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Prayer, Faith, Miracles and Healing
Religious Laws That Are Not Given By God
Because the Jewish leaders hated Jesus for saying that He is the Bread of Life, He left Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus did not want to go to Judea near the Dead Sea where Jerusalem is because the Jews there wanted to kill Him, so He traveled to neighboring towns around Galilee.236 There, He chastised the Pharisees for their laws that were not given by God.
Some Pharisees and scribes had come up from Jerusalem and when they saw some of His disciples eating bread without washing their hands, they reprimanded them. Laws that are not given by God are like weeds that God did not plant. The Jews had made up many rules, not that God had given them, but they were made up thinking they were pleasing God by obeying them in commemoration of many things that God had done for them, such as the Passover, freedom from Egypt, etc., thinking they were pleasing God more. They could not use the same plates for their meat as for dairy products, and they had a ritual of washing their hands before eating bread. They strictly observed the traditions and customs of their elders. Anything from the market could not be eaten if they did not bathe first. There were many other things they had to obey in a certain manner, such as the way they washed cups, pots and copper utensils and mats or the bedding of dead people. These traditions are still strictly observed today.
The scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus, "Why do your disciples disregard the tradition of the elders and not wash their hands before eating bread?"
And Jesus asked them, "Why do you also disregard the commandment of God on account of your tradition? The prophet Isaiah prophesied correctly about you, Oh you hypocrites, when he wrote, 'These people honor me with their mouths and with their lips, but their hearts are very far from me. Their fear toward me is vanity taught by the doctrines of the commandments of men;' 237 yet you have ignored the commandments of God in your teaching of the washing of cups and pots and a great many other things like this. You certainly do injustice to the commandments of God just so you can sustain your own traditions.
"Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother, and whoever curses or assaults his father or his mother, let him be put to death' 238. All the Jews and Pharisees do not eat if they do not wash their hands because it is a ritual of the priests; and you condone a man who says to his father, 'My offering to God through tithing is your reward.' You think you do not need to honor or do anything for your father or your mother, so you dishonor and render useless the word of God for the sake of your tradition which you have established; and you do a great many other things like this."
Then He turned and called out to others at the dinner and said, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand! It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person; it is what comes out of the mouth. That is what defiles a person. Those of you that have ears to hear, hear this."
Later, Jesus and His disciples went into a house to spend the night away from the people and Simon Peter told Him that the Pharisees who heard this saying were offended. Jesus answered, "Whatever plant that my Father in heaven did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them be. They are the blind that rescue the blind; however, if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the pit." Simon Peter then asked Him to explain that parable.
Jesus answered, "So even you find it hard to understand? Do you not know that whatever enters into a person from the outside cannot defile him? That is because it does not enter into their hearts, but into their stomachs and then is thrown out through the intestines, thereby purifying the food. It is what goes out of a person that defiles that person. From within the hearts of humans come evil thoughts such as fornication, adultery, prostitution, false witness, theft, murder, extortion, wickedness, deceit, lust, and evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness. All these come from within and defile a person; but if anyone should eat when his hands are not washed, they will not be defiled."
Jesus knew that God has lined our stomachs with beneficial bacteria that feed on pathogenic bacteria when they come in with the food, and with cells in our blood that also feed, not on beneficial bacteria, but on pathogenic bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria continuously get into our bodies in the air we breathe, through the pores in our skin and on the food we eat, no matter how much we wash. God provided protection against them as long as we keep ourselves healthy. This is the theory behind alternative health practitioners recommending yogurt, beneficial bacterial cultures and fermented foods to keep people healthy.
Jesus also knew that God provided that most plants exude a fluid that kills disease bacteria, viruses and fungi when they are cut, bitten by insects, or chewed, this same fluid causes wounds to heal. This is alternative medicine's use of essential oils from plants.
God made the plants, fruits and vegetables for our good, so Jesus went on to say, "Every plant that my heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. So leave them alone. They are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into a ditch."239
These very same teachings of the Pharisees that God did not teach are diligently taught to the Jewish children as they grow up to this day. The Jews still reject Jesus for this very reason and still look for another Messiah, one who will obey the laws of the Pharisees and Sadducees instead of the laws of God.
237. Isaiah 29:13.
238. Exodus 20:12; 21:17.
239. Mark 7:1–23; Matthew 15:1–20.
The Key to Healing Is Faith
The Canaanites were an ancient tribe that lived in the area of Palestine from Sinai to Phoenicia and from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea well before 2000 B.C. and the Israelite conquest. They worshipped many gods, the highest of which was El. El and Asherah were the supposed parents of over seventy other deities, the greatest of which was Baal, to whom they delegated greatest authority. Baal was known chiefly as the god of fertility and of storms.240
After Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees, He went from Galilee westward to the border of Sidon and Tyre, where He entered a house and did not want anyone to know about Him. But because of His fame, He was unable to hide Himself.
A Canaanite woman, a heathen from Phoenicia in Syria came to Him and fell at His feet and cried out, "Have mercy on me Oh my Lord, son of David! My daughter is afflicted with insanity. Please cast out the demon."
Jesus did not answer her, so His disciples went up to Him and urged Him, "Please dismiss her, for she keeps crying loudly after us."
Jesus answered, "I am not sent to anyone but the sheep from the house of Israel who has gone astray;" but she came back and worshipped Him again, saying, "Lord, please help me."
Jesus said, "The children of Israel must be fed first and filled. It is not right to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs."
She said, "Yes, my Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs which have fallen from their master's table, and then they live."
Jesus then turned and gave her His full attention. "Woman, your faith is great. So let it be as you wish. Because you have said this, the demon has gone out of your daughter." The woman went back to her house and found her daughter lying in bed and the demon had left her at the very time that Jesus told her.241
Jesus knows everything, so obviously He was testing this woman to establish how strong her faith was. Jesus came first to save the Israelites, and when they rejected Him as the Israelites predicted in their own scripture,242 he later went to the heathen, who readily accepted Him. Most of the Jews still reject Jesus, and the heathen who are sick, troubled and discouraged still come to Him and accept Him as God's Son and their Savior.
Bible Dictionary, 1986, Thomas Nelson, Publishers, Nashville, Camden and New
York. See 1 Kings 18:17-40; Joshua 24:9 – 23; Judges 1:1.
241. Matthew 15:21–28; Mark 7:24–30.
242. See footnote 13.
Many More Are Healed
"How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you [Psalms 139:17, 18 NIV].”
Jesus then left the border of Tyre and Sidon and went back to the border of the ten cities on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, up on a mountain where He sat down. Again, a huge crowd came to Him, bringing lame, dumb, blind and maimed people, setting them down at His feet, and He healed them all.
One was a deaf and dumb man who they asked Jesus to touch. So Jesus took him aside from the people. He put His fingers in the man's ears and then He spat and touched his tongue. Jesus looked up to heaven and then said to the man, "Ethpatakh, meaning 'Be opened.'"
Within that hour, the man's ears were opened, and his tongue was loosened so that he spoke clearly. The people were amazed to see the dumb speaking and the maimed healed, the lame walking and the blind seeing; and they praised the God of Israel.
They said, "He does everything so well. He makes the deaf to and the dumb to speak.”
Jesus then warned them not to tell anyone; but the more He warned them, the more they spread the news.239
239. Mark 7:31-37; Matthew 15:29–31.
Bread and Fishes Are Again Multiplied
Jesus multiplied food, not just once, but again, to show that food can be multiplied anytime, as needed. They stayed on the mountain for three days while Jesus healed and taught. Then Jesus called His disciples and told them, "I have compassion on these people for they have stayed with me for three days and have nothing to eat. If I dismiss them, they may faint on the way home, for they are hungry and some of them came from a long distance."
One of His disciples asked, "Where can we get enough bread in this desolate place to feed all these people?"
Jesus said, "How many loaves of bread do you have?" They answered, "Seven, and a few fish."
Jesus then turned to the people and said, "Everybody sit down." Then He took the seven loaves of bread and blessed them and broke them and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. Then He took the fish and gave thanks to God, and told the disciples to set them before the people. The people ate until they were full, and they picked up the leftovers and there were seven full baskets.
Seven is the number of completeness, as God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh.
Those who ate it were about four thousand men plus all the women and children.240
Yes; Jesus is indeed the bread of life. Whenever you eat, eat in remembrance of this.
240. Mark 8:1–9; Matthew 15:32–38.
Jesus Is the Sign from Heaven
After the feast of the multiplied food, Jesus dismissed the people and went down from the mountain to a boat on the Sea of Galilee. From there He sailed to the border of Magadan, also called Magdala where Mary Magdalene was from in the country of Dalmanutha.
When He arrived, the Pharisees and Sadducees came out to question Him. They said, "Teacher, show us a sign from heaven."
"When it is evening," Jesus answered, "you say, 'It will be clear, for the sky is red.' And in the morning, you look at the sky and say, 'It is a wintry day for the sky is red and cloudy.'" Then He sighed and said to Himself, "Why does this generation want a sign?"
Jesus looked straight at them and said, "Oh, you hypocrites! You know how to observe the face of the sky, but the signs that are staring at you at the present time, you are unable to distinguish. This wicked and adulterous generation wants a sign; and no sign will be given you, except the sign of the prophet Jonah."241
Jesus was referring to His death and His resurrection three days later, just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days.
241. Matthew 15:39–16:4; Mark 8:10–12.
The teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees have prevented millions of Jews from attaining eternal life.
Jesus left the Pharisees and Sadducees to go back to Bethsaida. This is north of the Sea of Galilee and east of the Jordan River where Jesus fed five thousand [Luke 9:10–17].
The disciples had forgotten to take bread, except for one loaf, and there was none in the boat. As they were leaving, Jesus said, "Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and of the leaven of Herod."
This puzzled them and thought that it was because they forgot to bring bread. Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He said, "What are you thinking, oh you of little faith? Is it because you forgot the bread? Do you not even know yet and do you not understand?"
Jesus knew the unimaginable complexity of the eyes and ears that enable God's creatures to see and hear.
He said, "Is your heart still hard? You have eyes and yet you don't see; and you have ears, but you cannot hear. You cannot even remember. When I broke five loaves of bread for the five thousand, how many full baskets of leftovers did you pick up?"
"Twelve." They answered.
"When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of leftovers did you pick up?"
"How is it then that you did not understand that I was not talking about the bread? I can make all the bread you need. I said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."
Then they understood that He did not say that they should beware of the leaven of the bread, but of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees243.
Rabbis, you would be wise to consider only what God has taught you, rather than the embellished laws that your ancestors added. It could open the way to infinite blessings.
243. Matthew 16:4–12; Mark 8:13–21.
When they got to Bethsaida, a blind man was brought to Him and his friends asked Jesus to touch him.
Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. Then Jesus spat on his eyes and put His hands on him and asked him what he saw.
The blind looked around and said, "I see men like trees walking."
Jesus put His hands over the blind man’s eyes again and His eyesight was restored so that he saw everything clearly. Then Jesus sent him to his house and told him, "Do not even enter the town or tell anyone in the town what has happened."244
244. Mark 8:22–26.
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Immanuel [Isaiah 7:14 NKJV].”
Immanuel means God is with us. In Matthew 3:17, God spoke from heaven so that the entire crowd at John's baptism of Jesus could hear it, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"
Jesus left Bethsaida with His disciples to go to Paneas, which Philip the tetrarch renamed "Caesar's City of Philippi" in honor of The Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar. This was about twenty-five miles north of Bethsaida and the Sea of Galilee, and is the farthest north that Jesus ever went.
On the road, Jesus was praying and then He looked at His disciples and asked them, "What do the people say concerning me, that I am merely a son of a man?"
One of then answered, "There are some that think you are John the Baptist."
Another answered, "Elijah."
And another disciple said, "They think you are Jeremiah, or one of the old prophets who has risen."
Then Jesus asked, "And who do you think that I am?"
Simon Peter without hesitation said, "You are Messiah, the anointed One of God (the Christ), the Son of the living God."
Jesus smiled and told Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven. They call you the stone, but I say to you that upon this stone I will build my church; and the doors of hell will not be able to shut upon it.
"I am going to give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be set loose in heaven."
After Jesus commissioned Peter, He looked at His disciples and told them not to tell anyone that He is the Christ, for He still had much work to do before He would be put to death.245
Seven hundred years earlier, Isaiah prophesied, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this [Isaiah 9:6, 7 NKJV].”
About a thousand years before Jesus, David, Jesus' ancestor, wrote, "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him (Psalms 2:12 NKJV).”
About six hundred years before Christ, Daniel said, "I was watching the night visions, and behold one like the Son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13, 14 NKJV).”
After Jesus was crucified, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit such that he healed and raised people from the dead and when he spoke, the Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard him. Peter's ministry was to tell the twelve Jewish tribes that were scattered throughout Asia and other parts of the world that the Messiah had come (Book of 1st Peter).
Jesus then appeared after his crucifixion to Saul, a Jewish leader and persecutor of Christians from Tarsus, south of Galatia in Eastern Europe. While Peter preached to the Jews, Saul, now converted to Christianity and renamed Paul, preached to the Gentiles. For a while, there was conflict between Peter and his Nazarene companions, James and John, and Paul and his companion Barnabas. Peter still believed in the circumcision of the Jews, while Paul preached that Jesus came to free us of the law. Peter then had a vision that he should take his ministry to the non-Jews also, and Peter and Paul met and made amends (the Books of Acts and Galatians).
The Roman Catholic Church came from Peter, the first Pope, who was followed by Linus in 68 AD and then and then Clement (88 – 97 AD). Paul preached to the Romans, but primarily to the Celtic and Greek nations that were then under the rule of Rome. The Celts did not write in their own language as a religious custom, but wrote perfect Greek. The Greek Orthodox Church is one result of Paul's teachings. During this time, the Germans were called Teutons. They spoke Celtic, used Celtic weapons, had Celtic names and were allied with Celtic tribes. It is fairly well known that the Teutons were a tribe of the Celts who battled with Rome from about 390 BC to 51 AD.246
The Roman Catholic Church was profuse with laws to get to heaven. In 1517 Martin Luther, in Germany, which was the ancient territory of the Celts whom Paul converted to Christianity, broke with the Catholic Church because of its unscriptural laws and customs. It was the Celtic nations such as England, Scotland and France that first followed Luther into Protestantism.
Jesus is Messiah, the anointed One of God, the Christ, and the Son of the living God. Kiss the Son and do not offend Him. For contrary to every kingdom on earth that has been destroyed, His kingdom will last forever. And so will you.
16:13–20; Luke 9:18–21; Mark 8:27–30.
246. Ellis, Peter Berresford, 1990. The Celtic Empire - - The First Millennium of Celtic History c. 1000 BC – 51 AD, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, NC.
"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I made them' “ [Genesis 6:5 – 7NIV].
"So he called the name of the place Massah [meaning testing or tempting*] and Meribah [meaning contention*], because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not [Exodus 17:7 NKJV; brackets are the author's insertion.]?"
Imagine for a moment that you are in prison. The prison warden comes to you and says, "All you have to do is deny God, and we will not beat you and torture you to death." This was the situation that Jesus was in, even worse. God's Son was going to be tortured to death unless He denied that He was God's Son and all the work He had done on earth would be wasted. The purpose of His visit to earth would be futile, and though He knew this would happen and even planned for it to happen, it was very much on His mind.
As they continued along the road, Jesus began to reveal to His disciples that He would soon have to go to Jerusalem and suffer a great many things. He told them that He would be rejected by the elders, the high priests and the scribes, and that they would kill Him and three days later, He would rise from the dead.
So Peter took Him aside from the others, and said, "Far be it from you, Lord, that this should happen to you. You have all the power to do anything you want. Is the LORD among us, or not?"
In Chapter 49, we learned that John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus, "Are you the Messiah, or should we expect another?" Now Peter knows that Jesus is the Messiah, and that Jesus does not have to die.
This frustrated and angered Jesus, having just told Peter that Peter is the Rock upon which Jesus would build the church. Jesus turned and exclaimed, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You are not even thinking of the things of God, but of men.245
After Jesus scolded Peter for asking if Jesus was the Messiah, or should they look for another, Jesus turned and called to the people along with disciples, "Whoever wishes to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. How can a person be benefited, if he gains the whole world and loses his soul, or even weakens it? What can a person give in exchange for his life and his soul?
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, the Son of man will also be ashamed of that person when he comes in the glory of his Father with His holy angels. I say to you truthfully that there are people standing here who will not taste death, until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom with power."247
Later, after Jesus descended back to heaven, He would have to come back to earth and recruit and train the Christian killer Saul, meaning request or demand, to do what He originally wanted Peter to do, and changed Saul's name to Paul, meaning refrain or cease. After Paul taught the Galatians that if you believe in Jesus, you are no longer under the law, Peter taught the Galatians and others in First and Second Peter that they need to live holy, spotless and blameless lives so as not to be destroyed by the fire to come. And so Paul had to write to the Galatians that man is not justified by obeying the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, and that those who observe the law will not be justified (Galatians 2 15). Thus, there was this contention between Paul and Peter, with Peter founding the Roman Catholic Church, and Paul's teaching eventually leading to the Protestant church. To this day we have contentions between Christians. We are all sinners, and our righteousness is like filthy rags to our Holy Father. Even the popes that followed Peter set up the concept of purgatory and worship of Jesus’ mother Mary. Then in the Middle Ages when men objected to these false teachings, the popes had the objectors tortured and burned at the stake, which was hardly a Christian life-stile as taught by Peter. But thank God that in His love for His creation, the Catholics under the popes confessed their sins , so God forgave their sins and cleansed them from all unrighteousness (1st John 1:9).
From the time of the death of Jesus, Christians have seen Jesus coming in His kingdom as countless millions have accepted Jesus as Lord and have had the kingdom of God come into them with power.
Deuteronomy 6:16; Luke 4:3–13; Matthew 4:3–11.
246. Mark 8:31–9:1; Matthew 16:21–28; Luke 9:22–27.
In Chapters 53, 54, 76 and 80 Jesus referred to this generation as a generation of scorpions, wicked, evil, sinful and adulterous. In Chapter 52 He said, "The queen of the south will also rise up in judgment against this generation and condemn them and find them guilty."
In view of the history of humans until the present time, it may be that Jesus was referring to the generation of humans throughout all history from the time of Adam until the second coming of Jesus sometime in the future. We are all guilty, so praise God that Jesus gave Himself as an unblemished Lamb of God to be a sacrifice for our sins.
In view of my sins, here is a confession that I have made:
Father, You alone are Holy,
You are Creator of all things.
Father, You alone are perfect,
As each star in heaven sings.
Father, You alone are able
To create all things in harmony,
Plants and creatures in complex wonder,
Held in awe by simple me.
Look upon me, Your unfaithful,
Disobedient in all my ways;
Ever-searching, ever longing
Self-satisfaction all my days.
Failing, Father, I beg for mercy
On this sinful heart of mine.
Fill me Father, with forgiveness;
Fill me with Your Spirit Divine.
I beg You Father, use the sacrifice
Of Your Holy Son You made.
Let His blood wash and cleanse me;
His broken body for mine is paid.
Then shall I be free from torture,
Freed from guilt so heavily pressed;
Then shall I glory in Your worship,
Then shall I finally be free to rest.
Let me go where the Shepherd leads me.
Let me always hear His voice.
Let me be content to follow;
Let it always be His choice.
"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him (Exodus 34:29, 30).”
Many people think the Bible is mythology because of the healings described in it. Even though they see many healings on television, they think these healings are faked. Now we are confronted with Jesus' shining face.
By 1978 I had published several technical papers. This time the head of the Florida Department of Natural Resources asked me to present a paper on our new lake restoration process and present it at their annual National Convention of the Aquatic Plant Management Society. I asked the Father to help me write it, as explaining the content of this particular paper would be difficult. As I finished praying, a man walked into my office seeking employment doing physical labor. I was ecstatic and felt that God had answered my prayer even before I prayed. But this man chain-smoked and cussed with every sentence. As I was interviewing him, he suddenly stopped and blurted out, "What church do you go to?" I replied, "Any church that believes in Jesus, why?" He said, "Your face is glowing!"
We finished the interview with him still cussing and smoking, and I suspected he had been fired from some previous jobs. As he was walking out the door, I said, "Thank you, Father that I don't have to hire him."
POW! I felt a slap on the back of my head. "You hire him", the Lord said, "You need him for your work. I will take care of his spiritual life. And don't you ever witness to him either, or you will ruin the whole thing." So I hired him, and a few days later, he saw me working on my technical paper. He then told me that he had been a reporter at a Washington, DC newspaper, and was a Pulitzer Prize nominee. He was exactly the help I needed.248
In 1995, I gave a paper to two thousand scientists at an international conference in Japan.249 After my speech, Dr. Seo, a limnology professor from Korea came up to me and said that he learned more from my speech than from all the other presentations. I went from Japan to South Korea, and spoke to a group of about fifty scientists. Dr. Seo was in the audience again. This time, he asked if he could meet me when he came to Minneapolis the next year.
I agreed, and picked him up at the airport. I was going to take him to dinner, and he asked if I could pick up his sister and brother-in-law who lived in Minneapolis. I did, and we had a good dinner. Dr. Seo's sister only spoke Korean, and did not say much during our visit. After we dropped her and her husband off, I asked Dr. Seo if his sister was a Christian. I had no idea that Dr. Seo was a Christian, as we had only discussed technical matters. Dr Seo was surprised and asked, "How did you know that?" I said, "Her face had a radiant glow. Does she always glow like that?" Apparently she had been talking to God before we picked them up.
After Jesus scolded Peter, and He and His disciples had been on the road to Paneas about six to eight days, Jesus took Peter, James and James' brother John up on a high mountain alone to pray. Simon Peter, James and John were very tired and went into a deep sleep. As Jesus was praying, He became transfigured. His face changed and shone like the sun. Even His clothes turned white and dazzling bright like snow, such a white that artists cannot duplicate. The brightness in their eyes woke up the disciples, and they saw Jesus in His glory and two men, Moses and Elijah, who had appeared and spoke with Him concerning His departure which was to end in Jerusalem.
When they finished, and were about to leave, Peter said, "Jesus, my Lord, it is better for us to remain here. If you wish, let us make three shelters here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.250 Peter was afraid, and did not know what he was saying. And while Peter was talking, a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud and said, "This is My beloved Son; I am well pleased with Him. Listen to Him." Then they saw Moses and Elijah enter the cloud and Jesus was there alone with them.
When the disciples heard and saw this, they were exceedingly afraid and threw themselves down on their faces. Then Jesus went to them and said, "Arise, do not be afraid." They stood up, and Jesus was standing there alone.
As they were going down the mountain, Jesus commanded them to not speak of this vision in the presence of anyone 'until the Son of man rises from the dead.' So His disciples asked Him, "Why then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"
Jesus answered, "Elijah will come first to prepare everything so that everything might be fulfilled.251 As it is written concerning the Son of man, he will suffer much and be rejected.252 But I say to you that Elijah has already come, and they did not know him and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.253 Thus also, the Son of man is bound to suffer from them.
Then the disciples understood what Jesus had told them was about John the Baptist. And they kept silent in the days to follow, and did not tell anyone what they saw.254
Laing, Robert L. and Michael Adams,
The use of multiple inversion and Clean-Flo Lake Cleanser in controlling aquatic
plants, J. Aquatic Plant Management, 1979;
249. Ishizaki, Mikio and Robert L. Laing, Control of cyanophyceae in reservoirs and lakes, 6th Int'l Conf. on the Conservation and Management of Lakes and Reservoirs-Kasumigaura'95, Oct., 1995;
250. 1 Kings 17 – 19.
251. Malachi 4.
252. Isaiah 53:3.
253. 2 Kings 2:5
254. Matthew 117:1-13, Mark 9:2–13, and Luke 9:28–36.
"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.'
Surely He shall deliver me from the snare of the fowler'
And from the perilous pestilence [Psalm 91:1 -3 NKJV].”
There are times when we can go on no longer. The whole world crashes on our head and there is no hope of survival. There is no solution; there is no help. All that remains is futility and grief.
It is during times like this that we turn to Jesus and say, "Help me Lord, I know You are there. Please help my unbelief."
It so happened that the next day after Jesus met with Moses and Elijah and glowed like the sun; they came down from the mountain. Immediately all the people were greatly surprised; and they ran to meet Him. Some scribes were there, and Jesus asked them, "What are you debating about?"
A man came out of the crowd and fell on his knees and said, "My Lord, have mercy on me, I brought my only son to you and he is an epileptic. He has become worse, and there is nothing I can do about it but watch him be seized with a spirit of dumbness, foam at the mouth, gnash his teeth and faint."
Jesus shook His head and said, "Oh you faithless and crooked generation, how long shall I be with you? And how long shall I preach to you? Bring him to me."
When they brought the boy to Jesus, the boy immediately went into a fit and fell on the ground, gasping for air and foaming from his mouth. Jesus looked at him and asked his father, "How long has he been like this?"
"Since his childhood. And many times he falls into a fire or into the water and would be destroyed. But whatever you can do, please help me and have mercy on me."
Jesus told him, "If you can believe, everything is possible to those who believe."
The boy's father cried out with tears pouring down his cheeks, "I do believe! But help my little faith."
Jesus watched the crowd running and gathering around the boy and rebuked the unclean spirit and told it, "Oh deaf and dumb spirit, I command you to come out of him and do not enter him again!"
The epileptic screamed and was violently tortured, and the sprit went out of him. Then the boy laid there as if he were dead. And many there said to each other, "He is dead."
Then Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up. The boy was healed, and Jesus gave him back to his father.
Later when they entered the house where they would stay, the disciples came up to Jesus privately when He was alone and asked, "Why could we not heal that boy?"
Jesus answered, "Because of your unbelief; for truly I say to you that if there is any faith in you, even if only the size of a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move away from here.' And this mountain will move away; and nothing will prevail over you. Even so, this kind cannot be cast out by anything except fasting and prayer."255
How many times have you gone to Jesus, weeping and praying, and saw the problem vanish; and then the next time, you went to Him doubting that He will help you? Try fasting and praying, and ask Jesus to help your unbelief. If you can just marshal up a tiny bit of faith, that mountain of difficulty will move out of your way. The problem is not the real problem; the problem is lack of faith. Try it. I have many times . . . and believe it or not, it works. It may not be the answer you want, as God is not a wishing well, but He gives the answer that you will realize later was the best answer. God, being perfect, gives perfect answers.
255. Mark 9:14–29; Matthew 17:14–21; Luke 9:37–43.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 KJV).”
as sung by Dallas Holm, Author unknown
Go ahead, drive the nails in my hands
Laugh at me, where you stand
Go ahead, say it isn’t me
The day will come and you will see
That I’ll rise again
No power on earth gonna tie me down
Cause I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep me in the ground.
Go ahead, mock my name
My love for you is still the same
Go ahead, try to bury me
But very soon you will see
That I’ll rise again
No power on earth gonna tie me down
Cause I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep me in the ground.
Go ahead, say I’m dead and gone
But you will see that you were wrong
Go ahead, try to hide the Son
But you will see, that I’m the one
And I’ll rise again
No power on earth gonna tie me down
Cause I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep me in the ground.
Traveling from Paneas through Galilee to Capernaum, the people wondered at everything that Jesus did, and Jesus did not want them to know about Him.
Presently He said to His disciples, "Treasure these words in your ears only. The Son of man will shortly be delivered into the hands of men and they will kill him. But I will rise again. After three days, I will rise again."256
The disciples were very much grieved because they did not understand what He said. It was hidden from them so they did not know; and they were afraid to ask Him what it meant.
256. Mark 9:30–32; Luke 9:43–45; Matthew 17:22, 23.
Believing is so difficult, yet it is the key to getting answers to prayer. If we could only believe that God made plants and animals that reproduce and are so intimately inter-related that, as William Blake (1757–1898) wrote, “Not one sparrow can suffer, & the whole Universe not suffer also”, then the wondrous things that Jesus did while on earth may seem minor by comparison.
Galilee was the land of Gentiles and mixed races, descendants of those transferred from Assyria during the captivity. When they got to Capernaum in Galilee, there were agents who collected two coins as a head tax. They went to Peter and asked, "Would your master give us his two coins?" Peter said, "Yes."
When Peter entered the house Jesus already knew what he was going to say and Jesus asked, "Simon, what do you think? Do the kings of the earth collect custom duties from their sons, or from strangers?"
Peter answered, "From strangers." "Then the sons of the kings are free," Jesus replied. "Believers are the sons of the King of the Universe. But so we don't offend them, go down to the sea and cast out a hook. When you catch the first fish, open its mouth and you will find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax collectors for me and for you."257
When Peter caught a fish, there was a coin in its mouth. And they gave it to the tax collectors. Can you believe this? Lord, help my unbelief. If you believe almost enough --
see a world in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour."258
Then it becomes possible to believe as much as the size of a mustard seed.
9:33; Matthew 17:24–27.
258. Blake, William, c. 1803, Auguries of Innocence, I.5.
People come to Jesus in the hope of eternal life and in the hope of healing and release from their problems. Jesus asks a payment of childlike faith, discipline and forgiveness in return. If we want the gifts, we should want to know the requirements. This is the true sacrifice of which the animal sacrifices of the past were a precursor.
Then Jesus asked His disciples what they were reasoning among themselves when they were on the road to Capernaum. They kept silent with their heads lowered, for they knew that Jesus could read their minds and they had argued among themselves as to who was greatest among them. After a while, one of the disciples looked up and said, "Master, who among us is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
Jesus sat down and said, "He who wishes to be first, let him be the last of men, and the servant of every man."
He had a child come up to Him and stand with them. And He said, "I tell you truthfully that unless you change and become like little children, you will not even enter into the heaven."
Then He took the child in His arms and told them, "Whoever therefore will humble himself like this little child, shall be great in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes and receives a little child like this in my name, welcomes and receives me. And he who receives me receives Him who sent me; for whoever is least among you, let him be great. And whoever misleads one these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him that a donkey's grinding stone is hung around his neck and that he were cast into the depths of the sea.
"Woe to the world because of offenses! Offenses are bound to come; but woe to that person by whom the offenses come! If your hand offends, cut it off and cast it away from you. If your foot offends, stop trespassing and cut it off; for it is much better for you to go through life lame and maimed, than to have two hands and two feet and fall into the everlasting fire. Also, if your eye offends you, remove it and cast it away from you; for it is better for you to go through life without one eye than to have two eyes and fall into the hell of fire where the embers do not die and the fire does not go out.
"Everything is going to be salted with fire, and every sacrifice is salted with salt. But how good is salt if it loses it savor? With what can the salt be salted? So let there be salt in you, and be at peace with one another."
"See to it that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I am telling you that they have angels who always see the face of my Father in heaven. And the Son of man has come to save that which was lost, and the lost begin as children.
"What do you think? If a man should have a hundred sheep and one of them is lost, would he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountain and go and search for the one that is lost? If he should find it, truly I say to you that he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that were not lost. So your Father in heaven does not want a single one of these little ones to be lost. This is why the Son of man came to this earth: to save what was lost.
"Now then, if your brother has a fault with you, go and rebuke him alone. Beware among yourselves. If your brother should sin, rebuke him; and if he repents forgive him. And if he should offend you seven times a day, and seven times in a day and he turns to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him. If he listens to you when you rebuke him, then you have won a brother. But if he will not listen to you, take one or more witnesses with you, because at the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word that is said is established. And if he will not listen to them, tell the congregation and then regard him the same as a tax collector and a heathen. I tell you truthfully that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven.
"Again, I say that if two of you are worthy of anything on earth, anything that you ask will be done for you by my Father in heaven, for wherever two or three of you gather together in my name in the future, I will be there among them."259
Remember this when you pray in a group: Jesus is there with you. When two or more of you pray, know that Jesus is there. "For this is the confidence that we have in Him: If we ask anything in accordance with His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have received the things for which we asked” (1st John 5:14, 15). You will be amazed at the answers to prayer that result.
Then John said to Him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name; and we forbade him because he did not follow us."
Jesus answered, "Do not forbid him. There is no man who performs miracles in my name who will hastily speak evil of me. Therefore he who is not against you is for you. For whoever gives you even a drink of water only because you represent the name of Christ, truly, I say to you that his reward will not be lost.
Then Peter came up and said to Him, My Lord, if my brother has done something wrong against me, how many times should I forgive him?"
And Jesus told him, "I do not say seven times, but up to seventy times seventy-seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted an accounting from his servants. And when he began the accounting, they brought a person who owed ten thousand dollars. And since he could not pay, the king commanded that he be sold as a slave, together with his wife and children and everything that he had, so that he could pay. The servant fell down and worshipped him, and said, 'My Lord, please be patient with me and I will pay you everything.' Then the king had pity on him, so he released him and cancelled his debt.
"That servant went out and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one thousand dollars; and he grabbed him by his neck and tried to choke him, saying, 'Give me what you owe me.' The fellow servant fell down at his feet and said, 'Please be patient with me and I will pay you.' But the servant was not willing, and he had him put in prison until he paid him what he owed.
"Now when the other servants saw this, they felt sorry for the servant in prison, so they went and told the king what happened. Then the king called him and said to him, 'Oh wicked servant, I cancelled your debt because you begged me. Now shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?' The king was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay everything he owed him. And this is exactly what my Father in heaven will do to you, if you do not forgive persons’, brothers’ and sisters’ faults and remove it from your hearts."260
In summary, first you should humble yourself like a little child without sin. What is a child like? Our righteousness is like filthy rags to God, but God loves us anyway. Children do not think that they can do things for their parents in order to help their parents. Instead, a child receives what its loving parents give to it. What can you do for God? Anything we can do for God is nothing compared to what God has done for us. Receive whatever God wants to give you. Take the least person among you and make that person the greatest. Anyone that is for Jesus is not against Jesus. Never cause a follower of Jesus to stumble, or you will be punished. Do not offend anyone. Love every one of Jesus' followers, and forgive them over and over again. If a fellow Christian does something to offend you, go and tell him about it, instead of telling others. Try to work it out, first alone, then with two or three others, then with the congregation. Forgive, so that you will be forgiven.
In Hebrews 10:16–18 (KJV), we read, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more."
18:1–20; Mark 9:33–50; Luke 9:46–50; Luke 17:1–4.
260. Matthew 18:21–35.
"Thou shalt not kill [Exodus 20:13 JKV].”
After He taught us to forgive, Jesus went from Capernaum and determined to go to Jerusalem.261 So He sent messengers ahead of Him and they went into a Samaritan village in the northern uplands of Palestine between Galilee and Judea. Samaritans were shunned by the Jews because of their intermarriage with foreigners. So the Samaritans did not receive them well. And when James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, "Our Lord, would you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and burn them up, just as Elijah did?262
Jesus turned around and rebuked them saying, "You do not know of what spirit you are. The Son of man did not come to destroy lives, but to save lives." And they went on to another village.263
It was time for the feast of the tabernacles264 and Jesus' brothers, James, Joses, Judas and Simon told Jesus, "Depart from here and go to Judea so that your disciples can see the works that you do. No man does anything in secret if he wants it to become known. Since you can do these things, go and show yourself to the people." Although Gabriel had told their parents, not even Jesus' own brothers realized that Jesus was God's Son.
Jesus replied, "My time has not come yet; but your time is always here. The world does not hate you, but it hates me because I testify against them that their works are evil. Now you go on to the feast, but I will stay here because my time has not yet come." Jesus was referring to His pending crucifixion. Then He remained in Galilee and His brothers went on to the feast. But then Jesus went to the feast in secret.265261. Matthew 19:1; Mark 10:1; Luke 9:51.
Paperback by Robert Laing:
Theory - - Squeezing Common Sense Out of Science, Creation, Noah's Ark and Jesus
Another Web Site by Robert Laing: www.intelligentdesigntheory.info
Paperback by author available: Little Thinkers -- Squeezing Common Sense Out of Life's Toughest Questions
This book in paperback: History of Jesus Christ the Human God