PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART XLIII

God is not One who favours one person over another, as so many believe. God chooses his messengers, who serve Him best. King Nebuchadnezzar was such a person into whose hands God placed, for discipline, the people of Jerusalem, Judea, and many other nations. It also was to Nebuchadnezzar that God disclosed His own Heavenly Kingdom (Jeremiah 27:4-7). God’s Kingdom would begin small, but it would become one of the biggest single organizations in the world. Jesus compared it to the swelling of leaven and to a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-33).

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN ON EARTH WOULD BE A PARTNERSHIP WHERE EVERY MEMBER GIVES ALL HE/SHE CAN

The Kingdom of Heaven consists of dedicated and God-fearing persons who themselves built it with the guidance of Christ’s Spirit. The Kingdom of God is the result of partnering, also known as covenanting, with each other and with the Holy Spirit to become a Heavenly Union on earth. For that reason, Jesus commanded and explained what the Kingdom of God was:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well (Matthew 6:33).

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Luke 12:32-34).

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst (within)  you” (Luke 17:20-21).

Jesus partnered with twelve men. And then, Jesus laid down the requirement for others to become Covenant partners.

And he went up on a mountain, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to sent them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons: Simon whom he surnamed Peter; James te son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Tomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him (Mark 3:13-19).

Then, after that, Jesus did look for men with the will and with the determination of a “rock,” like Simon Peter (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus also was be very selective in His choice for messengers, who would proclaim and partner with His Spirit in building His Kingdom. The nature of the Kingdom of Heaven, itself, would not be understood. The religious establishment accused Jesus of being in liege with the head of demons.

As they were going along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes. And birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord let me first go and bury my father.” But he said to him, Leave the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:57-62).

Now great multitudes accompanied him; and he turned and said to them, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:25-33).

Then Jesus went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house.

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And he answered, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mark 3:19b-35).

THE COMPASSION AND THE KINGDOM WERE COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD BY THE CROWD

Jesus, as the Man, was compassionate! Jesus fed the five thousand and then another four thousand hungry men with their families (Mark 6:30-44; Mark 8:1-10). The “Miracle of Feeding” made Jesus appear as if He was another Moses and that deserved Jesus to be made king against His Will (John 6:1-24). Therefore, Jesus began to explain to the people that they had the wrong perception of what He was about, and where He had come from. Jesus’ explanation required additional explaining; and so it did diminish the crowds from following Him. Therefore, Jesus could concentrate on the reason why He was sent into the world.

When they (crowd) found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the work of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:25-40).

THE JEWISH MINDS WERE NOT RECEPTIVE FOR A MAN FROM HEAVEN

Symbolically, explaining the ways of God was even more difficult for Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus spoke of a time when the Jews would sacrifice Him to atone for their sins once and for all. Jesus had to die, in order to shed His blood for the remission of sin (Mark 10:45). The Jews resented the idea of eating “His Flesh” and drinking “His Blood,” and so did many who had intended to become Jesus’ disciples. To them, Jesus was saying that they too would die and that they also would shed their blood for their faith. They, too, would die on crosses. It was not just “Jesus’ Blood” that would be shed, but it also would be their own blood that would be spilled. The cross would become “an altar for the shedding of blood for the redemption of man”, and for “securing an eternal presence with God.”

The Jews then murmured at him (Jesus), because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’? Jesus answered them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum (John 6:41-59).

JESUS EXPERIENCED HIS FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT IN HIS DISCIPLES

The food Jesus was offering to the people was “pure spirit and everlastingly living” in the spiritual world with Christ and God the Father. That is why the flesh and the blood must die and be shed on earth (I Corinthians 15:50). According to Paul, man must die on earth so his spirit can begin to live with God in eternity.

Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offence at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him (John 6:60-71).

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God really dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you (Romans 8:6-11).