Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jesus Begins His Ministry


After the forty days had past, Jesus departed from the desert and went to meet with John the Baptizer, and they spoke one to another. And two disciples of John heard them speak, and they followed Jesus after he departed from his meeting with John. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said unto them, "What are you looking for?" They said unto him, "Rabbi, where are you staying?"  He said unto them, "Come and see." They came and saw where his dwelling was, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour (John 1:37-39). (That is four in the afternoon by the modern reckoning.) Jesus said unto them, "I was in the desert and I wrestled with Satan and overcame him. Angels came to me and gave me words from my Father in Heaven. The Father has sent me and given me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told me, so I speak." (John 12:49-50). One of the two which heard John speak, and followed Jesus, was Andrew, the brother of Simon Son of Johannan.  He first found his own brother Simon, and said unto him, "We have found the Messiah!" And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, "You are named Simon the son of Johannan but you shall be called Kaipha." (Kaipha means "stone" in Aramaic (John 1:40-43).) Jesus said, "I see that you are fishermen. Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men." (Mark 1:17) And he saw Jacob and Johannon, the Sons of Zebedee, minding their nets with their father, for they also were fishermen. Jesus said to them "Follow me." So they left their father with the hired hands and from that day on followed Jesus (Mark 1:19-20).

The day following Jesus went forth into Galilee, to find Philip. He found him and said unto him, "Follow me."  Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Kaipha. Philip found Nathaniel, and said unto him, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."  And Nathaniel said unto him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said unto him, "Come and see."  Jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and said of him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!" Nathaniel said unto him, "How do you know about who I am?" Jesus answered and said unto him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." Nathaniel answered and said unto him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered and said unto him, "Because I said unto you, "I saw you under the fig tree", you believe in me? You shall see greater things than these." And he said unto him, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, afterwards you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man, as our father Israel did see at Bethel." (John 1:43-51, Genesis 28:10-22).

After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brothers, and his disciples: and they stayed there together for a few days. (John 2:12) And his brothers were Jacob, called "the Just," Simon, Joseph and Judah.

In Capernaum he entered into the synagogue, and taught.  And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes (Mark 1:2, Matthew 7:28-29).

And he went forth again by the lake side; and all the multitude came unto him, and he taught them there.

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting his tax collection booth, and said unto him, "Follow me." And he arose and followed him. And Levi invited Jesus to a feast at his house. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat eating a meal in Levi's house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him (Mark 2:1-5). Then said he also to him that invited him, "When you make a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends, nor your brothers, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbors; lest they also invite you again, and a recompense be made unto you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the righteous. When you are invited by any man to a wedding or a feast, do not sit down in the seat of honor, lest a more honorable man than you be invited by him; and he that invited you shall come to you and say to you, "Give this man your seat." And you begin with shame to take the lowest seat. But when you are invited go and sit down in the lowest seat; that when he that invited you comes, he may say unto you, "Friend, go up higher." For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:12-14; 7-11, Proverbs 25:6-7).

And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, "Why is it that he eats and drinks with publicans and sinners?" When Jesus heard it, he said unto them, "They that are well have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance ."(Mark 2:15-17).

Seeing the laughing, the singing, the feasting and the dancing, the Pharisees and some of the disciples of John were scandalized. The disciples of John came to Jesus and a Pharisee was with them, and they asked Jesus, "Why is it that we, the followers of John the Baptizer, fast and the Pharisees fast, but neither you nor your disciples fast?" He answered them saying, "When I am with my disciples it is like a bridegroom being with his friends. It is a time of celebration and not of fasting. The time will come for fasting but it isn't now. No one sews a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up takes away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man puts new wine into old wineskins: else the new wine burst the wineskins, and the wine is spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined: but new wine must be put into new wineskins (Mark 2:20-22)."

Jesus taught in the synagogue saying, "There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways. Now this is the way of life: First, you shall love God who made you. Second, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. But whatever you do not wish to happen to you, do not do to another. Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and for those who persecute you. For what credit is it if you love those who love you? Do not even the pagans do the same? But you must love those who hate you, and you will not have an enemy. Give to everyone who asks of you, and do not demand it back, for the Father wants his own gifts to be given freely to everyone. You shall share everything with your neighbor, and not claim that anything is your own. For if you are sharers in what is incorruptible, how much more so in corruptible things! Do not be quick to speak, for the mouth is a deadly snare. Insofar as you are able, you shall be pure for the sake of your soul. Do not be someone who stretches out the hands to receive, but withdraws them when it comes to giving. For it is better to give than to receive. You shall not be full of hatred; instead you shall reprove some, and pray for some, and some you shall love more than your own life. Yet you shall hate everything that is not pleasing to God, you shall hate all hypocrisy. You shall not exalt yourself, but shall be humble-minded in every respect. You shall not claim glory for yourself. You shall not hatch plots against your neighbor. You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not abort an unborn child or commit infanticide. You shall not permit yourself to become arrogant. You shall not be sexually promiscuous; you shall not commit adultery, you shall not engage in homosexual acts. The word of God shall not go forth from among any who are unclean. You shall not show partiality when reproving someone for a transgression. Be humble; be quiet, be one who reveres the word of God that you have heard. You shall not hold a grudge against your brother or sister. You shall utterly hate the Evil One. You shall judge righteously. You shall not cause division, but shall make peace between those who quarrel by bringing them together. You shall not come to prayer with an evil conscious. This is the way of light." (Didache 1:1-2:7, Barnabas 18:1-2; 19:2-12, Acts 20:35). And there was in their synagogue a man with an evil spirit; and he cried out, saying, "Leave us alone! What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God." And Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Silence! Come out of him!" And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying; "What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority he commands even the evil spirits, and they obey him." And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all of the region round about Galilee. And when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with Jacob and Johannon. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and they told him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at evening, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and those that were possessed with devils.  And all of the city was gathered together at the door.  And he healed many that were sick of diverse diseases, and cast out many devils; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew who he was. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there He prayed.  And Simon and they that were with him searched for him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, "All men seek for you." And he said unto them, "Let us go into the other towns, that I may preach there also. For this is the reason I have come (Mark 1:21-38)."

A man came unto Jesus and said, "I will follow you anywhere." Jesus replied to him, "Foxes have dens and the birds have nests but I have no where to rest my head." Another came unto him and said, "I will follow you but first let me set my affairs in order and say my goodbyes to my family. " Jesus answered saying, "No man, putting his hand to the plow looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58, 61-62)."

After having spent that entire night in prayer, Jesus called twelve men unto Himself and appointed them as his apostles: Simon, called Kaipha, and Andrew Simon's brother, Jacob the Son of Zebedee and Johannon his brother, to whom He gave the name Boanerges meaning "Sons of Thunder," Phillip, Bartholomew, Levi, Thomas, which means "the Twin" in Aramaic, Jacob the Son of Alphaeus, Thaddeaus, meaning "bosom" in Aramaic, (Thaddeus was also called "Libba" which means "the heart" in Aramaic), Simeon the Canaanean, meaning the Zealot or "the insurgent" in Aramaic, and Judas Iscariot. (Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16, Matthew 10:1-14)

Now it came to pass, afterward, that he went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, and certain women who had been healed by His divine power of vile spirits and infirmities-Mary from Magdala, called Magdalene, out of whom he had cast out seven demons, Mary of Bethany and Martha her sister, Susana, and Joanna, called Junia, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, he who was also called Andronicus. And many other women of Galilee who followed him, ministered unto him and provided for him from their substance (Luke 8:1-3, Mark 15:41, 16:9, Romans 16:6-7).


Kaipha spoke and said unto Jesus, "Send Mary of Magdala away for it is unheard of for a rabbi to take women as disciples (Thomas 1:114)." Jesus refused, saying, "She is called Magdala, the Tower, from the earnestness and glow of her faith." (Jerome, Letter CXXVII, "To Principia" 5) (Magdala means "Tower" in Aramaic.)


And it came to pass, as he entered the village of Bethany, he came into the house of the woman named Martha. And she had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus as he taught. But Martha was very distracted by her serving. So she approached Jesus and said to him, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone. Command her to help me." And Jesus said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are so worried and troubled about so many things. But only one thing is important. Mary has chosen that better part, the place of a disciple sitting at my feet, and it shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:28)."


Besides the twelve and the women, seventy disciples were also chosen by Jesus, which included Joseph called "Barnabas" which means by interpretation from the Aramaic "The Son of Encouragement," Nathaniel, Joseph called Barsabbas, with Judah, his brother, Agabus the Prophet, Manean, the foster brother of Herod Antipas and many others (Acts 1:23, 4:36, 11:28, 13:1, 15:22).

And wherever he went, into villages or towns or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed. And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so many that they began to trample each other, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land (Mark 4:1, Luke 8:4). And he preached unto them saying, "You have heard that it has been said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy." But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; and unto him that strikes you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak forbid not to take your shirt also. Give to every man that asks of you; and from him that would borrow of you do not turn that person away. And of him that takes away your goods, do not ask for them to be given back to you again. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise. For if you love them which love you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also love those that love them.  And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also do even the same. And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks do you have? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much from them again.  But you are to love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Therefore be compassionate, as your Father in heaven also is compassionate." (Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 6:27-36).

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch and bless them, but the disciples spoke sternly to them, saying it is undignified for the rabbi to play with children. But when Jesus saw this he was very angry with his disciples and said to them, "Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. I tell you the truth, who ever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a child will never enter it." And he picked them up in his arms and laid his hands on them, and blessed them (Mark 9:33-37, Mark 10:13). After playing with little children, Jesus spoke to his followers, saying, "Woe unto the world because of offences! It is inevitable that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence comes! But whoso shall harm one of these little ones which believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Take heed that you do not despise one of these little children; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 19:7, 6, 10). Jesus said, "An aged man, one who has lived many days, will not hesitate to ask a small child about life and its meaning." (Thomas 1:4).

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