Good morning, beloved,
A bit of business to attend…I’ve been getting feedback lately that it has been difficult to comment on my blog. So I’ve switched up the comment section to make it easier and smoother. Will you try it out for me and let me know? Many thanks. I am so grateful to each one of you for reading these words of mine.
A couple of years ago, the History Channel caused a stir in the Christian community with its production of the Bible miniseries. The opinions, the controversies, the arguments volleyed back and forth. Our family watched the miniseries. We enjoyed the series, honestly, not for the inaccuracies, but for the excitement. Our family had fun discussing the Old Testament together. What did they get right? What did they miss? Do you really think that’s what Moses looked like? THE ANGELS?!?!?
The stories of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph came alive. We, as a nation, saw them not just as words on a page. How often have we heard the Old Testament is so boring. It doesn’t apply to me. I don’t understand it. The God of the New Testament is much nicer, less judgement.
Jesus and the New Testament writers felt very differently than you and I. According to Pam Gillespie,
Researchers tell us that the New Testament writers make 224 direct references to the Old Testament and cite allusions to Old Testament scriptures anywhere from 600 to 1,600 times. In round numbers about 10% of the New Testament either quotes the Old directly or makes clear allusion to it. (Voices: Hearing God In A World Of Impostors New Testament, p. 45)
Let’s look at some of the ways Jesus does quote the Old Testament.
It is written…
Matthew 4 reveals the temptation of Jesus. In a earlier post, I discussed the prayers of Jesus. And now, watch this chapter unfold with me.
Then the Spirit led Jesus [L up; out] into the ·desert [wilderness] to be tempted [or tested] by the devil. 2 Jesus fasted for forty days and nights[C analogous to Israel’s forty years in the desert]. After this, he was ·very hungry [famished]. 3 The ·devil came to Jesus to tempt him [L tempter/tester came to Jesus], saying, “If you are the Son of God, ·tell [command] these rocks to ·become bread [turn into loaves].”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written in the Scriptures, ‘A person lives not on bread alone, but by ·everything God says [L every word that comes out of God’s mouth; Deut. 8:3].’”
Satan comes to Jesus at His weakest. Not when He is strong. Take note, my friend. When you are sick, tired, hungry, alone, I bet you can attest to the temptations yourself. Read Jesus’ response. We don’t have an emotion attached to this response. He isn’t weepy, or sad. He has an answer and it is straight from the Word. It is written…
1. Jesus knew the plan. He knew the plan because He knew the word of God.
2. Jesus knew the Word of God. How often when we are weak and frail and then under attack, words from the Bible fail to come to us? Oh, friend, we need to have His Word close to our heart and mind. If not memorized, let’s write it on notecards and keep in our back pockets or purses or wallets.
3. Jesus knew feelings from truth. We need to get this one! The mutterings of our mind compared to the truth of Scripture. NO COMPARISON. We have to line up, speak out what is going on in our mind. I’m amazed when I actually say aloud what is going on in my mind how false it can be.
5 Then the devil ·led [took] Jesus to the holy city [C Jerusalem] and put him on ·a high place [the highest point; the pinnacle] of the Temple. 6 The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, ·jump [L throw yourself] down, because it is written in the Scriptures:
‘He ·has put his angels in charge of you [or will order his angels to protect you; L will command his angel concerning you].
They will ·catch you in [lift you up with] their hands
so that you will not hit your foot on a rock [Ps. 91:11–12].’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It also says in the Scriptures, ‘Do not test the Lord your God [Deut. 6:16].’”
What throws me here, but doesn’t throw Jesus..the tempter knows the word of God and uses it craftily. He continues to taunt and test. Very interesting. However! Jesus knows exactly how to answer. And lest you think that only Jesus can answer Satan, let me remind you of the power of the Holy Spirit within you. And the power of the knowledge of the word of God!
8 ·Then [Again] the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and all their ·splendor [glory]. 9 The devil said, “If you will ·bow [fall] down and worship me, I will give you all these things.”
10 Jesus said to him, “·Go away from me [Get out of here; Be gone], Satan![L For] It is written in the Scriptures, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him [Deut. 6:13].’”
I love this. Go away from me Satan. HE casts Satan away from Himself. HE asks Satan to leave. I love that. He has had enough of Satan’s wiles and temptations. And notice that each one of the passages Jesus quotes can be found in Deuteronomy. Another fascinating aspect..He chooses Law to fight Satan’s temptations. What amazes me is how Jesus fights each attack with Scripture, Satan has no real retort, no come back and so three times he tries a different front and three times he fails. What a lesson for us in our lives.
What a lesson for me today. I hope for you as well. I only have scratched the surface today. I have a busy day ahead. We have an extra couple of boys all whom are sword fighting in the basement as I type away. Later this afternoon we head to Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville. I love that place. I love serving there with my kids. So a busy day, full day. Thankful.
Thankful for the whole Scripture today. How about you, friend? How do you feel about the Old Testament? A difficult part of Scripture? DO you prefer the New Testament? Will you venture into the Old? Does your church teach the Old? I’d love to hear from you!
I’m not sure about you, but Mark 13 isn’t one of those passages that I grab to sit down and devour to encourage and uplift my soul. Maybe it’s just me but the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION and rumors of war and sun will be darkened, my first instincts are to read, nod, make sure I understand aaaaand move on to Psalm 23. Okay, maybe not that severe, but I’m just keeping it real. I don’t normally see hope in this passage. UNTIL today.
I wrote and rewrote this post about five times. You’ll notice I haven’t posted in a while and now, today, you are getting two. First, some definitions and usages of these words to help us with the text.
is also used of
(a) bodily and
(b) mental vision,
(a) “to perceive,” e.g., Mat 13:13; (b) “to take heed,” e.g., Mar 13:23, 33; it indicates greater vividness than horao, expressing a more intent, earnest contemplation; in Luk 6:41, of “beholding” the mote in a brother’s eye; Luk 24:12, of “beholding” the linen clothes in the empty tomb; Act 1:9, of the gaze of the disciples when the Lord ascended. The greater earnestness is sometimes brought out by rendering “regardest,” Also used: BEWARE, HEED, LIE, LOOK, PERCEIVE, REGARD, SEE, SIGHT.
Will not pass away
Mē– no, not least
Parerchomai– to pass away, to perish
So, you have these definitions before you. Let’s now look at the text.
We find the word blepo used four times in Mark 13.
5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.
23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time [s]will come.
We are, by nature, a fearful lot, are we not? It’s no wonder that we are called sheep. We get scared. We get bogged down by worry. We read the news and fret. We see our bank accounts and wonder. We wait for a phone call that doesn’t come. We misinterpret an email, phone call, conversation and we rehearse it over and over. We WORRY. I’m sorry, but for the most part, at least for me, I fret and worry about the wrong stuff.
My focus needs not be on why hasn’t God provided a car yet. My focus should not be on any of the nonsense I just listed above. It’s not important stuff. Where is my focus? Where is my heart? You see, if I know the Scriptures. If I know His Word and the constancy of His truth in my heart, then what I know is the REAL TRUTH. That can never, ever be taken away from me. It will never, ever pass away. He promises His Word is forever. His truth is FOREVER.
My fear and worry should be have I trained my heart, my children’s heart to know the truth and to know the lies of the evil one. To know when I hear the evil one’s lies, to shake my head and walk the other way. To not be misled, to not follow teachers, bloggers, facebookers (is it a word? it should be..), whomever who make a nice meme, a nice blog, a nice YouTube video, but if it is all smoke and mirrors, to KNOW it is.
When Jesus returns, He will call for His sheep. He will call for His beloved. So, while this passage may seem very doom and gloomy and yes, it is very much a passage about the end times and what is to come, for those of us who know His name and are His beloved, this passage gives us hope.
In the dark times, in the salty tears, in the minutia of every day life that threatens to overwhelm, the potty training, the teenage drama, the whatever it may be!!! The constancy of His word can be our anchor, can be our hope, can be our truth. ( Here’s a truth about me…grammar goes out the WINDOW when I’m excited and typing…) Will not pass away.
Notice the Greek here. Or rather up there…no, not the least. Is there any doubt?
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Oh, but there are more beautiful verses of truth. Read on.
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
“All flesh is like grass,
And all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
And the flower falls off,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
His word is a LAMP unto our feet. His word lights our path. It directs us. It enables us. However, we have a role here, folks. It’s very nice to read the pretty Scripture. It’s very nice to read the pretty Psalms. The pretty pieces in Philippians or wherever, but the hard truth of the matter is that knowing Jesus, knowing the Lord is work. It’s the most fabulous, wonderful work in the world, but it takes our very lives, strips us of our own desires and He makes us new. We have to be willing to make the sacrifices. We have to be willing to get to know Him. I’m telling you. It’s so worth it.
Good morning, beloved,
Mark 8: 34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his [t]life will lose it, but whoever loses his [u]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. There is just something about that name. I’m not going to speak for anyone else. I’m not going to say this for anyone else. This is for me. I read these words and I think, Lord, what does that look like for me?
deny myself? “to deny oneself,” either in a good sense, by disregarding one’s own interests..blb.org I don’t live in a culture supports this view. I am a wife, a mother. I home school. Somehow, I still am able to vie for my own interests. Speak up for my needs. That isn’t a bad thing. I know that. I need people in my life to know my needs. I am not suggesting that. What is Jesus saying?
“Denying self is not the same as self-denial. We practice self-denial when, for a good purpose, we occasionally give up things or activities. But we deny self when we surrender ourselves to Christ and determine to obey His will.” (Wiersbe)
We deny ourselves when we surrender ourselves to Christ and decide to obey His will. Beginning my day, oh, I haven’t even thought about this prayer in so long… I just pulled out my hymnal. Sometimes, the rhythms of habit are so good for my soul.
Awake, my soul,and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run;
shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise to pay thy morning sacrifice.
By influence of the light divine let thy own light in good works shine;
reflect all heaven’s gracious ways in ardent love and cheerful praise.
Lord, I my vows to thee renew; disperse my sins as morning dew;
guard my first springs of thought and will and with thyself my spirit fill.
Direct, control, suggest this day all I design or do or say,
that all my powers, with all their might, in thy sole glory may unite.
Praise God, from whom all blessing flow; praise Him, all creatures here below;
praise Him above, ye heavenly host; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Thomas Ken
Direct, control, suggest this day…
According to Brother Lawrence (the practice of the presence OF GOD, p. 25), trust in God and surrender completely to Him…in order to be sure we are doing God’s will, we should simply develop an attitude of faith, hope, and love. We need not be concerned about anything else.
take up your cross…
Brother Lawrence again…
when we begin our Christian walk, we must remember that we have been living in the world, subject to all sorts of miseries, accidents, and poor dispositions from within. The Lord will cleanse and humble us in order to make us more like Christ. As we go through this cleansing process, we will grow closer to God. Therefore, we should rejoice in our difficulties, bearing them as long as the Lord wills, because only through such trials will our faith become purified, more precious than gold. (p.25)
It sounds like a horrible trial to take up our cross. And yes, it is..we do go through sad, trying, distressing times. Through it all, we have this precious gift. We have Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit interceding on our behalf. We are not alone. We may lose in the world’s eyes. But in Jesus’ eyes, we are saved for eternity.
We are saved.
We have a future and a hope.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
One of the most difficult things about reading the Bible is understanding context, at least to me. The Gospel writers are telling the stories to their audience, of their day, of their time, knowing who will be receiving the letters. For instance, as I write this blog, there are certain ways, sayings, idioms that we understand, but to someone 2000 years from now, the meaning may be lost to them.
In the following story, so often, we are very hard on Peter. We criticize Peter for rebuking Jesus or for a lack of understanding. Let’s read and then we’ll discuss…or rather, I’ll discuss. I’d love to have your comments!
29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[d] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
So, in verse 29, Jesus bluntly drills Peter. Who am I? Peter knows the answer and without missing a beat…
You are the Christ.
You are the Messiah. The long expected One, the One my ancestors have been waiting for, we have longed for..I’m staring right at Him. He’s here. And I’m telling Him to. His. FACE. Exit stage left. New scene…
Verse 31. Okay, so this could have happened right after. This could have been a couple of days later. We don’t exactly know. These are memories Mark is writing down, right? So, the next entry begins…
Jesus began to teach…
Verse 32. Peter amazes. You can see why Jesus said upon this rock I will build my church,(Matthew 16:18) right? I mean, it really does take a certain type of strength to pull the Son of Man aside and rebuke Him. Obviously, Jesus saw Peter’s heart. Jesus saw what Peter was doing and it was not after God’s interests, it was man’s. See the rest of these verses.
Peter, in his heart, was not setting his mind and heart on God’s interests, but man’s. Here’s the problem though, and Jesus knew this intimately. He explained this to the disciples before He left them. This was prophesied in Jeremiah. Peter and the rest of the disciples had hearts of stone. They were softening. They needed, well, look with me.
33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
The first covenant that the Lord made with His people Israel was on stone tablets. The Lord was telling Jeremiah there would be a covenant to come, a new covenant and He would put the law in them. Let me remind you of something Jesus said that the Last Supper…
Know the Lord, for they will all know Me…The beauty of the fulfillment of Scripture! Let me show you this!🙂
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
8 Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more…Jesus, the Lamb of God, would come and take away the sins of the world by dying on that terrible cross. A scene that our beloved Peter, the redemption scene for Peter, for poor Peter, his story is not perfect. He denies Jesus. He falls many times before that church is built on his back. Let me share with you, Peter’s redemption…
John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon,son of John, do you [f]love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [g]love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you [h]love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [i]love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you [j]love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you [k]love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I [l]love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.
That heart of stone that we beheld in the beginning of this blog? Gone. It has been replaced. A beautiful transformation, all because of Jesus.
Pray on. Pray on.
Good morning, beloved,
We had gotten very busy. Every night packed with activities, places to take the kids, we were going in a million different directions and the important, the really important was beginning to fall away. It was amazing how what had once been habits in our family became distant memories as the nights became later and family members were tugged in opposite directions.
As all of our activities began to wind down, and we began to breath again, our Danny came into our room very late one night. He confessed that he missed our nightly times of prayer together as a family and wondered why we weren’t doing it anymore. He wasn’t sleeping as well. He missed his family.
Out of the mouths of babes.
So, we have begun again. And so we start as we mean to go on. On our bed last night, sprawled across, four very sleepy children praying with us. It’s not perfect, it’s messy. They don’t all pray. This isn’t a five hour long worship service. But we are together and we are ending the day in prayer. In fact, some complained.
Prayer. What a word. How often it slips from our mouth, right? I’ll pray for you. Can you? In times of national tragedy.. Say your prayers. What is effective prayer? We search for it. What touches the heart of God? How do we pray? Where is the best place? SO many questions.
Jesus walked this earth and in scouring the Gospels I believe we learn a blessed amount about prayer. Join me.
He worshiped His heavenly Father. Always.
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
He went to be alone to pray. Jesus understood the necessity of time alone with the Father.
Matthew 14:23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…
Mark 1: 35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Luke 5:16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
Luke 9: 18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
In deep sorrow…
Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.
Matthew 15: 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.
Matthew 26: 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,
Pray over others…
Matthew 19:13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
How do you categorize this one?🙂
Luke 9: 28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,b]”>[b] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
Teaching us to pray…
Luke 11:Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,b]”>[b]
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
One prayer I have failed to mention and one of my favorites, is the one found in John 17. This prayer of Jesus’ has most commonly been called the High Priestly Prayer.
More on this prayer soon.
For now, what has captured me is this: when didn’t Jesus pray? And if the Son of God prayed all the time how much more do I need constant communication with the Father?
Pray on. pray on…
Imagine the day with me. The Bible doesn’t tell us the time of day, but I’d like to think John the Baptist has been hard at work all day, teaching, baptizing and guiding people to the truth. He is exhausted. Yet, he knows his purpose. He knows the plan. He will not give up. He pushes his hair from his eyes and looks up to the horizon and there he sees a man. This was not just any man. I wonder if the Spirit stirred within him as He did when John jumped for joy in the womb upon seeing Mary. He came to the water’s edge.
13 ·At that time [Then] Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River ·and wanted John to baptize him [L to be baptized by John]. 14 But John tried to ·stop [deter; dissuade; prevent] him, saying, “·Why do [Do] you come to me to be baptized? I need to be baptized by you!”
15 Jesus answered, “Let it ·be this way for [happen] now. ·We should do all things that are God’s will [or In this way we will do what God requires; L For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness].” So John ·agreed to baptize Jesus [gave in; consented; allowed it].
This was to be no ordinary baptism, no ordinary encounter. Listen to Jesus’ words even here.
Let it be… In a way, Jesus was calming the storms within John. Peace, be still. This is your calling.
Do all things that are God’s will…God has seen fit that John baptize Jesus. In doing so, we learn and see the Trinity.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then ·heaven[the sky/heavens] opened, and he saw God’s Spirit ·coming down [descending and lighting/settling] on him like a dove [C either in the form of a dove, or in bird-like descent]. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my ·Son, whom I love [dearly beloved Son; Ps. 2:7; Gen. 22:2], and I am ·very [well] pleased with him [Is. 42:1].”
Jesus, the Son..as soon as Jesus was baptized..
God’s Spirit…coming down lighting on him like a dove..
God the Father…a voice from heaven, This is my Son…
Jesus, there’s just about that name. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
- Greek: iesous
- is a transliteration of the Heb. “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation,”
- Thus ‘Christ Jesus’ describes the Exalted One who emptied Himself, Phl 2:5, and testifies to His pre-existence; ‘Jesus Christ’ describes the despised and rejected One Who was afterwards glorified, Phl 2:11, and testifies to His resurrection. ‘Christ Jesus’ suggests His grace, ‘Jesus Christ’ suggests His glory.” *
Spirit of God. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
- Greek: pneuma
the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son
sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his personality and character (the “Holy” Spirit)
sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his work and power (the Spirit of “Truth”)
never referred to as a depersonalized force
How can I be so sure that we see the Trinity here? I know, the words. This is my Son. I’ve heard the argument, maybe it was an angel. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit speaking on God’s behalf. We can look no further than the Greek itself. Beautiful.
“a sound,” is used of the voice
(a) of God, Mat 3:17;
Friends, the voice? The voice was God’s. And, so Matthew has recorded here in his beautiful gospel the Trinity together in one place for us all to behold.
We can learn so much by study and reflection into the word of God. By learning and loving His word, join me, won’t you?
Pray on. pray on.
I must admit posting a video of Handel’s Messiah on the cusp of June feels a bit like walking into a store in October with Christmas decorations. Bear with me.
When our President comes to town, roads close, traffic comes to a halt. Here’s an example from a recent trip to Chicago:
The town prepares. I don’t even know what the Secret Service and government does. I’m not going to even try to research that.
When Mark introduces us to the Beautiful, he tells us about His messenger first. And He starts by reminding us about a prophecy in Isaiah.
This passage in Isaiah is a comfort passage. The Messiah is coming, beloved. Your God has not forgotten about you. Your God has not abandoned you. Make the roads ready. In the Old Testament times, when the people knew that their king was coming they would prepare the roads, fill in the holes, make the kingdom ready! They wanted to be ready for their king.
Well, John is the messenger. According to David Guzik,
John the Baptist’s was the one crying in the wilderness, and through his message of repentance, he worked to prepare the way of the LORD. We often fail to appreciate how important the preparing work of the LORD is. Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry. “John was God’s bulldozer to build that highway.” (Steadman)
Who is John the Baptist?
Malachi 3 Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the Messenger or Angel of the covenant, Whom you desire, behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts.
2 But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;
3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings in righteousness.
We’ve looked at his parents in my earlier blog. John comes from a priestly heritage on both sides. Zacharias came from the division of Abijah. There were 24 divisions of priesthood according to 1 Chronicles 24. Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron.
Matthew 3:4 This same John’s garments were made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Jesus described John best.🙂
7 Then as these men went their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: What did you go out in the wilderness (desert) to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
8 What did you go out to see then? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in the houses of kings.
10 This is the one of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who shall make ready Your way before You.
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a [d]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].
13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied up until John.
14 And if you are willing to receive and accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come [before the kingdom].
- Temporary…Matthew 3 In those days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea
2 And saying, Repent ([a]think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, [b]direct).
28 You yourselves are my witnesses [you personally bear me out] that I stated, I am not the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), but I have [only] been sent before Him [in advance of Him, to be His appointed forerunner, His messenger, His announcer].
29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the groomsman who stands by and listens to him rejoices greatly and heartily on account of the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my pleasure and joy, and it is now complete.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.]
- Light shone for a season…John 5:33-35
33 You yourselves have sent [an inquiry] to John and he has been a witness to the truth.
34 But I do not receive [a mere] human witness [the evidence which I accept on My behalf is not from man]; but I simply mention all these things in order that you may be saved (made and kept safe and sound).
35 John was the lamp that kept on burning and shining [to show you the way], and you were willing for a while to delight (sun) yourselves in his light.
5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him;
6 And they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins.
Jesus heard. Jesus came. And just as quickly as John’s flame burst on to scene? It was swept away…
19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been [repeatedly] told about his fault and reproved with rebuke [h]producing conviction by [John] for [having] Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the wicked things that Herod had done,
20 Added this to them all—that he shut up John in prison.
John then spends eleven chapters of Matthew in prison and we hear nothing of John the baptizer. Then, we hear. John is having doubts. The man who pointed Jesus out to all of his followers in the beginning? He isn’t sure.
When Jesus had finished His charge to His twelve disciples, He left there to teach and to preach in their [Galilean] cities.
2 Now when John in prison heard about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples
3 And asked Him, Are You the One Who was to come, or should we keep on expecting a different one?
2 And he said to his attendants, This is John the Baptist; He has been raised from the dead, and that is why the powers [a]of performing miracles are at work in Him.
3 For Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison [to [b]stow him out of the way] on account and for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,
4 For John had said to him, It is not lawful or right for you to have her.
5 Although he wished to have him put to death, he was afraid of the people, for they regarded John as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst [before the company] and pleased and fascinated Herod,
7 And so he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
8 And she, being put forward and prompted by her mother, said, Give me the head of John the Baptist right here on a [c]platter.
9 And the king was distressed and sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests, he ordered it to be given her;
10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.
Whoosh. That was a ton of reading. Hope you learned a little about John. All in one place.