PARTNERS WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXII
The idea of being spiritual or spirit filled was a trademark for the prophets and for a handful of priests, but not a public commodity that everyone could enjoy. The truth was and still is that they had the spirit to live, but it was blocked by their own interpretation and understanding, which stopped God’s Spirit from reaching man’s spirit. Man does not need a new spirit! However, man must clean out the one spirit he/she has in order to receive God’s and Christ’s messages, as recorded for man in the Bible. The Hebrews, in particular, were stone deaf to any spiritual influence that did not coincide with their own traditions that they were a specially chosen nation and territory in the world (Deuteronomy 7:6-11). God was bound to them by the Covenant and they could use the Law for their benefit and for their convenience. It was a male society, where women were chattel (Mark 10:2-12), children were unworthy to be counted (Mark 10:13-16), parents were disrespected (Mark 7:10-13), and only riches and social standings were the evidence that God was with them (Deuteronomy 28:7-14). That mentality plagued Jesus’ disciples. And today, it also misleads far too many Christians who mark their social standing with God, based on their material accomplishments and physical well-being.
JESUS SPOKE OF DYING, THE DISCIPLE DREAMED OF GLORY
Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem. And Jesus was preparing them to face His Fate of Shame, His Rejection and His Death (Mark 10:32-34). However, the disciples expected to be put in charge of the government when Jesus would become the new King. John and James wanted to be president and prime minister (Mark 10:35-45). As Jesus and his disciples passed Jericho, He restored sight to Bartimaeus, who called Jesus, the “Son of David” (Mark 10:46-52). Before they reached Jerusalem, they stayed several days in Bethpage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives. Jesus and his disciples resided with Jesus’ friend Simon, the leper in Bethany (Mark 11; 14). From the Mount of Olives, Jesus planned His entrance and the purpose why He had to come to Jerusalem, not as a military Hero, but as an “Emissary of peace.” Jesus chose to ride on the foal of an ass, just as David had done, as an agent of peace. And those that believed in Jesus cheered and sang:
And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their clothes on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their clothes on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed be the kingdom of our father David!” (Mark 11:7-10).
Jesus did not enter the temple because it was too late. And so Jesus returned to Bethany for the night. In the morning, on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus was hungry. And as He passed a fig tree hoping to find fruit, but found none, therefore He cursed it. When Jesus came to the temple, He was angry at what the temple was used for, and so He drove out the money-changers, who converted good currency into useless currency and all those who traded inside the temple. Jesus declared the temple to be, “A house of prayer for all nations,” and not a den for robbers. Jesus offended the chief priests and scribes; and therefore He left Jerusalem for the night (Mark 11:11-19). In the morning, Jesus, on His way back to Jerusalem, had a lesson on faith for his disciples, which they would need when Jesus would be forcefully taken away from them and killed. A lesson, all of us can take to heart; particularly, when we forgive those who have hurt us. On Jesus’ third day in Jerusalem, the leaders began to challenge Jesus’ authority, but He declined to give them a direct answer. Instead, Jesus talked to them in a parable, predicting what the leaders of the Jews would do to Him, and also what would happen to their nation.
As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:20-26).
And they came again to Jerusalem. And as Jesus was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing thes things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you a question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me.” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From men?”—they were afraid of the people, for all held that John was a real prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Mark 11:27-33).
And Jesus began to speak to them in parables, “A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the vine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruits of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away (Mark 12:1-12).
MARK HAD AN AMAZING GRASP OF JESUS TEACHING
Mark reported the key issues Jesus had to deal with like tax exemptions, deceptions, after-life existence, the law on the extension of love, on who the Messiah was, and every penny counted in a mammon’s economy. Exemptions granted to religious or any other organization are a burden to the taxpayers in the world, and they were not approved by Jesus. Jesus, too, paid taxes for Himself and for Peter.
When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a skekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself” (Matthew 17:24-27).
The Pharisees and Herodians tried to trap Jesus with paying taxes to Caesar, but they trapped themselves when Jesus made them decide to do their duty to God and to their country. Both God and Caesar needed funds to operate in the world, and the supporters of both groups must do their share in sustaining the amenities necessary to sustain life on earth. When politicians separate God and country neither can survive (Mark 12:13-17). Even the coins of a widow are appreciated (Mark 12:41-44).
The same applies to every person, who presumes that he/she can live without the Spirit of God that makes all life possible. And those who question the existence of the spirit and soul in the hereafter, are gampeling with their souls. And those who believe must prepare themselves in this life, to feel at home in eternity where only angelic spirits reside. Jesus was not concerned as to what form or what body the spirits would take on in the new world, but rather, whether the spirits would get there without getting to know the “Living God” and “God’s Spirit” here on earth, by learning to love each other. The only time man has to prepare, before he/she is called home and rejoin the family of God or the family of the devil, is man’s time here on earth. The Greatest Commandment “to Love” was designed to assist man in preparing for his/her eternal retirement; that is when flesh and blood no longer multiply (Mark 12:18-34).
Jesus rode into Jerusalem and those who followed greeted Him as the “Son of David.” What a shock it must have been that Jesus declared that He was not David’s son, but Jesus declared that He was David’s Lord (Mark 12:35-36). Matthew and Luke connected Jesus with the house of David via adoption, after the Virgin Mary partnered with the Holy Spirit to bring the Son of God into the world, not just as the “Savior of man,” but also as the “Lord of the redeemed” (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-11). It is not enough to be saved without having the Lord Christ obey His Words (John 8:31; 15:23-24; Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46-49).
JESUS COULD NOT REACH THE PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THE LEADERS: THE AGES OLDEST PROBLEM
And in his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feats, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretence make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation” (Mark 12:38-40).