." (1Pt1:10-12,19)
This anointing of Jesus' head; notice Jesus said that this act by this woman would be recorded for history as a "memorial of her". (vs13) And yet, notice, we are not given a -name- of that woman. People often become upset if they don't have a -name- of the person ministering. I've had people unsubscribe from VW's e-list for the very reason that I don't promote 'me' (this writer), and readily tell them "all about me", so that they can 'judge' me for my credentials or lack of them. That I shouldn't be so "ashamed" of who I am. When people see the printed VW's sitting by the door at my store, they often try to find out "who" writes them? I always give evasive answers, that they are written by one of God's servants, and never say that "I do it". On a couple of occasions they have become rather insistant and vocal, trying to find out "WHO DOES IT???" But I don't answer...
Yes, the woman and her deed would be remembered. But -she- was not the focus. "..but you do not always have Me" ...the Son of God. This time is leading up to the most important event of all time and eternity, when the Son of God would die for sinful man. His preciousness, holiness and sanctification for the event was prepared by His anointing, since He is God's Anointed, the Messiah, our High Priest (Heb8:1)
It is time: Traitor, do your duty (Mat 26:17-25)
The Teacher says, My time is near; toward you I will prepare the Passover with My disciples. (vs18) Mark 14 and Luke 22 tell how Jesus instructs the disciples to follow a man "carrying a pitcher of water" to whatever house he goes to, and basically 'invite themselves' in to prepare the Passover. It always intrigues me how Jesus would send somebody to do something, telling them what would happen, and what to do if they needed contingency plans. Like, when they went to get the donkeys... and He prepared them for the response when the owners would be yelling after them for "stealing" the donkeys.
In that culture, men typically did not carry pitchers of water. That was "women's work". And yet Jesus tells them to follow a "man" carrying water. Why was the man carrying water? I have read some speculations in the past, that the water he was carrying was 'ritual' water for 'purification' purposes. I don't know. But Jesus knew. Just like He knew the owners of the donkeys would release them to 'total strangers' when they knew He needed them. Since Jesus was the fulfillment of centuries of Mosaic rituals, where many things were ritually cleaned in water prior to sacrifice, and so were the priests; was that pitcherful of water for Jesus to use? Had that man received a vision from God to go get the water? An unnamed woman has already 'anointed' Him, God's High Priest. (Heb8:1) Perhaps the water was for other ritual fulfillments?
Whatever the case, the group is now reclined, partaking of Passover. And of all things to talk about, Jesus says, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me." (vs21) Jesus already knew 'who' it was, because He picked him for the very purpose. (10:4, Jn6:64,13:18) The disciples, however, haven't a clue what He is talking about. And so He begins by quoting Scripture, "The one eating the bread with Me lifted up his heel against Me." (Jn13:18,Ps41:9)
They ask around, "Surely it isn't me??" (vs22) And Peter gets John to ask Him, "Who is it?" (Jn13:25) And Jesus responds, "The one dipping the hand with Me in the dish will betray Me." (vs23) "And dipping the morsel, He gave it to Judas Iscariot.." (Jn13:26)
And then Jesus says a little about God's sovereignty, and man's will. The purpose of God is fulfilled, "Indeed, the Son of Man goes, as it has been written about Him." Christ -will- die. It will happen no matter what. God's purpose -will- be fulfilled. But "woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed." (vs24) It would have been good if he had never been born! And Judas, the lying thief, has to cover his tracks, and cannot be different than the rest. He's the only one who by now hasn't asked, "surely not me?" So he asks, "Not I am the one, Rabbi?" You have said it. Judas already knew. He had already contrived with the rulers for 30 pieces of silver. (vs15-16)
Now, quite an interesting thing here. The rulers have been seeking for some time, for opportunity to do away with Jesus, but they are always caught between Jesus' knowledge and power, and the fear of the people who they expect would stone them for taking Jesus into custody (Mt21:26). One time, already, they had tried to stone Him, but He had simply walked away, right through their midst. (Jn8:59) And when Judas contracted to 'help' them, it says of Judas, "..from then he SOUGHT OPPORTUNITY that he might betray Him." (vs16) But Jesus' time was "not yet" ready to be "fulfilled". (Jn7:6,8)
But notice how things unfold. Jesus dips the morsel and gives it to Judas. He confirms Judas' phony query. And then says to him, "What you do, do quickly." (Jn13:27) Judas, you're looking for the right moment? That moment is -NOW-. Go! Do it! You see, even in betrayal, Jesus is in full command of the situation. He was not betrayed. They did not get Him by stealth. He "gave" Himself, (Is50:6) just as the Father 'gave' Jesus for sinful man. (Jn3:16) In the last lesson we considered the matter that both the Romans and Israel crucified Jesus. But they were only able to do so, because Jesus 'gave' Himself into their hands. And this crucifixion process begins when Jesus tells Judas, Go... Now..!
And finally, the ultimate test of exactly "Who" Jesus is as He is crucified. Jesus is setting things up so that in a few days, when it is all over, the disciples will recognize that He told them about it -before- it all happened. Remember that one primary distinguishing feature of the Most High is His "declaring the end from the beginning.." fulfilling His purpose. (Is46:10)
Jesus tells them about His betrayal and glorification, "From this time I tell you before it happens, that when it happens you may believe that I AM." (Jn13:19) As Judas leaves to fulfill his 'assignment', the disciples still haven't a clue as to what is about to happen. (Jn13:28-29) But Jesus now tells them, "Now the Son of Man was glorified, and God was glorified in Him." (vs31)
Once He has been crucified and raised again, and they can see everything in hindsight, then He will "open their mind to understand the Scriptures" (Lk24:45)
Lord's Supper: New Covenant, One Salvation (Mat 26:26-30)
And as they ate, taking the bread and blessing it, Jesus broke and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And taking the cup, and giving thanks, He gave to them, saying, Drink all of it. (vs26-27)
In other years as we have approached the season of Passover, Crucifixion, Resurrection remembrance, we have considered how the Lord's Supper came out of, and was related to Passover. In the 1997 'Tidbits' section of the website we considered in "The Lord's Supper" the various elements of the Passover Seder, and how they are related.
However, based on Paul's words, it would also seem that Jesus is instituting something "new" that a typical Jew would not have been used to with the traditional Passover rituals. Paul was a Jew, remember; trained up as a Pharisee. He would have known all the intricacies of a 'proper' Passover observance. But notice he says, "I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed..." did/said the various things He did. (1Cor11:23) If this was something he "received from the Lord", the context seems obvious that the Lord's Supper is not "the Seder". Yes, it certainly came -from- Passover, and was a -fulfillment- of it; but it was also a "New Covenant in My blood". (Lk22:19-20) Typically, something -new- will have its own unique characteristics and rituals.
While the O.T. Law was detailed in its reckonings of how everything was to be done, down to minute details of utensils, mixtures for incense, anointing oils, etc.; we are not given such details in written form regarding the Lord's Supper. Apparently the early Believers knew these rituals, as it says after He was resurrected that He was recognized in how He broke the bread. (Lk24:30,35) Perhaps these things became 'lost' as the Church became a primarily 'Gentile' entity? Perhaps the important thing is the "remembering" (1Cor11:25), and not so much the -physical- ritual? ...since we are not saved by "works of righteousness" (Tit3:5)
So now, when Jesus says, "this is My body" did that mean the bread was 'literally' Jesus -body-? When it entered their mouths, did it miraculously turn into 'meat' with blood? (As some Catholic 'miracles' claim?) First of all, God would not be behind such a miracle, because He made it -quite- plain that meat (of any kind) was not to be eaten 'with the blood'...because the life of an animal is in the blood. (Gen9:4, Lev17:11) Jesus handed this -bread- to the disciples. He did not cut off little pieces of His own -body- and give it to them. When Jesus proclaimed that He was the "bread coming down from heaven" (Jn6) He was not speaking of the bread eaten ritually as being His 'actual' -body-. He was 'flesh and blood' standing there, telling them these things. But even His hearers did not understand, "How can this one give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn6:52)
He speaks of the difference between physical and spiritual. He is proclaiming a -spiritual- life from heaven, comparing it as being different from the manna Israel ate in the wilderness, and then died. (vs49) Paul carries this discussion further in 1Cor10:1-5. Yes, Israel ate -physical- manna and drank -physical- water. We know this from the -physical- accounts from Exodus. But Paul explains how the thing Israel rejected and rebelled against was the -spiritual-. They were murmuring against Moses and complaining about food and water, but their complaints were actually more directly against God. (Ex16:2,8) Refusing God's leadership of them. Christ was their Leader in the pillar of fire/smoke, but they rejected. Christ continually fed and nourished them, but they disobeyed at every turn. And because they rejected the -spiritual- relationship with God, "God was not pleased with most of them." (vs5) The daily manna was symbolic of God's daily care and nurturing of them and the desire for a spiritual relationship of oneness with them.
Thus, as Paul delivers what he received, reminding of what Jesus said, he says that the Lord's Supper is "in REMEMBRANCE of Jesus". (1Cor11:25, Lk24:19) A 'memorial' of His death.
In addition to being a memorial, the bread symbolizes the oneness about which He prays in John ch17. "I in them, and You in Me, that they may be perfected in one.." (vs23) What better symbol of oneness than the eating of bread. When food becomes digested, its nutrients spread into the eater's body, becoming inextricably chemically linked as "part of" the body. When a person is "in Christ" (2Cor5:17) and Christ is "in you" (Col1:27) through the Holy Spirit's indwelling (Rom8:9), it is symbolically just like that digested bread.
Does it become even more clear, now, why, if groups of people are 'striving' to -create- a sense of unity because it doesn't exist amongst them, that such groups are NOT "Christian"? When a person is truly "in Christ", the resultant unity is the very essence of what it means to be a Believer. And if -various- Believers are thus united with the "one Lord" (Eph4:5), by virtue of the one Lord, they are also united to each other. That love -is- there. (Jn13:35) If that essence isn't there, they are not in Christ. (1Jn3:14)
And then, Jesus says of the cup, "Drink all of it." (vs27) There were old covenants in the O.T. with the blood of animals. But 'now' it was time for the Real Thing. The "symbolic" nature of Christ's "body" in the bread should also become obvious from the statement, "..for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Heb10:4) They are merely 'animals'. Every time an animal was sacrificed, it was an act of faith in the coming of the One Who said, "I come..to do Your will, O God." (Heb10:7) When Jesus was crucified, "He takes away the first (covenant with animals) in order that He may set up the second (the body of Jesus Christ once for all). (vs9-10) The old covenants were imperfect, because they had to be continually repeated, because they, of their own merits, "can never take away sins". (vs11) But Jesus "offering but one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of God" (vs12) And just as the bread symbolizes the "unity" with God, this New Covenant is God's "..laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." (vs16)
You see, the "new birth" (Jn3:3) is a "spiritual" one (Jn3:8). Just as the O.T. animals could not save, neither does the bread of the Lord's Supper. But it symbolizes that which happens 'spiritually'. We "remember" continually what Jesus did in giving Himself in death.
And when Jesus says, "drink -ALL- of it", it might be likened to His earlier statement about a farmer putting his "hand to the plow" and then "looking back". (Lk9:62) If a person is becoming a Christian, there are no provisions for doing it "half-way". It's either all or nothing. You cannot remain of the world, and merely "add" Jesus into your life to 'help' you along in your life of-the-world. A person cannot serve two masters. (Mt6:24) If you drink into the Covenant, you drink into "all" of it. Which is why, if you "draw back" (Heb10:38-39) then there is 'no more left'. (Heb6:4-6) You cannot drink "some" of it now, and 'save' the rest for later... 'hedging your bets'.
This, also, is why the symbolic ritual of baptism -must- be by "immersion". Jesus shed -all- His blood when that spear went into His side. If we are "buried with Him through baptism into death" (Rom6:4), we must go "all the way". When a person dies, that's -it-. There's nothing more. Not being buried only 'part way' into the water. Nor, are we baptized with the Old Covenant where they only merely "sprinkled" everything with blood. In the O.T. they would take "some" of the blood to sprinkle. But remember, the O.T. rituals could not save. They were only symbolic of what was yet to come when Jesus would shed -all- His blood, and symbolize the Covenant by instructing the Believer to "drink -all- of it".
And to finalize the fact that there is only -one- salvation, that He was dying "once for all" (Rom6:10, Heb7:27, 9:12,26, 10:10), and that if a Believer "draws back" that there is "no more sacrifice for sins", Jesus says, "I will not at all drink of this fruit of the vine after this until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of My Father." (vs29) And indeed, when He was offered a drink just prior to being crucified, when He tasted and knew what it was, "He would not drink" (Mt27:34) But then, once Salvation was complete, He says, "I thirst" and when something is offered, He drinks. (Jn19:28-30)
And, yes, it is appropriate to end the Lord's Supper observance with a hymn. "And singing a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives." (vs30)
Offense of the Cross: denial & scattered (Mat 26:31-35)
Then Jesus said to them, You all will be offended in Me during this night. For it has been written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. (vs31)
This is a rather interesting expression Jesus proclaims. Remember a couple of lessons ago we considered the fact that Jesus' crucifixion involved joint culpability between God's "elect" (Israel) and the "world" (Rome); they were -both- 'guilty'.
Now, Jesus is saying that His own disciples will be "offended" because of Him. What does this mean? Does this mean that Jesus is going to "hurt their feelings"? No. There is an "offense" to the cross. (Gal5:11) What does the cross represent? It is a place of sin. It is a place where all the sin/s of every human being were laid upon Jesus. Every person who comes to God in repentance, receives God's grace because of that one act of Christ on the cross. When Paul proclaimed that God desires "all men everywhere to repent" (Acts17:30), if it were the case that "all men" actually -did- repent, Jesus' redemption on the cross would cover them -all-. Forget the heretical notion of "limited atonement" as taught by some of the 'great men'!! It says, "Jehovah made meet in Him the iniquity of -ALL- of us". (Is53:6) But to accomplish this "full atonement", the cross is also a place of judgment. God judging sin, in the person of His own Son, "who Himself bore in His body our sins, on the tree.." (1Pt2:24)
The word "offended" carries many shades of meaning; most appropriate in this case being... "stumble, fall, entice to sin, cause to fall away, begin to distrust and desert one he ought to trust and obey." Think about it a moment, if it is truly the case that we -all- have gone a-wandering from God (Ps14:3), then, Jesus could not have His disciples being "buddies" with Him as He is crucified; or even being crucified along with Him. Jesus was not a 'cult' leader. His followers were not yet qualified to partake in His sufferings (Col1:24) because they were not yet "in Christ" through His death, since He had not yet died. His place as "firstfruit" (1Cor15:20,23) was not yet fulfilled. In His death it was prophesied, "Behold, and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow." (Lam1:12) The thing that would 'satisfy' Jehovah regarding sin would be the "travail of His soul" (Is53:11-12) When we read Psalm 22, we read of His travails "alone".
If His disciples had -not- been offended and abandoned Him, it would have indicated some measure of 'perfectness' to them; somehow not fully needing saving. But He had come to die for -them-, too. As He died, they needed to be "sinners". Their faith in Him would be shaken. "..we were hoping that He is the One going to redeem Israel.." (Lk24:21) And Peter says, "I am going out to fish" (Jn21:3) and the rest, "we're coming with you." Where Jesus had called them away from that to "fish for men", their faith has wavered, and they are about to take up their former lives as fishermen.
Notice about Peter, that while Peter was the one who confidently affirmed, "You are the Christ" (Mt16:16), Jesus in foretelling Peter's denial as He is saying that the disciples will "begin to distrust" in Him, "I entreated concerning you that your faith might not fail.." (Lk22:32) Peter might utter words of denial, and his faith will begin to falter, but he will not completely fall. And so Jesus exhorts him, "And when you have turned back, confirm your brothers".
Also notice, even though John was the only one who didn't abandon Jesus, but followed along into the judgment hall, he did not yet believe. That did not come until after the resurrection when he and Peter ran to the empty tomb, and when John saw the burial clothes lying as they were, it says of John, "..he saw and believed." (Jn20:8)
I cannot even begin to fathom what must have been the thoughts of the hearts and minds of these disciples through these next few days. We are only given glimpses into what it might have been like. We often like to judge Peter for his brash boasts of self-confidence that he would never deny the Lord; and maybe we would think he had it coming when the Lord would promise that he would deny before the rooster crowed the next morning; and shake our heads and sigh with a "Yup, yup, yup!" as he goes off to weep bitterly after he has denied the Lord. But notice that "all the disciples said the same" (vs35), and when Jesus is taken in the garden, they "all" fled, too, "forsaking Him". (vs56)
But notice that Jesus does not 'judge' them for this. He knows it will happen, and is simply stating the facts. He hadn't come that time to judge, but to save. (Jn12:47) Again, when it is past, they will know that He predicted it, and that it happened just as He said it would. He is I AM. For Peter He prays that his faith does not fail. And generically, He states that when it is all said and done, and He is resurrected (another thing they haven't a clue about), "I will go before you into Galilee." (vs32)
Jesus' Passion: discipline & obedience (Mat 26:36-46)
Then Jesus came with [the disciples] to a place called Gethsemane. And He said, Sit here, until going away, I shall pray there. And taking along Peter (James and John), He began to grieve and to be deeply troubled. Then He said to them, My soul is deeply grieved, even unto death. Stay here and watch with Me. (vs36-38)
And going a little further, He fell on His face, praying, and saying, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will. (vs39)
And being in an agony, He prayed more intently. And His sweat became as drops of blood falling down onto the earth. (Lk22:44)
"You are My Son; today I have begotten You." (Ps2:7) As He also says in another place, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek," (Ps110:4) who in the days of His flesh was offering both petitions and entreaties to Him being able to save Him from death, with strong [violent] crying and tears, and being heard from His godly fear; though being a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered"(Heb5:5-8)
While we know that Jesus was the Son of God, we should never forget that He was also "Son of Man", "come in the flesh". (1Jn4:2-3) He partook of "flesh and blood". (Heb2:14) These agonies He is going through are His 'humanity' crying out to the Father. I don't have any medical documentation for this, but I've heard others proclaim that it is the Most Extreme case of human emotion that will produce 'blood' as sweat. That there is nothing stronger than death itself. The writer of Hebrews suggests His prayer was of a 'violent' nature. In His flesh, but also knowing what His Godhood knew, He knew He would be suffering God's full wrath upon sin...and He understood the nature of that judgment. As He would cry out from the cross, "My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me!??" So He is praying, Do I -REALLY- need to go through with this??? Is there NO OTHER WAY???
And as we read in Hebrews, the 'discipline' He learned as a 'Son', He responds, "yet not as I will, but as You will." We are told that it was the Father's will to "crush Him" (Is53:10), to see the "travail of His soul" (vs11) as He would "bear their iniquities".
But... don't you think He had this 'prayer' thing all wrong?!! I mean.. He took Peter, James and John along separate from the rest. Hadn't He taught, "where two or three are gathered in My name..."? (Mt18:19-20) Shouldn't He have taken them, and "agreed together" about this thing, and gotten God to 'change His mind' and do for them what they asked? He just goes in His humanity, crying out to God, and like a big 'wimp', submits to God's will and authority. Didn't He know about the "power of prayer"? ...that if He prayed 'hard enough' that He could "release God's power" to do all sorts of wonders? ...that there could be some new revelation for how mankind could be saved, apart from all that had been prophesied in the Scriptures? ...some 'new' extra-biblical prophesies?
On such a matter as Jesus' grief just prior to carrying away my sin, it almost feels blasphemous to even try to 'joke' with these kind of words! But we're making a point! You see; this is exactly what people are doing, and calling it "prayer". They haven't the foggiest notion -what- prayer is! If anybody had a -reason- to pray regarding his own will to get God to conform to it, it would have been Jesus. And, indeed, if Jesus had prayed in such a manner, satan would have won... and we would still be "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph2:1) Jesus was praying "according to His will..." (1Jn5:14) And fully knowing the Father's will, in obedience, went to the cross.
And then, finally, notice Jesus' words to the disciples. In the previous lesson we noted that it was 'necessary' for the disciples to desert Him; that His suffering was something which only -He-, Jesus, could do alone; He could not be "buddies" with them through this, because His death was -for- 'them', too. And thus, it becomes obvious that His praying in Gethsemane is "alone", too. When He receives strengthening, the strength does not come through camaraderie with the sleeping disciples whom He has just earlier called His "friends" (Jn15:14-15), but through an angel. (Lk22:43)
And so He exhorts them, "Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (vs41) This struggle between the spiritual and the flesh is something Paul goes on about in Romans ch7, and his conclusion of the matter is that deliverance comes through Jesus Christ. (Rom7:24-25) OK... so what did Jesus -just- say here? "Watch and pray."
First of all, to be successful in keeping pure against temptation, we must watch. Be on guard. Paul writes about all the defensive armor. (Eph6:10-18) And once all is said and done, the conclusion of the matter is that we are "to stand". (vs13) "Standing" is the opposite of "tolerance" and "acceptance". The military guard does not stand his post to wave and smile at people wanting to enter the base; his purpose is to scrutinize everybody, making sure that everybody wanting to enter has 'clearance' to do so. Years ago when I used to drive school bus into an Air Force base (Grand Forks, ND), even though the guards knew the bus company, and recognized my face from the daily trips, they would periodically ask to see some ID. They were not there to be my 'friend'. And regarding those things that would seek to enter our lives, we must scrutinize -everything-, to keep pure before God.
And then, "pray". Now, this point requires a proper understanding of what 'prayer' is. It is not what most people engage in. We have considered this before, so we won't go into detail now. It is -not- being on one's knees, eyes closed, uttering 'words' in KJ-ese. It -is- being in continual fellowship in God's presence, spiritually. So, now, think about this. If you are "in" God's presence, and you -know- Jesus is in the same room with you, are you going to sin? Of course not! When Peter was in Jesus' presence he was bold about how strong he would be. In the garden next to Jesus, he was bold and pulled out his sword to start fighting. But when temptation came, when Peter was 'alone' next to the guards and other officials, that's when he failed. He was not "with Jesus". (Acts4:13)
This, then, is where the "renewed mind" (Rom12:2) comes into play. The mind is the connection between the spirit and the flesh. (Ps119:58-60) We 'pray' with the heart. As a result we "muse" (think) on our ways, and "turn our feet" to follow His testimonies.
Jesus learned "obedience" through the cross. If we desire to be pleasing to Him, to be "worthy" of Him, we must "take up the cross" and follow Him. (Mt10:38) This must be a "daily" commitment. (Lk9:23)
Betrayed: "captured"? (Mat 26:47-57)
Judas came, one of the Twelve. And with him was a numerous crowd with swords and clubs..and the one betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomever I may kiss, it is He; seize Him. And coming up at once to Jesus, he said, Hail, Rabbi. And he ardently kissed Him. (vs47-49)
Remember a couple weeks ago we considered how, although Judas was looking for "opportunity" to betray Jesus, that even the timing of that was at Jesus' command, "What you do, do quickly". (Jn13:27)
Now, Judas is doing as assigned... leading the mob out to where he knows Jesus is used to frequenting. But just hold on a minute! Who is doing what to whom? Is Judas betraying Jesus. Is the mob actually "capturing" Jesus?
As the mob comes, Jesus asks, "Whom do you seek?" (Jn18:4) "Jesus the Nazarene." Jesus says, "I AM!"
When Jesus invokes God's -Name- "I AM" (Ex3:14) notice what happens. The power of God's Name knocks the mob backward and onto their fannies.
Let's try this again, "Whom do you seek?" (vs7) "Jesus the Nazarene". This time, restraining His power, "I AM; then if you seek Me, allow these to depart.." (vs8)
Now, Peter gets into the act, pulls out his sword and whacks off the high priest's servant's ear (Jn18:10), which Jesus picks up and puts back on. (Lk22:51)
And then Jesus reasons with them, "..do you think that I am not able now to call on My Father, and He will place beside Me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the Scripture be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?" (vs53-54) He continues to reason with them about all the previous opportunities they 'could have' had to seize Him, but didn't.
Like we considered in last week's lesson... yes, perhaps, had Jesus prayed according to His own will, He could have come up with a "new revelation" of God's will, and avoided the cross. Being Deity, Himself, He could have called upon the angels to rescue His humanity from what was happening. But notice that -even- Jesus, God-made-flesh, was sticking with the Scriptures. When the devil had tempted Him, He had replied with "it has been written" [in the Scriptures]. (Mt4:4) And notice the verb tenses that are missed in most translations which say "it -is- written". The Scriptures are 'past tense'. It has -already- been written. The Faith has been "once" delivered. (Jude3) The Scriptures that are -already- known are sufficient for everything to do with Godly living. (2Tim3:14-17) New 'apostolic/prophetic revelations' are not necessary; and rather, are accursed. (Gal1:8-9). If Jesus was the Word, and was God (Jn1:1), and Jesus Christ "is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Heb13:8), and is the image of God's essence (Heb1:3) Who does not change (Mal3:6) ...then, the Scriptures -had- to be fulfilled, that "it MUST happen this way". (vs54)
So, again... who is "in charge" of this "capture"? Jesus was not captured by treachery, stealth and intrigue. He -GAVE- Himself! As they are no doubt still rubbing their sore fannies, and seeing the healed ear... Jesus' Authority is indelibly etched into their hearts and eternal memories! And so, everything happened according to God's eternal plan, and the "Scriptures of the prophets [were] fulfilled." (vs56)
King of the Jews?: you said it (Mat 27:11-14)
And the governor questioned Him, say, Are You the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, You say it. (vs11)
And..the high priest said to Him, I adjure you by the living God that you tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said to him, You said it. I tell you more. From this time you shall see the Son of Man sitting off the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of the heavens. (Mt26:63-64)
Before both the high priest (26:63) and Pilate (27:12) all sorts of accusations are brought forth against Jesus by false witnesses. (26:60) In both of these 'courts', the accused was expected to respond to charges. Before the priest "Jesus kept silent" and before Pilate "He did not answer him, not even to one word, so that the governor greatly marveled." (27:14)
First of all, all the accusations were deliberately trumped up. They were false. And second of all, had Jesus responded, Pilate would have released Him. When Pilate hears the accusation "Son of God" (Jn19:7) the -heathen- governor was "more afraid" (vs8) as he then queries, "Do you not know that I have authority to crucify you, and I have authority to release you?" (vs10) But it was necessary that the Scriptures be fulfilled. (26:54) Jesus -needed- to be crucified. And thus, to insure the matter, He again fulfills Scripture, "..as a ewe before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." (Is53:7)
But notice the one (and ONLY) question He -does- answer. Are You the Christ? Are You the Son of God? Yes!
Before the Jews, up until this time, He has only on a couple of occasions referred to Himself as "I AM", etc. He has continually alluded to the matter, but when they would confront Him, trying to bushwhack Him, He would not answer; but rather, would confront them with all the Truths they were ignoring... His forgiving of sins, and proving His authority to do so by healing, and fulfilling all sorts of prophecies. But now it is time to be crucified...and they need to know, in no uncertain terms EXACTLY WHO it is they are crucifying. You see, there is another prophecy that will be fulfilled 2000 years into the future of this time, "And they shall look on Me whom they have pierced.." (Zech12:10) As they are about to 'pierce' Him, they need to know -Whom- they are crucifying. The Jews will tear their clothing at His answer and cry out "Blaspheme!!" (26:65)
On the other hand, Jesus and Pilate will have some discussion. The Jews supposedly already know God. But the 'heathen' Pilate does not. The Jews already have the Law and the Prophets which speak of Jesus, and all the things He has been fulfilling for three years. Pilate does not.
Pilate asks Him, What's the deal with You? Your whole nation is against You. (Jn18:35) So Jesus explains His Deity to him. Pilate, I'm no threat to you. Yes, I am a King, but My kingdom is "not of this world". Jesus did not come brandishing swords and spears. He had told Peter to put his sword away. If He had come to set up an earthly kingdom "My servants would have fought that I might not be delivered up to the Jews." (vs36) [Ed: and so why is it that the so-called 'christians' today think that -they- are supposed to 'help' Jesus by setting up an earthly kingdom for Him?] Jesus briefly tells His purpose, to "witness to the Truth.." (vs37) This addresses His coming to provide salvation.
And from this conversation Pilate realizes Jesus is no threat to anybody (the Roman empire or himself); there is no reason for Him to be crucified. He humiliates him and brings Him out, "He is not guilty of any crime" (Jn18:4) But then the Jews bring up Jesus' Deity. He claims to be the "Son of God".
Now -this- really scares Pilate. With the Roman pantheistic mentality he is open to the idea that Jesus 'could be' one of the 'many' gods. After all, many of the Roman gods at times came down in human form. So Pilate tries to talk some 'sense' into Jesus..."Don't You know I can release You, and give You Your freedom? And You can go back to being a god again?" To which Jesus makes a distinction. "You would have no authority against Me, not any, if it were not given to you from above." (Jn19:11) Remember how Paul proclaims that there is no earthly power but what it is "ordained" by God. (Rom13:1) And in a way, Jesus then somewhat "lets him off the hook" by saying, "because of this, the one delivering Me to you has a greater sin." (vs11) The Roman gods would 'zap' people who displeased them. Pilate found himself in a place in history, confronted with the Son of God. And just like Jesus would pray the Father, "forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Lk23:34), it would seem that Jesus is also not judging Pilate for what he does in condemning Jesus; telling him that what is happening was already ordained from heaven, from an Authority higher than that of Rome, that it is not really within his (Pilate's) control one way or the other.
But Pilate will know that he has been face-to-face with the Son of God. And truly, once Jesus has died on the cross, one of the Roman soldiers in attendance will also utter, "Truly this man was the Son of God." (Mk15:39)
When the Jews object to the 'title' Pilate writes over Jesus' crucifixion "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews", Pilate responds, "What I have written, I have written." (Jn19:19,21)
Ironic, isn't it... that a -heathen- ruler would recognize the true identity of God's Son to make sure He was 'labelled' properly, when God's own "elect" rejected Him!
It is finished: our High Priest (Mat 27:46-51)
As Jesus is on the cross, there is a solar eclipse from 12-noon until 3-pm. Was the eclipse from the moon? Or did another celestial body come near the earth...judging by the earthquake? After all, the universe was created on a time-table to be for "signs and seasons" (Gen1:14)
God's own "elect" have rejected their Messiah, but God's creation is providing the appropriate 'mood' for what is on one hand a most glorious event, because sin is being atoned; but on the other hand, is the darkest moment of all time and eternity, as God, Himself, in the form of flesh and blood, is being subjected to God's wrath upon sin. This it not an occasion when there should be bright ("happy") sunshine!
As Jesus "bore in His body our sins on the tree" (1Pt2:24), a separation became necessary. Corruption CANNOT be in the presence of the Most Holy God. (1Cor15:50, Is6:3-4) Whenever there is sin, there is a separation from God. (Is59:2) During these three hours Jesus became the embodiment of mankind's sin. The whole sin nature in which "my mother conceived me" (Ps51:5) was upon Him. (Is53:6) The Father had to withdraw from Jesus. That "oneness" that was between Them (Jn17:21) was broken. While Jesus' Deity knew what was going on, for His humanity it was more than He could bear, which is why He had been pleading in the garden if there was "any other way". But there was not! What does a human do when bereft of spouse or children, those closest of human bonds? Man cries out! And so does the Son of Man, "My God, My God, why did You forsake Me?" (vs46)
The time of judgment is fulfilled and then Jesus cries out, "It has been finished." (Jn19:30) At the moment He cries out, sin HAS BEEN atoned. It is now 'past tense'.
And notice: the Romans or Jews did NOT "kill" Jesus. Yes, they betrayed, whipped, hit, taunted and crucified Him. But He did not die from the whipping, nails, suffocation or loss of blood. Once everything has been fulfilled "that the Scripture be completed.." (Jn19:28) He cries out with a loud voice, again, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Lk23:46) and He breathed out and "Jesus released His spirit." (Mt27:50)
God "gave His only begotten Son" (Jn3:16), and Jesus "GAVE" His life. "No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down from Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. I received this commandment from My Father." (Jn10:18)
So... what was the result of Jesus' finished work? "And, behold! The veil of the temple was torn into two from above as far as below. And the earth quaked, and the rocks were sheared!" (vs51)
Notice the wording as quoted from the LITV here. It was not -only- the veil of the temple which was torn (top-to-bottom), but more importantly that which the veil represented. The veil was a divider between the Holy of Holies, which symbolized God's presence, and sinful man. The only person who could go behind the veil was the high priest, once a year; only after he had been ritually cleansed, dedicated, and was carrying blood to sprinkle. When Jesus died, the division between God and man was torn "from above" (where God dwells), "as far as below" (where sinful man is).
"Christ having appeared as a High Priest..through His own blood, He entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, having procured everlasting redemption." (~Heb9:11-12) But He did not merely enter the "Holy of Holies made by hands...but into Heaven itself [from above], now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.." (9:24) And when He cried out "it has been finished" it means that the continually repeating annual cycle was no longer necessary. He offered Himself "once for all". (9:26) With the veil being torn, man can now 'see' into the Holy of Holies, directly. We can now "[have] confidence for the entering of the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus" (10:19) and we can "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled from an evil conscience.." (10:22) Since our High Priest, Jesus Christ, has passed into the heavens, we can "draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.." (4:14,16)
-THAT- is the significance of Jesus redeeming us from sin. We can now come into God's presence. The "wall of partition" has been broken down. We are now reconciled to God. (Eph2:14-16, Rom5:10, 2Cor5:18,20, Col1:21) And now that we are cleansed, the Holy Spirit is also able to dwell in us, (Rom8:9, 2Cor6:16) and thus we "have access by one Spirit to the Father." (Eph2:18)
Q/A -Jesus' death physical/spiritual? priest Levi/Judah?
So now that we have been redeemed and cleansed, and have access to
God's presence; what do we do? Hoard this blessing to ourselves?
Jesus says, "All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth."
(vs18) Before His crucifixion Jesus was saying, "..I do nothing of
Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things..I always
do those things which please Him." (Jn8:28-29) But as a result of His
humbling Himself to the cross, "Therefore God has highly exalted Him,
and has given Him a name which is above every name..." (Phil2:9) And
so, as Jesus 'commissions' His disciples He says, "As the Father has
sent Me, I also send you." (Jn20:21)
What has become known as the "Great Commission" has three parts:
Notice a couple of things here. Some translations incorrectly say,
"-make- disciples.." And many with the "soul-winner" mentality try to
'make' disciples; getting them to pray 'the -ritual- prayer' right on
the spot under -their- supervision, whether the person's heart is ready
or not, so they can be added to some 'list'. Let us never forget,
however, that it is only -God- who saves, in God's 'own timing' as He
knows the individual's heart, thus 'making' a person into a follower.
No one is saved unless the Father "draws him". (Jn6:44) Our commission
is to disciple the ones God saves. Teaching (Eph4:11), nurturing
(1Cor12:25), bearing their burdens. (Gal6:2) But we should never
forget that it is "God who causes to grow (gives the increase
Some people also get hung up on semantics about baptism, saying that
Believer's baptism is in the "name of Jesus" (Acts19:5), and they will
denounce those who baptize in the "Trinity"...supposing that the
Trinity is not taught in Scripture. But if they are baptized in the
name of Jesus, notice that it was -Jesus- Who commanded to be baptized
in the Trinity. Jesus is not without the Father, Who is not without
the Holy Spirit, Who is not without the Son.
There are many who only proclaim the part of salvation which Jesus
provided, as found in 1Cor15:1-4; His death, burial and resurrection.
They would have people believe that God provides salvation, and there
is nothing man does, except to have a "need" for salvation. After all,
they also erroneously believe that God in His predestination purposed
some to be saved, and others to be lost; and so, they suppose that He
just reaches down and saves those He purposed, and the one saved has no
say in the matter; that God's grace is "irresistable". They do not
understand Peter's words that God "did not PURPOSE that any should
When they -only- look at the Gospel Paul mentions in 1Cor15:1-4, they
ignore his review where he "kept back nothing" that was necessary as he
reminds "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
(Acts20:21) They say that, since 1Cor15:1-4 says nothing about
"repentance" that we "dare not either". Apparently they missed the
Gospel that Jesus -commanded- to be preached. Yes, Jesus suffered and
rose the third day (that's what Jesus did); but then, man needs to
'respond' to God. The thing which separates us from God is our sin.
(Is59:2) We need "remission of sins"; and to obtain/receive it, we need
to repent. Jesus -specifically- COMMANDED that "repentance and
remission of sins" should BE PROCLAIMED.
Before Jesus came and died for sin, the Holy Spirit could not indwell.
Feasts were always observed with unleavened bread. Israel was placed in
a location (crossroads to three continents) where the nations came -to-
her to hear of God. But once the veil had been torn, and sin had been
atoned, and the Believer could have direct access to the Father, the
Holy Spirit was able to indwell. The foreshadow of the Holy Spirit's
indwelling was the 50th day, Pentecost, in which the bread was baked
"-with- leaven". (Lev23:17) When the Holy Spirit came into the cleansed
"sanctuary" (1Cor3:16), like leaven, this new life was like a "fountain
of water springing up into everlasting life." (Jn4:14) With this
overflowing residing Spirit, we then understand the command to "go"
into the whole world. And, indeed, the early Church turned the "world
upside down" (Acts17:6) as they spread out as they "scattered...
preaching the Gospel, the Word." (Acts8:4)
When a sinner comes to the foot of Jesus' cross and repents of his sin,
and dies with Jesus, and comes to a new life (Rom6:3-5), there is a
transformation. It is a new birth. (Jn3:3) New babies 'announce' their
presence when they cry. If they don't cry, it is usually because they
are not breathing. They were still-born. Dead. But one who is "in
Christ is a new creation..." (2Cor5:17) This transformation is an
experience he has been though. He has 'witnessed' it. The earlier
disciples could witness, "that which we have heard, which we have seen
with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.."
(1Jn1:1) But we all, who are Believers, can witness the death and
resurrection with Christ, and the new spiritual nature where "old
things passed away" and everything has "become new".
And finally, we do not need to worry about being "alone". In these days
of spiralling apostasy, as many Believers are "coming out of her"
(Rev18:4), many are feeling "alone" like Elijah did, "I alone, am
left". (1Kg19:14) They feel like they are without fellowship. Jesus
encouraged, "I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you."
(Jn14:18) We have "comfort in Christ" through the "fellowship of the
Spirit" (Phil2:1) As the early churches did, we can "increase in the
comfort of the Holy Spirit." (Acts9:31)
We can take courage as we forge ahead, being faithful to the calling
with which He called us. No matter what may come along the way, we can
always remember His promise:
"..behold, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.
So now that we have been redeemed and cleansed, and have access to God's presence; what do we do? Hoard this blessing to ourselves?
Jesus says, "All authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth." (vs18) Before His crucifixion Jesus was saying, "..I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things..I always do those things which please Him." (Jn8:28-29) But as a result of His humbling Himself to the cross, "Therefore God has highly exalted Him, and has given Him a name which is above every name..." (Phil2:9) And so, as Jesus 'commissions' His disciples He says, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." (Jn20:21)
What has become known as the "Great Commission" has three parts:
Notice a couple of things here. Some translations incorrectly say, "-make- disciples.." And many with the "soul-winner" mentality try to 'make' disciples; getting them to pray 'the -ritual- prayer' right on the spot under -their- supervision, whether the person's heart is ready or not, so they can be added to some 'list'. Let us never forget, however, that it is only -God- who saves, in God's 'own timing' as He knows the individual's heart, thus 'making' a person into a follower. No one is saved unless the Father "draws him". (Jn6:44) Our commission is to disciple the ones God saves. Teaching (Eph4:11), nurturing (1Cor12:25), bearing their burdens. (Gal6:2) But we should never forget that it is "God who causes to grow (gives the increase -mkjv/kjv). (1Cor3:6-7)
Some people also get hung up on semantics about baptism, saying that Believer's baptism is in the "name of Jesus" (Acts19:5), and they will denounce those who baptize in the "Trinity"...supposing that the Trinity is not taught in Scripture. But if they are baptized in the name of Jesus, notice that it was -Jesus- Who commanded to be baptized in the Trinity. Jesus is not without the Father, Who is not without the Holy Spirit, Who is not without the Son.
There are many who only proclaim the part of salvation which Jesus provided, as found in 1Cor15:1-4; His death, burial and resurrection. They would have people believe that God provides salvation, and there is nothing man does, except to have a "need" for salvation. After all, they also erroneously believe that God in His predestination purposed some to be saved, and others to be lost; and so, they suppose that He just reaches down and saves those He purposed, and the one saved has no say in the matter; that God's grace is "irresistable". They do not understand Peter's words that God "did not PURPOSE that any should perish.." (2Pet3:9)
When they -only- look at the Gospel Paul mentions in 1Cor15:1-4, they ignore his review where he "kept back nothing" that was necessary as he reminds "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts20:21) They say that, since 1Cor15:1-4 says nothing about "repentance" that we "dare not either". Apparently they missed the Gospel that Jesus -commanded- to be preached. Yes, Jesus suffered and rose the third day (that's what Jesus did); but then, man needs to 'respond' to God. The thing which separates us from God is our sin. (Is59:2) We need "remission of sins"; and to obtain/receive it, we need to repent. Jesus -specifically- COMMANDED that "repentance and remission of sins" should BE PROCLAIMED.
Before Jesus came and died for sin, the Holy Spirit could not indwell. Feasts were always observed with unleavened bread. Israel was placed in a location (crossroads to three continents) where the nations came -to- her to hear of God. But once the veil had been torn, and sin had been atoned, and the Believer could have direct access to the Father, the Holy Spirit was able to indwell. The foreshadow of the Holy Spirit's indwelling was the 50th day, Pentecost, in which the bread was baked "-with- leaven". (Lev23:17) When the Holy Spirit came into the cleansed "sanctuary" (1Cor3:16), like leaven, this new life was like a "fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." (Jn4:14) With this overflowing residing Spirit, we then understand the command to "go" into the whole world. And, indeed, the early Church turned the "world upside down" (Acts17:6) as they spread out as they "scattered... preaching the Gospel, the Word." (Acts8:4)
When a sinner comes to the foot of Jesus' cross and repents of his sin, and dies with Jesus, and comes to a new life (Rom6:3-5), there is a transformation. It is a new birth. (Jn3:3) New babies 'announce' their presence when they cry. If they don't cry, it is usually because they are not breathing. They were still-born. Dead. But one who is "in Christ is a new creation..." (2Cor5:17) This transformation is an experience he has been though. He has 'witnessed' it. The earlier disciples could witness, "that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled.." (1Jn1:1) But we all, who are Believers, can witness the death and resurrection with Christ, and the new spiritual nature where "old things passed away" and everything has "become new".
And finally, we do not need to worry about being "alone". In these days of spiralling apostasy, as many Believers are "coming out of her" (Rev18:4), many are feeling "alone" like Elijah did, "I alone, am left". (1Kg19:14) They feel like they are without fellowship. Jesus encouraged, "I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you." (Jn14:18) We have "comfort in Christ" through the "fellowship of the Spirit" (Phil2:1) As the early churches did, we can "increase in the comfort of the Holy Spirit." (Acts9:31)
We can take courage as we forge ahead, being faithful to the calling with which He called us. No matter what may come along the way, we can always remember His promise:
"..behold, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age. Amen." (vs20)