Four Faces of Christ
1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
2Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
3Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,
Perez the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
4Ram the father of Amminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
5Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse,
6and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife,
7Solomon the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
8Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,
Jehoram the father of Uzziah,
9Uzziah the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,
10Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amon,
Amon the father of Josiah,
11and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
12After the exile to Babylon:
Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
13Zerubbabel the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
14Azor the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Akim,
Akim the father of Eliud,
15Eliud the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
16and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
17Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.
18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
16When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
18"A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."
19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."
1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' "
4John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
13Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
15Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.
16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
12When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee. 13Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15"Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, along the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
16the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned."
17From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him.
21Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. 25Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
17"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. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brotherwill be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
25"Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
27"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
31"It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.' 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
33"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.' 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
19"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
6"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
1When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. 4Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6"Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."
7Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."
8The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
13Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.
14When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
16When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
"He took up our infirmities
and carried our diseases."
18When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go."
20Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
21Another disciple said to him, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
22But Jesus told him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
23Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
26He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
28When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
30Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."
32He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
14Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?"
15Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
16"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
18While he was saying this, a ruler came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." 19Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.
20Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed."
22Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.
23When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd, 24he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. 25After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26News of this spread through all that region.
27As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"
28When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"
"Yes, Lord," they replied.
29Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; 30and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this." 31But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
32While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
34But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons."
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
1He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
11"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. 15I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. 16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.
17"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 18On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!
26"So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.
34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'
37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
1After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in the towns of Galilee.
2When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples 3to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
4Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosyare cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. 6Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
7As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. 9Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written:
" 'I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.' 11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15He who has ears, let him hear.
16"To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17" 'We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge
and you did not mourn.' 18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."
20Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."
25At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.
27"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
1At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."
3He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
9Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"
11He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
13Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
15Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, 16warning them not to tell who he was. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
18"Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
21In his name the nations will put their hope."
22Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."
25Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.
30"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33"Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
38Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."
39He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
43"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."
46While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you."
48He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear."
10The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
11He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
" 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.' 16But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
24Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28" 'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29" 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' "
31He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."
33He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
34Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
"I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world."
36Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
37He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47"Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51"Have you understood all these things?" Jesus asked.
"Yes," they replied.
52He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
53When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" they asked. 55"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
58And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, 2and he said to his attendants, "This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
3Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, 4for John had been saying to him: "It is not lawful for you to have her." 5Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet.
6On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for them and pleased Herod so much 7that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." 9The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted 10and had John beheaded in the prison. 11His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. 12John's disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.
13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."
16Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
17"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.
18"Bring them here to me," he said. 19And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
34When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.
1Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2"Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"
3Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4For God said, 'Honor your father and mother' and 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' 5But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,' 6he is not to 'honor his father' with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"
10Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "
In our survey of the Scriptures we come now to the New Testament. When we came to the close of the Old Testament we were aware that a large portion of the prophetic sections is at least partially unfulfilled. Also, many of the sacrifices are not explained to us in the Old Testament. Thus, it is a book of unfulfilled prophecy and unexplained sacrifice. We discovered, further, that it is a book of unsatisfied longings. Men were crying out for God. In Psalm 42 David said, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." And you find the heart cry of Job reflected on the lips of many men in the Old Testament: "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!"
When we turn to the pages of the New Testament we instantly begin to read about the One who comes in fulfillment of the prophecies, as an explanation of the sacrifices and in satisfaction of the longings which are there. The Lord Jesus Christ, of course, is that One. We have in the four Gospels the picture of the Person of Christ.
Now, it is improper to think of these four Gospels as four biographies of Christ. They are not. We do not have a biography of the Lord Jesus Christ in print anywhere today. It simply doesn't exist. John says, "There are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written ... the world itself could not contain the books that would be written," (John 21:25). And there certainly is no other record of him anywhere else. But we do have these four portraits -- four penned pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many have asked, "Why is it necessary to have four Gospels? Why don't we have just one Gospel? Why couldn't one of these writers have gotten all the facts together and presented them for us?" Well, that would be like trying to make one photograph of a building adequately represent the entire structure. It would be impossible to take a picture which would show all four sides of the building at one time. It is impossible to get a full, four-dimensional view of a house without having four different pictures. Similarly it is impossible to get a full, four-dimensional view of the Person of Christ without portraying his four fundamental aspects. There are many features which are similar, or the same, in these four Gospels, but the writers were not trying to do the same thing. In fact, there is a distinct aspect of Christ set forth in each of the four Gospels. We find a different portrait of Christ in each one. We have no conception of the fullness of his Person until we have seen all four of these. You can't get a clear, well-rounded picture of Christ until you have all four Gospels in view.
I think it would have been possible for a keen-minded, farsighted Hebrew to have foreseen from the Old Testament the fact that some day there would have to be four Gospels. I don't know that any ever did, but, now that we have these four, we can look back into the Old Testament and see anticipation provided by the Spirit of God that some day there would be given a fourfold picture of Christ. The Old Testament is filled with pictures of the coming Messiah. Take the book of Isaiah, for example. In its opening pages we sense at first a dim, shadowy portrait of someone in the background. As we move along in the book it grows clearer, until we come to the fortieth chapter; and from then on, the figure of the Messiah steps out into full glory. He fills the entire horizon of the book. We have there a picture of Christ second to none in all the Bible. There are many pictures of the Lord in the Old Testament, but all of them and all of the anticipations and prophecies can be categorized under four aspects of Christ -- even in the Old Testament:
First, our Lord Jesus is pictured in many prophecies, like those of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah, as coming as the King -- the King of Israel. And, of course, the nation of Israel has loved that kind of a picture. That is the portrait they built up in their minds. And this is one of the basic reasons why Israel rejected the Lord when he did come. It is the answer to the question which is often asked: "Why did the Jews not know their Messiah when he came?" They had only one of his aspects in mind. They seized upon this idea of his coming as a great, triumphant Redeemer and King and Mighty One, moving against the nations who were their enemies. When he didn't do that, they felt he wasn't the One. There are prophecies that speak of it.
Second, we have other Old Testament pictures which speak of Messiah as the Servant, as the suffering One. Again, Isaiah is in the fore-view. There is also the typological fore-view that Joseph gives of the coming of One who is to suffer. The Hebrews were confused by these two kinds of pictures that many of the rabbis say in their writings that there must be two Messiahs. They called one "Messiah Ben-joseph," or Messiah the son of Joseph, and the other "Messiah Ben-david," or Messiah the son of David. Messiah Ben-david was said to be the kingly One, and Messiah Ben-joseph the suffering One. They didn't see even the twofold aspect of a single Messiah we have already discussed.
Third, we have frequent Old Testament pictures of Christ's coming as Man. He was to be born of a virgin, grow up in Bethlehem, walk among men. There are pictures of his childhood, youth and young manhood.
Finally, we have those pictures which speak of him as God, the Everlasting One. Micah says, "Out of Bethlehem shall come he who is to be the ruler of Israel, whose going forth is from everlasting." And there are many other pictures of him as God.
So all of these Old Testament prophecies and pictures can be placed under these four headings: King, Servant, Man, and God. When you come to the Gospels, you find that these represent exactly the fourfold way in which Christ is pictured. Interestingly enough, in four places in the Old Testament (in the King James Version) the word behold is used in connection with these four pictures. In Zechariah 9:9 God says to the daughters of Zion and Jerusalem, "behold, thy King cometh..." That prophecy was fulfilled when our Lord entered Jerusalem in triumph. Then in Isaiah 42:1 God says, "Behold my servant..." It is not "thy servant" but "my servant." Christ is not the servant of man but the servant of God, of Jehovah. In Zechariah 6:12 the Lord says, "Behold, the man..." He is speaking about the Messiah. And in Isaiah 40:9 he says, "say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!" Four times that phrase is used -- each time in connection with a different aspect of the Person of Christ. Thus we can see something of the marvelous pattern which underlies the Scriptures. All this was woven into the warp and woof of the Old Testament, long before Christ ever appeared on earth, and yet it forms a basis for the four Gospels which were to be written some 500 to 1,000 years later.
Before we look at the four Gospels individually, it is important to recognize that it is impossible, really, for anybody to give us a true "harmony" of them, because they are not chronological accounts. So don't try to reconcile the sequence of all the different places, times and occurrences -- because you can't do it. These men did not sit down and record in chronological order what Jesus did. Each was quite evidently led by the Spirit of God to present for us a picture of a certain aspect of the ministry of Christ. In order to do that, each one of these men, for example, took a message which our Lord delivered later in his ministry and recorded it earlier. Now, there is nothing deceitful about this, because they do not claim to be recording in any chronological sequence. We sometimes merely assume that -- quite improperly. And we will also find that our Lord evidently delivered the same message on two or three different occasions, so it is recorded in two or three different connections. Thus, it is impossible for us to harmonize all parts of these accounts. But there is no real, underlying disharmony between them if we recognize the fact that the chronology is not absolute. However, if we carefully compare the Gospels we can derive a fairly accurate sequence -- especially if we rely upon John's Gospel, which is the most chronological of them all.
Now let's take the Gospels in their order:
Matthew's Gospel, of course, is the Gospel of Christ as King. There are a number of characteristics which mark it as distinctive in this way. His effort is to depict Christ as the King of Israel. He accomplishes this right away, because the first thing he does is to give us Christ's genealogy. A genealogy is very necessary for a king. Every king is very, very careful to keep his genealogy intact so that we can be sure he is of the royal family. Matthew traces the genealogy of the Lord Jesus back through King David to Abraham, who was the father of the nation Israel. Christ's royal genealogy is complete.
Then we notice that, throughout Matthew, our Lord speaks as King and acts as King; he speaks with authority and acts with authority. In the Sermon on the Mount he says to the people, "Moses said to you so and so, but I say to you such and such." He speaks with the authority of Moses and more. To the Jews, Moses was the great authority. Nobody had ever spoken more authoritatively than Moses, but here came One who gave additional teaching beyond what Moses said. And our Lord acts authoritatively. He dismisses the evil spirits and commands them to leave. He heals the sick, makes the blind to see. He passes judgment upon the officials of the nation as a king would do. He says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" And, in majestic, straightforward, commanding dignity, he pronounces the rejection of the entire nation in the latter part of the book.
The key phrase of this book is "the kingdom of heaven." It occurs thirty-two times in Matthew, but only twice any place else in the New Testament. Matthew is constantly referring to the kingdom of heaven and the King. Even in his account of the birth of our Lord, Matthew says that Christ was born King of the Jews, and that when he died he was crucified as King of the Jews. In Matthew's Gospel there is no account of the ascension of Christ. Why? Well, because the King of the Jews belongs on earth. Thus, Matthew gives us a thoroughly kingly emphasis. By way of contrast, Luke doesn't say Jesus was born to be King of the Jews; he says he was born to be the Savior. Luke doesn't say Jesus was crucified because he was King of the Jews, but because he "made himself to be like God." And, of course, Luke's account of the ascension is in Chapter 1 of The Acts, here the emphasis is distinctly other than on the kingdom.
Mark, the second Gospel, pictures Christ as the Servant. We discover this immediately, because there is no genealogy at all. Who cares about the genealogy of a servant? Nobody.
I remember reading some time ago about a young man from Boston who went to Chicago to get a job. (In Boston people place great stock in their ancestry -- their genealogy, their family background.) Perhaps you have heard the little rhyme:
I am from the city of Boston,
the place of the bean and the cod,
where the Cabots speak only to Lowells,
and the Lowells speak only to God.
The young man gave as references to a prospective employer some of his friends back home. The employer wrote to them and received long letters in reply listing this young man's family tree clear back to the Mayflower. The practical-minded employer wrote back little notes that said, "Thank you for the family history and genealogy you sent, but we want to inform you we are interested in this young man not for breeding purposes but for employment!"
So, you see, no one is interested in a servant's genealogy. And in Mark's Gospel our Lord simply appears on the scene. But do you know what we get in place of a genealogy? We get credentials. That is what we are looking for in a servant, isn't it? We want to know what his credentials are. And in the first chapter of Mark we are given Christ's credentials and his references. His first reference is John the Baptist, who gives him a good character reference. And then you have the reference of his Father and the witness of the Spirit.
The key word in this Gospel isimmediately. That is the word of a servant, isn't it? When you give a servant an order, you want it carried out immediately, not ten minutes later. "Immediately Jesus did so and so" is repeated many, many times in Mark.
Whereas Luke is filled with parables, and Matthew has a great many, there are only four parables in Mark. Each of them is a parable of service. They represent the Servant of Jehovah -- the suffering Servant whom Isaiah pictures in his 53rd chapter.
And in Mark, Jesus is never called "Lord" until after the resurrection -- another mark of his servanthood. Mark 13:32 is a verse which has puzzled many. Our Lord says of his second coming:
"But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32 RSV)
Men have wondered how Jesus could be omnipotent God and still not know the time of his own coming. But this is explained by the character of Mark's Gospel. As John tells us, "the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth." Even the Son, in his Servant aspect, does not know when he is returning. So Mark gives us the picture of the suffering Servant of Jehovah.
Luke gives us the picture of Christ as Man. Here he is seen in the perfection of his manhood -- the glory, beauty, strength, and dignity of his manhood. And, as we would expect, Luke also begins with Christ's genealogy. If Jesus is to be presented as Man, we want to know that he belongs to the human race, don't we? Notice to whom Luke traces his genealogy -- clear back to Adam. He thus links him directly with our race.
In Luke we find most of the references having to do with Christ praying. If you want to see Jesus at prayer, read the Gospel of Luke. Prayer is a picture of man's proper relationship to God -- dependence upon a sovereign, omnipotent God. That is why you see Christ in the act of prayer many, many times throughout the Gospel of Luke.
In Matthew 10, when Jesus sends the disciples out, he tells them, "Don't go into any of the towns of the Gentiles but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But when he sends them out in Luke 9, they go everywhere to preach the gospel. This is indicative that here he has in view the entire human race. In Luke you have the reflection of his human sympathy. He wept over the city of Jerusalem; he healed the man whose ear Peter had cut off when they arrested Jesus in the garden. No other Gospel tells us about these two incidents. But Luke gives us the sympathetic, human aspect of our Lord.
In Luke we also have the fullest account of Christ's agony in the garden of Gethsemane. There he sweats blood as he enters into the sorrows of humanity. That is our Lord as a man, feeling our own infirmities, entering into our trials, being tempted as we are. Luke gives us this picture all the way through his Gospel.
Then, John's Gospel presents Christ as God. This great book is much used today, because it is the deity of our Lord which is questioned. John's Gospel, more than any other, is given out in evangelistic work, because the key question people have is: "Is Jesus Christ really the Son of God?"
Matthew answers the question "Is Jesus of Nazareth the King of Israel?" He says, "Yes," and he shows us why. He demonstrates Christ's legal and hereditary rights to the throne. Mark answers the question "Is Jesus Christ the servant of Jehovah?" He says, "Yes." Luke answers the question "Is Jesus Christ a true man?" He says, "Yes." John answers the question "Is Jesus Christ the Son of God?" His answer, of course, is a very positive "Yes!"
In John's Gospel we find only a brief genealogy. Three of the Gospels begin with a genealogy -- Matthew, Luke and John. But it is a very brief one in John because it is the account of Christ's divine nature. This genealogy is encompassed in only one verse:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 RSV)
That's all it takes! We have only two persons in this genealogy -- the Father and the Son.
Have you ever noticed that in the Gospel of John there is not a single word about Jesus' sweat and agony in the garden of Gethsemane? What is the reason for that? Well, it is because the Son of God does not enter into the suffering as the Son of man does. Of course it is the same person, but John leaves that account out because it doesn't fit into the picture he is drawing of Christ.
In John's Gospel, however, we find the only place where we are told that when the temple soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the garden, he asked them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." And he stepped forward and said to them, "I AM he." And they fell backward in amazement when he used that divine name of God -- that name which the Hebrews did not dare pronounce. Seven times in John's Gospel Jesus claims to be God by the use of that name, "I AM" --"I AM the bread of life" (6:35, 48); "I AM the light of the world" (8:12; 9:5); "I AM the door" (10:9); "I AM the good shepherd" (10:11); "I AM the resurrection and the life (11:25); "I AM the way, and the truth, and the life" (14:6); "I AM the true vine" (15:1).
John waits until the end of Chapter 20 to state his purpose in writing his Gospel -- no doubt hoping that, by the time a person has read this far, the purpose already will have been accomplished:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written In this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 RSV)
The book of Acts is a tremendously fascinating and interesting book. A number of years ago Canon Brian Greene spoke at Stanford University, and I went over to hear him. He told a story that I have remembered ever since:
An American, an Englishman and an Irishman were visiting Rome together, and they were taken on a tour of various points of interest throughout the city. Their guide took them to a section of Vatican City and showed them a chicken yard. In one pen was a hen which, the guide said, was a descendant of the rooster that crowed when Peter denied the Lord -- a very interesting historical personage! The three visitors regarded this chicken in characteristic fashion. The American asked, "How much can I buy it for?" The Englishman exclaimed, "My word! Could you tell me how many generations have elapsed between these?" But the Irishman was very practical; he asked, "Does it lay any eggs?" You see, he was interested in apostolic success!
That is exactly what we have in the book of Acts -- a tremendous record of apostolic success. Frankly, I don't see how anyone can pick up the book of Acts -- reading in any of our modern versions with an open, ready, eager mind -- and be able to lay it down before finishing it. It moves so rapidly and is so exciting that I think it is one of the most captivating books ever written. And Sir William M. Ramsay, the great British archaeologist, said that Luke, the writer of the book, is the most accurate historian who ever lived. So we have a book that is accurate history plus exciting adventure.
Acts constantly shouts triumph, from end to end. But this very apostolic success occasions considerable danger in the study of this book. It is always true that anyone or anything that is successful is bound to be imitated. The trouble with people who imitate, though, is that they almost invariably imitate faults instead of virtues. When I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary each of us had to take a turn at preaching while the other students listened and evaluated. It was a very difficult time for all. I noticed that I could tell with whom certain individuals had been associated by the way they talked. Some of the young men had come from Bob Jones College, and they would stand on one leg, lean over the pulpit, and shout and wave their arms -- just like Bob Jones! Others had been associated with the Young Life Campaign, and they would stand with their hands in their pockets or they would gesture with a closed fist and talk with a drawl -- just like Jim Rayburn! They imitated them, but largely they imitated their faults rather than their virtues. And all too often people have imitated the weak points of the activities of the apostles and the Church recorded in Acts, because of a superficial analysis of the book.
We couldn't understand the New Testament if we took this one book out. When we come to the close of the four Gospels we have learned that the apostles have been sent to only one nation -- Israel. We also know that our Lord is risen, but that is all we know. And if we leave out the book of Acts and skip to the Epistles of Paul, we find that, instead of twelve apostles (or eleven) preaching only to Israel, we have an additional apostle, Paul, and Christians going out everywhere -- to all the known world. And we find them talking, not about a kingdom, but about a new organization -- the Church. All of this finds its root in the book of Acts. We wouldn't know what had happened if it weren't for this book.
Acts is a transitional book in the sense that it gives us the record of the way God moved in the minds and hearts of men to found and establish the Church and begin its great work in the world today. But it is not transitional in doctrinal sense. That is, when the Spirit of God came on the day of Pentecost -- from that moment on in the mind of God -- all the privileges and blessings and glory of belonging to the Church, the body of Christ, were true immediately. There wasn't any intermediate period. But it took a long time for men to comprehend this. Thus we find them still clinging to certain aspects of their old traditions and beliefs. Men were only slowly accepting and growing into the truth of the gospel. In that sense Acts is a transitional book.
I like to think of the book of Acts as a revolving door. A revolving door is constructed so that people can go in and go out at the same time. With most doors someone is either going in or coming out. People can't do both at the same time. But in a revolving door people can go in one side and come out the other. The book of Acts is like that -- Judaism is going out and the Church is coming in. Both are in there at the same time, for a while, just as two people can be in a revolving door going in opposite directions. But don't ever try to set up housekeeping in a revolving door -- it will knock you off your feet! Don't try to live in a revolving door, because it is not designed for such. Similarly, don't rely exclusively on the book of Acts for your doctrine and teaching. It is not designed for that. It is not designed to be the only book from which we get our instruction as to what to believe. It is designed to be a record of the introduction of the Church, and it is designed to stir us up and encourage us and bless us, and to show us what God can do and intends to do through the Church. But it is not primarily a book for doctrine.
The key to really understanding this book is the realization that Acts is not a record of the apostles, as the title would lead us to believe, but it is actually acts of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice how it begins:
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach... (Acts 1:1 RSV)
Luke is referring to the Gospel he wrote, and he says that in it he dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach. In the Gospel of Luke you have the record of what the Lord Jesus began to do. But now, in Acts, Luke gives us the record of what our Lord is continuing to do. So it is the Lord who is at work throughout both books. Luke is Volume 1; Acts is Volume 2 -- continued from our first installment. That is what Luke is saying here in this first verse. From the incarnation of the Lord Jesus to his ascension, you have only what he began to do on earth.
During World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain, in a stirring message broadcast around the world, announced the victories of the Allied Forces when they had swept across North Africa and were about to launch the invasion of Sicily. Churchill said of these events: "This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning." Now, that is what we have in the four Gospels. It is not the end of our Lord's ministry when he ascends into the heavens, as recorded in Chapter 1 of Acts. That is just the end of the beginning. But in the rest of Acts we have the beginning of the end.
The record all through the rest of this book is of Christ's activity through the instrumentalities of men and women. In John 16:7 the Lord tells the disciples. "it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." And in Luke 12:50, before the cross, Jesus tells them, "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!" That is, "How limited and shackled and fettered and bound I am until this thing be accomplished!" Well, it has been accomplished now. Our Lord is no longer fettered. He is no longer limited. He is no longer shackled. When the Spirit of God came, the omnipotence of God was let loose among men and women; and that is why we have the tremendous explosion which we call the book of Acts in our Bible.
The Holy Spirit gives us the outline of this book in a very well-known verse, Chapter 1, Verse 8 -- our Lord's words to the disciples:
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;" (Acts 1:8a RSV)
That encompasses the first two chapters of the book -- the coming of the Holy Spirit. And then what?
"...and you shall be my witnesses..." (Acts 1:8b RSV)
That is the rest of the book. The two great divisions are the coming of the Spirit and the witnessing of the Spirit. The latter division separates into several parts:
"...in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8c RSV)
Thus the book is very plainly outlined for us. We have in Chapters 1 and 2 the coming of the witness -- the Holy Spirit. Then from Chapter 3 through Chapter 7 we have the witnessing in Jerusalem, beginning with the story of Peter's addresses there -- preaching for the first time the gospel of the risen Christ to men and women in the very city in which he was crucified. Then, beginning in Chapter 8, we have the witness spreading into "all Judea and Samaria" -- just as the Lord had said. Chapter 13 opens with the first sending out of Paul, beginning a process which carries right through to the end of Chapter 28 -- and the witness has gone "to the end of the earth." We can see how literally this outline has been fulfilled. It begins in Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish nation, and it ends in Rome, the center of the Gentile world. It carries us from the limited gospel of the kingdom, at the close of the four Gospels, through the spreading of the gospel of grace to the whole world, at the close of Acts.
Finally, notice that this is the one book of the Bible which is not finished. It ends very abruptly. The last two verses say that Paul has reached Rome:
And he lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered. (Acts 28:30-31 RSV)
Acts leaves you right there. I never close this book without wondering to myself, "Well, what happened next?" It gives the distinct impression of being unfinished. There is a reason for this. It is because this is the biography of a living person.
I have in my library an autobiography of Dr. H. A. Ironside. It was written, naturally, while he was still alive. It ends on the same sort of note. It leaves you up in the air. You wonder what happens next. It isn't complete. His life hadn't ended.
You see, if Acts is the record of the life of Jesus Christ worked out through individual men and women, it is unfinished. This means that men and women are still writing the book of Acts today. It is not finished yet! Men and women of God have been writing this book ever since the days of the apostles. I don't know where the record is kept, but I am sure that it is kept in heaven somewhere. It is an account of what the Holy Spirit is doing through people in sending the gospel out to the uttermost parts of the earth.
You and I still have a share in writing this book. We haven't seen the last page yet. It is fascinating to think about it that way, isn't it? And yet it is true. Our names do not appear in the chapters we have here, but somewhere other chapters have been written down -- and somewhere we have a chapter to write!
Our Father, how we thank you for your truth! We pray that we will be diligent students of it, seeking out its depths. And may we especially be concerned about our own relationship with your Holy Spirit, so that we may move into the fullness of Christ, and not dabble in the shallows. We want to be trusty, faithful servants in this day and age, for Jesus' sake, Amen.
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