Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Galilee

Jesus goes teaching and preaching in the Synagogues – Matthew 4:23-25

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Jesus goes teaching and preaching in the Synagogues – Matthew 4:23-25 – 05/11/2016

Matthew 4:23 (ESV) And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse twenty three of chapter four.

V23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Jesus went all about his mission from the get go, he knew the customs of the day that would allow visitors to teach in their synagogues and can you imagine being there and hearing the most holy words be read by the author himself? These Galileans did not know how blessed they were! Where better to start his ministry than the very house that they dedicated to God?

We read that Jesus was both teaching and preaching and although we have lumped them together in modern Christianity there is quite a difference in what he was doing, let’s look at that here…

  • Teaching – was where he was delivering the content and explaining what the matter meant.
  • Preaching – Is giving exposition on the scriptures and this is why the ESV uses the word proclamation because he was proclaiming the truth of what was written and its literal fulfillment in flesh before them. Who could argue with that?

In addition to his verbal ministry, Jesus was also healing people and was becoming quite famous for healing and I do wonder if people were coming to Jesus just looking for the temporary fix, you have to remember though that Jesus can see the heart and he knew who wanted what from him. Jesus did not seek fame and was simply looking to display the power that he had over sickness, and he had a genuine compassion for those who sought his help. We see what types of people in the next verse…

V24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

As stated above people wanted to meet the man who was healing all these people and his fame spread as far as Syria and they brought him to the author of all creation and he was able to demonstrate in a powerful way that he had power over creation and who better to fix someone than someone who was there and saw the original draft when the world was created.

I read this verse and it gives me great hope because as a spouse of someone who has a chronic pain issue and it reinforces my belief in the power of prayer because I know that Jesus can heal according to his will and here we see in a historical record written by a man who was so meticulous that the Romans had him collecting tax for them. He even goes as far to catalogue the types of people that Jesus healed. I love passages of scripture like this when I hear the skeptics argument that “the Bible is so vague”.

I also love that Jesus is mentioned to have healed people who were “demon possessed” and showed that he was indeed greater than he who was in the world. It was also a glimpse into the ease that Jesus will make all things new in the book of Revelation.

V25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Such as his fame attracted the numbers and here is a lesson for Pastors and leaders who worship the idea of having a mega ministry. I would state to you that it is not wrong to have such a united movement of people all pointing in the one direction as long as it is all about Jesus. I would state to follow Jesus example when he had the multitudes.

HE TAUGHT THEM! The temptation is there to not “go against the grain” or “talk about things that will lose numbers” Jesus never did that and Jesus frequently taught them the truth. Jesus wasn’t into impressing them with “holy tricks” or “miracles” he was looking to change their hearts and that is still the case today, if you have not accepted Jesus into your heart then I would urge you to get in contact and I would love to speak to you more. We are not promised tomorrow and the point of this blog is to introduce you to your Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses one through twelve of chapter five studying when teaches the part of scripture known as the beatitudes. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17 – 04/13/2016

Matthew 4:12 (ESV) Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse twelve of chapter four.

V12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

The “he” that is referred to in this article is of course referring to Jesus. Because of Matthew’s gospel and this verse we see the reason why Jesus withdrew into Galilee and why he was there before choosing his first disciples. We see that it was the arrest of John was the event that prompted the movement of Jesus.

This is one thing I love about the bible, the knowledge and treasures to explain details that may not seem correct or perhaps little pieces of scripture that seem simply “for information purposes only” and may be seen as the writer supplying more information than is necessary but these small pieces of an otherwise scriptural puzzle will show up inconsistencies as no longer inconsistent. I see this touted quite often as an inconsistency of the bible as to “why the messiah appeared in Jordan and then in Galilee at the same time?” and this may be too much explanation but I am here to help resolve such matters. Often times the folks who tout inconsistencies in the bible simply have not researched the scripture in full and pieced together the timeline.

I do find it interesting that the messiah retreated to an area that was disregarded by the Jewish state, one that was regarded as uneducated, cosmopolitan and worst of all polluted by Gentiles! From this area Jesus would pick many of his disciples as common, salt of the earth people. These people were tradesmen, fishermen or agricultural people. I recognize this type of people as for the last eight years of my life I have lived in Central California.

V13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

We read that he left Nazareth and that was a sad, sad story that we see explained in full in Luke 4…

Luke 4:16 (ESV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Consider the scene – The town the Messiah had earthly family in he chose to grace his hometown Synagogue and showed them face to face that he was the literal fulfilment of those prophecies (read verbatim from Isaiah 61:1-2) that they all knew so well and were praying for to be fulfilled, HE WAS THERE, IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES and they threw him out of the very place they prayed for him to come to! From a theological point of view it is tremendously sad.

Even the move to Capernaum was done to fulfill scripture; you may recognize the quoted text as being lifted straight from Isaiah 9:1-3…

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And then we see the focus of Jesus mission and the beginning of the preaching mission of Jesus…

V17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There are three parts to this sentence and I would like to focus on these separately…

  • From that time Jesus began to preach, – I love the Greek word “kerussein” which speaks of a heralds proclamation from a King or royalty and how fitting is that Jesus uses this at the beginning of his teaching ministry because he was heralding a life giving message from one who was far greater, far holier and far better than an earthly king.Jesus was also a healer who taught with “authority, not like the scribes or Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29)

    Matthew 7:28 (ESV) And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

  • Saying, “Repent, – Jesus very much continued the message that John had preached in the same place (Matthew 3) and therefore completing what John had said by announcing that the messiah was coming and of course Jesus WAS the Messiah!
  • For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Here he was! The living embodiment of heaven standing in front of them, if they only know that the star of the morning, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the majesty that stood before them, they would rightly have fell on their face and worshipped him like he deserved.

I love that the first words in his ministry were these because we all have to come to that same place, fall to our knees, repent and be forgiven of our sins. Then and only then can we begin that journey with Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses eighteen through twenty two of chapter four studying when Jesus called his first disciples. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17

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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17 – 03/16/2016

Matthew 3:13 (ESV) Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse thirteen of chapter three.

V13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

After John has been sufficiently introduced to us (remember Matthew was a meticulous records keeper being a tax collector) we see Jesus coming into the picture as an adult who is ready to begin his adult ministry. Jesus came of his own free will knowing what the Father wanted him to do but it is important that Jesus came of his own free will and gave a terrific example to those who should follow.

Can you imagine the discussions and dissentions or splits in the church that we would have if say had Jesus not have been baptized? Somewhere along the line we would have a group of people claiming that you should not be baptized because Jesus was not! It is human nature to be divisive but I believe that Jesus who is as timeless as the Father wanted to remove such frivolous problems.

Following that example we should also be baptized if we know what it means and have a desire to make that public declaration for Jesus Christ. If you are unsure or want to know more whether you should I would advise you to read the sixth chapter of the book of Romans, for me that is dynamite stuff and a great biblical basis for baptism. I have also done a baptism page of you are interested at the link here.

V14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John knew his place and stated that he was not fit to unloose the sandals of the Messiah. He also recognized that Jesus should be the one baptizing him because Jesus had no sin to repent of! John also realized that Jesus could give much more than John ever could and it was no wonder that John was perplexed by the notion that the one he knows as the Messiah is coming to him in this fashion so I do not knock him for wanting to keep his place and having a question whether this is correct, I love Jesus response in the next verse…

V15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Jesus allows himself to be baptized by John and saw John’s heart and understood why this was troubling to John. Jesus told John that is “fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” and this was because this was part of Jesus mission. Jesus saw the plan beforehand and was keen to reassure John that he was participating in the fathers plan for the Messiah. This was a step that Jesus had to take on a journey that would finish at the cross at Calvary and restart when he was resurrected three days later.

In so many ways Jesus wanted to identify with the ones he wanted to save, he dined with the poor and the sinful man, listened to their problems and identified with them, he showed them love and then taught them a sermon direct from Heaven. By the same token he was baptized in order to identify with the one who had to repent of his sin because Jesus came to earth to identify with us; he was born the same way we were and was brought up with parents just like we were and now we see that Jesus was standing in the place of a sinful man and this was very must the mission of Christ because he continued to do so until he took the punishment for sinful man at Calvary. The difference between Jesus and us is that he was the sinless Son of God!

V16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was baptized and the heavens opened and a proud Father rejoiced. The parents who are reading this get this right away because God was content to allow Jesus to be baptized but his baptism would not be like the others that the people witnessed that day. God opened the heavens to show that this baptism was special, that it was not just a sinner turning to the Father but identification direct from heaven in the person of God’s own son who came to atone for the sins of the world. There would be no confusion that Jesus had anything to atone for, this one was special because the Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove, and it could be seen by those in attendance. There were no witnesses that could attest that this was not something special. In the corresponding passage in the book of Luke we read…

Luke 3:21 (ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

So who was this man? John the Baptist bears witness in the Gospel of John…

John 1:29 (ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John understood what was going on and what he was witnessing, he witnessed that the Spirit descended on him and remained on him; we see the love, the cooperation and the triune nature of God vividly in this passage. This was a commission of ministry for Jesus and we see his adult ministry start from here. God shows his feelings for the situation by stating “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” God the Father was not going to stay silent on this matter and like any proud daddy he let all who were in attendance know how he felt.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in the first eleven verses of chapter four studying the temptation of Jesus. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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SDG

The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23

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The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23 – 02/03/2016

Matthew 2:19 (ESV) But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse nineteen.

V19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

God again spoke to Joseph through a dream by way of an angel of the Lord, much in the same way as he was told that Mary had not been unfaithful, also in the same way he was told to flee to Egypt in the first place and we again see Josephs remarkable obedience to what he now trusts to be true.

We don’t see from the text how long he was a refugee in Egypt, however we do see that there was enough time elapsed that Herod was dead at the point of return. We know that Jesus was still classified as a child so he would not be regarded as a young man (around the age of 13) We see in a few verses that Herod had been succeeded by his son and from research on the man, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that son.

Interestingly we see the way that the people are listed; the child is always listed before the mother in importance. We see that prophecy is being fulfilled because Jesus was called to be the messiah to the people of Israel first, he cannot do this if he is not back in Israel.

V22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

We now see Herod’s son is now in place as king over Judea, much like his father Herod the Great he was a puppet king under the Emperor Augustus, he was regarded as a man much in the same vein as his father, he is noted mainly by the Jewish historian Josephus.

Most of his battles internally were with the Jewish leaders of the day, he was the king who placed a golden eagle over the temple door with the Jewish leaders saw as blasphemous and was known for killing rivals and those who opposed his decrees. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on this matter”…

“Herod defended his works and offered an attack on his predecessors, the dynastic Hasmoneans. Herod killed all male lineal successors of the Hasmoneans. The Pharisees had long attacked the Hasmoneans as well, as having parentage from Greeks while under bondage. This racial slur was repeated by the Pharisees through the rule of Alexander Jannaeus and Queen Salome.”

He ruled for less than a decade and made enemies on all sides, he was replaced in 6AD with a Roman appointed governor. (You may remember that was the title of Pontius Pilate) and this is enough to tell you that the man’s reputation alone was enough to make Joseph rightly anxious about going there. Joseph decided to go back to the place where it all began for Mary and him. This made sense in a cultural basis going back to where they would have a support network.

V23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Interestingly enough they went into another province run by a King Herod, but this was the brother called Antipas who was regarded as a ruler with a much milder mannerisms. He went to an area that was not as densely populated with Jewish religious people, Galilee was the area that had a more broad spectrum of Jewish and Gentile mix, it was a fishing area and in this area which was not as highly regarded as the great city of Jerusalem it would be where the messiah of the world would grow up.

This touches me on so many levels, how many times have we seen God not using the things that we regard as remarkable and the things that we think God will regard because they are beautiful to man’s eyes, God sees them as nothing. It is true in my life also. I am an unremarkable man, however God has allowed me to be part of some really cool things in his name, I never think that it is me by any means. I consider myself to be a type of Nazareth, not much to look at but desiring to be used by God.

Joseph chose to go to the place with the bad reputation. When Philip is introduced to the messiah and finds out he hailed from Nazareth – He questioned and asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) He also chose to go to the place that knew the strange circumstances regarding Mary’s conception and how Joseph was not the earthly father of Jesus. Talk about starting the child off with a disadvantage.

It was very much the will of the Father that the child would fulfil prophecy, and when he was alive he was not known as “Jesus Christ” but simply “Jesus of Nazareth” and because of this his followers were sometimes called Nazarenes (see Acts 24:5)

Acts 24:5 (ESV) For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Jesus would be in small town life, if Joseph was gone then Jesus would be expected to fill in as man of the house, be faithful in his trade (his father’s trade) and be diligent in the small things prior to embarking on his ministry journey. This is a great lesson to us as we figure out what God’s plan or calling is on our lives. The encouragement is to be diligent, be faithful in the small things and be prepared for when God is going to open that door to whatever ministry he has planned for you.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:17 (ESV) But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

For me this is a super exciting piece of Scripture. Not because my predecessors in the faith suffered, but more that it is proof that once you become a Christian, it is not all light, airy and fairy, that God will act like some big genie in the sky and grant all of our wishes because we are “the real ones”, there are 2 reasons why God won’t do that:

1)    The heart (even the Christian one) is deceitfully wicked and we would be corrupted easily if that were the arrangement.
2)    We really have no idea what we want and what is best for us. I liken it to a toddler who is throwing a fit because there is no apple in the fridge and the store is closed, we may want it but it will not be fulfilled.

Which is why, for me at least, (and hopefully for you also) that the “name it and claim it” preachers are wrong, you know the guys, the ones who promote a prosperity driven gospel, a gospel that is good when you are making bank from it. The type of messages that contain notions such as “whatever you give God, he will give you TEN TIMES back” (I think they mean a super spiritual reverse tithing celestial building society account with the creator)

Now I am of the belief that you cannot out give God, however my faith is not dependent on me owning a Mercedes Benz, wearing Nike trainers, a Ralph Lauren shirt and a pair of Levi Jeans. Such faith will see very quickly your mettle. To quote a good old Scottish saying you would disappear like “snow off a dyke” (means when it gets hot the snow will not endure the change in conditions and melt on the top of a wall not built by cement)

This is something we are still learning in the Western church, the mission church, where we quite literally have to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (otherwise the Pastor would do everything) with the possible exception of small churches/house churches and smaller church plants, people are hiding in plain sight, either not serving or not having their gifts used by inept leadership at the local church level.

Now I have a confession to make, I stink at evangelism! I can quite literally talk someone’s ear off for hours on end about topics that will not matter and have no eternal relevance (or relevance in the next five minutes) but if you had me cold call on a person to discuss eternal life, I try hard but I am not relevant, unless they have similar struggles to what I have had. I understand the pull of addiction, I understand what a sinful life is, I understand what it is like to have your brain think the dishonest route is the primary route, I have been through that and I emphasize with those people. I get what they are going through,

Lets get to the passage huh?

Apologies for the random thoughts, but as I look at my Mac Book and see the time on the top right hand corner it currently reads 02:33 AM, I am currently writing this while caring for my sick child, I have been sick all this week and I think that I gave it to her. This article will either be one of the best I have written, or one of the worst.

As I ponder this I am reminded of an account that I heard when listening to a radio program I catch most days on my way home from work, the radio host said that a prominent preacher that he respected was having a conversation with him and he reminded him of a poignant truth.

He said “Remember the Donkey” to which the host replied “The Donkey?” and the preacher said, “Even the Donkey knew the celebration and palm leaves were for the one he was escorting into the city”

We have to remember that! As much as we may get kudos, or thanks for a message delivered, we are simply the vessels that God chooses to use. In the same way I can do most jobs around my house far quicker and far easier flying solo, it is so much fun to show your kids how to do stuff. That is why God uses us to do his work!

Point by point through this passage

Can you imagine the scenes in this story, lets break it down.

1)    Religious people get jealous, they are not getting the kudos (maybe not being seen as the holy ones anymore)
2)    Prison time for the Apostles, if we can’t shut them up then we will lock them up.
3)    Heavenly jailbreak, doors flung open and they are told from above to keep preaching.
4)    Obedience, they went out and preached again
5)    Brought back before the religious rulers and accused
6)    God or man? Whom should I follow?
7)    Jesus is proclaimed and the full counsel of the gospel is delivered
8)    Religious leaders consider their options, jail cannot hold them
9)    If it is of man it will fail, if it is of God it will not
10)  Went from house to house proclaiming Jesus is LORD

Why it is encouraging to me

Because I don’t face a religious court for proclaiming Jesus Christ is LORD. No one has sued me for my opinions or what God has put on my heart for me to say. I stick to Conservative Christian theology mainly so I doubt I will ever end up in the situation of these apostles.

I kind of wish I did though, in the Western church we have lost our edge, I feel that although we are called to a battle, perhaps a heavenly war as it were. I do wonder about the urgency we have to save souls. I am not tarring all Christians with the same brush, I do think that sometimes we blow it unintentionally, but there are times when we are missing clear open doors to help someone and talk to them about Jesus. (I am talking to me first)

What is stopping you dear Christian?

In this historical account, the apostles are tried, convicted, jailed, released, threatened, beaten and then they continue on with their mission. Have you faced any of that in the last year? I know I sure haven’t, I haven’t even been mocked for having the beliefs I have. So really, with no gun to my head or knife on my throat, I have erred in this task.

Please be reminded (or if you did not know then please be aware) these are not educated men, they are tradesmen from Galilee, some fishermen, a physician and a tax collector. Jesus did not choose 12 Pharisee best of the best scholars who were brave men and fantastic orators. He chose the man in the street, the coward, the wimp, the doubter, most famously he chose the betrayer and then much later he chose the former persecutor to evangelize the Gentiles.

What I am saying is that despite the reputation you believe you have or the ways you have excused yourself from service with God. God wants you to do your part, when Moses tried to use the “slow of speech” argument, God had none of that! Pray about what you are called to and get in there and get dirty doing the LORD’s work.

I love how the last verse is worded. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” No breaks, no me time, no reassessment of priorities, every single day, wherever they were, temple, market, street, whoever’s house they were allowed into they had one purpose and one purpose only:

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

I really need to reevaluate how I spend my time, how about you? That’s the challenge in this 2000 word article should you chose to accept it. Some will see it as good words and pass over it, some will ponder it a little while and have no resolve to implement it, but others will pray, meditate on these words. They will look for application and seek God’s will how they too can be teaching and preaching as often as possible. I pray you are in the third category.

God bless you one and all and I pray that this was a blessing for you, please like, share or comment below and please share this article on any social media platforms that the LORD leads you too. If you have any comments about this or any other article then I would commend you to use the comment function at the bottom of the page.
TGBTG
TTE