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Friday, August 28, 2020

JOHN+—An Illustrated Summary of Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible by G. Campbell Morgan

"On every page of the God-breathed writings are many thoughts that stretch out like long, clear arms of light across the darkness, discovering things otherwise hidden and illuminating wider areas than those of the immediate context. They are searchlights. From a multitude of these, I have selected one in each chapter of Scripture, for at least one central thought in every chapter should arrest the mind  and affect the life," wrote G. Campbell Morgan, a wise, warm-hearted, careful Bible teacher who conducted a classic 3-year chapter-by-chapter study called Life Applications from Every Chapter of the Bible. Here are the fruits of that timeless study—summarized, illustrated, and amplified—on all 66 books of the Bible (posted one book at a time, cumulatively).
GENESISEXODUSLEVITICUSNUMBERSDEUTERONOMYJOSHUAJUDGESRUTH1 SAMUEL2 SAMUEL
1 KINGS,  2 KINGS1 CHRONICLES,  2 CHRONICLES, EZRANEHEMIAH ESTHER 
JOB PSALMSPROVERBSECCLESIASTESSONG OF SOLOMON ISAIAHJEREMIAH,
 LAMENTATIONSEZEKIELDANIELHOSEAJOELAMOSOBADIAHJONAHMICAHNAHUMHABAKKUKZEPHANIAH HAGGAI,
 ZECHARIAHMALACHIMATTHEWMARKLUKEJOHN

John 1:14 "Full of grace and truth."  In that phrase John recorded the full and final impression Jesus made upon His disciples. John, now a sturdy octogenarian on the Roman penal island of Patmos, was the last of the 4 Gospel writers. He took full advantage of the opportunity he had to write in a cave there not only his Gospel, but also 3 letters and the prophetic Book of Revelation, so future generations—including us—would know what it was like to spend 3 full years living with Jesus, traveling with Him, listening to His teaching, and watching His good deeds and miracles. How to sum that up? John simply said, "We saw His glory" (John 1:14). What does that mean? Two words: grace and truth. Those two ideas should hold our minds and direct our lives. God is both grace and truth, not one without the other. Just as there can be no lowering of the pure standard of Truth, so also there is no departure from the saving purpose and passion of Grace. The Cross was necessitated by the very nature of God for His beloved creatures to exist in pure joy. If we would know Truth, then we must know the Lord Jesus Christ; to understand Grace, we must come to Him.


John 2:24 "But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them."   Here the verb regarding trust is the same word translated  "believed" in the previous sentence: "Many believed in His name when they saw the signs He was doing." Their belief in Him was not full commitment of themselves. It was intellectual conviction naturally produced by His signs—in this chapter alone changing water into wine at a wedding and demonstrating divine authority at the Temple in Jerusalem. John was very selective in what he wrote since knowing he was the last Gospel writer, he rarely repeated what the others already recorded. There surely were many other signs that temporarily wowed these temporary believers. Jesus, being God, perceived the fickle nature of their belief in Him. When, however, our convictions are yielded to and we surrender ourselves completely to them, we perceive our Savior in His fullness. Until that is so, He cannot trust us. This withholding of Himself is not capricious. John is careful to point out that it was based upon His knowledge of all people, not a cynical suspicion of the worst. Such withholding on our parts creates and then proves our unworthiness. It is a solemn thing to say, but nevertheless important to recall what the Lord Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount: He never casts His pearls before swine.

John 3:19 "This is the verdict: that the Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light."  The Lord Jesus Christ here was employing courtroom language to explain the condemnation of humanity from God's point of view: the preference of individual men and women for darkness rather than light. Jesus described Himself as the Light of the World; He had just explained what it is to be Born Again in a spiritual sense. John opened his Gospel by declaring that in Christ "was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness has not overcome it."  The coming of Christ was the coming of light. Through Him we know the truth about God and ourselves—about our fractured relationship with our Creator and what our life ought to be. Through Christ we learned that divine love made it possible, at infinite cost, the healing and restoration of that fractured relationship and life as it was meant to be. If people refuse to avail themselves of that divine grace, they are refusing to walk in the light and are condemned. The reason they love darkness is they desire things that the light condemns.  "The mystery of lawlessness" (2 Thessalonians 2:7) is that people know dark deeds lead to destruction, yet for the momentary pleasure they provide (Hebrews 11:25), they deliberately reject the true and lasting pleasures of light and life. Here each soul stands alone. The Light is shining. Shall we come to it and walk it? Or shall we refuse it and continue walking in darkness? The choice is personal, but the verdict has long been determined. 


John 4:32 "I have food to eat that you do not know about."  In these words our Lord revealed the secret of His strength and the weakness of His disciples. They, like us, had persistent difficulties perceiving life beyond what they could see or feel. They conceived of life as being sustained by ongoing supplies of the physical. Jesus knew that while physical food is a necessity, there is a deeper need. In fact, sometimes there were circumstances—as Jesus Himself was in just then—when a man may live in the fullest sense of the word even when he lacks physical nourishment. He went on to explain, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work" (verse 34). What work specifically? The work of spiritual harvesting (verses 35-38), which is that "many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony" (verse 39). That Samaritan woman is a person Jesus spent time talking with while His disciples left to buy food. Their conversation was so spiritually fruitful, the woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ)." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He" (verse 26)—His most direct declaration of His messianic identity. God will take care of our physical needs; our primary calling as Christ's disciples is to follow His example by being devoted to God's will and mission. When we do that our lives will be full, radiant, and joyful, like Jesus was when He spoke to His disciples of the deep nourishment from His Father's food. They did not know that food, but He came to give them that knowledge, and they then lived by it, as do all who love Him.

John 5:46 "If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me."  This most explicit statement by our Lord sets His seal of authority upon the first 5 Books of the Bible as penned by Moses under divine inspiration. In those days the name "Moses" was constantly employed by the Jewish people to describe those Books. Jesus uses the term here to show He thought of those Books as actually written by Moses. To say He was accommodating His language to the ignorance of His audience—as some scholars foolishly say—is to charge God's Son with perpetuating ignorance. The Lord Jesus goes on to say that Moses's writings are about Him. That is the key to interpreting them. For example, Moses said, "The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me. To Him you must listen!" (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). In Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy we discover the first movements towards His coming. In their teachings we read the first declarations of His ethical standards. What they say about God's character we see on living display in the Person of Christ Himself. The writings of Moses were prophetic. In them nothing was completed; they pointed to other things that came to pass when Jesus arrived "in the fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4). Moses himself, along with Elijah the prophet, spoke with Jesus at His Transfiguration shortly before His crucifixion. What were they talking about? Dr. Luke tells us: "His departure, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" (Luke 9:31). In the statement above, Jesus at once makes clear the authority and limitation of Moses.

John 6:6 "He Himself knew what He would do."  Jesus posed a great problem to His disciples: how were they to get enough bread to feed the hungry multitude He had been ministering to? The difficulty is revealed in the answers of Philip and Andrew. The first calculated the cost; the second emphasized the inadequacy of their resources. The Lord Jesus asked His question, as John reveals, to test or prove them. By facing their own poverty, they would learn an unforgettable lesson about His power in the feeding of the 5,000—one of the few miracles recorded in all 4 Gospels. How often still Jesus brings His disciples into such perplexity: in our own lives something needs to be done that is impossible from our own private resources. We need to remember that Jesus Himself knows what He will do in each situation we face. We profit from the feeding of the 5,000 if we say to Him, "Lord, we do not pretend to know how things are to be done, but we bring whatever resources we have to You and are confident that whatever You have in Your heart to do, You are able to do with these poor things of ours! We do not know, but You know. Therefore, we do not ask to know how, but simply request that we will be directed by Your wisdom and enabled by Your power." If we develop that habit of mind and heart, how strong and quiet life will be!

John 7:24 "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."  So what is righteous judgment? Just what Jesus says right here: judgment that is free from prejudice, which considers things as they really are, not as they appear—or are manipulated to appear—on the surface. The context here is revealing. Christ is speaking to religious people in a religious setting who are anything but truly religious in a righteous sense. Incredibly, they are criticizing Him for healing a man on what they considered to be the wrong day for healing! Their anger and hatred blocked clear thinking about the matter. As Jesus's half-brother James later wrote, "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger for the anger of man does not bring about the justice of God" (James 1:19-20). To form true conclusions, we need a mind free from bias and mastered by love. That is a characteristic of true religion.

John 8:30 "As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him."  Jesus again is speaking to a hostile crowd in an atmosphere of criticism and enmity. He sternly and openly rebuked and denounced the hypocritical religious leaders. Then to those very people in that tense situation He made superlative claims for Himself, declaring He worked and taught in fellowship with God and that He always did the things that pleased God. It was as He spoke those things that "many came to believe in Him" (although only in a superficial way, as the context reveals).  Try to imagine any other teachers making such claims. If we did, we would at once doubt their sincerity and truthfulness. Yet that is not what happened here: everyone obviously knew He was who He claimed to be. Truth not only fell from His lips, it emanated from Himself. This quality still remains as we encounter Him in His words on the page. It is possible to disobey Him and even to deny the practicality of His ideals, but it is not possible to deny the beauty of those ideals or to disbelieve in the sincerity and glory of the Lord Himself.

John 9:35 "Jesus heard that the Pharisees had thrown the man out. Finding him..."  This was a form of social ostracism. It was imposed by religious leaders upon a man born blind from birth healed by Jesus. They didn't like hearing the man's honest and insightful answers to their interrogation about how and by whom he had been healed. To punish this newly healed blind man, they excommunicated him from his religious rights in the Temple and synagogue. When Jesus heard that, He found the man, revealed His divine identity to him, and received the man's worship. That led to a wonderful discussion about the Shepherd, the sheep, and the one flock. Organized religion has often made the mistake of excommunicating those who, in loyalty to conscience, run counter to its prejudices. This account reveals the danger of excluding the Lord and His true followers when acting that way. The man cast out by spiritually blind religious leaders was received by the living Lord and found his way to the one and only true center of worship. At times a person may excommunicate a community as surely as be excommunicated by it. If he or she finds and receives the one true God, what does it matter who rejects?

John 10:3-4 "The sheep hear His voice and ... follow Him, for they know the Shepherd's voice."  That is literally true of sheep. Jesus went on to say, "A stranger they will not follow, for they do not know the voice of strangers" (verse 5). The strangeness of other voices is a warning to the sheep: they do not know the voices and so take no risks. Think of how this applies to those who belong to the Lord: we know the voice of the Lord. We may not immediately understand what He is saying, but there is no mistaking His voice. It is the voice of understanding, tenderness, strength, purity, and authority. There is no other like it. It often corrects us, runs counter to our initial desires, calls us to service we at first dread, and sometimes to suffering we prefer to miss. But we know when He speaks, and then it is ours to follow, knowing He makes no mistakes and that every word He says—the sternest as well as the tenderest—is love-inspired. We are always wise to refuse to follow any strange voice. We do not others as we know Him. Their suggestions may be false even when their intentions are good, or their intentions may be evil when their suggestions are pleasant. Let us listen only to the Voice we know, and hearing let us follow.

John 11:15 "I am glad for your sakes that I was not there."  This is how Jesus responded when He told His disciples plainly that their beloved friend Lazarus of Bethany was now dead. They had been informed Lazarus was seriously ill, but Jesus then mysteriously replied, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." We are then told, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary], and Lazarus. So when He had heard that he was sick, He [deliberately] stayed 2 more days in the place where He was" (verses 4-5). On the surface that seems like a strange form of love: If Jesus had been at Bethany, Lazarus would not have died for Jesus could have healed him. What happened next explains why He was glad He was not there. Jesus and His disciples traveled to Bethany, where Lazarus was now in a tomb, 4 days dead. Everyone was about to learn that death is not stronger in Jesus presence than disease. To us death is unconquerable. We may grapple with disease and sometimes win, but in the presence of death we are helpless. Jesus was glad for His disciples to have yet another opportunity to realize God's power to raise the dead. How slow we are to believe! That makes His gladness all the more beautiful because it reveals His patience. He often permits us to pass into deeper darkness and pain so we may more perfectly experience His power. Let that thought remain with us if our pathway lies in some dark valley where for the moment no light is shining and no path is clear. He knows, and all He permits will reveal Him more clearly and give us strong confidence.


John 12:33 "He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He would die."  The Lord Jesus had just entered Jerusalem in triumph and taught a great multitude, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be also.... Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world [Satan the usurper] will be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth [on His cross a few days later], will draw all peoples to Myself" (verses 23-32). Jesus's death was a triumphant death. He died to cast out the authority and power of evil in which the world was enslaved. He died to create a center toward which people could now enter into freedom and life. Christ's is the one and only death that is in itself victorious. Now all who are gathered to Him around that cross, having received its pardon and gift of life, will also triumph in their dying. The first experience is spiritual and immediate to the trusting soul; the final experience comes when he or she dies and immediately comes into His presence.

John 13:1 "Jesus, knowing that His hour had come."  The Lord's hour is referred to several times in John's Gospel; here is the definitive explanation: it is the hour of His cross. That is why Jesus came into the world. Yet notice how John points to what would happen after: the Son of God would "depart out of this world to the Father." He gives insight to the heart of Christ, for this must have been our Lord's conception of that hour. It was the hour of departure from the world—lonely, dark, full of unutterable anguish—and the hour of going to the Father. Beyond the loneliness, there was the restoration of fellowship; beyond the darkness, eternal light; beyond grief, fullness of joy. As He contemplated that hour, He had no misgivings. Triumph was certain. Knowing all that, He loved His beloved people to the uttermost. That love was His inspiration as He faced the horror and shame of the cross. He was not groping heroically through darkness, uncertain of His destination. Our Lord Jesus Christ was walking in the light, even as He passed through the darkness.

John 14:2 "If it were not so, I would have told you."  You can always count on Jesus to tell the truth. Those words are parenthetical to His main point here, but they are so important! He will not allow His own to remain  ignorant over what really matters. In this context, He was telling His beloved disciples that He would soon be leaving them, and that news devastated them. To help them, He described the spaciousness of their future heavenly home, where He was going and they would follow. He personally was preparing the way for them and all His people—past, present, and future like us. His disciples were not to think of Him as having ceased to be when they could not see Him anymore. He would be in the Father's House, preparing for their arrival, and He will come back to bring all His people there. If this world were the only place and this life all there is, He would have said so. He has said all we need to know, not leaving us in doubt on any essential matter. The experience of all who have walked according to His teaching reveals that they have the light of life and have not walked in darkness.


John 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you."  That supreme love of God for the Son is the measure and nature of the Son's love for His own. It is amazing to contemplate that while the Son is worthy of the Father's vast love, we ourselves are unworthy. Yet the Lord Jesus gloriously loves us in spite of our unworthiness, knowing He is able to make us worthy. Such love is "a deep where all our thoughts are drowned." A few chapters previously Jesus said, "My Father loves Me because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again" (John 10:17-18). He adds now, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10). The perfection He seeks to work in us, His redeemed, is His selflessness that is willing to suffer to serve others, and His obedience to God's Word, which causes us to abide in divine love.


John 16:31 "Do you now believe?In these words, Jesus very tenderly but intentionally challenged His disciples when they confirmed their belief in His divine mission. They were sincere, feeling they had at last passed beyond the point of doubt. But how much better Jesus knew them than they knew themselves! He knew they would soon find themselves in shattering circumstances, scattering them and leading them to doubt everything. His question here was meant to prepare them for those experiences, creating a foothold for their faith when the flood would sweep around them. The fact He had known and foretold of the coming events would be something to hold onto, and the memory of it would bring them back again to faith. Our faith, in itself, is a poor and even non-existent foundation. We truly believe today but tomorrow may bring storms that, for the moment, strain faith to the breaking point. But the Lord Jesus is always faithful: He Himself is our foundation. In the fiercest hour of upheaval, He enables our failing faith to gather strength. Our faith is truly "the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

John 17:20 "I do not pray only for them. I pray also for those who will believe in Me because of their message."  These are the most comforting words for us in this great prayer of our Lord. We are among the number who have believed in Him through the apostolic Word, so His requests were on our behalf as well as for those immediately with Him. At this point He was surrounded by a few loving followers who nevertheless would soon be scattered because of fear. The outlook was very dark to all but the Lord. He also saw the darkness, yet He understood it better than any other. He saw through it the light shining down through the coming millennia. He saw His apostles, gathered after their scattering and proclaiming His Word throughout the world, preserving it in writing for His truth to be passed down in an unbroken chain. So Jesus prayed for us and those after us as He prayed for His immediate followers. He knew their weaknesses and how they would fail; He knows our weaknesses and all about our failures. He also knew His intercession for them and us would prevail. Therefore, let us rest united together in the Lord Jesus Christ by our loving obedience to Him and sure confidence in Him.

John 18:11 "The cup that the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?Jesus said these words to Peter, who out of love for his Master and in mistaken zeal, struck a bloody blow in an attempt to deliver the Lord from His enemies. That rhetorical question reveals Jesus's ongoing commitment to the will of God no matter how dark the circumstances. Jesus had spoken of the cup of God's wrath before; now it is time for Him to taste it to accomplish the salvation of His people as their perfect atoning sacrifice. The Lord Jesus knew that cup had been given Him by His Father, who loved and confided in Him. We see clearly how the highest love, the love of God, must always qualify and sometimes even cancel the suggestions made by other loves, however loyal and well-intentioned they may be. The love of God is always wise. The love of our fellow human beings is often unintelligent. Let us follow our Lord's example in trusting in and following the will of God as revealed in His perfect Word first and foremost.


John 19:30 "It is finished!Dr. Luke tells us that after "Jesus cried out with a loud voice, He said, 'Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.' And having said this, He breathed His last" (Luke 23:46). John says, "He said, 'It is finished!' And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." What the Lord said with a loud voice was, "It is finished!" It was a divine cry of triumph—unimaginable from any other crucifixion victim. Many eyewitnesses heard it, and it is recorded for all time. The hour had come when the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished all that was within "the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). He had entered into and passed through the deep mystery of spiritual death on behalf of His people. In that experience He cried out rhetorically in anguish, "My God, My God, why Have You forsaken Me?"an echo of King David's prophecy in Psalm 22. In that mystic cry He uttered all that it is possible for mere mortals to know of that experience. That anguish was over now, so He passed with calm composure into His Father's hands. In Christ's exultant cry of accomplishment on the cross—It is finished, tetelestai, "paid in full" in Greek—is the good news of freedom from the slavery of sin and the possibility of realizing all the purposes of God. While there is much for each believer to "work out" his or her "own salvation with fear and trembling," God is at work in us "both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13). There is nothing for us to do to make our own salvation possible. Everything has been done by Christ on that cross, and now God is working His will in His people's lives as He did in His own Son's life "as a forerunner for us" (Hebrews 6:20).

John 20:19, 21 "Peace be with you.... Peace be with you.Twice the risen Christ used these common words of greeting to His disciples on the evening of His resurrection. Now those words had behind them the authority of His death and resurrection. He had faced and defeated all the forces that destroy peace. In saying, "Peace be with you," He was doing much more than expressing a wish: He was making a declaration and bestowing a blessing. The repetition is significant. The first was a greeting addressed to men filled with fear because of the hostile environment they found themselves in because of Christ's execution. Christ is essentially saying, "Peace be with you! The things you fear are powerless to harm you in an ultimate sense. Death is not the end. Beyond it, see Me alive! Be at peace, for whether in life or death you are safe." The second "Peace be with you" is followed by this: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." He gave them a divine commission. They were to be at peace, knowing by the fact of His resurrection that they would be victorious, even though they went His way of suffering and death. Christian history reveals that Christian people have never had a more striking experience of peace than when they have been called to suffer for His name.


John 21:2 "... and two other disciples were there."  This last chapter is devoted to a delightful morning that lingered in the apostle John's mind. We would not know about it if John did not write about it in his old age. The risen Redeemer and Ruler was showing His disciples His interest in the most common aspects of their lives, and the great responsibilities that flow from them. He touched their daily doings with light and glory, enhancing their fishing and even preparing their breakfast. He underscored the supreme importance of feeding His people nourishing spiritual food. Who were these disciples? Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James, and John—all outstanding figures. Two others were there as well, but they are not named. They represent the anonymous and hidden multitudes of faithful disciples whose names are never published in human documents and whose deeds are never recorded in human reports. To these the Lord Jesus Christ manifested Himself as surely as to the others. Let all such remember that of His fullness they also receive. To all His own, Christ continually ministers with His grace and truth.




Monday, June 29, 2020

Quotes from The Chosen TV series



Episode 1: I Have Called You by Name (Mary Magdalene), Episode 2: Shabbat (Nicodemus and other Pharisees), Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children, Episode 4: The Rock on Which It Is Built (Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew), Episode 5: The Wedding Gift (Mary the mother of Jesus, John the Baptist), Episode 6: Indescribable Compassion (the leper, the paralytic), Episode 7: Invitations (Moses, Nicodemus, Matthew), Episode 8: I Am He (Jacob the patriarch, the Samaritan woman)

Episode 1: I Have Called You by Name


·     Mary Magdalene’s father says to Mary as a child: “What do we do when we are scared? We say the words … Adonai’s words from the prophet Isaiah:  Thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.’”

Demons speaking through an adult Mary (who is going by a different name) tell Nicodemus, a high-ranking Pharisee attempting to perform an exorcism: “You have no power here. We are not afraid of you.”

·     Nicodemus, trying to explain his failure to fellow Pharisees, reasons: “Only God Himself could have driven them out…. Souls such as hers are beyond all human aid.”

·     Jesus, calling Mary of Magdala by name before healing her, tells her these meaningful words: “Thus says the Lord, who created you … and He who formed you … ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.’”


Episode 2: Shabbat

         A grandmother, answering her grandson’s questions about Shabbat, concludes: “Most important of all, we honor God and all His works…. We rest to refresh our souls to know Him better.”


A grandfather begins Shabbat with the Eshet Chayil, an ode to women of valor from Proverbs 31: “A woman of valor, who can find her? Far beyond jewels is her value. Her husband’s heart trusts in her and he shall lack no fortune…. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe!”

Mary Magdalene says to Nicodemus, who is inquiring with wonder about her healing: “I was one way and now I’m completely different. And the thing that happened in between … was Him.”


Episode 3: Jesus Loves the Little Children

Jesus in His field tent at night, lays down for sleep after working hard as a craftsman, and says: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God—King of the universe, who brings sleep to My eyes.”


Jesus the next morning, about to eat breakfast, prays: “Blessed are You, Lord our God—King of the universe, who gives forth bread from this earth…. And I pray that if ever there are two children who come visit My home here, You will give them the courage to say Shalom so that they will know they do not need to remain hiding in secret. Amen.” He makes those children laugh and befriends them. They introduce their friends to Him. He teaches them practical skills and spiritual truth.
Abigail with her doll, another girl, and Joshua.
A girl named Abigail says, “My family is not wealthy.” Jesus responds, “Many times that is better.” She responds, “I don’t know about that.” Jesus laughs gently and says, “You will.”

Another child asks, “Are you dangerous?” Jesus answers, “Maybe to some but not to you, and I won’t harm anyone.”


Jesus asks the children, “Do you all know how to pray the Shema? I would love to hear it.” They say yes and respond in unison, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And it shall come to pass if you surely listen to the Commandments I command you today that you may gather in your wine, your oil, and your grain that you may eat and be satisfied” (quoting from Deuteronomy 6 and 11). Jesus, barely holding back tears, says, “Beautiful—very good.”

One child asks Him, “Why don’t You have a home?” Jesus responds, “My home is many places.” Another asks why and hears, “Because I have a much larger job than just being a craftsman or a teacher.” Another remarks, “You’re a teacher too?” Jesus says, “I will be soon. Everyone has a much larger job than just a trade. And you are ... to show love to one another, and to take God’s Word and share it, and at home to honor your father and your mother, and to love Who most of all?”



A boy named Joshua says, “You would teach us to be gentle, but Rabbi Josiah said Messiah will lead us against the Romans—that he would be a great military leader.” Jesus responds, “It is important to respect your teachers … and Rabbi Josiah is a very smart man, but many times smart men lack wisdomIs there anything in Scripture that says Messiah will be a great military leader? There are many things about Scripture that you cannot understand yet and that is okay…. But children, what if many of the things that our people think about how we are to behave and how we are to treat one another are wrong? There are many things that are wrong, and you want to right them … but what does the Lord say in the Law of Moses?”

Abigail answers promptly, “Vengeance is mine.” Jesus says, “Very good! Boys, pay attention: she doesn’t even go to Torah class, huh? The Lord loves justice.”

Jesus says to them, “I have loved spending this time with you—you are all very special. I hope that My next students ask the same questions you do and that they listen to My answers.”


When Abigail returns later by herself, she finds Jesus's campsite empty except for a doll house He made specially for her. (The Messiah, as Wisdom personified, is described like this: “When He [God] marked out the foundations of the earth, I was besides Him as a Master Craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and I delighted in the sons and daughters of men,” Proverbs 8:29-31.)


Episode 4: The Rock on Which It Is Built


Matthew the tax collector says to Quintus, the Roman praetor: “I am not accepted … anywhere. You were born Roman; I made the choice.”

Simon (Peter) says to his wife (Eden): I can't do this anymore. I haven’t been honest with you…. A few days ago I looked you in the eyes and told you, ‘I’ve got this.’ I lied…. We haven’t been able to keep up. I did some things that I’m not proud of to try to fix it.”

Andrew, who has been helping John the Baptist, runs out of breath to his dispirited brother, Simon. He gasps out that John pointed to Jesus and called Him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Simon isn’t interested in anything “Creepy John” says about lambs, but Andrew counters: “If the Messiah is here, the Romans don’t matter—anything is possible now!”


Matthew, on assignment to spy on Simon fishing at night, hears Simon from a distance grunting loudly in frustration over not catching anything. Matthew says to his dog with him, “People sometimes bark, too.”


Simon speaks to God bitterly while in his fishing boat: “And I will make your descendants as many as the stars in the heavens.’ And then what, huh? Make the descendants as many as the stars only to let Egypt enslave us for generations! Bring us out of Egypt, part the Red Sea, only to let us wander in the desert for 40 years! Give us the land, only to let us be exiled to Babylon! Bring us back only to be crushed by Rome!... You’re the God I’m supposed to thank. You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say You enjoy yanking us around like goats and can’t decide whether we’re chosen or not. Which one is it, huh?”

At this point Simon’s boat is joined by another, carrying his brother, Andrew and an older fisherman named Zebedee with his sons James and John. (Andrew explains they were tipped off by Simon’s wife that Simon needed help.) When they ask who Simon was talking to, he says, “Apparently no one.” In the morning, Zebedee sighs and says, “Sometimes the sea bests all of us.” As Simon’s boat comes to shore, Andrew spots Jesus teaching a small crowd there. Jesus asks them if He can come on board to finish His teaching since the crowd is having trouble hearing Him and since His shouting voice is “hard on the ears.”


Jesus, holding up one of Simon’s nets, says: “This net gathers all kinds of fish. The Kingdom of heaven is like this. After the net is full, the good fish are gathered in barrels and the bad fish thrown away. So it will be at the end of the age. Angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into a fiery furnace. Do you understand?” He asks Simon to put the boat back out a little and let down his net. Simon is reluctant, but something about the way Jesus looks at him convinces him to at least humor Him—and the net soon becomes so full of fish, it is in danger of breaking! Zebedee quickly comes over with James and John to help. Both his and Simon’s boats are soon filled with fish!



Andrew says to Simon, “I told you!” Peter kneels before Jesus and says humbly, “You are the Lamb of God, yes?” Jesus answers, “I am. Did you understand that parable I told earlier? Fish are nothing. From now on, I will make you fishers of men. And you are to gather as many as possible—all kinds. I will sort them out later.”


Episode 5: The Wedding Gift

Jesus,as a 12-year-old boy, is reunited with Joseph and Mary, His earthly parents, in Jerusalem after a 3-day separation following the Passover festival. Joseph says, “It was incredible, Mary. You should have seen when I found him [in the Temple] teaching them—the rabbis, the scholars. They could not believe their ears! They barely let us leave.” The boy Jesus says, “Didn’t you know I must be in My Father’s House?” Mary says to Him, “Just help us get through all of this with You, huh?”

Nicodemus officially interrogates the newly imprisoned John the Baptizer, but confesses to him: “I am searching for an explanation for something I cannot unsee.” He tells John about Mary Magdalene’s miraculous healing by an as-yet unnamed man seeking no credit. John exclaims, “It has begun! If He is healing in secret, the public signs cannot be far off. Nicodemus asks His name (which Mary did not know when Nicodemus spoke to her after she was restored). 

John answers with Scripture: “‘Who has ascended into heaven and come back down? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?’ Teacher of Israel, finish it! Finish the oracle of Agur, son of Jakeh” (in Proverbs 30). Nicodemus correctly answers, “What is His name, and what is the name of His Son?” 

Nicodemus recoils in horror, saying sternly, “You are careless with Torah! God does not have a Son, except Israel.”


John the Baptist says these concluding words to Nicodemus: “All your life you’ve been asleep. ‘Make straight the way for the King’: He is here, to awaken the earth, but some will not want to be awakened. They’re in love with the dark. I wonder which one you will be.”


When Simon tells his wife, Eden, about what Jesus did for them and that Jesus has asked Simon to follow Him, which will require him being away from home often, she reassures him, saying: “Why would I be upset?... How could I feel abandoned? I feel saved! When have we ever had anything easy? That’s not our people’s way.”



Simon says to Andrew, on their way with Jesus and other disciples to the wedding of Jesus’s childhood friend in Cana: “I don’t want to let Him down. Andrew responds, “I don’t want to do it wrong.”


Jesus has fun with children and their parents at the wedding.

Jesus's disciples get to know one another better at the wedding.

Jesus says to Thomas, the caterer at the wedding, who is distraught over what to do about not bringing enough wine: “It’s good to ask questions, to seek understanding. Join Me and I will show you a different way to count and measure; a different way of seeing time.” Jesus then turned water into fine table wine as a blessing to everyone present.


Episode 6: Indescribable Compassion

  • Quintus, the cynical Roman praetor, says to Matthew about Jesus's miraculous provision of fish: “You’re a fine reporter but you’re also a bit of a rube. I read your report: it’s clear Simon and his accomplice tricked you.”
  • Matthew objects, “To what end?... I’m neither sophisticated nor subtle, Dominus, but I am observant. I detected no subterfuge. I recorded everything I witnessed— however impossible it seemed.”

John and James with their father, Zebedee, at whose house people will gather.
  • John says to Simon, who is nervous about a crowd gathering to listen to Jesus teach in Zebedee’s home: “Simon, you don’t need to be His bodyguard—I think He can handle anything! He called you to catch men.” Simon replies, “I don’t even know what that means.”
  • John reasons: “If He needed you to know what it meant, He would have told you. So just be you, okay?”

  • Nicodemus: “You and I, we can lead the others in this—” The conversation is interrupted by a fellow Pharisee named Yussif, who tells them a crowd has gathered to hear a common man preach. The three leave to investigate.





  • Rabbi Shmuel, having pushed his way to the window with Rabbi Yussif, calls out: “You! By whose authority do you teach?” Jesus remains silent. Shmuel presses, “Answer me!”


  • Nicodemus, seeing Mary Magdalene, calls out: “Mary, wait! I saw it ... I saw a paralytic walk past me on his two feet!
  • Mary: “You asked me before if I knew His name. Now everyone knows His name and I fear for His safety.”
  • Nicodemus: “I mean no trouble to Him, no dishonor—”
  • Mary: “Your friends tried to have Him arrested.”
  • Nicodemus: “They’re jealous, they’re afraid. But I’m not, I promise. Mary, please, I need to talk to Him.”
  • Mary: “I follow Him, not the other way around.”
  • Nicodemus: “Will you ask Him for a meeting—in secret, under cover of night, at a place of His choosing.... I just need to speak to Him! Please, Mary.”
  • Mary: “I will try.”

Episode 7: Invitations

Moses to Joshua while crafting the bronze serpent referred to in Numbers 21.
  • Joshua, reluctantly obeying Moses by handing him a cross-shaped staff to hang the bronze serpent on, remarks: “People will say this is a cruel joke—this doesn’t make sense !”
  • Nicodemus says to his wife, Zohara, who questions his frame of mind: “I have never been closer to my senses.”
  • Quintus, the Roman praetor serving under Pontius Pilate, says about Matthew: “My source has unwavering accuracy and a compulsion for the truth.”


  • Mary, telling Jesus about Nicodemus and his desire to meet with Him, reports: “He was earnest. He wasn’t offended when someone had succeeded where he failed. There was a hunger in his eyes, not fear.”
  • Jesus responds, “Not like the Pharisees at the window yesterday, huh? There was a reason you met this Pharisee.... Send word to Nicodemus I will meet with him.”
  • Matthew says to his mother: “The things I thought I knew to be true—do you think impossible things could happen that overturn the laws of nature, that cannot be explained?... My whole world, everything I thought I knew—what if it’s wrong?”

  • Jesus meets at nighttime with Nicodemus, who says he knows Jesus comes from God because of the miracles He does. Jesus says, “And how is that belief going over in the synagogue?” They both laugh.
  • Nicodemus: “What have You come here to show us?”
  • Nicodemus: “That is what our rulers are worried about.”
  • Jesus: “No, not that kind.”
  • Nicodemus: “Then what?”
  • Jesus: “The sort of Kingdom that a person cannot see unless he is born again.”
  • Nicodemus: “Born again ... You mean like a new creature, a conversion from Gentile to Jewish?”
  • Jesus: “No, that’s not what I’m talking about.... Truly I say to you ‘unless one is born of water and Spirit’ [Ezekiel 36], he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [touching Nicodemus’s hand], but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [pointing to Nicodemus’s heart]. That part of you—that is what must be reborn to new life.”
  • Nicodemus, smiling and shaking his head: “How can these things be?”
  • Jesus, gently sighing: “A teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things.”
  • Nicodemus, humbly: “I’m trying, Rabbi.”
  • Jesus: “I know.... Listen. What do you hear?”
  • Nicodemus: “The wind?”
  • Jesus: “How do you know?
  • Nicodemus: “Because I can feel it and I hear its sound.”
  • Jesus: “Do you know where it comes from ... where it is going?”
  • Nicodemus: “No.”
  • Jesus: “That’s what it is to be born again of the Spirit. The Spirit may work in a way that is a mystery to you, and while you cannot see the Spirit, you can recognize His effect.”
  • Nicodemus: “My mind is consumed with what a stir these words would cause among the teachers of the Law.”
  • Nicodemus: “It is hard to receive.”
  • Jesus: “So if I have told you of earthly things and you do not believe, how can I tell you heavenly things?”
  • Nicodemus: “I believe your words...”
  • Nicodemus: “Yes, they wanted to return to Egypt, and they cursed the manna God sent them.”
  • Jesus: “And then?”
  • Nicodemus: “They were bitten by serpents and they were dying. But God made a way for them to be healed.
  • Jesus: “Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the desert, and people only needed to look at it. So will the Son of Man be lifted up so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.”
  • Nicodemus: “Our people are not dying from snake bites. They’re dying from taxation and oppression.”
  • Jesus: “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I did not come to deliver the people from Rome.”
  • Nicodemus: “Then from what?”
  • Jesus: “From sin. From spiritual death. God loves the world in this way: that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, Nicodemus. He sent Him to save it through Him. It’s as simple as Moses’s serpent on the pole. Whoever believes in Him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already.”
  • Andrew whispering to John, who are both listening out of sight: “Have you ever heard anything like this before?”
  • John, taking furious notes: “Shhh!”
  • Jesus: “What does your heart tell you?”
  • Nicodemus: “My heart is swollen with fear and wonder and can tell me nothing except that I am standing on holy ground. (Kneeling, kissing Jesus’s hand, and quoting from Psalm 2): “Kiss the Son lest He be angry and you perish in the way....”

  • Jesus (raising Nicodemus to his feet and finishing the quotation): “...Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.”

  • The next day Jesus calls Matthew at his tax booth to follow Him. As Matthew starts to do so, his Roman escort, Gaius, says to him: “Have you lost your mind? You have money. Quintus protects you. No Jew lives as good as you. You’re going to throw it all away?”
  • Matthew says simply, “Yes.”
  • Simon says to Jesus, “Whoa, do You have any idea what this guy has done? I don’t get it.”
  • Jesus answers, “You didn’t get it when I chose you, either.”
  • Simon: “But this is different.”
  • Jesus: “Get used to different.”

Episode 8: I Am He

A lavish party for the humble at Matthew's house.
Jesus sitting next to Shula, a blind woman.

Matthew sees who is at the door.

Jesus is welcoming.
  • The Lord Jesus explains simply, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” He kindly invites the two men in, but is quickly repelled.
  • Rabbi Yussif says, “I must say I am shocked. She (pointing) is from the Red Quarter. Much of what is done there cannot even be spoken by my tongue or cross my lips.”
  • Simon retorts, “Sounds like a personal problem.”
Yussif and another Pharisee prefer to criticize from outside.


Shmuel points his finger in accusation at Nicodemus.

Nicodemus is angered by his former student's pride and insolence.
  • Nicodemus: “So, it’s all about politics and promotion for you, isn’t it? It’s not to serve God.”
Shmuel is now menacing and in his former mentor's face.

Nicodemus is alarmed but self controlled.
  • Shmuel: “On the contrary, Teacher, it’s about the Law. And the Law ... is God. If I’m rewarded for that, it’s because I learned from the very wisest.”

  • Nicodemus: “I will not oppose your petition and, Shmuel, you have learned nothing from me.”




Jesus listening to James and John, whom He later nicknamed Sons of Thunder.
  • On the road, Jesus’s disciples are shocked to learn He is taking them through Samaria, which they have avoided all their lives. James says, “Rabbi, these were the people that profaned our Temple.” His brother John adds, “They fought against us with the Selucids [Syrians] in the Maccabeean Wars. I’ve never even spoken to a Samaritan!”
  • Jesus responds, “And we destroyed their temple 100 years ago. None of you here were present for any of these things. Listen, if we are going to have a question-and-answer session every time we do something you’re not used to, it’s going to be a very annoying time together for all of us. We’ll be fine ... so follow Me.”

  • The Samaritan woman responds with mild disdain, “Aren’t I ‘unclean’ to you? Won’t you be ‘defiled’ by this vessel?”
  • Jesus: “Maybe some of My people say that about your women, but I don’t.”
  • Samaritan woman: “Yeah? And what do you say?”
  • Jesus: “I say if you knew who I am, you’d be asking Me for a drink ... and I would give you living water.”
  • Samaritan woman: “What do you need from me if you have your own supply of ‘living water’?... Is Jewish water better than Samaritan water?”
  • Jesus: “That’s not what I said.... Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again but whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty again.”
  • Samaritan woman: “Wouldn’t that be nice?”
  • Jesus: “The water I give will become in a person a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
  • Samaritan woman: “Really?”
  • Jesus: “Yes, really.”
  • Samaritan woman: “Prove it.”
  • Jesus: “First, go and call your husband, then come back. I will show you both.”
  • Samaritan woman: “I don’t have a husband.”
  • Jesus: “You are right. You’ve had five husbands and the man you’re living with now is not your husband.
  • Samaritan woman, acting startled: “I see: you’re a prophet. You’re here to preach at me.”
  • Jesus: “No.”
  • Samaritan woman: “Usually the one good thing of coming here alone is I can escape being condemned.
  • Jesus: “I’m not here to condemn you.”
  • Samaritan woman: “I’ve made mistakes—too many. But it’s men like you who have made it impossible for me to do anything about it.”
  • Jesus: “How?”
  • Samaritan woman: “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews insist Jerusalem is the only place for true worship.”
  • Jesus: “They say that because the Temple is there.”
  • Samaritan woman: “Yeah, exactly where we’re not allowed!”
  • Jesus: “I’m here to break those barriers. And the time is coming when neither one this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”
  • Samaritan woman: “So where am I supposed to go when I need God? I never received anything from God but I couldn’t thank Him even if I did.”
  • Jesus: “Anywhere. God is Spirit. And the time is coming and is now here that it won’t matter where you worship, but only that you do it in spirit and truth. Heart and mind. That—that is the kind of worshiper He’s looking for. It won’t matter where you’re from or what you’ve done. Do you believe what I’m telling you?”
  • Samaritan woman: “Until the Messiah comes, and explains everything—and sorts this mess out, including me—I don’t trust in anyone.”
  • Jesus: “You’re wrong when you say that you’ve never received anything from God. This Messiah you speak of: I am He.” He then tells her details about her marriages that convince her.
  • Samaritan woman: “Why are you doing this?”
  • Jesus: “I have not revealed Myself to the public as the Messiah. You are the first. It would be good if you believed Me.”
  • Samaritan woman: “You picked the wrong person.”
  • Jesus: “I came to Samaria just to meet you. Do you think it’s an accident that I’m here in the middle of the day?”
  • Samaritan woman: “I am rejected by others.”
  • Jesus: “I know, but not by the Messiah.”
  • Samaritan woman: “And you know these things because You are the Christ?”
  • Jesus nods His head.
  • Samaritan woman: “I’m going to tell everyone!”
  • Jesus: “I was counting on it.”
  • Samaritan woman, laughing: “Spirit and truth? It won’t be all about mountains or temples?”
  • Jesus: “Soon, just the heart.”
  • Samaritan woman: “You promise?”
  • Jesus: “I promise.”
  • Samaritan woman, running off, leaving her water jugs behind and shouting joyfully to Jesus’s disciples as they return to Him with food: “This Man told me everything I’ve done! Oh, He must be the Christ!”
  • Jesus, after being offered food: “Ah, I have food to eat that you do not know about.... My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
  • Simon: “You told her who You are? So does that mean ...?”
  • Jesus: “It means we’re going to stay here for a couple days. It’s been a long time of sowing, but the fields are ripe for harvest.”
  • Simon: “And so it’s time?”
  • Jesus: “Let’s go.”

  • Simon: “Yes!!!”
  • 🎵“Throw Me like a stone in the water; watch the mud rise up. Dress Me like a Lamb for the slaughter, pour Me in Your Cup. Should have known we’d bring trouble—trouble gonna find you here. Trouble, trouble, trouble.”🎵
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