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Our Heavenly Father’s Love for Us All

by Carolyn Schmitt

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that? You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Emphasis added)  
Matthew 5:43-48 AMP

If I had been sitting among the crowd on that mountainside when Jesus was saying those revolutionary words, I can imagine that I might be thinking, “Impossible!”  Maybe even “How dare you say that!”

As I, a Gentile, looked around at the crowd and saw some Roman soldiers there to prevent a disturbance, or some of the Scribes and Pharisees who wanted nothing to do with the likes of me, I might feel that Jesus couldn’t be speaking to me. I ignore, if possible, those who I considered my enemies, or tolerate those who I couldn’t get along with, while showing love?

I was there because of the things people were saying about this man who was going around Galilee (my home country), talking about the “Kingdom of God” — also because some of my friends had been healed by him of their infirmities.  So I came to see this man, Jesus of Galilee, for myself.

I listened to him talk about the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, and others who didn’t fit the culture, but whom He called “as blessed”.  I heard him talk about how we were like “Salt and Light” and could bring honor to God by being salt and light in the world.

I felt so drawn to him. Whenever I could manage it, I was in a crowd where I could see and hear him.  Like all of those on that mountainside that first time, I could not have imagined where Jesus’ teaching and healing would lead.  Certainly not a cross, a resurrection, an ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit to live inside us, to enable us to learn to love and pray for and do good to our enemies.

As you continue to join us in praying “The Lord’s Prayer” this week, thank Our Father in Heaven for sending the Holy Spirit to enable us to do what cannot be done on our own. 

Our Heavenly Father’s Love for Us All2023-11-17T11:03:26-07:00

Honoring God with a Simple Yes or No

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not make false vows, but you shall fulfill your vows to the Lord [as a religious duty].’ But I say to you, do not make an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God; or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet; or by Jerusalem, for it is the Holy City of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you are not able to make a single hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’ [a firm yes or no]; anything more than that comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:33-37 AMP

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, irreverently, in false affirmations or in ways that impugn the character of God]; for the Lord will not hold guiltless nor leave unpunished the one who takes His name in vain [disregarding its reverence and its power].
Exodus 20:7 AMP

But above all, my fellow believers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be [a truthful] yes, and your no be [a truthful] no, so that you may not fall under judgment. James 5:12 AMP

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6

The commands Jesus gives In The Sermon on the Mount repeat and expand on the Ten Commandments given to Moses for the way God intended the newly freed Israelites to relate first to HIM and to each other in their daily living. While these words about oaths and vows may not seem as important as: Do not murder and do not commit adultery, it seems to me that the command regarding oaths and vows circles back to the way we relate to God first, which informs us how we are to relate to each other.

Some of the ways people can be irreverent in the way they use “oaths” are comments like: “I swear to God that I,” or “By heaven if you do”, or,”As God is my witness”, or using scripture in a demeaning way.

I knew someone who used Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”, swearing by the “clever” way they emphasized the words, after which they claimed innocence when they were called on it. God is not fooled.

As we continue to pray the Lord’s Prayer this week, let’s ask Jesus to help us honor Our Father in Heaven by our words.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Honoring God with a Simple Yes or No2023-11-03T18:48:50-06:00

Loving Each Other

“It has also been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife is to give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on grounds of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who has been divorced commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 NIV

But to the married [believers] I give instructions—not I, but the Lord—that the wife is not to separate from her husband, (but even if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not leave his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV

I must admit that I got overwhelmed as I tried to study what scripture says about divorce and marriage from both the Old and New Testaments and from various commentaries on the subject, both historical and contemporary. So I’m going to focus on what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned.

I’ve had the privilege as a sound and lighting tech for many years to serve at a variety of weddings, both small and quite large — good memories for me. One definite thing was apparent in all of them: none of the couples took their vows with the idea of divorce in mind. Certainly Phil and I didn’t when we took ours.

Some of you reading this knew and will remember my husband, Phil and me as we have been part of South Fellowship for many years. We got married in 1965 because we “wanted to see each other’s face across the breakfast table for the rest of our lives”. We celebrated our 43rd anniversary three weeks before he died on April 2nd 2008.

Over the years we learned, sometimes easily, sometimes painfully, that being “in love” is very different from loving. The best description of loving is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  FNVNT (* First Nations Version New Testament)

* Article on First Nations Version in Christianity Today “Native Christians: Indigenous Bible Version Is ‘Made By Us For Us

Love is patient and kind. Love is never jealous. It does not brag or boast. It is not puffed up or big-headed. Love does not act in shameful ways, nor does it care only about itself. It is not hot-headed, nor does it keep track of wrongs done to it. Love is not happy with lies and injustice, but truth makes its heart glad. Love keeps walking even when carrying a heavy load. Love keeps trusting, never loses hope, and stands firm in hard times. The road of love has no end.

As you pray the Lord’s prayer with us this week, think about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in light of: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NIV

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Loving Each Other2023-10-29T19:14:06-06:00

Jesus: Lawgiver and Law Fullfiler

As 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 alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 NIV

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 NIV

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV

“Do not think that I came to do away with or undo the Law [of Moses] or the [writings of the] Prophets; I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you and most solemnly say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke [of the pen] will pass from the Law until all things [which it foreshadows] are accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble and leads you to sin, tear it out and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble and leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

I can imagine that some of the people listening to Jesus on the mountain wondered how he had the right to expand on the commandments. Already he had added to “You shall not murder” by expanding it to include anger and contempt, via name calling (Matthew 5:22). And then he dares to “meddle” with adultery by adding “lust” to what men had to recognize as adultery in their hearts.

I am grateful that in our day, we have the privilege of moving around in the scriptures, both old and new testaments, to find what we need, as well as using other versions that add understanding to our study.

I am also grateful for the writers who have made an intensive study of the scriptures and that point out what I have not considered before. This book has been most helpful for me in this series: That You May Live: How the 10 Commandments Lead to Human Freedom by Darell Johnson. In it he points out that Jesus is also the Lawgiver who was with God when the commandments were given, so he knows what was intended for them from the beginning — which is how we are to relate first to God and then to each other as valued persons in community.

Jesus as the Lawgiver was restoring the re-humanizing process for people in that time that also continues throughout the whole New Testament.

I was reminded of a children’s carol written by Megan Kincheloe and published by Zondervan, that some of you reading this might remember. Each verse starts with,

“Oh, be careful little

vs. 1. …eyes what you see”;
vs. 2. …ears what you hear”;
vs. 3. …tongue what you say”;
vs. 4. …hands what you do”;
vs. 5. …feet where you go”.

The chorus is:

“For the Father up above, is looking down in love.
Oh, be careful little ______ what you see.”

As you continue with us to pray the Lord’s Prayer, ponder this little song as you pray, “…lead us not into temptation [testing]…”.

Jesus: Lawgiver and Law Fullfiler2023-10-22T14:19:01-06:00

You Shall Not Murder – Matthew 5:21-22

“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. Matthew 5:17 NIV

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” Matthew 5:21-22 NIV

What about the first murder? What about Cain and Abel? As I read this grievous story as recorded in Genesis 4:3-16 MSG, several questions and observations come to mind.

Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer.
Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm.
Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his [God’s] approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk. v. 2b-4

Question: Why was Cain angry and at who?
Observation: He envied Abel’s acceptance and he was angry at God because his wasn’t approved,

God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” v. 6-7

Question: What did God do for Cain”
Observation: God gave Cain an opportunity to correct his behavior and warned him of what would happen if he didn’t.

Cain had words with his brother. They were out in the field; Cain came at Abel, his brother and killed him. v. 8

God said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”
He said, “How should I know? Am I his babysitter?” v. 9

Question: What did God give Cain the opportunity to do?
Observation: Cain was given the chance to confess, but instead Cain lied and insulted God.

God said, “What have you done! The voice of your brother’s blood is calling to me from the ground. From now on you’ll get nothing but curses from this ground; you’ll be driven from this ground that has opened its arms to receive the blood of your murdered brother. You’ll farm this ground, but it will no longer give you its best. You’ll be a homeless wanderer on Earth.” v. 10-12.

Question: What was God’s judgment on Cain?

Cain said to God, “My punishment is too much. I can’t take it! You’ve thrown me off the land and I can never again face you. I’m a homeless wanderer on Earth and whoever finds me will kill me.” v. 13-14

Question: What was Cain’s response?

God told him, “No. Anyone who kills Cain will pay for it seven times over.” God put a mark on Cain to protect him so that no one who met him would kill him. v. 15

Question: What did God do for Cain? Observation: God gave Cain the grace of a protection for his life, though the judgment still stood. v. 15

Cain left the presence of God and lived in No-Man’s-Land, east of Eden. v. 16

The questions I have to ask myself: “Who do I get angry with and why? What does God ask me about it, and what does he give me the chance to confess? How do I respond to Him? I have to remind myself of what Jesus has done for me on the cross.”

As we continue to pray the Lord’s prayer together during this series, ponder with me:

For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15 AMP

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

You Shall Not Murder – Matthew 5:21-222023-10-13T08:09:45-06:00

Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes

Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse. Malachi 4:5-6 NRSV

Four hundred years passed between Malachi, the last prophet in the Old Testament, and the events recorded in Matthew, leaving a conspicuous gap in Israel’s relationship with the Lord.

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea,
proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’ ” Matthew 3: 1-3 NRSV

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”

From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:12-17 NRSV

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20 NRSV

Three groups of people opposed Jesus: the scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The Sadducees and the Pharisees are both mentioned in Matthew 3:7 when they came to be baptized by John.

The Sadducees were wealthy, religious, elite people who served as priests in the temple. They were firmly committed to the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). They did not believe in the resurrection, life after death or prophecy. They were politically involved with the Roman leaders.

The Scribes knew the law and the prophets well, as they did the copying of the scrolls that would have been used in the synagogues that spread around the country. They could teach the words, but their lives didn’t match what they said.

The Pharisees were conservative zealots of the middle class. They taught in the synagogues and they knew the law and the prophets well, but they, along with the scribes, had amended the law without regard to God’s concern for and care of the people.

On the Website, “gotquestions.org“, I found much history about what was happening to the Jews during those 400 years. I recommend checking out the intertestamental period.

As you continue this week, praying the Lord’s Prayer, imagine how each of these three Israeli groups would respond to Jesus telling them that this was how they should pray.

Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes2023-10-08T08:20:00-06:00

Matthew 5:13 Important Uses of Salt

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. ESV

“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it. Good News Bible

“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 underfoot. NIV

In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the character of what people would be like as they became Kingdom of heaven people. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus next tells the disciples and the crowd on the mountainside what His followers would do and be in the world around them. By using salt as a metaphor, he related a common process that was essential to life, that portrays what would happen as his followers permeated society.

They knew the value and the many practical uses of salt in their lives.

Salt was a medium of trade that because of its essential need was more valuable than gold.

Salt is important for health, particularly in a hot climate. It is essential for normal interchange and retention of fluids within the cells of the body for humans as well as animals.

Salt was the only preservative in their climate they had to keep meat, fish and other foodstuffs from rotting. Any meat not eaten during a meal would be soaked in a strong solution of salt which prevented decay as well as the destruction caused by flies that hovered around both raw and cooked meat.

Salt also made a monotonous diet bearable for the common people, by heightening the flavor of their simple food.

Salt was well known to be an excellent sterilizer for wounds. Mixed with warm water, it was used to cleanse open sores and prevent infection.

Salt benefitted the livestock: oxen, camels and donkeys that did heavy work for the common people who worked the land. It was used for internal as well as external health for the animal.

Salt also would have reminded those who heard Jesus of how it represented the qualities of steadfastness, strength and trustworthiness.

Jesus also warned about salt that had lost its saltiness and grown weak in flavor and health giving strength. Even so, salt was used to eradicate, for instance, by being thrown out on pathways to sterilize the ground and keep weeds from growing (so people could walk on the path). Once that was done, the ground was useless for growing anything ever again.

A book I recommend that covers the Beatitudes and Matthew 5:13 is” Salt for Society, by W. Phillip Keller. published in 1981. It is available in paperback through a number of online used book stores. It explains more in-depth the uses and values of salt that still continue in impoverished parts of the world. It also conveys what it means to be disciples who, like salt, are health-giving to today’s society.

As you continue with us to pray the Lord’s Prayer, think about how salt relates to “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Also about salt and “daily bread”, salt and “forgiveness” and salt and being “[rescued] from temptation”.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Matthew 5:13 Important Uses of Salt2023-09-30T08:56:41-06:00

Jesus Warns About Persecution

From that time Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent [change your inner self — our old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 AMP

“Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].”

“Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12 AMP

I chose the Amplified Bible because verse 4:17 describes what is meant by repentance. Also the verses in 5:10-12 appear to be a recapitulation of the seven other beatitudes. In Jesus’ description of “Blessed”, there is encouragement for his followers even though he tells them the reality about how they will be treated, as they live differently from the world, as they grow in their relationship with Him.

Dictionary definitions of “persecute” include: harassment, opposition, ill treatment, insults, gossip: behaviors that epitomize what Exodus 20:16 denounces of those who “testify falsely [lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against [their] neighbor or (any person)”.

I experienced some of this treatment when, as an orphaned child, I was living with an aunt and uncle here in Denver. My aunt had a lifelong bitter resentment toward her father for a variety of reasons, which included his “churchiness”. I was allowed to go to church, because the neighbors took me, and because my aunt didn’t want to look bad to them. However, she sneered at my “church going” when anything I did didn’t measure up to her idea of what I should be.

She really ramped it up when I, at 13, came home from a summer camp and said that I had given my life to Jesus. In addition to name calling, saying, “you call yourself a Christian,” and picking a fight whenever I was in something special at church (so that she wouldn’t have to go see such a “hypocrite”), she would tell her friends how bad and ungrateful I was. Then, some of them would call me and “rag down on me” about it. That continued until I was an adult and moved away. I don’t pretend that I was a great example of a Christian, but my aunt’s main criticism was that I continued to go to church despite her harassment.

Something Jesus has taught me over the years is that we have a tendency to become like who we love or who we hate — because they control our thinking. The resemblance to them may not look the same, especially if we hate someone, but it still shows.

If we love Jesus and grow in his love and grace by the power of the Holy Spirit, He will make the resemblance to Him show.

I am using the Amplified Bible for the Lord’s prayer, because it has an expanded view of what forgiveness entails.

“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors [letting go of both the wrong and the resentment].
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’
For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others [nurturing your hurt and anger with the result that it interferes with your relationship with God], then your Father will not forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:9-15 AMP

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Jesus Warns About Persecution2023-09-23T13:14:45-06:00

Blessed are the Meek, Matthew 5:5

Darrell W. Johnson in his book, The Beatitudes-Living in Sync with the Reign of God, points out that each of the character qualities Jesus calls “blessed” are not natural human qualities. It is as people follow Jesus and grow into his good news of the Kingdom of God that they will grow in the qualities that are characteristic of the kingdom.

I try to imagine what the response might have been for various people on that mountainside when they heard Jesus say,

“Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth” NIV

How about Matthew who had been a tax collector working for the Roman government and likely making a living by overcharging his own countrymen?

Or Simon the Zealot, who was committed to the violent overthrow of the Romans controlling the country?

Peter, Andrew, James and John who, having worked hard as businessmen catching fish for a living, were a pretty rough group of men.

Might some in the crowd who had come from Jerusalem, remembered what the scriptures said about Moses in Numbers 12:3 ASV? “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” Or What David wrote in Psalm 37:11 ASV? “But the meek shall inherit the land, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”

According to the W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, the word “prautes*, which was translated as “meek”, really is hard to express in English, because It definitely does not denote weakness, timidity, or lack of courage. To quote: “It must be clearly understood that the meekness manifested by the Lord and commended to the believer is the fruit of power.”

*Note. Look up Strong’s number 4239 and 4240.

It seems to me that the beatitudes are really a preview of the whole sermon on the mount. What Jesus goes on to say in the rest of Matthew 5-7 circles back to what we will become as we grow in Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom of God.

Please continue to join with us in praying and pondering the Lord’s Prayer,

“ ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Blessed are the Meek, Matthew 5:52023-09-17T07:49:32-06:00

Who’s in the Crowd

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News 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. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. Matthew 4:23-25 NIV (Emphasis added.)

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Matthew 5:1-2 NIV

These 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; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Matthew 10:2-4

Being curious as to how long it might take for Jesus to “go throughout Galilee”, teach in each town’s synagogue and stop to heal “all who were ill with various diseases,” I checked on Google and found this helpful site, (Ligonier.org). It said that Galilee encompassed an area of 2800 square miles and that even walking fast, it would take around 3 months to visit and preach in each town. Also the site had information on other cities that indicated that the crowds which followed Jesus would include Gentiles as well as Israelites.

Although Matthew 4:18-22 mentions only the calling of Peter, Andrew, James and John, it appears that the rest of the disciples (mentioned in Matthew 10:2-4), were there on the mount as Jesus started teaching what the characteristics of the kingdom of God would be. The disciples would be the ones who would follow him for all the years before His crucifixion while Jesus would be reinforcing his teaching with them.

There would be other crowds at other times in other places, but these 12 disciples would be the ones consistently with him whom he focused on.

What is encouraging to me is that the disciples, as well as the majority of the people in the crowds, were not the highly educated or the religious elite,
but were ordinary individuals like me. Also, Jesus saw and cared for all who came to him with a need for both healing and teaching.

As we start the adventure of studying The Sermon On The Mount, please join us in praying the Lord’s Prayer:

…“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,  but deliver us from the evil one.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-15 NIV

Who’s in the Crowd2023-09-09T11:16:07-06:00
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