The Apostles’ Manual: Part Two # 31
The Kingdom of God is too demanding, how then shall its servants live? Jesus promised that His Father would provide. The ministers and the full-time workers in the Kingdom of God had no time to build nest eggs, or horde earthly treasures, which would fill their eyes, and keep them from spreading the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. So, a servant of Jesus Christ has to make friends with those who dispense the means of mammon, and work part-time to supplement his/her ministry. One of the first things Jesus did was He tried to address the anxiety, which the disciples had when they had given up their jobs for Christ. How were they to live without the means to feed themselves and even their families? During and after World War II, my family, and so did millions of our people agonized over sustenance, while facing starvation for years. Jesus’ answer to his disciples became our only choice, and that was that we had to “live one day at the time.” And our little faith did help us daily to find sustenance (Matthew 7:7-8).
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why be anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;they neither toil nor spin; ye I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, willHe not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?Therefore do not be anxious saying, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink? Or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Matthew 6:25-34).
What did Jesus do before He began His Ministry?
Jesus did not leave his family and his adopted family stranded as far too many earthlings do in the world. He provided them with friends of means, who could and did take them in when he had to leave. They did not just live on faith, but also on friends. In 1945, while we were homeless and destitute, we too lived by faith on strangers who were friendly toward us and helped us (Luke 16:9). What did Jesus say those people who hurt their little ones should do? (Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2; Matthew 18:6). And those who terminate their lives should put on two millstones!
The Evangelist, Doctor Luke, left us some hints. Jesus had eighteen years to make friends with people of means to prepare for the care of his followers. And Jesus did tell his disciples to make friends with mammon, for such a time when He would be taken from them (Luke 2:41-52; 16:9). Jesus’ parents took Jesus to Jerusalem for twelve years, and it is unlikely that He, Himself, did not long annually to see His Father’s House. Jesus, Himself, was very familiar with Jerusalem; and in particular with the place of the “Upper Room,” where He sent his disciples to prepare to eat His last Passover Meal. The place was built like a fortress and provided safe housing for Jesus’ family, the apostles and disciples, during His ordeal and after. The present owner was a wealthy widow with her son, John Mark. The Romans did not destroy the building, and a visitor from Rome sketched it in 135 AD, when Jerusalem was no longer inhabitable.
The disciples did stay with Jesus while He served as the Christ and they were provided for. The other believers like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and the John Mark family were wealthy and did support Jesus and His Ministry. John Mark, in his Account of Jesus, added some women who supported Jesus and his disciples with sustenance. Take note of the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Mark’s own family that provide a place where they stayed in Jerusalem, known as the “Upper Room,” which could accommodate many people (Mark 1:12-16; Luke 22:7-13; Acts 1:12-14). Herod had a court member named Manaen who was a leader in the Church of Antioch, in Herod’s district (Acts 13:1). Jesus also made friends like Lazarus and his sisters (John 11), Simon the leper (Mark 14:3), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), Cleopas (Luke 24:18), and no doubt others who could take in Jesus orphans, for whom He well provided.
“Soon afterward Jesus went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means” (Mark 8:1-3).
When Jesus left the disciples:
“They returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” (Acts 1:12-14).
Before Jesus was taken up he gave these instructions:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” And when Jesus had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him going into heaven” (Acts 1:8-11).
The disciples began to remember that Jesus had made promises to come back and take them with Him to heaven. So, the heaven-bound people began to dispose of earthly holdings and formed a commune, ready to depart from earth.
“Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostle’s feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need. Thus Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means, Son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
Jesus did more than provide what we need on earth. He promised to be with us in Spirit all the time
Where is Jesus now? Most answers have been that He is seated at the right hand of God in heaven (Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69; Matthew 26:64). But what about the promise of being with the disciples and living in them and protecting them in the world? Personally, I too have been in the care of heaven, for it is humanly impossible that I would have survived for over ninety years. I have been a very costly follower of the Lord.
“Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the (your) age” (Matthew 28:20).
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (John 14:15-20).
Jesus answered (Judas not Iscariot), ‘If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:23-26).
“I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom Thou hast given me, for they are thine; all mine are thine, and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world (body), but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in the name which Thou has given me, that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in thy name which Thou has given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:9-12).
Now Judas (Iscariot), who betrayed Jesus, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, procuring a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. And again Jesus asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these go.” This was to fulfill the word which Jesus had spoken, “Of those whom Thou gavest me I lost not one” (John 18:2-9).
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
“See that you do not despise (or abort) one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man had a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you. He rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (robbed of the right to live) (Matthew 18:10-14).
And they were bringing children to Jesus, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked the parents. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to the disciples (and others), “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them (Mark 10:13-16).
There is no safer place for me and you than being in the arms of Jesus. His arms are full of love, grace, and forgiveness. But in this world you and I have become his arms.