(1) THE STORY OF JESUS
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John rearranged by Subject & in Date order
FOLLOWERS OF JESUS:
THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM and WHAT FOLLOWING JESUS MEANS
Sections 1-23 of Part 17 bring together all the relevant verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - in that order.
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Year One - c AD27-28
17.1 JOHN THE BAPTIST TESTIFIES THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST
John 3:22-36 - After this (meeting with Nicodemus) Jesus went into the country of Judea with his disciples and stayed there with them while the work of baptism was being carried on. John (the Baptist), too, was in Aenon near Salim, baptising people because there was plenty of water in that district and they were still coming to him for baptism. (John of course had not yet been put in prison by Herod Antipas.)
This led to a question arising between John's disciples and one of the Jews about the whole matter of being cleansed. They approached John and said to him, "Master, look, the man (Jesus) who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one you testified to, is now baptising and everybody is coming to him!"
"A man can receive nothing at all," replied John, "unless it is given him from Heaven. You yourselves can witness that I said, 'I am not Christ but I have been sent as his forerunner.' It is the bridegroom who possesses the bride, yet the bridegroom's friend who merely stands and listens to him can be overjoyed to hear the bridegroom's voice. That is why my happiness is now complete. He must grow greater and greater and I less and less.
"The one who comes from above is naturally above everybody. The one who arises from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks from the earth. The one who comes from Heaven is above all others and he bears witness to what he has seen and heard - yet no one is accepting his testimony. Yet if a man does accept it, he is acknowledging the fact that God is true. For the one whom God sent speaks the authentic words of God - and there can be no measuring of the Spirit given to him! The Father loves the Son and has put everything into his hand. The man who believes in the Son has eternal life. The man who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; he lives under the anger of God."
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17.2 JESUS THE LIVING WATER - HIS MEETING WITH THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL
John 4:1-42 - (After John the Baptist's testimony that Jesus is the Christ ......) Now when the Lord (Jesus) found that the Pharisees had heard that "Jesus is making and baptising more disciples than John" - although, in fact, it was not Jesus who did the baptising but his disciples - he left Judea and went off again to Galilee, which meant passing through Samaria. There he came to a little town called Sychar, which is near the historic plot of land that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph, and "Jacob's Spring" was there. Jesus, tired with his journey, sat down beside it, just as he was. The time was about midday. Presently, a Samaritan woman arrived to draw some water.
"Please give me a drink," Jesus said to her, for his disciples had gone away to the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
"If you knew what God can give," Jesus replied, "and if you knew who it is that said to you, 'Give me a drink', I think you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water!"
"Sir," said the woman, "you have nothing to draw water with and this well is deep - where can you get your living water? Are you a greater man than our ancestor, Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank here himself with his family, and his cattle?"
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. For my gift will become a spring in the man himself, welling up into eternal life."
The woman said, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may stop being thirsty - and not have to come here to draw water any more!"
"Go and call your husband and then come back here," said Jesus to her.
"I haven't got a husband!" the woman answered.
"You are quite right in saying, 'I haven't got a husband'," replied Jesus, "for you have had five husbands and the man you have now is not your husband at all. Yes, you spoke the simple truth when you said that."
"Sir," said the woman again, "I can see that you are a prophet! Now our ancestors worshipped on this hill-side, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship -"
"Believe me," returned Jesus, "the time is coming when worshipping the Father will not be a matter of 'on this hill-side' or 'in Jerusalem'. Nowadays you are worshipping with your eyes shut. We Jews are worshipping with our eyes open, for the salvation of mankind is to come from our race. Yet the time is coming, yes, and has already come, when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in reality. Indeed, the Father looks for men who will worship him like that. God is spirit, and those who worship him can only worship in spirit and in reality."
"Of course I know that Messiah is coming," returned the woman, "you know, the one who is called Christ. When he comes he will make everything plain to us."
"I am Christ speaking to you now," said Jesus.
At this point his disciples arrived, and were surprised to find him talking to a woman, but none of them asked, "What do you want?" or "What are you talking to her about?" So the woman left her water-pot behind and went into the town and began to say to the people, "Come out and see the man who told me everything I've ever done! Can this be 'Christ'?" So they left the town and started to come to Jesus.
Meanwhile the disciples were begging him, "Master, do eat something."
To which Jesus replied, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
This, of course, made the disciples ask each other, "Do you think anyone has brought him any food?"
Jesus said to them, "My food is doing the will of him who sent me and finishing the work he has given me. Don't you say, 'Four months more and then comes the harvest'? But I tell you to open your eyes and look to the field - they are gleaming white, all ready for the harvest! The reaper is already being rewarded and getting in a harvest for eternal life, so that both sower and reaper may be glad together. For in this harvest the old saying comes true, 'One man sows and another reaps.' I have sent you to reap a harvest for which you never laboured; other men have worked hard and you have reaped the results of their labours."
Many of the Samaritans who came out of that town believed in him through the woman's testimony - "He told me everything I've ever done." And when they arrived they begged him to stay with them. He did stay there two days and far more believed in him because of what he himself said. As they told the woman, "We don't believe any longer now because of what you said. We have heard him with our own ears. We know now that this must be the man who will save the world!"
- Although the Samaritans and the Jews were centuries-old enemies, this is the third occasion the Gospels have shown them in a favourable light. First the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and then the gratitude of the healed Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11-19).
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Year Three - c AD29-30
17.3 THE TWELVE APOSTLES ARE SENT OUT TO PREACH AND HEAL
(Matthew 10:5-15; Mark 6:6b-13; Luke 9:1-6)
Matthew 10:5-15 - (Sometime after raising the daughter of Jairus .....) These (the newly chosen apostles) were the twelve whom Jesus sent out, with the instructions: "Don't turn off into any of the heathen roads, and don't go into any Samaritan town. Concentrate on the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go proclaim that the kingdom of Heaven has arrived. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers, drive out devils - give, as you have received, without any charge whatever.
"Don't take any gold or silver or even coppers to put in your purse; nor a knapsack for the journey, nor even a change of clothes, or sandals or a staff - the workman is worth his keep!
"Wherever you go, whether it is into a town or a village, find out someone who is respected, and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house give it your blessing. If the house deserves it, the peace of your blessing will come to it. But if it doesn't, your peace will return to you.
"And if no one will welcome you or even listen to what you have to say, leave that house or town, and once outside it shake off the dust of that place from your feet. Believe me, Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better in the day of judgment than that town."
Mark 6:6b-13 - Then (after Jesus had raised Jairus' daughter, and again been rejected in his own town of Nazareth) he made his way round the villages, continuing his teaching. He summoned the twelve, and began to send them out in twos, giving them power over evil spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the road except a staff - no satchel, no bread and no money in their pockets. They were to wear sandals and not to take more than one coat. And he told them, "Wherever you are, when you go into a house, stay there until you leave that place. And wherever people will not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, leave them and shake the dust off your feet as a protest against them!"
So they went out and preached that men should change their whole outlook. They expelled many evil spirits and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Luke 9:1-6 - Then (after raising Jairus' daughter) he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all evil spirits and the ability to heal disease. He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick, with these words, "Take nothing for your journey - neither a stick nor a purse nor food nor money, nor even extra clothes! When you come to stay at a house, remain there until you go on your way again. And where they will not welcome you, leave that town, and shake the dust off your feet as a protest against them!"
So they set out, and went from village to village preaching the Gospel and healing people everywhere.
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17.4 WARNINGS AND ENCOURAGEMENTS AS THE APOSTLES ARE SENT OUT
(Matthew 10:16-11:1; Luke 12:2-12;49-53;14:25-27)
Matthew 10:16-11:1 - "Here I am sending you (the recently chosen twelve apostles) out like sheep with wolves all round you; so be as wise as serpents and yet as harmless as doves. But be on your guard against men. For they will take you to the court and flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought into the presence of governors and kings because of me - to give your witness to them and to the heathen.
"But when they do arrest you, never worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be told at the time what you are to say. For it will not be really you who are speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
"Brothers are going to betray their brothers to death, and fathers their children. Children are going to betray their parents and have them executed. You yourselves will be universally hated because of my name. But the man who endures to the very end will be safe and sound.
"But when they persecute you in one town make your escape to the next. Believe me, you will not have covered the towns of Israel before the Son of Man arrives. The disciple is not superior to his teacher any more than the servant is superior to his master, for what is good enough for the teacher is good enough for the disciple as well, and the servant will not fare better than his master. If men call the master of the household the 'Prince of Evil', what sort of names will they give to his Servants? But never let them frighten you, for there is nothing covered up which is not going to be exposed nor anything private which will not be made public. The things I tell you in the dark you must say in the daylight, and the things you hear in your private ear you must proclaim from the house-tops.
They should reverence God but have no fear of man
"Never be afraid of those who can kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul! Far better to stand in awe of the one who has the power to destroy body and soul in the fires of destruction!
"Two sparrows sell for a farthing, don't they? Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's knowledge. The very hairs of your head are all numbered. Never be afraid, then - you are far more valuable than sparrows.
"Every man who publicly acknowledges me I shall acknowledge in the presence of my Father in Heaven, but the man who disowns me before men I shall disown before my Father in Heaven.
The Prince of Peace comes to bring division
"Never think I have come to bring peace upon the earth. No, I have not come to bring peace but a sword! For I have come to 'set a man against his own father, a daughter against her own mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law', and 'a man's foes will be those of his own household'.
"Anyone who puts his love for father or mother above his love for me does not deserve to be mine, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and neither is the man who refuses to take up his cross and follow my way. The man who has found his own life will lose it, but the man who has lost it for my sake will find it.
"Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me is welcoming the one who sent me.
"Whoever welcomes a prophet just because he is a prophet will get a prophet's reward. And whoever welcomes a good man just because he is a good man will get a good man's reward. Believe me, anyone who gives even a drink of water to one of these little ones, just because he is my disciple, will by no means lose his reward."
(Chapter 11 ...) When Jesus had finished giving his twelve disciples these instructions (at the end of Matthew's Second Discourse) he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns (of Galilee) in which they lived.
- In the following passages from Luke, Jesus repeats some of his warnings and encouragements:
Luke 12:2-12 - "For there is nothing covered up which is not going to be exposed, nor anything private which is not going to be made public. Whatever you may say in the dark will be heard in daylight, and whatever you whisper within four walls will be shouted from the house-tops."
Man need only fear God
"I tell you, as friends of mine, that you need not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but afterwards cannot do anything more. I will show you the only one you need to fear - the one who, after he has killed, has the power to throw you into destruction! Yes, I tell you, it is right to stand in awe of him. The market-price of five sparrows is two farthings, isn't it? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. Why, the very hairs of your heads are all numbered! Don't be afraid, then; you are worth more than a great many sparrows! I tell you that every man who publicly acknowledges me, I, the Son of Man, will acknowledge in the presence of the angels of God. But the man who publicly disowns me will find himself disowned before the angels of God!
"Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but there is no forgiveness for the man who speaks evil against the Holy Spirit. And when they bring you before the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, don't worry as to what defence you are going to put up or what word you are going to use. For the Holy Spirit will tell you at the time what is the right thing for you to say."
Luke 12:49-53 - "It is fire that I have come to bring upon the earth - how I could wish it were already ablaze! There is a baptism that I must undergo and how strained I am until it is over!
Jesus declares that his coming is bound to bring division
"Do you think I have come to bring peace on the earth? No, I tell you, not peace, but division! For from now on, there will be five people divided against each other in one house, three against two, and two against three. It is going to be father against son, and son against father, and mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law!"
Luke 14:25-27 - Now as Jesus proceeded on his journey, great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and spoke to them, "If anyone comes to me without 'hating' his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple."
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17.5 JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE AND THE HARD REALITY OF HIS TEACHING?
John 6:22-71 - The following day (after Jesus had fed the five thousand and walked on the water), the crowd, who had remained on the other side of the lake (the Sea of Galilee), noticed that only the one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not embarked on it with the disciples, but that they had in fact gone off by themselves. Some other small boats from Tiberias had landed quite near the place where they had eaten the food and the Lord had given thanks. When the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor the disciples were there any longer, they themselves got into the boats and went off to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they had found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, "Master, when did you come here?"
"Believe me," replied Jesus, "you are looking for me now not because you saw my signs but because you ate that food and had all you wanted. You should not work for the food which does not last but for the food which lasts on into eternal life. This is the food the Son of Man will give you, and he is the one who bears the stamp of God the Father."
This made them ask him, "What must we do to carry out the work of God?"
"The work of God for you," replied Jesus, "is to believe in the one (Jesus) whom he has sent to you."
Then they asked him, "Then what sign can you give us that will make us believe in you? What work are you doing? Our forefathers (during the Exodus from Egypt) ate manna in the desert just as the scripture says, 'He gave them bread out of Heaven to eat.'"
To which Jesus replied, "Yes, but what matters is not that Moses gave you bread from Heaven, but that my Father is giving you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God which comes down from Heaven gives life to the world."
This made them say to him, "Lord, please give us this bread, always!"
Then Jesus said to them, "I myself am the bread of life. The man who comes to me will never be hungry and the man who believes in me will never again be thirsty. Yet I have told you that you have seen me and do not believe. Everything that my Father gives me will come to me and I will never refuse anyone who comes to me. For I have come down from Heaven, not to do what I want, but to do the will of him who sent me. The will of him who sent me is that I should not lose anything of what he has given me, but should raise it up when the last day comes. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and trusts in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up when the last day comes."
At this, the Jews began grumbling at him because he said, "I am the bread which came down from Heaven", remarking "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose parents we know? How can he say that 'I have come down (as the true manna) from Heaven'?"
So Jesus answered them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. Nobody comes to me unless he is drawn to me by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up when the last day comes. In the prophets it is written - 'And they shall all be taught by God,' and this means that everybody who has heard the Father's voice and learned from him will come to me. Not that anyone has ever seen the Father except the one who comes from God - he has seen the Father. I assure you that the man who trusts in him has eternal life already. I myself am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, and they died. This is bread that comes down from Heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die. I myself am the living bread which came down from Heaven, and if anyone eats this bread he will live for ever. The bread which I will give is my body and I shall give it for the life of the world."
This led to a fierce argument among the Jews, some of them saying, "How can this man give us his body to eat?"
So Jesus said to them, "Unless you do eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you are not really living at all. The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up when the last day comes. For my body is real food and my blood is real drink. The man who eats my body and drinks my blood shares my life and I share his. Just as the living Father sent me and I am alive because of the Father, so the man who lives on me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from Heaven! It is not like the manna which your forefathers used to eat, and died. The man who eats this bread will live for ever."
Jesus said all these things while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. Many of his disciples heard him say these things, and commented, "This is hard teaching indeed; who could accept that?"
Then Jesus, knowing intuitively that his disciples were complaining about what he had just said, went on, "Is this too much for you? Then what would happen if you were to see the Son of Man going up to the place where he was before? It is the Spirit which gives life. The flesh will not help you. The things which I have told you are spiritual and are life. But some of you will not believe me."
For Jesus knew from the beginning which of his followers did not trust him and who was the man who would betray him. Then he added, "This is why I said to you, 'No one can come to me unless my Father puts it into his heart to come.'"
As a consequence of this, many of his disciples withdrew and no longer followed him. So Jesus said to the twelve, "And are you too wanting to go away?"
"Lord," answered Simon Peter, "who else should we go to? Your words have the ring of eternal life! And we believe and are convinced that you are the holy one of God."
Jesus replied, "Did I not choose you twelve - and one of you has the devil in his heart?"
He was speaking of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, one of the twelve, who was planning to betray him.
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17.6 "WHO DO PEOPLE SAY I AM?" ASKS JESUS
(Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21)
Matthew 16:13-20 - When Jesus reached the Caesarea-Philippi district (sometime after feeding the four thousand, and the Pharisee's demand for a sign from heaven) he asked his disciples a question. "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
"Well, some say John the Baptist," they told him. "Some say Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
"But what about you?" he said to them. "Who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You? You are Christ, the Son of the living God!"
"Simon, son of Jonah, you are a fortunate man indeed!" said Jesus, "for it was not your own nature but my Heavenly Father who has revealed this truth to you! Now I tell you that you are Peter the rock, and it is on this rock that I am going to found my Church, and the powers of death will never prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; whatever you forbid on earth will be what is forbidden in Heaven and whatever you permit on earth will be what is permitted in Heaven!" Then he impressed on his disciples that they should not tell anyone that he was Christ.
Mark 8:27-30 - (In Mark's account after healing the blind man in Bethsaida .....) Jesus then went away with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who are men saying that I am?"
"John the Baptist," they answered. "But others say that you are Elijah or, some say, one of the prophets."
Then he asked them, "But what about you - who do you say that I am?"
"You are Christ!" answered Peter.
Then Jesus impressed it upon them that they must not mention this to anyone.
Luke 9:18-21 - Then (after feeding the five thousand. Note that Luke's Gospel does not include the feeding of the 4,000) came this incident. While Jesus was praying by himself, having only the disciples near him, he asked them this question: "Who are the crowd saying that I am?"
"Some say that you are John the Baptist," they replied. "Others that you are Elijah, and others think that one of the old-time prophets has come to life again."
Then he said, "And who do you say that I am?"
"God's Christ! said Peter.
But Jesus expressly told them not to say a word to anybody, ......
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17.7 CARRYING THE CROSS OF JESUS
(Matthew 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-9:1; Luke 9:23-27)
Matthew 16:24-28 - Then (after predicting his death and resurrection for the first time .....) Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it. For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What could a man offer to buy back his soul once he had lost it?
"For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father and in the company of his angels and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Believe me, there are some standing here today who will know nothing of death till they have seen the Son of Man coming as a king."
Mark 8:34-38; 9:1 - Then (as in Matthew's account) he called his disciples and the people around him, and said to them, "If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. The man who tries to save his life will lose it; it is the man who loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's who will save it. What good can it do a man to gain the whole world at the price of his own soul? What can a man offer to buy back his soul once he has lost it? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in the Father's glory with the holy angels around him."
(Chapter 9 ....) Then he added, "Believe me, there are some of you standing here who will know nothing of death until you have seen the kingdom of God coming in its power!"
Luke 9:23-27 - Then (as in Matthew and Mark) he spoke to them all.
"If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses his life for my sake will save it. For what is the use of a man gaining the whole world if he loses or forfeits his own soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him, when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and the holy angels. I tell you the simple truth - there are men standing here today who will not taste death until they have seen the kingdom of God!"
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17.8 "WHO IS THE GREATEST?"
(Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48)
Matthew 18:1-5 - The start of Matthew's Fourth Discourse "Greatness and Forgiveness" concluding at verse 19:1 "When Jesus had finished ...":
It was at this time (after healing the epileptic boy, and then using a fish to pay the temple tax!) that the disciples came to Jesus with the question, "Who is really greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?"
Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. "Believe me," he said, "unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the man who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.
"Anyone who welcomes one child like this for my sake is welcoming me."
Mark 9:33-37 - So (sometime after healing the epileptic boy) they came to Capernaum. And when they were indoors he asked them, "What were you discussing as we came along?"
They were silent, for on the way they had been arguing about who should be the greatest. Jesus sat down and called the twelve, and said to them, "If any man wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all."
Then he took a little child and stood him in front of them all, and putting his arms round him, said to them, "Anyone who welcomes one little child like this for my sake is welcoming me. And the man who welcomes me is welcoming not only me but the one who sent me!"
Luke 9:46-48 - Then (shortly after healing the boy with epilepsy) an argument arose among them as to who should be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were arguing about, took a little child and made him stand by his side. And then he said to them, "Anyone who accepts a little child in my name is really accepting me, and the man who accepts me is really accepting the one who sent me. It is the humblest among you all who is really the greatest."
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17.9 THE MAN NOT AGAINST JESUS IS FOR HIM!
(Mark 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50)
Mark 9:38-41 - Then (after Jesus had dealt with an argument about which disciple was the greatest) John said to him, "Master, we saw somebody driving out evil spirits in your name, and we stopped him, for he is not one who follows us."
But Jesus replied, "You must not stop him. No one who exerts such power in my name would readily say anything against me. For the man who is not against us is on our side. In fact, I assure you that the man who gives you a mere drink of water in my name, because you are followers of mine, will most certainly be rewarded."
Luke 9:49-50 - Then John broke in (as in Mark), "Master, we saw a man driving out evil spirits in your name, but we stopped him, for he is not one of us who follow you."
But Jesus told him, "You must not stop him. The man who is not against you is on your side."
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17.10 HARD DECISIONS FOR THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS - "LET THE DEAD BURY THE DEAD!"
(Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 9:57-62)
Matthew 8:18-22 - When Jesus (after healing the leper) had seen the great crowds around him he gave orders for departure to the other side of the lake (of Galilee). But before they started, one of the scribes came up to Jesus and said to him, "Master, I will follow you wherever you go."
"Foxes have earths, birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere that he can call his own," replied Jesus.
Another of his disciples said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."
But Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."
Luke 9:57-62 - As the little company made its way along the road (in Luke's account, after Jesus had been rejected by a Samaritan village), a man said to him, "I'm going to follow you wherever you go."
And Jesus replied, "Foxes have earths, birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere that he can call his own."
But he said to another man, "Follow me."
And he replied, "Let me go and bury my father first."
But Jesus told him, "Leave the dead to bury their own dead. You must come away and preach the kingdom of God."
Another man said to him, "I am going to follow you, Lord, but first let me bid farewell to my people at home."
But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts his hand to the plough and then looks behind him is useless for the kingdom of God."
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17.11 MORE DISCIPLES ARE NEEDED - THE SEVENTY (OR 72) ARE SENT OUT
(Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 10:1-12,16-20)
Matthew 9:35-38 - (In this account he speaks about the great harvest .....) Jesus now travelled through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of illness and disability. As he looked at the vast crowds he was deeply moved with pity for them, for they were as bewildered and miserable as a flock of sheep with no shepherd.
"The harvest is great enough," he remarked to his disciples, "but the reapers are few. So you must pray to the Lord of the harvest to send men out to reap it."
Luke 10:1-12,16-20 - Later on (following the command to "let the dead bury the dead") the Lord commissioned seventy other disciples and sent them off in twos as advance-parties into every town and district where he intended to go.
- Some of the people whose names appear in the Acts of the Apostles and throughout the accounts of the early Church, are traditionally associated with the unnamed 70
"There is a great harvest," he told them, "but only a few are working in it - which means you must pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send out more reapers.
"Now go on your way. I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Don't carry a purse or a pair of shoes, and don't stop to pass the time of day with anyone you meet on the road. When you go into a house, say first of all, 'Peace be to this household!' If there is a lover of peace there, he will accept your words of blessing, and if not, they will come back to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink whatever they put before you - a workman deserves his wages. But don't move from one house to another.
"Whatever town you go into and the people welcome you, eat the meals they give you and heal the people who are ill there. Tell them, 'The kingdom of God is very near to you now.' But whenever you come into a town and they will not welcome you, you must go into the streets and say, 'We brush off even the dust of your town from our feet as a protest against you. But it is still true that the kingdom of God has arrived! I assure you that it will be better for Sodom in 'that day' than for that town.
(Verse 16 ....) Then (after warning such towns as Chorazin and Bethsaida about God's penalty for rejecting the Gospel) he added to the seventy, "Whoever listens to you is listening to me, and the man who has no use for you has no use for me either. And the man who has no use for me has no use for the one who sent me!"
Jesus tells the returned missioners not to be enthusiastic over mere power
Later the seventy came back full of joy
"Lord," they said, "even evil spirits obey us when we use your name!"
"Yes," returned Jesus, "I was watching and saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning! It is true that I have given you the power to tread on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the enemy's power - there is nothing at all that can do you any harm. Yet it is not your power over evil spirits which should give such joy, but the fact that your names are written in Heaven."
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17.12 JESUS REJOICES FOR THOSE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND HIS MESSAGE
(Matthew 11:25-27; 13:16-17; Luke 10:21-24)
Matthew 11:25-27 - At this same time (as he warned the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida) Jesus said, "O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, I thank you for hiding these things from the clever and intelligent and for showing them to mere children. Yes, I thank you, Father, that this was your will."
Then he said: "Everything has been put in my hands by my Father, and nobody knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son - and the man to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Matthew 13:16-17 - (And later in Matthew .....) "But how fortunate you are to have eyes that see and ears that hear! Believe me, a great many prophets and good men have longed to see what you are seeing and they never saw it. Yes, and they longed to hear what you are hearing and they never heard it."
Luke 10:21-24 - At that moment (as the 70 disciples returned) Jesus himself was inspired with joy, and exclaimed, "O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, I thank you for hiding these things from the clever and the intelligent and for showing them to mere children! Yes, I thank you, Father, that this was your will." Then he went on, "Everything has been put in my hands by my Father; and nobody knows who the Son really is except the Father. Nobody knows who the Father really is except the Son - and the man to whom the Son chooses to reveal him!"
Then he turned to his disciples and said to them quietly, "How fortunate you are to see what you are seeing! I tell you that many prophets and kings have wanted to see what you are seeing but they never saw it, and to hear what you are hearing but they never heard it."
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17.13 TWO MORE WOMEN FOLLOWERS, MARTHA AND MARY, AND HOW THEY RECEIVED HIM
Luke 10:38-42 - As they continued their journey, Jesus came to a village (Bethany on the outskirts of Jerusalem) and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister by the name of Mary (and a brother, the Lazarus who was raised from the dead) who settled down at the Lord's feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations and she burst in, saying, "Lord, don't you mind that my sister has left me to do everything by myself? Tell her to get up and help me!"
But the Lord answered her, "Martha, my dear, you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her!"
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17.14 TRUE HAPPINESS IS HEARING AND OBEYING GOD
Luke 11:27-28 - And while he was still saying this (... Jesus' reply to the accusation of being in league with the devil), a woman in the crowd called out and said, "Oh, what a blessing for a woman to have brought you into the world and nursed you!"
But Jesus replied, "Yes, but a far greater blessing to hear the word of God and obey it."
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17.15 JESUS, THE DOOR FOR THE SHEEP, AND THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:1-18 - (The man born blind and healed by Jesus has been interrogated by the Pharisees ......) Then Jesus (speaking about such people as the Pharisees) said, "Believe me when I tell you that anyone who does not enter the sheepfold though the door, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a rogue. It is the shepherd of the flock who goes in by the door. It is to him the door-keeper opens the door and it is his voice that the sheep recognise. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out of the fold, and when he has driven all his own flock outside, he goes in front of them himself, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger - indeed, they will run away from him, for they do not recognise strange voices."
Jesus gave them this illustration but they did not grasp the point of what he was saying to them. So Jesus said to them once more, "I do assure you that I myself am the door for the sheep. All who have gone before me are like thieves and rogues, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If a man goes in through me, he will be safe and sound; he can come in and out and find his food. The thief comes with the sole intention of stealing and killing and destroying, but I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will give his life for the sake of the his sheep. But the hired man, who is not the shepherd, and does not own the sheep, will see the wolf coming, desert the sheep and run away. And the wolf will attack the flock and send them flying. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and has no interest in the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know those that are mine and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I am giving my life for the sake of the sheep.
"And I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will hear my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is the reason why the Father loves me - that I lay down my life, and I lay it down to take it up again! No one is taking it from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again. This is an order that I have received from my Father."
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The Last Months - c AD29-30
17.16 ACCEPTING THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE A CHILD
(Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17)
Matthew 19:13-15 - Then (after the Pharisees had questioned Jesus about divorce) some little children were brought to him, so that he could put his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples frowned on the parents' action but Jesus said, "You must let little children come to me, and you must never stop them. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children like these!" Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Mark 10:13-16 - Then (again after being questioned about divorce) some people came to him bringing little children for him to touch. The disciples tried to discourage them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant and told them, "You must let little children come to me - never stop them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Indeed, I assure you that the man who does not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Then he took the children in his arms and laid his hands on them and blessed them.
Luke 18:15-17 - Then (in Luke's account after the parables about "the persistent widow and the unjust judge" and "the Pharisee and the tax-collector") people began to bring babies to him so that he could put his hands on them. But when the disciples noticed it, they frowned on them. But Jesus called them to him, and said, "You must let little children come to me, and you must never prevent their coming. The kingdom of God belongs to little children like these. I tell you, the man who will not accept the kingdom of God like a little child will never get into it at all."
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17.17 POSSESSIONS AS A POSSIBLE BARRIER TO FOLLOWING JESUS - "THE RICH YOUNG MAN"
(Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30)
Matthew 19:16-30 - Then (after welcoming the little children) it happened that a man (or rich young ruler in other accounts) came up to him and said, "Master what good thing must I do to secure eternal life?"
"I wonder why you ask me about what is good?" Jesus answered him. "Only one is good. But if you want to enter that life you must keep the commandments."
"Which ones?" he asked. "'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'Honour your father and your mother', and 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself'," replied Jesus.
"I have carefully kept all these," returned the young man. "What is still missing in my life?"
Then Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go now and sell your property and give the money away to the poor - you will have riches in Heaven. Then come and follow me!"
When the young man heard that he turned away crestfallen, for he was very wealthy.
Then Jesus remarked to his disciples, "Believe me, a rich man will find it very difficult to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I repeat, a camel could more easily squeeze through the eye of a needle than a rich man get into the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were simply amazed to hear this, and said, "Then who can possibly be saved?"
Jesus looked steadily at them and replied, "Humanly speaking it is impossible; but with God anything is possible!"
Jesus declares that sacrifice for the kingdom will be repaid
At this Peter exclaimed, "Look, we have left everything and followed you. What is that going to be worth to us?"
"Believe me," said Jesus, "when I tell you that in the next world, when the Son of Man shall sit down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones and become judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. Every man who has left houses or brothers or sisters or fathers or mother or children or land for my sake will receive it all back many times over, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first now will be last then - and the last first!
Mark 10:17-31 - As he began to take the road again (after welcoming the children), a man came running up and fell at his feet, and asked him, "Good Master, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?"
"I wonder why you call me good," returned Jesus. "No one is good - only God. You know the commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder', 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honour your father and your mother'."
"Master," he replied, "I have kept carefully all these since I was quite young."
Jesus looked steadily at him, and his heart warmed towards him. Then he said, "There is one thing you still want. Go and sell everything you have, give the money away to the poor - you will have riches in Heaven. And then come back and follow me."
At these words his face fell and he went away in deep distress, for he was very rich. Then Jesus looked round at them all, and said to his disciples, "How difficult it is for those who have great possessions to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were staggered at these words, but Jesus continued, "Children, you don't know how hard it can be to get into the kingdom of Heaven. Why, a camel could more easily squeeze through the eye of a needle than a rich man get into the kingdom of God."
At this their astonishment knew no bounds, and they said to each other, "Then who can possibly be saved?"
Jesus looked straight at them and said, "Humanly speaking it is impossible, but not with God. Everything is possible with God."
Then Peter burst out, "But look, we have left everything and followed you!"
"I promise you," returned Jesus, "nobody leaves home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and the Gospel's without getting back a hundred times over, now in this present life, homes and brothers and sisters, mothers and children and land - though not without persecution - and in the next world eternal life. But many who are first now will then be last, and the last now will then be first."
Luke 18:18-30 - Then (as in Matthew and Mark) one of the Jewish rulers put this question to him, "Master, I know that you are good; tell me, please, what must I do to be sure of eternal life?"
"I wonder why you call me good?" returned Jesus. "No one is good - only the one God. You know the commandments - 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Honour your father and your mother'".
"All these," he replied, "I have carefully kept since I was quite young."
And when Jesus heard that, he said to him, "There is still one thing you have missed. Sell everything you possess and give the money away to the poor, and you will have riches in Heaven. Then come and follow me."
But when he heard this, he was greatly distressed for he was very rich.
And when Jesus saw how his face fell, he remarked, "How difficult it is for those who have great possessions to enter the kingdom of God! A camel could squeeze through the eye of a needle more easily than a rich man could get into the kingdom of God."
Those who heard Jesus say this, exclaimed, "Then who can possibly be saved?"
Jesus replied, "What men find impossible is perfectly possible with God."
"Well," rejoined Peter, "we have left all that we ever had and followed you."
And Jesus told them, "Believe me, nobody has left his home or wife, or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God, without receiving very much more in this present life - and eternal life in the world to come."
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17.18 JESUS COMES TO SERVE - JOHN AND JAMES WANT TO BE FIRST!
(Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45)
Matthew 20:20-28 - At this point (as Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem for the last time) the mother of the sons of Zebedee arrived with her sons and knelt in front of Jesus to ask him a favour. "What is it you want?" he asked her.
- The mother of the sons of Zebedee - John and James - was probably Salome who was also present at the crucifixion -
"Please say that these two sons of mine may sit one on each side of you when you are king!" she said.
"You don't know what it is you are asking," replied Jesus. "Can you two drink what I have to drink?"
"Yes, we can," they answered.
"Ah, you will indeed 'drink my drink'," Jesus told them, "but as for sitting on either side of me, that is not for me to grant - that belongs to those for whom my Father has planned it."
When the other ten heard of this incident they were highly indignant with the two brothers.
But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the heathen lord it over them and that their great ones have absolute power? But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all, and if he wants to be first among you he must be your slave - just as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free."
Mark 10:35-45 - Then (as in Matthew) Zebedee's two sons James and John approached him, saying "Master, we want you to grant us a special request."
"What do you want me to do for you?" answered Jesus.
"Give us permission to sit one on each side of you in the glory of your kingdom!"
"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them.
"Can you drink the cup I have to drink? Can you go through the baptism I have to bear?"
"Yes, we can," they replied.
Then Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink the cup I am drinking, and you will undergo the baptism which I have to bear! But as for sitting on either side of me, that is not for me to give - such places belong to those for whom they are intended."
When the other ten heard about this, they began to be highly indignant with James and John; so Jesus called them all to him, and said, "You know that the so-called rulers in the heathen world lord it over them, and their great men have absolute power. But it must not be so among you. No, whoever among you wants to be great must become the servant of you all, and if he wants to be first among you he must be the slave of all men! For the Son of Man himself has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to set many others free."
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17.19 THE CALLING OF ZACCHAEUS THE TAX-COLLECTOR
Luke 19:1-10 - Then he went into Jericho (on the final stage of the last journey to Jerusalem) and was making his way through it. And here we find a wealthy man called Zacchaeus, a chief collector of taxes, wanting to see what sort of person Jesus was. But the crowd prevented him from doing so, for he was very short. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to get a view of Jesus as he was heading that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and saw the man and said, "Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down. I must be your guest today."
So Zacchaeus hurriedly climbed down and gladly welcomed him. But the bystanders muttered their disapproval, saying, "Now he has gone to stay with a real sinner."
But Zacchaeus himself stopped and said to the Lord, "Look, sir, I will give half my property to the poor. And if I have swindled anybody out of anything I will pay him back four times as much,"
Jesus said to him, "Salvation has come to this house today! Zacchaeus is a descendant of Abraham, and it was the lost the Son of Man came to seek - and to save."
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The Last Week in Jerusalem - Spring c AD30
The following four chapters are from John's account of the Last Supper, the night before Jesus is crucified. Because these "Farewell Discourses" are about his follower's relationship with himself Jesus the Son, and with the Holy Spirit and God the Father, they are included here:
17.20 JESUS THE WAY TO GOD THE FATHER AND THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT - "I AM THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE"
John 14:1-31 - "You must not let yourselves be distressed - you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father's House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take."
"Lord," Thomas remonstrated, "we do not know where you're going, and how can we know what road you're going to take?"
"I myself am the road," replied Jesus, "and the truth and the life. No one approaches the Father except through me. If you had known who I am, you would have known my Father. From now on, you do know him and you have seen him."
Jesus explains his relationship with the Father
Then Philip said to him, "Show us the Father, Lord, and we shall be satisfied."
"Have I been such a long time with you," returned Jesus, "without your really knowing me, Philip? The man who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The very words I say to you are not my own. It is the Father who lives in me who carries out his work through me. Do you believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? But if you cannot, then believe me because of what you see me do. I assure you that the man who believes in me will do the same things that I have done, yes, and he will do even greater things than these, for I am going away to the Father. Whatever you ask the Father in my name, I will do - that the Son may bring glory to the Father. And if you ask me anything in my name, I will grant it.
Jesus promises the Spirit
"If you really love me, you will keep the commandments I have given you and I shall ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you always. I mean the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, for it can neither see nor recognise that Spirit. But you recognise him, for he is with you now and will be in your hearts. I am not going to leave you alone in the world - I am coming to you. In a very little while, the world will see me no more but you will see me, because I am really alive and you will be alive too. When that day come, you will realise that I am in my Father, that you are in me, and I am in you.
"Every man who knows my commandments and obeys them is the man who really loves me, and every man who really loves me will himself be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and make myself known to him."
Then Judas (not Iscariot), said, "Lord, how is it that you are going to make yourself known to us but not to the world?"
And to this Jesus replied, "When a man loves me, he follows my teaching. Then my Father will love him, and we will come to that man and make our home within him. The man who does not really love me will not follow my teaching. Indeed, what you are hearing from me now is not really my saying, but comes from the Father who sent me.
"I have said all this while I am still with you. But the one who is coming to stand by you, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will be your teacher and will bring to your minds all that I have said to you.
"I leave behind with you - peace; I give you my own peace and my gift is nothing like the peace of this world. You must not be distressed and you must not be daunted. You have heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you really loved me, you would be glad because I am going to my Father, for my Father is greater than I. And I have told you of it now, before it happens, so that when it does happen, your faith in me will not be shaken. I shall not be able to talk much longer to you for the spirit that rules this world is coming very close. He has no hold over me, but I go on my way to show the world that I love the Father and do what he sent me to do ... Get up now! Let us leave this place (presumably the Upper Room or the table where the Last Supper is being held).
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17.21 UNION WITH JESUS - "THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES", AND THE HATRED OF THE WORLD
John 15:1-16:4 - (During the Last Supper, Jesus continues .......) "I am the real vine, my Father is the vine-dresser. He removes any of my branches which are not bearing fruit and he prunes every branch that does bear fruit to increase its yield. Now, you have already been pruned by my words. You must go on growing in me and I will grow in you. For just as the branch cannot bear any fruit unless it shares the life of the vine, so you can produce nothing unless you go on growing in me. I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all. The man who does not share my life is like a branch that is broken off and withers away. He becomes just like the dry sticks that men pick up and use for the firewood. But if you live your life in me, and my words live in your hearts, you can ask for whatever you like and it will come true for you. This is how my Father will be glorified - in your becoming fruitful and being my disciples.
"I have loved you just as the Father has loved me. You must go on living in my love. If you keep my commandments you will live in my love just as I have kept my Father's commandments and live in his love. I have told you this so that you can share my joy, and that your happiness may be complete. This is my commandment: that you love each other as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this - that a man should lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I tell you to do. I shall not call you servants any longer, for a servant does not share his master's confidence. No, I call you friends, now, because I have told you everything that I have heard from the Father.
"It is not that you have chosen me; but it is I who have chosen you. I have appointed you to go and bear fruit that will be lasting; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you.
Jesus speaks of the world's hatred
"This I command you, love one another! If the world hates you, you know that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own. But because you do not belong to the world and I have chosen you out of it, the world will hate you. Do you remember what I said to you, 'The servant is not greater than his master'? If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you as well, but if they have followed my teaching, they will also follow yours. They will do all these things to you as my disciples because they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. The man who hates me, hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them things that no other man has ever done, they would not have been guilty of sin, but as it is they have seen and they have hated both me and my Father. Yet this only fulfils what is written in their Law - 'They hated me without a cause'.
But when the helper comes, that is, the Spirit of truth (the Holy Spirit), who comes from the Father and whom I myself will send to you from the Father, he will speak plainly about me. And you yourselves will also speak plainly about me for you have been with me from the first.
Jesus speaks of the future without his bodily presence
(Chapter 16 ....) "I am telling you this now so that your faith in me may not be shaken. They will excommunicate you from their synagogues. Yes, the time is coming when a man who kills you will think he is thereby serving God! They will act like this because they have never had any true knowledge of the Father or of me, but I have told you all this so that when the time comes for it to happen you may remember that I told you about it. I have not spoken like this to you before, because I have been with you ......"
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17.22 JESUS TALKS ABOUT THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE FUTURE
John 16:5-33 - (Jesus continues ....) "but now the time has come for me to go away to the one who sent me. None of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' That is because you are so distressed at what I have told you. Yet I am telling you the simple truth when I assure you that it is a good thing for you that I should go away. For if I did not go away, the divine helper would not come to you. But if I go, then I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convince the world of the meaning of sin, of true goodness and of judgment. He will expose their sin because they do not believe in me; he will reveal true goodness for I am going away to the Father and you will see me no longer; and he will show them the meaning of judgment, for the spirit which rules this world will have been judged.
"I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now. Yet when that one I have spoken to you about comes - the (Holy) Spirit of truth - he will guide you into everything that is true. For he will not be speaking of his own accord but exactly as he hears, and he will inform you about what is to come. He will bring glory to me for he will draw on my truth and reveal it to you. Whatever the Father possesses is also mine; that is why I tell you that he will draw on my truth and will show it to you.
The disciples are puzzled: Jesus explains
"In a little while you will not see me any longer, and again, in a little while you will see me."
At this some of his disciples remarked to each other, "What is this that he tells us now, 'A little while and you will not see me, and again, in a little while you will see me' and 'for I am going away to the Father'? What is the 'little while' that he talks about?" they were saying. "We simply do not know what he means!"
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him what he meant, so he said to them, "Are you trying to find out from each other what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will not see me, and again, in a little while you will see me'? I tell you truly that you are going to be both sad and sorry while the world is glad. Yes, you will be deeply distressed, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman gives birth to a child, she certainly knows pain when her time comes. Yet as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers her agony for joy that a man has been born into the world. Now you are going through pain, but I shall see you again and your hearts will thrill with joy - the joy that no one can take away from you - and on that day you will not ask me any questions.
"I assure you that whatever you ask the Father he will give you in my name. Up to now you have asked nothing in my name; ask now, and you will receive, that your joy may be overflowing.
Jesus speaks further of the future
"I have been speaking to you in parables - but the time is coming to give up parables and tell you plainly about the Father. When that time comes, you will make your requests to him in my own name, for I need make no promise to plead to the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. Yes, I did come from the Father and I came into the world. Now I leave the world behind and return to the Father."
"Now you are speaking plainly," cried the disciples, "and are not using parables. Now we know that everything is known to you - no more questions are needed. This makes us sure that you did come from God."
"So you believe in me now?" replied Jesus. "The time is coming, indeed, it has already come, when you will be scattered, every one of you going home and leaving me alone. Yet I am not really alone for the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in me. You will find trouble in the world - but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world!"
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17.23 JESUS PRAYS FOR HIMSELF, HIS DISCIPLES AND ALL FUTURE BELIEVERS
John 17:1-26 - (The Last Supper comes to a close ....) When Jesus had said these words, he raised his eyes to Heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son now so that he may bring glory to you, for you have given him authority over all men to give eternal life for all that you have given to him. And this is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent - Jesus Christ.
"I have brought you honour upon earth, I have completed the task which you gave me to do. Now, Father, honour me in your own presence with the glory that I knew with you before the world was made. I have shown your self to the men whom you gave me from the world. They were your men and you gave them to me, and they have accepted your word. Now they realise that all that you have given me comes from you - and that every message that you gave me I have given them. They have accepted it all and have come to know in their hearts that I did come from you - they are convinced that you sent me.
"I am praying to you for them: I am not praying for the world but for the men whom you gave me, for they are yours - everything that is mine is yours and yours mine - and they have done me honour. Now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world and I am returning to you. Holy Father, keep the men you gave me by your power that they may be one, as we are one. As long as I was with them I kept them by the power that you gave me; I guarded them, and not one of them was destroyed, except the son of destruction (Judas Iscariot) - that the scripture might come true.
"And now I come to you and I say these things in the world that these men may find my joy completed in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, for they are no more sons of the world than I am. I am not praying that you will take them out of the world but that you will keep them from the evil one. They are no more the sons of the world than I am - make them holy by the truth; for your word is the truth. I have sent them to the world just as you sent me to the world and I consecrate myself for their sakes that they may be made holy by the truth.
"I am not praying only for these men (the disciples present at the Last Supper) but for all those who will believe in me through their message, that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, live in me and I live in you, I am asking that they may live in us, that the world may believe that you did send me. I have given them the honour that you gave me, that they may be one, as we are one - I in them and you in me, that they may grow complete into one, so that the world may realise that you sent me and have loved them as you loved me. Father, I want those whom you have given me to be with me where I am; I want them to see that glory which you have made mine - for you loved me before the world began. Father of goodness and truth, the world has not known you, but I have known you and these men now know that you have sent me. I have made your self known to them and I will continue to do so that the love which you have had for me may be in their hearts - and that I may be there also.
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In John's Gospel, Jesus now leaves the Last Supper to cross the Kidron Valley to reach the Garden of Gethsemane on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. Here he is arrested by the Jewish authorities.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate