Jesus was about to introduce a new teaching and he wanted to make sure he had everyone’s attention. He didn’t want them to just hear his words, he wanted them to listen.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” NIV
As the crowd scattered after Jesus finished teaching, those who stayed around afterwards and the twelve disciples asked him about the parables.
Jesus explained. Continue reading
News of Jesus’ teaching in Capernaum and the surrounding villages had spread. Large crowds were gathering to hear his words and to see his miracles, many coming hoping to be healed. On more than one occasion the crowds would fill a home to the point that there wasn’t even enough room to eat.
Back in Nazareth, Jesus family had begun to hear the stories about him. And even though Mary knew the stories were true, his brothers thought Jesus was out of his mind. They wondered if he was trying to start an uprising against the Romans, and they knew those never ended well. So they set off for Capernaum, a two day journey. Continue reading
There he was, sitting in his booth by the lake. No one talked to him as they passed, no one even acknowledged he was there as they went to hear this Rabbi speak. He had lost his place in the community. He had sold out. Levi came from a priestly line,his family had served in the Temple and before that the Tabernacle. But not him or his father. Their family had turned their backs on their Jewish brothers and sisters and had sided with those who occupied their land. He was out collecting taxes for the Romans, learning the new family business. And because of this, they were hated by their neighbors.
A few hours later as the crowd dispersed, the Rabbi walked by the booth with his disciples. Levi, seeing them coming dropped something and leaned over to pick it up so as not to make eye contact with Jesus. But Jesus stopped, and with just a couple of words changed Levi’s life forever. He said, “Follow me!” And Levi did. Continue reading
I love how Mark starts off his letter. Short, sweet and straight to the point. He doesn’t leave much room to wonder what he’s writing about.
“The beginning of the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of God” JNT
And then he jumps right in by quoting Isaiah and introducing us to one of the most interesting characters in the Scriptures, John the Baptizer.
John was an interesting man. Born miraculously to a priest, Zachariah and his elderly wife Elizabeth (see Luke 1), we know God had big plans for him from the beginning. But Mark introduces him as the messenger that was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. The voice calling out “In the dessert prepare the way for Adonai!” He is a man who didn’t fit into the Jerusalem lifestyle. He lived in the wilderness, wore a Elijah costume (camel’s hair clothes and a leather belt, and ate locust and wild honey). And he went around preaching about this coming Kingdom of God and calling people to be baptized. Continue reading
As we end the book of Matthew we have a chance to read some of Jesus’ last recorded words to his disciples. What are his final instructions for the eleven? How does he want them to carry on with the work he has been doing?
Matthew ends his letter with what has come to be known as the Great Commission.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“But Yeshua (Jesus), again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit. At that moment the parokhet (veil, curtain) in the temple was ripped in two from the top to the bottom… Mt 27:50-51 (JNT)
The parokhet, or curtain, in the temple is described in Exodus 26:31-35:
“Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.” NIV
This curtain was put in place in the Tabernacle in the dessert and it separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. When the temple was built, a curtain was put in place there as well. Only the Chief Priest was allowed to pass through the curtain into the Holy of Holies. And this only happened once a year on Yom-Kippur, when he would make an atonement sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the people of the Hebrew people. Continue reading
Olive oil is a part of everyday life in Israel and it has many uses from practical to symbolic. As you walk the land of Israel you often see the shimmering leaves of the olive tree, some thousands of years old. The oil from these trees is a part of almost every meal eaten in the land, and the and that same oil has served ceremonial purposes throughout Israel’s history. We see the Priests being anointed with this oil in Leviticus, a symbol of the priesthood. Later we find David being anointed with oil, marking him as King. The use of olive oil to signify someone set apart for special work by God by anointing is part of the culture. Even the word Messiah means anointed. And so we should expect to see Jesus anointed, identifying him as Messiah, as priest and king. Continue reading