Good Reasons for Faith in Jesus

“But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you’” (Mark 16:7).

From the women’s testimony, Jesus’ disciples had enough evidence to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. First, the women saw an angel in the tomb sitting

near the place where they had laid Jesus’ body. Second, the angel told them they were at the right tomb – the tomb of “Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified.” Third, the angel explained that Jesus’ body was gone because Jesus had risen. Fourth, the angel

mentioned Peter specifically along with Jesus’ disciples. Since Peter had denied Jesus three times, with his guilty conscience and remorse he may have felt that he was no longer worthy to be a disciple of Jesus. As his risen Lord, Jesus wanted Peter to know that He forgave him and still considered him a disciple. Fifth, through the women, the angel reminded the disciples to do what Jesus had told them before He was crucified — they were to go to Galilee. The fact that the angel told them about Jesus’ private conversation with His disciples and His command to them indicates the women were not deceived – we have no evidence the women knew of or would have remembered at the tomb this command of Jesus prior to His crucifixion. The women gave the disciples good and sufficient reasons to believe Jesus had risen from the dead, but in their state of mind they would not believe Jesus had risen until Jesus appeared to them in Jerusalem and convinced them He was alive. Later, they obeyed and saw Jesus at the Sea of Galilee as He said (where Jesus restored Peter to apostleship — see the Gospel of John chapter  21).

Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew and Mark
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

Faith Is Possible After Failures

“‘You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them, ‘for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered”’ (Mark 14:27).

Jesus came into the world as the Messiah and He took on the role of the Good Shepherd. Jesus told His disciples, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). On His way to lay down His life on the cross, Jesus told His disciples that according to the Scriptures the shepherd would be struck down and the sheep would be scattered. He would die and they would fall away and disown Him. They all denied that they would disown Him, and especially Peter who declared that all the others might disown Jesus, but he never would. No matter how much Peter protested, the Scriptures would be fulfilled, and Jesus foretold Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed twice, and it was so, exactly as Jesus told Peter. Jesus also told His disciples that after He rose from the dead that He would go before them into Galilee. However, they were so unbelieving they remained huddled in fear in Jerusalem until Jesus appeared to them and proved that He had risen from the dead. Later, exactly as Jesus foretold, He met them in Galilee by the Sea of Tiberius (also called the Sea of Galilee: see John 21); thus proving in another way that He who was crucified and buried had risen from the dead. Here, Jesus said three times to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” The sheep who fled when the Shepherd was struck became shepherds themselves, and flocks of Jesus’ sheep have spread around the world under the guidance of faithful shepherds.

Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew and Mark
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.

How to See Jesus

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

When some Greeks found Phillip, they told him, “We wish to see Jesus” (see John 12:21). Today, increasing numbers of people, both followers of Jesus and others,  are saying, “We wish to see Jesus.” Jesus’ teachings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John help us see Jesus. If you wish to see Jesus, you will begin seeing Jesus if you keep on reading.

One day, a scribe went to see Jesus and he recognized the sincerity of Jesus’ as He answered questions well, so he asked Jesus, “ Which commandment is the first of all?” (see Mark 12:28-37). In Jesus’ answer, we learn something about Jesus, and we begin to see Jesus as He is. Jesus said that those who follow the first commandment will love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. When someone asks what we mean when we say that Jesus lived a perfect sinless life, we can answer by saying, “Jesus loved the Lord His God with all His heart, mind, soul and strength.” The four gospels, especially the Gospel of John, show us Jesus, the Son of God, doing everything He did for people (including everyone today) because He loved God His Father and He knew that His Father loved Him. When we see Jesus doing anything during His short time on Earth and throughout His ministry, we know that He did everything because He loved His Heavenly Father and wanted to do everything His Father asked Him to do—even die on a cross as the Savior of the world. “And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14).

But wait. You still only see part of Jesus. This is not the total picture that we need to see. Notice how Jesus also obeyed the second greatest commandment, for Jesus loved His neighbor as Himself. Think carefully. In following the first commandment, Jesus loved God; Jesus loved His Father, Himself (Jesus is the Son of God), and the Holy Spirit. Jesus loved Himself (deservedly so) and in the second commandment Jesus has told us to love ourselves, in addition to loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Trying to obey the second commandment without putting the first commandment first will only lead to a self-love that is in reality only a selfish self-centeredness, which is a sin that will lead to increasing lawlessness. Jesus obeyed both commandments; therefore, His love for God and us was not and is not selfish or self-centered. When Jesus loved Himself with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength, He also loved and loves us as He loves Himself. Jesus loves us with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength, and we see Jesus’ total love in the way Jesus treated everyone He met and how He met the needs of everyone in every way that He wisely could. See how Jesus loved. Knowing Peter would deny Him, He still loved Peter and made him an apostle. Knowing Judas would betray Him, He still loved Judas and felt sorry for Judas because He knew the consequences of Judas’ betrayal. Knowing Jerusalem would soon be destroyed by the Romans, Jesus wept for the people He loved and came to save but who rejected God’s offer of salvation through faith in Him, God’s  Son and Messiah. In the four gospels, we see Jesus loved (and still loves) everyone with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength because He died on the cross and rose again to save us from our sins while we still lived in rebellion against Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. Look at Jesus. If you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, He loves you as He loves Himself with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength. If you have sinned and want to change, look to Jesus to forgive you, and save you, because Jesus loves you with all His heart, mind, soul, and strength. Trust in Jesus because Jesus loves you and He came to save you and give you eternal life. Are you beginning to see Jesus more completely?

Carefully consider these words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:7-11 as you see our loving Jesus dying on the cross for us, for you, and rising from the dead for us, for you:

“Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath (our deserved judgement and punishment) of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Jesus came and died and rose again so those who believe in, love, and follow Jesus will not receive the just judgment and punishment of God that they deserve. If you look to Jesus and see Jesus as He is, you will believe in Jesus, you will love Jesus, and you will follow Jesus. God knows that in this life, you will not love and follow Jesus perfectly, but you will strive to obey His commandments; knowing this, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to live within His followers to guide and empower them to live in love as God intends according to the Bible. Listen to Jesus’ words in John 14:15-16, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” Do you see? God is love and God sent His Son to save you from the just punishment you deserve. As followers of Jesus Christ, we try to obey the Law of Love, these two commandments, the Holy Spirit being our Helper, that Jesus explained to the scribe. The Apostle John tells us more about Jesus and His loving presence with His followers in 1 John 4:14-21:

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

If you truly want to see Jesus and see Jesus better, I suggest that you begin with the Gospel of John.

Who Were the Magi? — Matthew 2:1-12

“The Magi asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him’” (Matthew 2:2).

Some believe that the Magi were Gentile wise men and the first Gentiles to worship Jesus. But the Magi could easily have been descendants of the Jews who did not return to Jerusalem after their seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Daniel and his three friends rose to high positions in the Babylonian court, and there is every reason to believe that they and others like them advised King Cyrus of Persia and many other subsequent rulers in the East where their descendants made their homes for the next 500 years. Some Jewish Magi probably knew to look for the Messiah and His star. The Hebrew Scriptures prophesied: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17). When some of them saw the special star that announced the Messiah’s birth, they traveled perhaps 800 miles to find and worship Him. Upon their arrival in Jerusalem, King Herod, the high priests, the teachers of the law, and the people were disturbed to learn of the Magi’s expectation of finding the newborn Messiah. The chief priests told King Herod and the Magi about the prophecy that predicted the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. King Herod wanted to murder the Messiah, and we have no indication from Matthew that anyone other than these Magi sought Him to find Him to honor Him. When the star appeared again, the Magi found the house where Jesus and His family stayed. They were overjoyed, and they worshiped Him.

Thinking Further

  1. What does the name Jesus mean and what name was Jesus to be called? How did He get this name and why was He to be called by the other name too? See Matthew 1:18-25.
  2. What are Magi and from where did they come? Do you think they were Jews or Gentiles?
  3. Describe some features of the star and its purpose and appearances.
  4. Who did King Herod and the Magi consult to find where the Messiah was to be born? Why were they given accurate information?
  5. Where did the Magi find Jesus?


Study the International Bible Study
Commentary and Lessons On Matthew
or
Begin A Study of the Complete
Gospel and Letters of John
by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.