Category: Jesus

The night before Jesus’ death, He washed the feet of His disciples and shared the Passover meal with them. During this time Judas was revealed as the one who would betray His master (John 13:1-30). At the conclusion of the meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26–29; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26). After the meal, He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. There, He pulled Peter, John, and James away, told them to pray they wouldn’t fall into temptation, and went off by Himself. The trio promptly fell asleep.

Alone, Jesus was grieved and depressed, sorrowful as He approached death. His sweat fell like drops of blood (Luke 22:44)—His anguish was such that His life was practically dripping away from Him. He asked God to take the coming torment from Him, but only if it was the Father’s will (Luke 22:42). But it wasn’t the anticipation of scourging or the horrible hours on the cross that had Jesus so sorrowful. What had Him crying out in the garden was the anticipation of carrying the weight of sin (Matthew 27:46).

God sent an angel to strengthen Him enough to get through it. Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to pray that they would stay loyal to Him, but they fell asleep again. He had shared His life and His coming death with His disciples for three years. Then one of them, Judas, walked up to Him, greeted Him as a friend, and handed Him to the Roman guards.

The next few hours were a blur of beatings, mockings, and whippings with leather thongs tipped with balls of metal and shards of bone. Jesus’ skin was flayed off, and blood dripped off His head from the long thorns in His crown. He also suffered the humiliation of numerous illegal mock trials before Annas (John 18:13), Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:57–68); and Roman trials before Pontius Pilate, then Herod, then Pilate again. Pilate, who knew Jesus was innocent, finally bent to the will of the crowd who were shouting, “Crucify him!” and sent Jesus to the cross (Luke 23:1–25).

Once on the cross, He had the choice of resting His weight on the spikes driven into His hands or pushing up on the spikes in His feet and being able to breathe. People who had celebrated Him a week earlier now taunted Him. He watched the Roman soldiers divide His possessions before He died. And He took in His mother’s grief as she looked up at the One the angel had promised would save the world. When the soldiers came to break His legs (a typical method of hastening the death of the crucified), He was already dead, for He had given up His spirit (John 19:30).

Software: Microsoft Office

          “Trial of Christ”

The night of Jesus’ arrest, He was brought before Annas, Caiaphas, and an assembly of religious leaders called the Sanhedrin (John 18:19-24; Matthew 26:57). After this He was taken before Pilate, the Roman Governor (John 18:23), sent off to Herod (Luke 23:7), and returned to Pilate (Luke 23:11-12), who finally sentenced Him to death.

There were six parts to Jesus’ trial: three stages in a religious court and three stages before a Roman court. Jesus was tried before Annas, the former high priest; Caiaphas, the current high priest; and the Sanhedrin. He was charged in these “ecclesiastical” trials with blasphemy, claiming to be the Son of God, the Messiah.

The trials before Jewish authorities, the religious trials, showed the degree to which the Jewish leaders hated Him because they carelessly disregarded many of their own laws. There were several illegalities involved in these trials from the perspective of Jewish law: (1) No trial was to be held during feast time. (2) Each member of the court was to vote individually to convict or acquit, but Jesus was convicted by acclamation. (3) If the death penalty was given, a night must pass before the sentence was carried out; however, only a few hours passed before Jesus was placed on the Cross. (4) The Jews had no authority to execute anyone. (5) No trial was to be held at night, but this trial was held before dawn. (6) The accused was to be given counsel or representation, but Jesus had none. (7) The accused was not to be asked self-incriminating questions, but Jesus was asked if He was the Christ.

The trials before the Roman authorities started with Pilate (John 18:23) after Jesus was beaten. The charges brought against Him were very different from the charges in His religious trials. He was charged with inciting people to riot, forbidding the people to pay their taxes, and claiming to be King. Pilate found no reason to kill Jesus so he sent Him to Herod (Luke 23:7). Herod had Jesus ridiculed, but wanting to avoid the political liability, sent Jesus back to Pilate (Luke 23:11-12). This was the last trial as Pilate tried to appease the animosity of the Jews by having Jesus scourged. The Roman scourge is a terrible whipping of 39 lashes. In a final effort to have Jesus released, Pilate offered the prisoner Barabbas to be crucified and Jesus released, but to no avail. The crowds called for Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. Pilate granted their demand and surrendered Jesus to their will (Luke 23:25). The trials of Jesus represent the ultimate mockery of justice. Jesus, the most innocent man in the history of the world, was found guilty of crimes and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

Was Jesus a Jew?

One needs only to search the internet today to determine that there is great controversy and disagreement over the question of whether Jesus of Nazareth was actually Jewish. Before we can answer this question adequately, we must first ask another question: who (or what) is a Jew? Even this question has its controversial elements, and the answer depends on who is answering. But one definition that each of the major sects of Judaism— Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform—would probably agree to is, “A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism.”

Although the Hebrew Bible does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used, modern rabbinical Judaism believes that there are several passages in the Torah where this is understood or implied, such as Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Leviticus 24:10; and Ezra 10:2-3. Then there are several examples in Scripture of Gentiles converting to Judaism (i.e., Ruth, the Moabitess; see Ruth 1:16 where Ruth voices her desire to convert) and are considered every bit as Jewish as an ethnic Jew.

So, let’s consider these three questions: Was Jesus a Jew ethnically? Was Jesus an observant Jew religiously? And then finally, if Jesus was a Jew, why don’t Christians follow Judaism?

Was Jesus a Jew ethnically, or was his mother a Jew? Jesus clearly identified with the Jews of His day, His physical people and tribe, and their religion (although correcting its errors).. God purposely sent Him to Judah: “He came to His own [Judah], and His own [Judah] did not receive Him. But as many [Jews] as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name… (John 1:11-12 NKJV), and He clearly said, “You [Gentiles] worship what you do not know; we [Jews] know what we [Jews] worship, for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

The very first verse of the New Testament clearly proclaims the Jewish ethnicity of Jesus. “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). It is evident from passages like Hebrews 7:14, “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah,” that Jesus descended from the tribe of Judah, from which we get the name “Jew.” And what about Mary, the mother of Jesus? In the genealogy in Luke chapter 3, we see clearly that Mary was a direct descendant of King David which gave Jesus the legal right to ascend the Jewish throne as well as establishing without any doubt that Jesus was a Jew ethnically.

Was Jesus an observant Jew religiously? Both of Jesus’ parents had “done everything required by the Law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39). His aunt and uncle, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were also Torah-observant Jews (Luke 1:6), so we can see that probably the whole family took their Jewish faith very seriously.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7), Jesus continually affirmed the authority of the Torah and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) even in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:19-20). He regularly attended synagogue (Luke 4:16), and His teaching was respected by the other Jews of His day (Luke 4:15). He taught in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 21:37), and if He were not a Jew, His going into that part of the Temple would simply not have been allowed (Acts 21:28-30).

Jesus also displayed the outward signs of being an observant Jew. He wore tzitzit (tassles) on His clothing (Luke 8:43; Matthew 14:36) to serve as a reminder of the commandments (Numbers 15:37-39). He observed Passover (John 2:13) and went up to Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16) on this very important Jewish pilgrimage feast day. He observed Succoth, or the feast of tabernacles (John 7:2, 10) and went up to Jerusalem (John 7:14) as required in the Torah. He also observed Hanukah, the festival of lights (John 10:22) and probably Rosh Hashanah, the feast of trumpets (John 5:1), going up to Jerusalem on both those occasions as well, even though it isn’t commanded in the Torah. Clearly, Jesus identified Himself as a Jew (John 4:22) and as King of the Jews (Mark 15:2). From His birth to His last Passover Seder (Luke 22:14-15), Jesus lived as an observant Jew.

So, if Jesus was a Jew, why is it that Christians don’t follow Judaism? The Laws of Judaism were given to Moses for the children of Israel in a very sacred and special covenant at Mount Sinai and recorded for us in the book of Exodus. In this covenant, God wrote His laws on tablets of stone, and Israel was commanded to be obedient to all that was revealed to them. But this wonderful covenant was only a picture of a New and better covenant that God would one day give to His people, both Jew and Gentile.

This new covenant is recorded for us in Jeremiah 31:31-34, “‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”

Christians don’t follow Judaism today because the Mosaic covenant has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). And the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear” (Hebrews 8:13).

As Christians we don’t need to follow the old covenant any longer because that old covenant has been replaced. We now have a better covenant, with a better sacrifice, administered by a better High Priest! “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23).

So much has been lost, I must start with the name itself. Christian What does it mean? A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ who is Christ-like. Even this has been perverted in America. Christian has come to mean, anyone who confesses that Jesus was something more than a man. There are sinful Christians, lukewarm Christians, lying, cheating, stealing Christians. There are worldly Christians, carnal Christians, violent Christians, and adulterous Christians. The name has become an idol. People think that by wearing the title, they will be blessed or even saved. As I said, the hirelings have done us a great evil. But here is the greatest evil of all; they have made Jesus and His cross into an idol! They have perverted who He is and what His cross stands for. They have preached, another Jesus and a pillow cross. This has brought deception and death to the church in America.

This is the sin of the leaders

For among My people are found wicked men;
They lie in wait as one who sets snares;
They set a trap;
They catch men.
As a cage is full of birds,
So their houses are full of deceit.
Therefore they have become great and grown rich.
They have grown fat, they are sleek;
Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked;
They do not plead the cause,
The cause of the fatherless;
Yet they prosper,
And the right of the needy they do not defend.

Shall I not punish them for these things? says the LORD.
Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Their sin be upon there own head.

But, this is the sin of the people called Christian –

An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?

Jesus is not a baby in a manger. He is not your buddy. He is not your servant. He did not come to make you happy, rich, successful, or to build your self-esteem. He is not a picture on your wall or a fuzzy feeling in your heart. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords! He is the Almighty Judge of heaven and earth! He is coming back in wrath!

Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Rev. 19:15) I cry out with John, Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? I asked this question to two young men in a big church the other day; they had no idea what I was talking about. They both told me they had never been warned. They grew up in church and had never been warned to flee from the Wrath of God! What kind of preacher does not warn these young, worldly, sensual people to Flee from the Wrath to Come!? A hireling, who does not love the sheep.
Let us hear the whole of John’s warning:

Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.

(I’m a Christian) For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:7-12)
This is the Jesus that is about to visit America! The Jesus most have believed in, is nothing more than an idol; a vain imagination of man’s own heart; a formed image that has no power. The real Jesus is coming to, reward every man according to what he does, not what he thinks. The real Jesus gives victory over sin, not peace in your sin. The real Jesus gathers only His wheat into the barn. He is coming to thoroughly purge the church in America.

A true Christian has a cross on his back. He has left the world behind, and counted it the enemy that it is. A true Christian, follows Jesus. To the one who is dead to self and sin, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

(Luke 14:25-27 & 34,35)
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

(Luke 9:24) Multitudes want to follow Jesus when He heals them and feeds them, but in the garden they sleep, and at the cross they forsake Him.
I say again, the cross of Christ has become an idol. It has been made something of honor, something of splendor to look upon. It is something that men hang on the wall that they may receive a blessing. Men worship idols to receive a blessing.

The cross of the Bible is a place of death! It is where Jesus gave up everything, saw the back of His Father turned toward Him, and died a gruesome death! It is where He calls us to follow. No man goes there without passing through Gethsemane. No man comes down from it alive. The hirelings have invented a resurrection without the death on the cross. Men have believed that Jesus did it for them so that they wouldn’t have to. Jesus says, If you do not follow Me here, you can not even be My disciple. Much less a Christian.

The false teachers, preachers, prophets, and priest, will bear their judgment! But what about those who hired them, and listened to men instead of God?

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

(II. Timothy 4:3,4)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame who set their mind on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18,19)

But what will you do in the end?

Palm Sunday is the day we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before His resurrection (Matthew 21:1-11). Some 450-500 years earlier, the Prophet Zechariah had prophesied, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). Matthew 21:7-9 records the fulfillment of that prophecy: “They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!’”  This event took place on the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion.

In remembrance of this event, we celebrate Palm Sunday. It is referred to as Palm Sunday because of the palm branches that were laid on the road as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday was the fulfillment of the Prophet Daniel’s “seventy sevens” prophecy: “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times” (Daniel 9:25). John 1:11 tells us, “He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” The same crowds that were crying out “Hosanna” were crying out “crucify Him” five days later (Matthew 27:22-23).

Palm Sunday Calendar:
2014 – April 13
2015 – March 29
2016 – March 20
2017 – April 9
2018 – March 25
2019 – April 14
2020 – April 5

The triumphal entry is that of Jesus coming into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the crucifixion (John 12:1, 12). The story of the triumphal entry is one of the few incidents in the life of Jesus which appears in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 21:1-17; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19). Putting the four accounts together, it becomes clear that the triumphal entry was a significant event, not only to the people of Jesus’ day, but to Christians throughout history. We celebrate Palm Sunday to remember that momentous occasion.

On that day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey’s colt, one that had never been ridden before. The disciples spread their cloaks on the donkey for Jesus to sit on, and the multitudes came out to welcome Him, laying before Him their cloaks and the branches of palm trees. The people hailed and praised Him as the “King who comes in the name of the Lord” as He rode to the temple, where He both taught the people, healed them, and drove out the money-changers and merchants who had made His Father’s house a “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17).

Jesus’ purpose in riding into Jerusalem was to make public His claim to be their Messiah and King of Israel in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Matthew tells us that the King coming on the foal of a donkey was an exact fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus rides into His capital city as a conquering King and is hailed by the people as such, in the manner of the day. The streets of Jerusalem, the royal city, are open to Him, and like a king, He ascends to His palace, not a temporal palace, but the spiritual palace which is the temple, because His is a spiritual kingdom. He receives the worship and praise of the people because only He deserves it. No longer does He tell His disciples to be quiet about Him (Matthew 12:16, 16:20), but to shout His praises and worship Him openly. The spreading of cloaks was an act of homage for royalty (see 2 Kings 9:13). Jesus was openly declaring to the people that He was their King and the Messiah they had been waiting for.

Unfortunately, the praise the people lavished on Jesus was not because they recognized Him as their Messiah. They welcomed Him out of their desire for a deliverer, someone who would lead them in a revolt against Rome. There were many who, though they did not believe in Christ with a spiritual faith, nevertheless hoped that perhaps He might be to them a great temporal deliverer. These are the ones who hailed Him as King with their many Hosannas, recognizing Him as the Son of David who came in the name of the Lord. But when He failed in their expectations, when He refused to lead them in a massive revolt against the Roman occupiers and those who collaborated with them, the crowds quickly turned on Him. Within just a few days, their Hosannas would change to cries of “Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:20-21). Those who hailed Him as a hero would soon reject and abandon Him.

The story of the triumphal entry is one of contrasts and those contrasts are the application to believers. It is the story of the King who came as a lowly servant on a donkey, not a prancing steed, not in royal robes, but on the clothes of the poor and humble. Jesus Christ comes not to conquer by force as earthly kings, but by love, grace, mercy, and His own sacrifice for His people. His is not a kingdom of armies and splendor, but of lowliness and servanthood. He conquers not nations, but hearts and minds. His message is one of peace with God, not of temporal peace. If Jesus has made a triumphal entry into our hearts, He reigns there in peace and love. As His followers, we exhibit those same qualities, and the world sees the true King living and reigning in triumph in us.

Many have wondered why the king mentioned in Zechariah 9:9-10 would ride a donkey into Jerusalem rather than a warhorse. It seems an odd choice for royalty. Kings ride chargers, don’t they?

In the ancient Middle Eastern world, leaders rode horses if they rode to war, but donkeys if they came in peace. First Kings 1:33 mentions Solomon riding a donkey on the day he was recognized as the new king of Israel. Other instances of leaders riding donkeys are Judges 5:10; 10:4; 12:14; and 2 Samuel 16:2.

The mention of a donkey in Zechariah 9:9-10 fits the description of a king who would be “righteous and having salvation, gentle.” Rather than riding to conquer, this king would enter in peace.

The next verse, Zechariah 9:10, highlights this peace: “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Note the many details symbolic of peace:
-“Take away the chariots”: an end to the main vehicle of war.
-“Take away . . . the war-horses”: no need for horses used in war.
-“The battle bow will be broken”: no need for bows or arrows for fighting.
– “He will proclaim peace to the nations”: His message will be one of reconciliation.
-“His rule shall be from sea to sea”: the King will control extended territory with no enemies of concern.

Jesus fulfills this prophecy of Zechariah. The worldwide peace proclaimed by this humble King will be a fulfillment of the angels’ song in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (NKJV). Significantly, Jacob’s blessing on his son Judah includes a reference to a donkey and a donkey’s foal (Genesis 49:11). Jesus is from the tribe of Judah.

Zechariah 9:9 was fulfilled by the triumphal entry as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19). Verses 10 and following refer to a future time when the Messiah will reign after defeating His enemies at the second coming.

 In Philippians  4:13 the apostle Paul writes, “I can do all this through him who gives me  strength.” The “him” of this verse is the Lord Jesus, and Jesus is, of course,  all-powerful (Colossians  2:10). But does this verse mean that we can do anything and everything we  set our minds to?

The context of this verse focuses on the God-given  power to endure any circumstance. Verse 12 notes, “I know what it is to be in  need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being  content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living  in plenty or in want.” Paul had faced times of abundance, yet he had also faced  many trials for his faith.

In 2  Corinthians 11:24–27, Paul shares some of his sufferings up to that point in  his faith: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I  was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been  constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from  bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in  the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false  believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have  known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and  naked.” Despite these and other problems, Paul believed and taught he could  persevere because he could do “all things through him who gives me  strength.”

Also, the focus in Philippians 4 is what the believer can do  through the strength that Christ gives. This is not a promise that  Christians will have superpowers or that they will be invincible or immune to  life’s challenges. Instead, the promise of Philippians  4:13 is that we will have strength from the Lord to faithfully endure the  difficulties that arise in life.

This passage is not about having  financial abundance. Some teach a prosperity gospel that says God will bless us  financially if we are faithful; in contrast, Paul taught that the believer will  endure suffering but can be content in any circumstance, given Christ’s  strength. Just as Christ faithfully endured on the cross, His followers can  faithfully endure the problems they face. In fact, Philippians  4:11 states, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Paul  focused on contentment, not earthly abundance.

Finally, Philippians 4:13 is  part of a larger passage that addresses Christ’s ability to meet our needs.  Christ can give contentment during times of plenty and of poverty. He can help  us do all things through His strength. In Paul’s case, it was the strength to  serve as a missionary despite facing intense suffering. In our lives, this same  strength is available. Whether we serve in another country or help someone in  our own community, Christ’s power can enable us to stand firm on His promises  and endure the most difficult of life’s challenges. As Paul concludes this  passage with these words: “My God will meet all your needs according to the  riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and  ever. Amen” (verses 19–20).

The Bible never records Jesus saying the precise words, “I am God.” That does  not mean, however, that He did not proclaim that He is God. Take for example  Jesus’ words in John 10:30,  “I and the Father are one.” We need only to look at the Jews’ reaction to His  statement to know He was claiming to be God. They tried to stone Him for this  very reason: “You, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33).  The Jews understood exactly what Jesus was claiming—deity. When Jesus declared,  “I and the Father are one,” He was saying that He and the Father are of one  nature and essence. John 8:58 is  another example. Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth … before Abraham was  born, I am!” Jews who heard this statement responded by taking up stones to kill  Him for blasphemy, as the Mosaic Law commanded (Leviticus  24:16).

John reiterates the concept of Jesus’ deity: “The Word  [Jesus] was God” and “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1, 14). These verses clearly  indicate that Jesus is God in the flesh. Acts 20:28 tells us, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own  blood.” Who bought the church with His own blood? Jesus Christ. And this same  verse declares that God purchased His church with His own blood. Therefore,  Jesus is God!

Thomas the disciple declared concerning Jesus, “My Lord  and my God” (John 20:28).  Jesus does not correct him. Titus 2:13 encourages us to wait for the coming of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ (see  also 2 Peter  1:1). In Hebrews 1:8,  the Father declares of Jesus, “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God,  will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your  kingdom.’” The Father refers to Jesus as “O God,” indicating that Jesus is  indeed God.

In Revelation, an angel instructed the apostle John to only  worship God (Revelation  19:10). Several times in Scripture Jesus receives worship (Matthew 2:11; 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38). He  never rebukes people for worshiping Him. If Jesus were not God, He would have  told people to not worship Him, just as the angel in Revelation did. There are  many other passages of Scripture that argue for Jesus’ deity.

The most  important reason that Jesus has to be God is that, if He is not God, His death  would not have been sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). A created being,  which Jesus would be if He were not God, could not pay the infinite penalty  required for sin against an infinite God. Only God could pay such an infinite  penalty. Only God could take on the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21),  die, and be resurrected, proving His victory over sin and death.

Fan magazines help us answer this question. Adoring fans of movie, TV, music,  or sports stars buy thousands of dollars’ worth of information, photos, and  juicy tidbits. After poring over such material, the fans feel as if they really  know their heroes. But do they? They may know certain facts about their chosen  hero. They may be able to cite birth date, favorite color, and childhood pets,  but, if they were to meet that person face to face, what would the hero say?  Does the fan really know the hero?

Jesus responded to this question in  Matthew  7:21–23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom  of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name  and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then  I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  There were people in Jesus’ day who thought they were friends of His because  they knew the Law, made strict rules for themselves (and for others), and  listened to His teaching. They followed Him, applauded the miracles, and liked  some of what He said. But Jesus calls them “evildoers” and states, “I never knew  you.”

Today there are thousands who know about Jesus—that is, they  know some facts about Him, commit Bible verses to memory, and perhaps attend  church regularly. But they have never allowed the facts to become their personal  reality. They hold knowledge in their heads without allowing the truth to  penetrate their hearts. Jesus explained the problem: “These people honor me with  their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their  teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew  15:8–9; Mark 7:6).

We easily substitute religion for a real relationship with Jesus. We  often think that, if we are doing “Christian things,” that’s all that counts. We  can appreciate the facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but until we have  made Him our Lord, the facts do us no good (John  3:16–18; Acts 10:43Romans 10:9). There is a  difference between intellectual assent and saving faith. Knowing Jesus means we  have accepted His sacrifice on our behalf (2  Corinthians 5:21). We ask Him to be the Lord of our lives (John 1:12; Acts 2:21). We  identify with Him in His death and consider our old selves to have died with Him  (Colossians  3:3; Romans 6:25; Galatians 6:14; 2:20). We accept His  forgiveness and cleansing from sin and seek to know Him in intimate fellowship  through His Holy Spirit (John 17:3; Philippians  3:10; 1 John  2:27).

When we repent of our sin and surrender our lives to Him,  Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; John 14:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us, changing  us forever (1  Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 3:9).  The facts we knew about Jesus come alive as we get to know Him personally. Let’s  say you’ve read that your favorite movie star has green eyes and a dimple in her  chin. Those traits are merely facts on paper until you meet her face to face.  Then, suddenly, those green eyes are looking at you, and the dimple springs to  her chin when she smiles. She tells you about her day, her fears, and her inner  thoughts. You may recall that you had heard those facts before, but now you are  experiencing them. You knew about her before, but now you know  her. The abstract has become concrete. Things you thought you knew start  to make sense as you enter into a relationship.

Jesus is a Person. To  know Him is to enter into a relationship. The greatest commandment is to “love  the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).  It’s hard to love someone you don’t know. Loving Him starts with surrendering to  His plan for your life. That’s what it means to make Him Lord (Matthew 6:33; Romans 10:9–10; Psalm 16:8). The nature of God is so vast and complex  that no human being can fully know everything there is to know about Him. But  life is about continually seeking Him, learning  more about Him, and enjoying His fellowship (Jeremiah  29:13; Philippians  3:8).