The Month of June in the Life and Ministry of Jesus

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The Month of June in Jesus’ Ministry

The month of June evokes different associations and images around the world.  In America, for example, June is a primary month for weddings. In Japan, it brings in the rainy season. June marks the beginning of winter in Australia. What about the month of June in the life and ministry of Jesus?

We will consider five different Junes in Jesus’ life in this blog, beginning with the one that preceded the beginning of his public ministry. Why was this June significant?

Jesus began his Messianic ministry in January of his 30th year.  June of his 29th year was highly significant for our Lord because John the Immerser had just begun his preaching ministry in the Judean wilderness. This was the key development that Jesus had been waiting for his whole life. Once the promised prophet has begun to prepare God’s people with the message of repentance, the Lord knew that he would soon begin his own ministry. After 29 years of quiet waiting and preparation in utter obscurity, the Son of God was soon to be revealed to the world. Jesus’ heart sizzled with the anticipation of beginning to heal and save the needy people he saw all around him.

The following June found Jesus in the Judean wilderness, conducting his ministry by receiving the repentant seekers that John the Immerser sent his way, leading them to faith in himself as the Messiah, and discipling them in his Kingdom lifestyle. This was a fruitful season of personal evangelism for Jesus, in which he made and discipled more followers than even John the Immerser, but it would soon end. The Apostle John described that June like this:

22 After the Passover, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he was spending time with them and continuing to immerse.

23 Now, John also was immersing at Aenon near Salim because there was plenty of water, and people were still coming to him and being immersed. 24 [This was before John was put in prison.]

4.1 Now, Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and immersing more disciples than John was, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who immersed, but his disciples who did so.  (John 3.22-24, 4.1-2; DJN #041)

The next June was another game-changer for Jesus. After appointing the Twelve Apostles and delivering his epic “Teaching on the Mount” in May, Jesus departed on his second systematic tour of every town and village in Galilee, with his new apostles and many others in tow. It would take him six months to cover the roughly 25 towns of Galilee. Very quickly, probably during June, Jesus was confronted with the public rejection of the Pharisees in a dramatic way. After watching him perform a miracle (his twelfth specific miracle so far in the gospels) of exorcism and healing, they accused him of being a Satanist–possessed by the Devil himself! (MT 12.22-37; MK 3.22-30; DJN #088) The Pharisees also determined to kill him at the same time.

With this kind of vitriolic hatred and resistance facing him within every crowd he addressed, Jesus introduced parables into his ministry as a means to continue to communicate with the Pharisees and others like them who were rejecting his message before they heard it. (See DAILY JESUS NEWS posting #092 for more discussion of the role of parables in Jesus’ speaking ministry.) So, Jesus’ parables began in that second June of hisministry years.

In Jesus’ third June of his ministry he had withdrawn from Jewish territory, choosing to sojourn in the Gentile regions to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. (Jesus “withdrew” from April through August of his final year.) Thirteen events from these months are recorded in the gospels.  We do not know specifically which events occurred in June, but there is a reasonable chance that the “Great Confession” of Peter (and the rest of the Apostles) near Caesarea Philippi was one of them.

What we do know for sure is that Jesus chose to spend June (and the rest of the withdrawal period) in fellowship, prayer, and in-depth discipleship training with his disciples. The Twelve had just returned from their first public ministry assignment during Jesus’ third and final tour of Galilee prior to the Withdrawal. They needed this time of debriefing. Then, Jesus planned to send out 70 more workers into the towns and villages of Judea and Perea after his withdrawal ended. The kind of training that Jesus was giving his key workers during this particular month of June was therefore crucial to what lay behind, and ahead of his disciples.

The final month of June we will consider in this article occurred after Jesus’ ascension back to the right hand of the Father. He was firmly established in his eternal ministry as our Prophet, High Priest, and King of Kings, and actively working on earth through his body, the Church, though his Spirit and Word. During this June Jesus was empowering the Apostles and believers in Jerusalem through his Spirit with astounding miracles and effectiveness in witness to his saving work. You can read about those glorious days in Acts 2.41-47. Luke concluded his description of those days with the statement that every day Jesus continued to add the new believers that he had saved to the fellowship of his Church. He has continued that same work every day and month of every year since.

We can see that June was an important month in the life and ministry of Jesus. His early ministry of personal evangelism and discipleship in Judea, his introduction of the parables that still teach and enlighten us today, his in-depth discipleship training in his season of withdrawal, and his eternal, heavenly ministry that empowers and guides his body on earth until the end of this age are crucial aspects of who Jesus is and what he does in every believer, Church, and day/month of this age.  Jesus rocked the month of June!

How we praise and exalt you, Lord, for the glory of what you said and did in your earthly ministry in June, and what you say and do in the same way today! You are glorious and worthy of our love and adoration for all of these things.

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JOHN’S BLOG: MY FAVORITE CHAPTER IN THE BIBLE

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Links to DAILY JESUS NEWS articles for the month of June are available below. Read as many as you like!

JUNE 1 #152,  2 #153,  3 #154,  4 #155,  5 #156,  6 #157,  7 #158,  8 #159,  9 #160, 10 #161, 11 #162, 12 #163,  13 #164,  14 #165,  15 #166,  16 #167,  17 #168,  18 #169,  19 #170,  20 #171, 21 #172,  22 #173,  23 #174,  24 #175,  25 #176,  26 #177, 27  #178,  28 #179, 29  #180, 30 #181

You can access all the articles for the entire year using the DAILY JESUS NEWS ARCHIVES menu above.

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JOHN’S BLOG:  MY FAVORITE CHAPTER IN THE BIBLE

We all have favorite verses, sections, and Books of the Bible. In this blog I am writing about my favorite single Chapter in the Bible. It might surprise you to learn that it is found in the Book of Revelation! Really. Please don’t tune me out there. This Chapter is the most Christ-exalting passage in the entire Bible. It is therefore worth your consideration. However, let me warn you up front that it is a long post. It is essentially the same as the DAILY JESUS NEWS article #363, covering the 5th Chapter of Revelation. So first I will include the Scripture passage as found in the SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST.

REVELATION 5.1-14

1 Then I saw in the right hand of the One who sat on the throne a scroll, which the front and back had been permanently written upon, and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a booming voice, “Who is worthy to break its seals and open the scroll?”

3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was qualified to open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I kept on weeping and sobbing because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll nor to look in it.

5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping now. Look! the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 Then I saw a Lamb, showing the evidence that it had been slain, who had taken his stand at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven-fold Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

7 He went and permanently received the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell flat in front of the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

   “Worthy! You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, 

because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God–in his name–

people from every tribe and language and people and nation.

10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, 

   and they will reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels who encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders, numbering thousands times thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. 12 With a deafening voice they were saying:

   “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, 

   to receive all the power and wealth and wisdom and strength 

   and honor and glory and praise!”

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

   “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb 

   be all the praise and honor and glory and power, 

for ever and ever!”

14 The four living creatures were saying, “Amen,” and the elders fell flat on their faces and worshiped.

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 The key thing about this chapter is that John witnessed an awesome future scene in which Jesus is worshipped as the “Worthy Lamb that was Slain” by all of creation simultaneously! There is a crescendo of participation in the worship here, like successive waves expanding out from the Throne of God.

The center of the worship scene is the center of the universe–the very throne of God. Jesus was placed in the center position by his Father, who chose to build all creation around the Preeminence of his Son from before creation. It was the Father and the Holy Spirit’s infinite love and pride in Jesus that placed him in the forefront of the worship, at the center of attention.

Don’t miss this. Worship, which is recognizing and extolling the infinite worth of God, begins within the Trinity. Each Person of the Trinity loves and delights in recognizing the true worth of the other Two. In fact, the Persons of the Trinity are the only Beings in the universe who are fully capable of recognizing the true, infinite worth of Each Other. Each Person of the Trinity is equally infinite in their omniscient capacity to recognize the infinite worth of Each Other. Therefore, worship begins within the Trinity in their mutual love and conscious recognition of the perfections of each other.

Furthermore, in this scene the Father and Spirit placed Jesus in the position to receive the worship of all creation.  Created beings are limited in our ability to comprehend God by the finite capacities of our created nature, but we were created by the Trinity to love and worship the Holy Three-In-One with all of our beings. This worship is the apex of our created and redeemed glory.

Jesus was presented as “the Lamb that was Slain.” The scars of the nails in Jesus’ wrists and feet, and spear in his side remained on his resurrection body, for all creation to adore. He is worshipped because of the events described with perfect accuracy in the four gospels–his suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus’ perfect faithfulness in accomplishing these saving works of love are the basis of worshipping him.

The second expanding wave of worshippers were the 24 elders. These were the 12 offspring of Jacob that made up the 12 Tribes of old Covenant nation of Israel, and the 12 Apostles who were the men Jesus used to establish his New Covenant People, the Church. Together the 24 Elders represent all Old and New Covenant believers of the ages.

The 24 Elders sang specifically about the saving works of Jesus that made him the Slain Lamb, and the results of those works in saving and creating the eternal ministry of all believers as a “Kingdom of Priests” unto God. Jesus created the human race in a special relationship to the Trinity. He became a person in his incarnation, not a goat or bird or ant. He died to save people, so that we could be restored to the original purpose for which he created us: to share his likeness as his worshipping priests. Therefore, God’s redeemed people have a special priestly ministry in extolling the Lamb for His saving works that we have personally experienced.

The third expanding wave of worshippers were all the angels and other created beings in heaven–too many to count. John described the sound of their voice as “deafening” as it was added to the worship of the 24 Elders. They sang their own song of worshipful praise to the Lamb that was Slain. It was a song of his true worth, not his saving works. Angels have never experienced salvation, for they have never sinned, but they have experienced the glory and greatness of Jesus since the moment of their creation by him.

The fourth expanding wave of worshippers in this scene is the rest of creation. People, and every created thing on land and sea that has life joined their worship and praise in this glorious worship service. This means that every person who has ever lived will join in this worship, and every other created thing as well. If the worship was already “deafening” when the Angels joined it, the force of all creation worshipping was too massive too comprehend.

This scene is so thrilling because here, at last, we see Jesus finally receiving his due recognition as the God-man. In his earthly life no one really had a clue. God walked his own land, and he was treated like the scum of the earth. After his resurrection the disciples began to recognize the full measure of his status as God. After his ascension a growing number of people throughout the earth have recognized his worth. But even then, none of us in this life offer worship worthy of his majesty, for we are still limited by our sinful nature. And, the majority of people on this earth do not believe in him, many because they still have never heard of him. Unfortunately, Jesus will never get his due recognition on this earth in this age.

In contrast, in this scene Jesus is recognized as our Divine Lord and Savior by all creation at one time. Even those who never believed in him in this life, and will spend their eternity apart from him by their own choice kneel down and name him as Lord and God in this scene. FINALLY!  Oh how it thrills my soul to know that King Jesus will one day receive the love and worship of ALL of his creation. Even that will not be enough to honor him as much as he actually deserves, but it will be the utmost his creation is capable of. This is why I love this chapter in the Bible more than any other.

This scene is SO important because it is the irresistible destination that history is moving toward. Nothing can stop the coming of this day. In fact, Jesus created the world in anticipation of this moment. We believers can live and serve our Lord in our present fallen world in which Jesus is so little known and worshipped with the full confidence that loving and obeying him now is ultimately going to end up in universal worship of the King. This makes every sacrifice and difficulty we endure for his sake SO worth it in the end. Jesus is finally going to get his due recognition as our Perfect, Worthy Lord and Savior!

Notice that the key thought is that “Jesus is worthy.” He is worthy of universal worship by all creation forever. He is worthy of any sacrifice in our lives on this earth. He is worth living for, and dying for as well. He is worth our ceaseless worship. However, even the universal worship of all  creation that is coming to him is not worthy of him! This is the Jesus we follow. This is how the SAGA of Jesus continues forever.

Jesus had made us a kingdom of priests. This means our primary role in our fellowship with the Trinity is worship. We have been called to the intimacy of best friends, and “the love of my life” kind of lovers of God. We share all that we are and do with Jesus, and he likewise shares all that he has and is with us. Our fellowship is reciprocal.

However, our inherent status is far from equal. We are ever his redeemed creation, and he is ever God. The attitude of worship then, must pervade everything in our fellowship with Jesus.  Anything that is not done worshipfully is not worthy of him.

How is your worship attitude and lifestyle doing lately? How deeply does it permeate your fellowship with Jesus?

How do you worship God best? What can you do to increase this? 

How can you encourage and support the worship of others in your own Church fellowship?

 

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May 17, 2013…The DAILY JESUS NEWS #137, and JOHN’S BLOG: “PANIC, PRAYER, AND PEACE”

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Jesus continued His teaching on “True Kingdom Greatness” today with the second characteristic of greatness. He expected all of us to lead with our example. What specific aspect of our example did He have in mind?  Read it here.

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JOHNS’ BLOG:   “PANIC, PRAYER, AND PEACE”

I survived my first post-heart failure panic attack recently with prayer, and ended it enfolded in the peace of God. This is the story.

I need to begin by clarifying my general approach to writing about my heart attack, and experiences in my post-heart attack world. I am not writing as an expert on heart attacks, nor am I presenting my experiences as examples for anyone else, or as norms for heart attack survivors. My goal is to simply tell the story of what I have experienced, and how the presence, power, and love of Jesus has made the crucial difference for me. I am writing in praise of my Lord, to encourage others to look to His abiding Presence in every circumstance of life.

It is common for heart attack survivors to experience depression, and panic attacks. Panic flares up from the fear of a recurrence. No survivor wants to redo their heart attack, for there is no guarantee we will make it through the next event alive. Heart disease is called “the silent killer” because it causes heart failures to occur without being recognized as such–until it is too late.  There is a genuine cause for concern about recurrence among survivors. Legitimate concern is one thing. Full blown panic is something different altogether.

My own panic attack escalated quickly from concern, to fear, and then panic in a series of cascading events. The process began with a change in medication at my last check-up with my Cardiologist on April 11.  When I was released from the hospital after my attack I still had a significant amount of fluid accumulated in my right leg. The Doctor therefore prescribed a high dose of diarrhetics to help my body clear this water. The regimen had worked well, for the excess fluid had dissipated by April 11.  The result was that my Doctor sliced the diarrhetic dose in half. 

As my body adjusted to a lower diarrhetic medication in the week following the change, I began to retain a bit of water, causing my weight to slightly increase. Water retention was exacerbated by the temporary elimination of exercise in the aftermath of the minor surgery on April 11 that I wrote about in a previous blog. 

Normally a slight increase in weight would not be a cause for concern. However, since my heart attack I have steadily lost weight by design, totaling about 13 kg at this point. Since my eating patterns had not changed, the weight gain could only be attributed to retention of water. This is exactly what had happened in the days leading up to the heart attack in late January, which began with congestive heart failure caused by a build up of water in my chest. Water retention is a possible danger signal for people with heart disease, so I was in a heightened sense of awareness and concern in those days.

Concern escalated to fear when my blood pressure levels also increased. My post heart attack blood pressure is in the optimal range, on the low end of the spectrum. However, at the same time that my weight increased by a few pounds, my daily blood pressure readings also rose about 10%. The elevated numbers were still in the optimal range and no cause for concern in themselves, but the trend toward increase was a first for me since my heart attack. The combination of weight gain and blood pressure increases was creating anxiety.  Was I heading into another episode of congestive heart failure?

Anxiety instantly morphed into panic on the fourth day after the increase in weight/blood pressure began. On a whim I checked my blood pressure in mid afternoon, something I have never done before. (I normally take readings in the morning and at night.) I was shocked to see the numbers: 135/80. What I perceived to be a drastic increase over my morning reading of 113/72 set off the panic. Now it seemed I had the confirmation that I was heading into congestive heart failure, for my blood pressure was rapidly rising.  A second reading showed 145, then 155 on a third. My mouth went dry. Fingers began to tremble. I could feel my heart racing. I thought I was witnessing the beginning of another heart attack!

I grabbed the phone to alert my Doctor that I was heading for the hospital immediately to try to avert my second heart attack. He could not come to the phone, so the nurse on duty in the Cardiac unit listened to my explanation of my symptoms, and told me to stay put, as she would track him down and get back to me ASAP.  She did reassure me that my panic was causing the rapid increase in blood pressure readings, and that I should take deep breaths and try to calm down.

In a few minutes she called back. My Doctor had sent word that blood pressure is always highest in mid-day. If I did not have restricted breathing, chest pain, or the feeling of tightness in my chest that I experienced before my actual heart attack, then there was no cause to rush to the hospital. A temporary weight gain of just a few pounds of water weight was to be expected with the decrease in diarrhetic medication. It would resolve itself naturally in a few more days. Even a consistent blood pressure reading of 135/72 was not a cause for immediate concern. The Doctor repeated the instruction to relax by doing deep breathing, and that was that. He didn’t know that I had a solution better than deep breathing.

My wife Rhonda and I held hands and immediately prayed. We prayed for God’s peace that passes understanding, and the wisdom to be able to separate real symptoms from imagined ones. We thanked God for the riches of his grace and love poured out on us through His care throughout my heart attack and recovery, as well as her recovery from a compression fracture of her first lumbar vertebrae sustained in our car accident at the end of last year. My focus turned from imagined symptoms of heart failure to praise and thanksgiving of God. Panic and fear melted away.

By the time we closed our prayer time God’s peace had begun to come. Over the next few hours it settled over my mind and heart like a cushy blanket made out of love. God was in control. There was and is nothing to fear, for His presence and care is certain. “To live is Christ; to die is gain. I am convinced that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  These bedrock convictions are the stuff that inexplicable peace is made out of.

My journey from panic to peace reminded me of our Lord’s gift of peace. He was facing something far worse than a mere heart attack. The Lord of holy glory was about to take all the sins of all time into Himself as “He who knew no sin became sin in our behalf.” The physical torture of cross was the worst suffering that a human could endure, and it was by far the least of the agonies that Jesus knew were coming upon Him. Yet just a few hours before He faced the most painful, darkest hours in human history, Jesus was promising his love, joy and peace to all who believe in Him. 

“I am leaving my kind of peace with you; my peace I am giving to you. 

I am not giving to you as the world gives. 

I command you to stop letting your hearts be troubled, and stop being afraid. “ JN 14.27

The panic of thinking that we are about to have a heart attack, or the actual experience of one, or any other terrible thing we might endure in our lives is nothing compare to what Jesus faced before He died. He had enough peace to give it away to everyone who believes in Him. Free. Forever. Faithfully. This peace is His gift to each of us.

Jesus is our Peace, come what may.

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MAY 3rd, 2013…the DAILY JESUS NEWS #123, and JOHN’S BLOG–THE MONTH OF MAY IN JESUS’ MINISTRY

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Jesus’ 23rd miracle was spectacular. He fed 4000 Gentile men, not counting women and children, with just a handful of small fish and barley loaves. How does this miracle compare with his earlier miraculous of the 5000? What did is tell us about Jesus for today?  Read it here.

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One reviewer wrote: “I highly recommend the book to anyone who is a serious student of the Gospels.” Get the best price at Amazon.com.

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The Month of May in Jesus’ Ministry

We saw in my last Blog that April was the most significant month in Jesus’ life and ministry. May is a close second in importance to April. April and May together make up about 70% of the content of Jesus’s life recorded in the Bible. Furthermore, the most crucial works of Jesus’ saving ministry as messiah were all completed during these two months. Consider what the New Testament tells us about the month of May.

Four recurrences of the month of May highlighted Jesus’ ministry. Jesus spent his first May in the Judean wilderness near the Jordan river. John the Baptist sent him a stream of repentant seekers. Jesus led them to faith in Himself, supervised their immersion by other disciples, and then spent time with them in discipleship training. Jesus was gaining more disciples than John the Baptist (JN 4.1), so it was a fruitful time of ministry for Him.

The second May of Jesus’ ministry was unforgettable. Having just returned from the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits in Jerusalem, Jesus’ continued “working” on consecutive Sabbath days, infuriating the Pharisees to the point of deciding that he must be killed. This all occurred in April. Jesus responded by increasing his ministry focus.

Jesus began his second May by appointing the Twelve Apostles. Then He delivered his signature “Teaching on the Mount,” in which he described his key values and expectations for his disciples. Jesus next returned to his headquarters of Capernaum, and healed a young man on his deathbed from a distance, with just a word. The Roman Centurion who had trusted Jesus for this healing for his beloved servant was praised by the Lord for having the greatest faith He had ever seen. Jesus then demonstrated his resurrection power by raising a widow’s son from death in the village of Nain, with a mere command. By the end of May Jesus had departed on His second ministry Tour of all the towns and villages of Galilee. This was one of the most significant months in Jesus’ 40 months of ministry.

The third May of Jesus’ ministry was spent in withdrawal from His Jewish homeland. Jesus was concentrating on fellowship and the training of his disciples. Jesus probably fed the 4000 and performed many miracles among the Gentiles in the region of Decapolis in this month as well.

The fourth and final May of Jesus’ earthly ministry was the most important of all. Following His death and resurrection in April, Jesus ascended back to the Father in May, on the 40th day after his resurrection, and poured out His Spirit on His disciples on the 50th day after His resurrection, at the Feast of Pentecost. These two May events are crucial for all believers because they marked the transition from Jesus’ 40 months of ministry in His flesh and blood body, to his eternal ministry in His resurrection Body. Rather than removing Jesus from the earth, His ascension and impartation of the Holy Spirit to every believer removed the limits of space and time from interfering with Jesus’ presence and continued ministry on earth.  Thus, the month of May marked the inauguration of Jesus’ indwelling union in us–both individually and collectively as the Church–through His Spirit, that will last forever. This union was the ultimate purpose underlying everything Jesus said and did during his earthly ministry.

Jesus’ ministry in the month of May completed and universalized the glorious saving work that He accomplished in the month of April. The significance of the month of April for Jesus is forever linked to the importance of May. Jesus put it like this in JN 16.7-15

7 “Very truly I tell you, it is to your great advantage that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; however, if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes to you, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because he will take from what belongs to me, and he will make it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take what is mine, and he will make it known to you.”

Jesus “went away” through His death, resurrection (April) and ascension (May). Praise Him forever that He began his practice of sending His indwelling Spirit to every new believer in May, to establish the loving union with each of us that is patterned on the oneness shared between the Father, Son and Spirit. We share in all of Christ’s fulness through His Spirit because of what He accomplished for us in the month of May.

Hallelujah!

 

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MAY 2nd, 2013… JOHN’S BLOG: THE MONTH OF MAY IN THE MINISTRY OF JESUS

Today’s DAILY JESUS NEWS article describes Jesus’ 22nd specific miracle, along with the many healings and exorcisms that Jesus performed among the Gentile people in the region of Decapolis, to the East and Southeast of Lake Galilee. Having received Jesus’ compassionate ministry like this, the result was that these pagan Gentiles “gave glory to the God of Israel.”   Read it here.

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Check out the “SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST” Press Release here.

The Month of May in Jesus’ Ministry

We saw in my last Blog that April was the most significant month in Jesus’ life and ministry. May is a close second in importance to April. April and May together make up about 70% of the content of Jesus’s life recorded in the Bible. Furthermore, the most crucial works of Jesus’ saving ministry as messiah were all completed during these two months. Consider what the New Testament tells us about the month of May.

Four recurrences of the month of May highlighted Jesus’ ministry. Jesus spent his first May in the Judean wilderness near the Jordan river. John the Baptist sent him a stream of repentant seekers. Jesus led them to faith in Himself, supervised their immersion by other disciples, and then spent time with them in discipleship training. Jesus was gaining more disciples than John the Baptist (JN 4.1), so it was a fruitful time of ministry for Him.

The second May of Jesus’ ministry was unforgettable. Having just returned from the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits in Jerusalem, Jesus’ continued “working” on consecutive Sabbath days, infuriating the Pharisees to the point of deciding that he must be killed. This all occurred in April. Jesus responded by increasing his ministry focus.

Jesus began his second May by appointing the Twelve Apostles. Then He delivered his signature “Teaching on the Mount,” in which he described his key values and expectations for his disciples. Jesus next returned to his headquarters of Capernaum, and healed a young man on his deathbed from a distance, with just a word. The Roman Centurion who had trusted Jesus for this healing for his beloved servant was praised by the Lord for having the greatest faith He had ever seen. Jesus then demonstrated his resurrection power by raising a widow’s son from death in the village of Nain, with a mere command. By the end of May Jesus had departed on His second ministry Tour of all the towns and villages of Galilee. This was one of the most significant months in Jesus’ 40 months of ministry.

The third May of Jesus’ ministry was spent in withdrawal from His Jewish homeland. Jesus was concentrating on fellowship and the training of his disciples. Jesus probably fed the 4000 and performed many miracles among the Gentiles in the region of Decapolis in this month as well.

The fourth and final May of Jesus’ earthly ministry was the most important of all. Following His death and resurrection in April, Jesus ascended back to the Father in May, on the 40th day after his resurrection, and poured out His Spirit on His disciples on the 50th day after His resurrection, at the Feast of Pentecost. These two May events are crucial for all believers because they marked the transition from Jesus’ 40 months of ministry in His flesh and blood body, to his eternal ministry in His resurrection Body. Rather than removing Jesus from the earth, His ascension and impartation of the Holy Spirit to every believer removed the limits of space and time from interfering with Jesus’ presence and continued ministry on earth.  Thus, the month of May marked the inauguration of Jesus’ indwelling union in us–both individually and collectively as the Church–through His Spirit, that will last forever. This union was the ultimate purpose underlying everything Jesus said and did during his earthly ministry.

Jesus’ ministry in the month of May completed and universalized the glorious saving work that He accomplished in the month of April. The significance of the month of April for Jesus is forever linked to the importance of May. Jesus put it like this in JN 16.7-15

7 “Very truly I tell you, it is to your great advantage that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; however, if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes to you, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because he will take from what belongs to me, and he will make it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take what is mine, and he will make it known to you.”

Jesus “went away” through His death, resurrection (April) and ascension (May). Praise Him forever that He began his practice of sending His indwelling Spirit to every new believer in May, to establish the loving union with each of us that is patterned on the oneness shared between the Father, Son and Spirit. We share in all of Christ’s fulness through His Spirit because of what He accomplished for us in the month of May.

Hallelujah!

 

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MAY 1, 2013

Today’s DAILY JESUS NEWS article begins the gospel narrative of Jesus’ five months of withdrawal from his Jewish homeland, to the Gentile regions to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. The withdrawal began with His 21st miracle, and the second time in Jesus’ ministry that He praised a person for their “great faith.” Both of them were Gentiles! There is much to learn about the nature of true faith from this miracle.  Read it here.

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Check out the “SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST” Press Release here.

The Month of April in the Life and Heart of Jesus

What is your favorite month of the year?

What was Jesus’ favorite month?

I have been thinking for several weeks about the significance of the month of April for Jesus, and all of us who believe in, and love Him. It turns out that April 1st is a whole lot more than April Fool’s Day. April 1st is hugely important because it is the beginning of the most significant month in Jesus’ life, by far. The gospels tell us much more about this month than any other. In fact, about half the content of the four gospels is devoted to events that occurred in this one month alone!

Before considering the month of April in the life and heart of Jesus, we should remember the role of April in Biblical history. “April” is our modern English name for the month of “Nisan” in the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament calendar was based upon the movement of the moon around the earth, rather than the earth around the sun, the month of Nisan did not correspond exactly to April 1 to 30 in our modern calendar. Nisan usually covered 30 days from late March to late April, but the actual days varied from year to year.

The crucial thing about the first day of Nisan (April) was that it was the beginning of the New Year for God’s people under the Old Covenant. Called “Rosh Chodashim,” it was Biblical “New Year’s Day.” Rather than a day for FOOLS, it was a day to glory in God’s FAVOR and FAITHFULNESS in the coming year.

God’s great saving power and gracious love for his covenant people was commemorated through the celebration of three of the annual feasts in April (Nisan): the Feasts of Passover (14th day), Unleavened Bread (15th to 21st day), and first Fruits (The first “Sunday” after Passover). This alone made the month of April (Nisan) precious to Jesus. But there is so much more.

Jesus was probably born in the month of April. Despite the modern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th, the Scriptures (Luke) wrote that there were Shepherds out in the fields around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. There was no grass grass growing in December in those fields, and no shepherd would take his flocks out there by night. However, in the Spring–during the month of April–the grass was fresh and green and shepherds kept their flocks out at night. It makes sense that Jesus was born at the beginning of a new year in April, for He inaugurated a New Covenant and new age of grace by His coming, and by his death and resurrection in the month of April.

April was important to Jesus because He made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the three April Feasts mentioned above. Luke 2.41 tells us that Jesus’ parents made the trip to Jerusalem every year. This established a practice that Jesus held dear throughout his life. Starting out the year with worship, commemoration, obedience to the covenant commands of His heavenly Father was Jesus’ lifestyle.

Furthermore, it was during the trip to Jerusalem in April of Jesus’ 12th year that our Lord spoke His first words recorded in the gospels: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Did you not know that I had to be focused on my Father’s interests?” (Luke 2.49) At the age of 12, Jesus was now an “adult” under the Old Covenant, and free to enter for the first time into the inner court of the Temple reserved for circumcised adult males. He was basking in the God-centeredness of everything that went on in the worship of the Temple, and in his ceaseless fellowship with His Father. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else,” (Psalm 84.10A) described Jesus’ love of His Father as he could express it in the Temple complex during the Feasts of April every year. There was nothing better than this for Jesus.

When we come to the ministry years of Jesus that make up 97% of the gospel content concerning his life, we find that there were four recurrences of the month of April. The events that occurred in these four Aprils are the very heart of the gospel story. Here is a brief summary of each April.

In the first April of His ministry, Jesus drove the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals out of the Temple complex (JN 2.13-17), promised the evidence of his resurrection as the ultimate proof of his Messiahship (JN 2.17-22), performed many healings in the Temple (JN 2.23), and had his unforgettable and crucial conversation with Nicodemus about the nature of salvation (JN 3.1-21). One of Jesus’ most famous and profound promises of eternal life was therefore spoken in April:

“For God (the Father) loved every sinful person in the world so much 

that he gave his one and only Son, in order that whoever keeps on believing in him 

will not perish, but will continue to have God’s own kind of eternal life.”  JN 3.16

In the second April of His ministry, Jesus again returned to Jerusalem for the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. This time he instantly healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years on a Sabbath day (JN 5.1-16). This healing was a Divine claim of Jesus that ignited the furious opposition of the Pharisees against Him. Over the next two consecutive Sabbaths, Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath (MT 12.1-8; MK 2.32-38; LK 6.1-5), and then he healed again in a synagogue (MT 12.9-14; MK 3.1-6; LK 6.6-11). In the legalistic eyes of the Pharisees, these three consecutive gross violations of the Sabbath traditions (not the actual Old Testament Law) were enough to deem Jesus worthy of death. Just one year into his ministry, Jesus’ death sentence was sealed in April, and the public, vociferous hatred of the Pharisees would be spewed at Him ever after.

In the third April of his ministry, Jesus concluded his 20 month ministry in Galilee by feeding the 5000, walking on the waters of Lake Galilee in a fierce storm in the night, and delivering his epic “I AM the Bread of Life” message in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Over the preceding year the Pharisees had repeatedly called him a demon-possessed insane man, and Jesus’ popularity had eroded to the point that many of his own disciples left him. So, it was in April of this year that Jesus temporarily withdrew from ministry among the Jewish people, by leaving Galilee and sojourning with his disciples in the Gentile country to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. The withdrawal continued through the month of August. Once again, April marked a pivotal turning point in Jesus’ ministry.

The final April of Jesus’ ministry featured the heart of his saving work as Messiah: Passion Week, the Resurrection, and what followed. More than a third of the total content of the four gospels is devoted to the single week of Jesus’ Passion and glorious resurrection.  The final April of Jesus’ earthly life is therefore the most important month in the history of the universe. The significance of April in Jesus’ life should be thoroughly appreciated by those of us who love Him, because He so magnificently first loved us.

I happen to live and minister in Japan. While the January New Year holiday is much more significant in Japanese culture than in my birth home of America, the month of April is also considered the beginning of the New Year. The fiscal and academic year begins April 1st. Being a country of four distinct seasons, the blooming Cherry trees and burst of of the colors of numerous other spring plants and flowers visually bid welcome to the newness of the New Year. Churches in Japan begin their Church year in April as well. I find this sense of timing truly Biblical. The Old Covenant year began in April. The life and ministry of Jesus was rooted in April, and His Passion and Resurrection caused the eternal priority and glory of the month of April to be memorialized forever in his eternal scars.

Given all of this, I believe Jesus loves the month of April. So do I. How about you?

 

 

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APRIL 30, 2013

The April 30th DAILY JESUS NEWS article addresses the final teaching of Jesus’ Great Galilean Ministry. He lovingly and truthfully described the source of our sinfulness. Read it here.

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The Month of April in the Life and Heart of Jesus

What is your favorite month of the year?

What was Jesus’ favorite month?

I have been thinking for several weeks about the significance of the month of April for Jesus, and all of us who believe in, and love Him. It turns out that April 1st is a whole lot more than April Fool’s Day. April 1st is hugely important because it is the beginning of the most significant month in Jesus’ life, by far. The gospels tell us much more about this month than any other. In fact, about half the content of the four gospels is devoted to events that occurred in this one month alone!

Before considering the month of April in the life and heart of Jesus, we should remember the role of April in Biblical history. “April” is our modern English name for the month of “Nisan” in the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament calendar was based upon the movement of the moon around the earth, rather than the earth around the sun, the month of Nisan did not correspond exactly to April 1 to 30 in our modern calendar. Nisan usually covered 30 days from late March to late April, but the actual days varied from year to year.

The crucial thing about the first day of Nisan (April) was that it was the beginning of the New Year for God’s people under the Old Covenant. Called “Rosh Chodashim,” it was Biblical “New Year’s Day.” Rather than a day for FOOLS, it was a day to glory in God’s FAVOR and FAITHFULNESS in the coming year.

God’s great saving power and gracious love for his covenant people was commemorated through the celebration of three of the annual feasts in April (Nisan): the Feasts of Passover (14th day), Unleavened Bread (15th to 21st day), and first Fruits (The first “Sunday” after Passover). This alone made the month of April (Nisan) precious to Jesus. But there is so much more.

Jesus was probably born in the month of April. Despite the modern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th, the Scriptures (Luke) wrote that there were Shepherds out in the fields around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. There was no grass grass growing in December in those fields, and no shepherd would take his flocks out there by night. However, in the Spring–during the month of April–the grass was fresh and green and shepherds kept their flocks out at night. It makes sense that Jesus was born at the beginning of a new year in April, for He inaugurated a New Covenant and new age of grace by His coming, and by his death and resurrection in the month of April.

April was important to Jesus because He made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the three April Feasts mentioned above. Luke 2.41 tells us that Jesus’ parents made the trip to Jerusalem every year. This established a practice that Jesus held dear throughout his life. Starting out the year with worship, commemoration, obedience to the covenant commands of His heavenly Father was Jesus’ lifestyle.

Furthermore, it was during the trip to Jerusalem in April of Jesus’ 12th year that our Lord spoke His first words recorded in the gospels: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Did you not know that I had to be focused on my Father’s interests?” (Luke 2.49) At the age of 12, Jesus was now an “adult” under the Old Covenant, and free to enter for the first time into the inner court of the Temple reserved for circumcised adult males. He was basking in the God-centeredness of everything that went on in the worship of the Temple, and in his ceaseless fellowship with His Father. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else,” (Psalm 84.10A) described Jesus’ love of His Father as he could express it in the Temple complex during the Feasts of April every year. There was nothing better than this for Jesus.

When we come to the ministry years of Jesus that make up 97% of the gospel content concerning his life, we find that there were four recurrences of the month of April. The events that occurred in these four Aprils are the very heart of the gospel story. Here is a brief summary of each April.

In the first April of His ministry, Jesus drove the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals out of the Temple complex (JN 2.13-17), promised the evidence of his resurrection as the ultimate proof of his Messiahship (JN 2.17-22), performed many healings in the Temple (JN 2.23), and had his unforgettable and crucial conversation with Nicodemus about the nature of salvation (JN 3.1-21). One of Jesus’ most famous and profound promises of eternal life was therefore spoken in April:

“For God (the Father) loved every sinful person in the world so much 

that he gave his one and only Son, in order that whoever keeps on believing in him 

will not perish, but will continue to have God’s own kind of eternal life.”  JN 3.16

In the second April of His ministry, Jesus again returned to Jerusalem for the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. This time he instantly healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years on a Sabbath day (JN 5.1-16). This healing was a Divine claim of Jesus that ignited the furious opposition of the Pharisees against Him. Over the next two consecutive Sabbaths, Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath (MT 12.1-8; MK 2.32-38; LK 6.1-5), and then he healed again in a synagogue (MT 12.9-14; MK 3.1-6; LK 6.6-11). In the legalistic eyes of the Pharisees, these three consecutive gross violations of the Sabbath traditions (not the actual Old Testament Law) were enough to deem Jesus worthy of death. Just one year into his ministry, Jesus’ death sentence was sealed in April, and the public, vociferous hatred of the Pharisees would be spewed at Him ever after.

In the third April of his ministry, Jesus concluded his 20 month ministry in Galilee by feeding the 5000, walking on the waters of Lake Galilee in a fierce storm in the night, and delivering his epic “I AM the Bread of Life” message in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Over the preceding year the Pharisees had repeatedly called him a demon-possessed insane man, and Jesus’ popularity had eroded to the point that many of his own disciples left him. So, it was in April of this year that Jesus temporarily withdrew from ministry among the Jewish people, by leaving Galilee and sojourning with his disciples in the Gentile country to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. The withdrawal continued through the month of August. Once again, April marked a pivotal turning point in Jesus’ ministry.

The final April of Jesus’ ministry featured the heart of his saving work as Messiah: Passion Week, the Resurrection, and what followed. More than a third of the total content of the four gospels is devoted to the single week of Jesus’ Passion and glorious resurrection.  The final April of Jesus’ earthly life is therefore the most important month in the history of the universe. The significance of April in Jesus’ life should be thoroughly appreciated by those of us who love Him, because He so magnificently first loved us.

I happen to live and minister in Japan. While the January New Year holiday is much more significant in Japanese culture than in my birth home of America, the month of April is also considered the beginning of the New Year. The fiscal and academic year begins April 1st. Being a country of four distinct seasons, the blooming Cherry trees and burst of of the colors of numerous other spring plants and flowers visually bid welcome to the newness of the New Year. Churches in Japan begin their Church year in April as well. I find this sense of timing truly Biblical. The Old Covenant year began in April. The life and ministry of Jesus was rooted in April, and His Passion and Resurrection caused the eternal priority and glory of the month of April to be memorialized forever in his eternal scars.

Given all of this, I believe Jesus loves the month of April. So do I. How about you?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Check out the SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST Press Release here.

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April 29, 2013

The April 29th DAILY JESUS NEWS article describes the way Jesus dealt with the greatest single sin of his generation: hypocrisy. How does this sin impact us today?  Read it here.

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The Month of April in the Life and Heart of Jesus

What is your favorite month of the year?

What was Jesus’ favorite month?

I have been thinking for several weeks about the significance of the month of April for Jesus, and all of us who believe in, and love Him. It turns out that April 1st is a whole lot more than April Fool’s Day. April 1st is hugely important because it is the beginning of the most significant month in Jesus’ life, by far. The gospels tell us much more about this month than any other. In fact, about half the content of the four gospels is devoted to events that occurred in this one month alone!

Before considering the month of April in the life and heart of Jesus, we should remember the role of April in Biblical history. “April” is our modern English name for the month of “Nisan” in the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament calendar was based upon the movement of the moon around the earth, rather than the earth around the sun, the month of Nisan did not correspond exactly to April 1 to 30 in our modern calendar. Nisan usually covered 30 days from late March to late April, but the actual days varied from year to year.

The crucial thing about the first day of Nisan (April) was that it was the beginning of the New Year for God’s people under the Old Covenant. Called “Rosh Chodashim,” it was Biblical “New Year’s Day.” Rather than a day for FOOLS, it was a day to glory in God’s FAVOR and FAITHFULNESS in the coming year.

God’s great saving power and gracious love for his covenant people was commemorated through the celebration of three of the annual feasts in April (Nisan): the Feasts of Passover (14th day), Unleavened Bread (15th to 21st day), and first Fruits (The first “Sunday” after Passover). This alone made the month of April (Nisan) precious to Jesus. But there is so much more.

Jesus was probably born in the month of April. Despite the modern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th, the Scriptures (Luke) wrote that there were Shepherds out in the fields around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. There was no grass grass growing in December in those fields, and no shepherd would take his flocks out there by night. However, in the Spring–during the month of April–the grass was fresh and green and shepherds kept their flocks out at night. It makes sense that Jesus was born at the beginning of a new year in April, for He inaugurated a New Covenant and new age of grace by His coming, and by his death and resurrection in the month of April.

April was important to Jesus because He made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the three April Feasts mentioned above. Luke 2.41 tells us that Jesus’ parents made the trip to Jerusalem every year. This established a practice that Jesus held dear throughout his life. Starting out the year with worship, commemoration, obedience to the covenant commands of His heavenly Father was Jesus’ lifestyle.

Furthermore, it was during the trip to Jerusalem in April of Jesus’ 12th year that our Lord spoke His first words recorded in the gospels: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Did you not know that I had to be focused on my Father’s interests?” (Luke 2.49) At the age of 12, Jesus was now an “adult” under the Old Covenant, and free to enter for the first time into the inner court of the Temple reserved for circumcised adult males. He was basking in the God-centeredness of everything that went on in the worship of the Temple, and in his ceaseless fellowship with His Father. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else,” (Psalm 84.10A) described Jesus’ love of His Father as he could express it in the Temple complex during the Feasts of April every year. There was nothing better than this for Jesus.

When we come to the ministry years of Jesus that make up 97% of the gospel content concerning his life, we find that there were four recurrences of the month of April. The events that occurred in these four Aprils are the very heart of the gospel story. Here is a brief summary of each April.

In the first April of His ministry, Jesus drove the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals out of the Temple complex (JN 2.13-17), promised the evidence of his resurrection as the ultimate proof of his Messiahship (JN 2.17-22), performed many healings in the Temple (JN 2.23), and had his unforgettable and crucial conversation with Nicodemus about the nature of salvation (JN 3.1-21). One of Jesus’ most famous and profound promises of eternal life was therefore spoken in April:

“For God (the Father) loved every sinful person in the world so much 

that he gave his one and only Son, in order that whoever keeps on believing in him 

will not perish, but will continue to have God’s own kind of eternal life.”  JN 3.16

In the second April of His ministry, Jesus again returned to Jerusalem for the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. This time he instantly healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years on a Sabbath day (JN 5.1-16). This healing was a Divine claim of Jesus that ignited the furious opposition of the Pharisees against Him. Over the next two consecutive Sabbaths, Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath (MT 12.1-8; MK 2.32-38; LK 6.1-5), and then he healed again in a synagogue (MT 12.9-14; MK 3.1-6; LK 6.6-11). In the legalistic eyes of the Pharisees, these three consecutive gross violations of the Sabbath traditions (not the actual Old Testament Law) were enough to deem Jesus worthy of death. Just one year into his ministry, Jesus’ death sentence was sealed in April, and the public, vociferous hatred of the Pharisees would be spewed at Him ever after.

In the third April of his ministry, Jesus concluded his 20 month ministry in Galilee by feeding the 5000, walking on the waters of Lake Galilee in a fierce storm in the night, and delivering his epic “I AM the Bread of Life” message in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Over the preceding year the Pharisees had repeatedly called him a demon-possessed insane man, and Jesus’ popularity had eroded to the point that many of his own disciples left him. So, it was in April of this year that Jesus temporarily withdrew from ministry among the Jewish people, by leaving Galilee and sojourning with his disciples in the Gentile country to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. The withdrawal continued through the month of August. Once again, April marked a pivotal turning point in Jesus’ ministry.

The final April of Jesus’ ministry featured the heart of his saving work as Messiah: Passion Week, the Resurrection, and what followed. More than a third of the total content of the four gospels is devoted to the single week of Jesus’ Passion and glorious resurrection.  The final April of Jesus’ earthly life is therefore the most important month in the history of the universe. The significance of April in Jesus’ life should be thoroughly appreciated by those of us who love Him, because He so magnificently first loved us.

I happen to live and minister in Japan. While the January New Year holiday is much more significant in Japanese culture than in my birth home of America, the month of April is also considered the beginning of the New Year. The fiscal and academic year begins April 1st. Being a country of four distinct seasons, the blooming Cherry trees and burst of of the colors of numerous other spring plants and flowers visually bid welcome to the newness of the New Year. Churches in Japan begin their Church year in April as well. I find this sense of timing truly Biblical. The Old Covenant year began in April. The life and ministry of Jesus was rooted in April, and His Passion and Resurrection caused the eternal priority and glory of the month of April to be memorialized forever in his eternal scars.

Given all of this, I believe Jesus loves the month of April. So do I. How about you?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Check out the SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST Press Release here.

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April 28th, 2013

Today’s DAILY JESUS NEWS article describes one of the saddest days in Jesus’ life. At the conclusion of his “I AM the Bread of Life” message in the synagogue of Capernaum, the day after feeding the 5000, many of his disciples quit on him–abandoning him because of their misunderstanding of his teaching in this message. What did this mass defection mean for Jesus, and for us?  Read it here.

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The Month of April in the Life and Heart of Jesus

What is your favorite month of the year?

What was Jesus’ favorite month?

I have been thinking for several weeks about the significance of the month of April for Jesus, and all of us who believe in, and love Him. It turns out that April 1st is a whole lot more than April Fool’s Day. April 1st is hugely important because it is the beginning of the most significant month in Jesus’ life, by far. The gospels tell us much more about this month than any other. In fact, about half the content of the four gospels is devoted to events that occurred in this one month alone!

Before considering the month of April in the life and heart of Jesus, we should remember the role of April in Biblical history. “April” is our modern English name for the month of “Nisan” in the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament calendar was based upon the movement of the moon around the earth, rather than the earth around the sun, the month of Nisan did not correspond exactly to April 1 to 30 in our modern calendar. Nisan usually covered 30 days from late March to late April, but the actual days varied from year to year.

The crucial thing about the first day of Nisan (April) was that it was the beginning of the New Year for God’s people under the Old Covenant. Called “Rosh Chodashim,” it was Biblical “New Year’s Day.” Rather than a day for FOOLS, it was a day to glory in God’s FAVOR and FAITHFULNESS in the coming year.

God’s great saving power and gracious love for his covenant people was commemorated through the celebration of three of the annual feasts in April (Nisan): the Feasts of Passover (14th day), Unleavened Bread (15th to 21st day), and first Fruits (The first “Sunday” after Passover). This alone made the month of April (Nisan) precious to Jesus. But there is so much more.

Jesus was probably born in the month of April. Despite the modern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th, the Scriptures (Luke) wrote that there were Shepherds out in the fields around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. There was no grass grass growing in December in those fields, and no shepherd would take his flocks out there by night. However, in the Spring–during the month of April–the grass was fresh and green and shepherds kept their flocks out at night. It makes sense that Jesus was born at the beginning of a new year in April, for He inaugurated a New Covenant and new age of grace by His coming, and by his death and resurrection in the month of April.

April was important to Jesus because He made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the three April Feasts mentioned above. Luke 2.41 tells us that Jesus’ parents made the trip to Jerusalem every year. This established a practice that Jesus held dear throughout his life. Starting out the year with worship, commemoration, obedience to the covenant commands of His heavenly Father was Jesus’ lifestyle.

Furthermore, it was during the trip to Jerusalem in April of Jesus’ 12th year that our Lord spoke His first words recorded in the gospels: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Did you not know that I had to be focused on my Father’s interests?” (Luke 2.49) At the age of 12, Jesus was now an “adult” under the Old Covenant, and free to enter for the first time into the inner court of the Temple reserved for circumcised adult males. He was basking in the God-centeredness of everything that went on in the worship of the Temple, and in his ceaseless fellowship with His Father. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else,” (Psalm 84.10A) described Jesus’ love of His Father as he could express it in the Temple complex during the Feasts of April every year. There was nothing better than this for Jesus.

When we come to the ministry years of Jesus that make up 97% of the gospel content concerning his life, we find that there were four recurrences of the month of April. The events that occurred in these four Aprils are the very heart of the gospel story. Here is a brief summary of each April.

In the first April of His ministry, Jesus drove the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals out of the Temple complex (JN 2.13-17), promised the evidence of his resurrection as the ultimate proof of his Messiahship (JN 2.17-22), performed many healings in the Temple (JN 2.23), and had his unforgettable and crucial conversation with Nicodemus about the nature of salvation (JN 3.1-21). One of Jesus’ most famous and profound promises of eternal life was therefore spoken in April:

“For God (the Father) loved every sinful person in the world so much 

that he gave his one and only Son, in order that whoever keeps on believing in him 

will not perish, but will continue to have God’s own kind of eternal life.”  JN 3.16

In the second April of His ministry, Jesus again returned to Jerusalem for the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. This time he instantly healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years on a Sabbath day (JN 5.1-16). This healing was a Divine claim of Jesus that ignited the furious opposition of the Pharisees against Him. Over the next two consecutive Sabbaths, Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath (MT 12.1-8; MK 2.32-38; LK 6.1-5), and then he healed again in a synagogue (MT 12.9-14; MK 3.1-6; LK 6.6-11). In the legalistic eyes of the Pharisees, these three consecutive gross violations of the Sabbath traditions (not the actual Old Testament Law) were enough to deem Jesus worthy of death. Just one year into his ministry, Jesus’ death sentence was sealed in April, and the public, vociferous hatred of the Pharisees would be spewed at Him ever after.

In the third April of his ministry, Jesus concluded his 20 month ministry in Galilee by feeding the 5000, walking on the waters of Lake Galilee in a fierce storm in the night, and delivering his epic “I AM the Bread of Life” message in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Over the preceding year the Pharisees had repeatedly called him a demon-possessed insane man, and Jesus’ popularity had eroded to the point that many of his own disciples left him. So, it was in April of this year that Jesus temporarily withdrew from ministry among the Jewish people, by leaving Galilee and sojourning with his disciples in the Gentile country to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. The withdrawal continued through the month of August. Once again, April marked a pivotal turning point in Jesus’ ministry.

The final April of Jesus’ ministry featured the heart of his saving work as Messiah: Passion Week, the Resurrection, and what followed. More than a third of the total content of the four gospels is devoted to the single week of Jesus’ Passion and glorious resurrection.  The final April of Jesus’ earthly life is therefore the most important month in the history of the universe. The significance of April in Jesus’ life should be thoroughly appreciated by those of us who love Him, because He so magnificently first loved us.

I happen to live and minister in Japan. While the January New Year holiday is much more significant in Japanese culture than in my birth home of America, the month of April is also considered the beginning of the New Year. The fiscal and academic year begins April 1st. Being a country of four distinct seasons, the blooming Cherry trees and burst of of the colors of numerous other spring plants and flowers visually bid welcome to the newness of the New Year. Churches in Japan begin their Church year in April as well. I find this sense of timing truly Biblical. The Old Covenant year began in April. The life and ministry of Jesus was rooted in April, and His Passion and Resurrection caused the eternal priority and glory of the month of April to be memorialized forever in his eternal scars.

Given all of this, I believe Jesus loves the month of April. So do I. How about you?

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Check out the SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST Press Release here.

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April 27, 2013

Today’s DAILY JESUS NEWS article covers one of the most controversial statements of Jesus’ ministry, delivered in his last message of his Great Galilean Ministry. What did he say? What did he mean? How did it lead to the defection of some of his disciples? Read it here.

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The Month of April in the Life and Heart of Jesus

What is your favorite month of the year?

What was Jesus’ favorite month?

I have been thinking for several weeks about the significance of the month of April for Jesus, and all of us who believe in, and love Him. It turns out that April 1st is a whole lot more than April Fool’s Day. April 1st is hugely important because it is the beginning of the most significant month in Jesus’ life, by far. The gospels tell us much more about this month than any other. In fact, about half the content of the four gospels is devoted to events that occurred in this one month alone!

Before considering the month of April in the life and heart of Jesus, we should remember the role of April in Biblical history. “April” is our modern English name for the month of “Nisan” in the Old Testament. Because the Old Testament calendar was based upon the movement of the moon around the earth, rather than the earth around the sun, the month of Nisan did not correspond exactly to April 1 to 30 in our modern calendar. Nisan usually covered 30 days from late March to late April, but the actual days varied from year to year.

The crucial thing about the first day of Nisan (April) was that it was the beginning of the New Year for God’s people under the Old Covenant. Called “Rosh Chodashim,” it was Biblical “New Year’s Day.” Rather than a day for FOOLS, it was a day to glory in God’s FAVOR and FAITHFULNESS in the coming year.

God’s great saving power and gracious love for his covenant people was commemorated through the celebration of three of the annual feasts in April (Nisan): the Feasts of Passover (14th day), Unleavened Bread (15th to 21st day), and first Fruits (The first “Sunday” after Passover). This alone made the month of April (Nisan) precious to Jesus. But there is so much more.

Jesus was probably born in the month of April. Despite the modern tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th, the Scriptures (Luke) wrote that there were Shepherds out in the fields around Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. There was no grass grass growing in December in those fields, and no shepherd would take his flocks out there by night. However, in the Spring–during the month of April–the grass was fresh and green and shepherds kept their flocks out at night. It makes sense that Jesus was born at the beginning of a new year in April, for He inaugurated a New Covenant and new age of grace by His coming, and by his death and resurrection in the month of April.

April was important to Jesus because He made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem to observe the three April Feasts mentioned above. Luke 2.41 tells us that Jesus’ parents made the trip to Jerusalem every year. This established a practice that Jesus held dear throughout his life. Starting out the year with worship, commemoration, obedience to the covenant commands of His heavenly Father was Jesus’ lifestyle.

Furthermore, it was during the trip to Jerusalem in April of Jesus’ 12th year that our Lord spoke His first words recorded in the gospels: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Did you not know that I had to be focused on my Father’s interests?” (Luke 2.49) At the age of 12, Jesus was now an “adult” under the Old Covenant, and free to enter for the first time into the inner court of the Temple reserved for circumcised adult males. He was basking in the God-centeredness of everything that went on in the worship of the Temple, and in his ceaseless fellowship with His Father. “A day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else,” (Psalm 84.10A) described Jesus’ love of His Father as he could express it in the Temple complex during the Feasts of April every year. There was nothing better than this for Jesus.

When we come to the ministry years of Jesus that make up 97% of the gospel content concerning his life, we find that there were four recurrences of the month of April. The events that occurred in these four Aprils are the very heart of the gospel story. Here is a brief summary of each April.

In the first April of His ministry, Jesus drove the money-changers and sellers of sacrificial animals out of the Temple complex (JN 2.13-17), promised the evidence of his resurrection as the ultimate proof of his Messiahship (JN 2.17-22), performed many healings in the Temple (JN 2.23), and had his unforgettable and crucial conversation with Nicodemus about the nature of salvation (JN 3.1-21). One of Jesus’ most famous and profound promises of eternal life was therefore spoken in April:

“For God (the Father) loved every sinful person in the world so much 

that he gave his one and only Son, in order that whoever keeps on believing in him 

will not perish, but will continue to have God’s own kind of eternal life.”  JN 3.16

In the second April of His ministry, Jesus again returned to Jerusalem for the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. This time he instantly healed a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years on a Sabbath day (JN 5.1-16). This healing was a Divine claim of Jesus that ignited the furious opposition of the Pharisees against Him. Over the next two consecutive Sabbaths, Jesus allowed his disciples to pluck and eat grain on the Sabbath (MT 12.1-8; MK 2.32-38; LK 6.1-5), and then he healed again in a synagogue (MT 12.9-14; MK 3.1-6; LK 6.6-11). In the legalistic eyes of the Pharisees, these three consecutive gross violations of the Sabbath traditions (not the actual Old Testament Law) were enough to deem Jesus worthy of death. Just one year into his ministry, Jesus’ death sentence was sealed in April, and the public, vociferous hatred of the Pharisees would be spewed at Him ever after.

In the third April of his ministry, Jesus concluded his 20 month ministry in Galilee by feeding the 5000, walking on the waters of Lake Galilee in a fierce storm in the night, and delivering his epic “I AM the Bread of Life” message in the Synagogue in Capernaum. Over the preceding year the Pharisees had repeatedly called him a demon-possessed insane man, and Jesus’ popularity had eroded to the point that many of his own disciples left him. So, it was in April of this year that Jesus temporarily withdrew from ministry among the Jewish people, by leaving Galilee and sojourning with his disciples in the Gentile country to the North, East, and Southeast of Galilee. The withdrawal continued through the month of August. Once again, April marked a pivotal turning point in Jesus’ ministry.

The final April of Jesus’ ministry featured the heart of his saving work as Messiah: Passion Week, the Resurrection, and what followed. More than a third of the total content of the four gospels is devoted to the single week of Jesus’ Passion and glorious resurrection.  The final April of Jesus’ earthly life is therefore the most important month in the history of the universe. The significance of April in Jesus’ life should be thoroughly appreciated by those of us who love Him, because He so magnificently first loved us.

I happen to live and minister in Japan. While the January New Year holiday is much more significant in Japanese culture than in my birth home of America, the month of April is also considered the beginning of the New Year. The fiscal and academic year begins April 1st. Being a country of four distinct seasons, the blooming Cherry trees and burst of of the colors of numerous other spring plants and flowers visually bid welcome to the newness of the New Year. Churches in Japan begin their Church year in April as well. I find this sense of timing truly Biblical. The Old Covenant year began in April. The life and ministry of Jesus was rooted in April, and His Passion and Resurrection caused the eternal priority and glory of the month of April to be memorialized forever in his eternal scars.

Given all of this, I believe Jesus loves the month of April. So do I. How about you?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

Check out the SAGA OF JESUS CHRIST Press Release here.

 

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