Gospel of Matthew 12
About the same time, Jesus walked through the corn–fields one Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and began to pick some ears of wheat and eat them. 2 But, when the Pharisees saw this, they said: “Look! your disciples are doing what it is not allowable to do on a Sabbath!” 3 “Have not you read,” replied Jesus, “what David did, when he and his companions were hungry. 4 How he went into the house of God, and how they ate the consecrated bread, though it was not allowable for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? 5 And have not you read in the law that, on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are not guilty?
6 Here, however, I tell you, there is something greater than the temple! 7 And had you learned the meaning of the words: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned those who are not guilty. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
9 Passing on, Jesus went into their synagogue, 10 And there he saw a man with a withered hand. Some people asked Jesus whether it was allowable to work a cure on the Sabbath, so that they might have a charge to bring against him. 11 But Jesus said to them: “Which of you, if he had only one sheep, and that sheep fell into a pit on the Sabbath, would not lay hold of it and pull it out? 12 And how much more precious are we than a sheep! Therefore it is allowable to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man. “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched it out; and it had become as good as the other.
14 On coming out, the Pharisees plotted against Jesus, to put him to death. 15 Jesus, however, became aware of it, and went away from that place. A number of people followed him, and he cured them all; 16 But he warned them not to make him known, 17 In fulfillment of these words of the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Behold! the servant of my choice, my Beloved, in whom my heart delights! I will breathe my spirit upon him, And he shall announce a time of judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not contend, nor cry aloud, neither shall anyone hear his voice in the streets; 20 A bruised reed he will not break, And a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he has brought the judgment to a victory, 21 And on his name shall the Gentiles rest their hopes.”
22 Then some people brought to Jesus a possessed man, who was blind and dumb; and he cured him, so that the man who had been dumb could both talk and see. 23 At this all the people were astounded. “Is it possible that this is the Son of David?” they exclaimed. 24 But the Pharisees heard of it and said: “He drives out demons only by the help of Beelzebub the prince of the devils.”
25 Jesus, however, was aware of what was passing in their minds, and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself becomes a desolation, and any town or household divided against itself will not last. 26 So, if Satan drives Satan out, he must be divided against himself; and how, then, can his kingdom last? 27 And, if it is by Beelzebub’s help that I drive out devils, by whose help is it that your own sons drive them out? Therefore they shall themselves be your judges.”
Interpreting the Lord’s Prayer
To continue reading Chapter 22 and read the wisdom of Solomon text, please click on page 2 below.
Gospel of Matthew 16
Here the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and, to test Jesus, requested him to show them some sign from the heavens. 2 But Jesus answered: “In the evening you say: ‘It will be fine weather, for the sky is as red as fire.’ 3 But in the morning you say: ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is as red as fire and threatening.’ You learn to read the sky; yet you are unable to read the signs of the times! 4 A wicked and unfaithful generation is asking for a sign, but no sign shall be given it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and went away.
5 Now the disciples had crossed to the opposite shore, and had forgotten to take any bread. 6 Presently Jesus said to them: “Take care and be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 But the disciples began talking among themselves about their having brought no bread.
8 On noticing this, Jesus said: “Why are you talking among yourselves about your being short of bread, O ye of little faith? 9 Do not you yet see, nor remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you took away? 10 Nor yet the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you took away? 11 How is it that you do not see that I was not speaking about bread? Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he had told them to be on their guard, not against the leaven of bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
13 On coming into the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples this question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 “Some say John the Baptist,” they answered, “Others, however, say that he is Elijah, while others again say Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 “But you,” he said, “who do you say that I am?” 16 And to this Simon Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”17 “Blessed are you, Simon, Son of Jonah,” Jesus replied. “For no human being has revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
18 Yes, and I say to you that your name is Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the powers of the place of death shall not prevail over it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be held in heaven to be forbidden, and whatever you allow on earth will be held in heaven to be allowed.” 20 Then he charged his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
21 At that time Jesus Christ began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and undergo much suffering at the hands of the councilors, and chief priests, and teachers of the law, and be put to death, and rise on the third day. 22 But Peter took Jesus aside, and began to rebuke him. “Master,” he said, “please God that shall never be your fate!” 23 Jesus, however, turning to Peter, said: “Out of my way, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you look at things, not as God does, but as mankind does.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, and take up their cross, and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save their lives will lose it, and whoever, for my sake, loses their lives shall find it. 26 What good will it do you to gain the whole world, if you forfeit your life? Or what will you give that is of equal value with your life? 27 For the Son of Man is to come in his Father’s glory, with his angels, and then he ‘will give to every one of you what your actions deserve.’ 28 I tell you, some of those who are standing here will not know death till they have seen the Son of Man coming into his kingdom.”
To read Chapter 17 of the Gospel of Matthew, please go to: Faith of a Mustard Seed
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On earth as it is in heaven…
(Understanding God’s Divide)
In the last two chapters on the Lord’s Prayer, we’ve established that our entrance into the kingdom of heaven depends on our sense of wonder; our ability to think and love; our patience; and our acceptance of will as a matter of choice—a choice shared equally with God, the Father. We’ve also learned that the kingdom is filled with potential, and with treasures that can be experienced today and every day. Unfortunately, we often lose sight of this. Even those who have dedicated their lives to preaching the Word of God often remain just outside the kingdom’s doorway.
Take for example the story of Jesus and the scribe in the Book of Mark. In this story a teacher of Mosaic law asks Jesus which commandment supersedes all others. Jesus replies that it is the first of the ten: “The Lord our God is the one Lord; And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” He then adds that the second most important commandment is: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thou dost love thyself.” The scribe heartily agrees and congratulates Jesus on being so wise. Jesus, in turn, acknowledges the scribe’s own wisdom, telling him that he is “not far from the kingdom of God.”1
This story shows once again that Jesus did not view heaven as a celestial mansion in the sky or a Garden of Eden revisited. Instead, he saw God’s kingdom as a hidden reality waiting to be brought into the light.2 Much more than a state of mind, it is a state of being wherein the heart, soul, and mind work as one—and which find their perfect stride in Christ. Hitting that stride takes more than having one’s heart in the right place or possessing wisdom (such as the scribe had), it means tapping the latent power of the Holy Spirit to bring harmony to our divided house, and likewise to God’s.
When Jesus says that with the coming of the kingdom of heaven and the Son of Man two shall be found and then one taken and the other left,3 he is talking about our divided selves. He is not saying, as we discussed before, that there is going to be a rapture, where the faithful are whisked up into the sky while the sinners are left to stew in their juices.
As the story of Jesus got passed down, the term Son of Man4 became interchangeable with Son of God.6 But for Jesus, these appellations were not the same. The Son of Man refers to our ego’s currently limited perception of our selves. And while this perception is necessary because (as symbolized by John the Baptist) it bears witness to Christ and the Word of God,5 it also ultimately must be beheaded6 (i.e., crucified)7 to make way for the Son of God and our expanding Christ consciousness—wherein which we treat our neighbors as ourselves because we recognize them as true reflections of ourselves.
Each one of us is born into a kingdom divided. And in this kingdom, we find both Christ and Satan competing for our attention—one using the Holy Spirit as his emissary and the other using the Ego. Yet it is a kingdom which cannot stand,8 for it causes us to love one master and hate the other.9 Or rather we go through life flipping allegiances between the two. When praying The Lord’s Prayer, we therefore must think deeply on the ways we are divided against our better selves, divided against our consciences, divided against Christ—for these divisions prevent us from manifesting the kingdom of heaven within and recognizing its fruits around us.
Consider Martha’s behavior in the…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- Then came up one of the teachers of the law who had heard their discussions. Knowing that Jesus had answered them wisely, he asked him this question: “What is the first of all the commandments?” 29 “The first,” answered Jesus, “is: ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is the one Lord; 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thou dost love thyself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Wisely answered, teacher!” exclaimed the teacher of the law. “It is true, as you say, that ‘there is one God,’ and that ‘there is no other besides him’; 33 And to ‘love him with all one’s heart, and with all one’s understanding, and with all one’s strength,’ and to ‘love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself’ is far beyond all ‘burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’” 34 Seeing that he had answered with discernment, Jesus said to him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one ventured to question him further. – Mark 12:28–34 [↩]
- Nothing is hidden unless some day it comes to light, nor was anything ever kept hidden but that it should some day come into the light of day. – Mark 4:22 [↩]
- Whoever is eager to get the most out of his life will lose it; but whoever will lose it shall preserve it. 34 On that night, I tell you, there shall be two in one bed, the one will be taken and the other left; 35 Two shall be grinding together, one will be taken and the other left. 36 Two shall be in the field, the one taken and the other left. – Luke 17:33-36 [↩]
- “Foxes have holes,” answered Jesus, “and wild birds their roosting-places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20 [↩]
- There appeared a man sent from God, whose name was John; 7 He came as a witness: to bear witness to the light that through him all men might believe. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to bear witness to the Light. – John 1:6 [↩]
- He immediately dispatched one of his bodyguards, with orders to bring John’s head. The man went and beheaded John in the prison. – Mark 6:27 [↩]
- The Son of Man is to be given up to be crucified. – Matthew 26:2 [↩]
- When a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot last. 25 And when a household is divided against itself, it will not be able to last. – Mark 3:24-25 [↩]
- No servant can serve two masters, for, either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will attach himself to one and despise the other. – Luke 16:13 [↩]
And lead us not into
(Overcoming Our Pride)
Having led us through forgiveness, the Lord’s Prayer turns to temptation. Jesus approaches the subject from a curious angle. He asks us to pray that the Father will not lead us into temptation. This inevitably causes us to ask: Why would an all–good God lead us to the devil’s doorstep? If we believe in the Lord, does he not reward that faith by leading us away from temptation?
Before answering those questions, we need to remember that we are partners with God in this life. Although he regularly grants us blessings in the form of our “daily bread,” how we use and respond to that bread is up to us. Every blessing and talent bestowed by the Holy Spirit carries with it the seeds of our salvation, and our ruin.
This lesson is taught through the story of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Jesus becomes “full of the Holy Spirit”1 before it leads him to his sit–down with the devil (a confrontation the Spirit will arrange on our behalf, too, since we must follow in Jesus’s footsteps).2 But why does the great tempter appear when we are full of the Holy Spirit and its glory? The popular cry among Christians is for God to save us from temptation because our spirit is weak. The whole sequence of events sounds strange.
We often don’t pray when we feel strong in spirit, because we don’t even recognize the risk—which makes these moments all the more dangerous. But Jesus warns us of the threat we face when he says that many who are first shall be last3 and that the rich man will find it easier to pass through the eye of a needle than the gates of heaven.4
The danger is the sin of pride. And it is a temptation that Jesus overcame not only in the wilderness, when he refuses to be tempted by the devil into proving himself to be a Son of God or accepting rule over an earthly kingdom,5 but in every village he went to during his short ministry.
That Jesus battles the devil and the sin of pride all the way up to his death is something we often don’t notice. We tend to think that he conquers Satan in the wilderness and that’s the end of it. But in the Book of Luke we are told that the devil, having emptied his bag of tricks, only slips away to wait for his next opportunity.6 Knowing that Satan remains with him but in hiding, Jesus goes about his business in ways to reduce those opportunities for the devil to appear and tempt him into pride.
Worried that Jerusalem will replace the gospel of Christ with…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- On returning from the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was led by the power of the Spirit through the wilderness for forty days, tempted by the devil. – Luke 4:1 [↩]
- Calling the people and his disciples to him, Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, take up their cross, and follow me. – Matthew 16:24 [↩]
- Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or fathers, or mothers, or children, or land, on account of my name, will receive many times as much, and will ‘gain Immortal Life.’ 30 But many who are first now will then be last, and those who are last will be first. – Matthew 19:30 [↩]
- Jesus said again: “My children, how hard a thing it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to get through a eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25 [↩]
- Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. 2 And, after he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he became hungry. 3 And the tempter came to him, and said: “If you are God’s Son, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus answered: “Scripture says: ‘It is not on bread alone that we are to live, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placing him on the parapet of the temple, said to him: 6 “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for scripture says: ‘He will give his angels commands about thee, And on their hands they will bear thee up, lest ever thou should strike thy foot against a stone.’” 7 “Scripture also says,” answered Jesus, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.’” 8 The third time, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, and showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, said to him: 9 “All these I will give you, if you will fall at my feet and pay homage to me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him: “Begone, Satan! For scripture says: ‘Thou shall pay homage to the Lord thy God and worship him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him alone, and angels came and ministered to him. – Matthew 4:1–11 [↩]
- When he had tried every kind of temptation, the devil left Jesus, till another opportunity. – Luke 4:13 [↩]
Gospel of Mark 3
On another occasion Jesus went in to a synagogue, where there was a man whose hand was withered. 2 And they watched Jesus closely, to see if he would cure the man on the Sabbath, so that they might have a charge to bring against him.
3 “Stand out in the middle,” Jesus said to the man with the withered hand; 4 And to the people he said: “Is it allowable to do good on the Sabbath? Or harm? To save a life, or destroy it?” 5 As they remained silent, Jesus looked round at them in anger, grieving at the hardness of their hearts, and said to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched it out; and his hand had become sound. 6 Immediately on leaving the Synagogue, the Pharisees and the Herodians united in laying a plot against Jesus, to put him to death.
7 Then Jesus went away with his disciples to the sea, followed by a great number of people from Galilee. 8 And a great number, hearing of all that he was doing, came to him from Judea, from Jerusalem, from Edom, from beyond the Jordan, and from the country round Tyre and Sidon. 9 So Jesus told his disciples to keep a small boat close by, for fear the crowd should crush him. 10 For he had cured many of them, and so people kept crowding upon him, that all who were afflicted might touch him.
11 The foul spirits, too, whenever they caught sight of him, flung themselves down before him, and screamed out: “You are the Son of God”! 12 But he repeatedly warned them not to make him known. 13 And Jesus made his way up the hill, and called those whom he wished; and they went to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named ‘apostles,’ that they might be with him, and that he might send them out as his messengers, to preach, 15 And with power to drive out demons.
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16 So he appointed the twelve: Peter (which was the name that Jesus gave to Simon), 17 James, the son of Zebediah, and his brother John (whom he surnamed Boanerges, meaning the sons of thunder), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, 19 And Judas Iscariot, the man that betrayed him. 20 Jesus went into a house; and again a crowd collected, so that they were not able even to eat their food.
21 When his relations heard of it, they went to take charge of him, for they said that he was out of his mind. 22 And the teachers of the law, who had come down from Jerusalem, said: “He has the devil in him, and he drives the demons out by the help of Beelzebub, their chief.” 23 So Jesus called them to him, and answered them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 When a kingdom is divided against itself, it cannot last; 25 And a house divided against itself will not last. 26 So, if Satan is in revolt against himself and is divided, he cannot last; his end has come!
27 No one who has got into a strong man’s house can carry off his goods, without first securing him; and not till then will they plunder his house. 28 I tell you that men will be forgiven everything: their sins, and all the slanders that they utter; 29 but whoever slanders the Holy Spirit remains unforgiven to the end; he has to answer for an enduring sin.” 30 This was said in reply to the charge that he had a foul spirit in him.
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and stood outside, and sent to ask him to come to them. 32 There was a crowd sitting round Jesus, and some of them said to him: “Look, your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” 33 “Who is my mother? and my brothers?” was his reply. 34 Then he looked around on the people sitting in a circle round him, and said: “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
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Gospel of Mark 8
About that time, when there was again a great crowd of people who had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him, and said: 2 “My heart is moved at the sight of all these people, for they have already been with me three days and they have nothing to eat; 3 And if I send them away to their homes hungry, they will break down on the way; and some of them have come a long distance.” 4 “Where will it be possible,” his disciples answered, “to get sufficient bread for these people in this lonely place?”
5 “How many loaves have you?” he asked. “Seven,” they answered. 6 Jesus told the crowd to sit down upon the ground. Then he took the seven loaves, and, after saying the thanksgiving, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to serve out; and they served them out to the crowd. 7 They had also a few small fish; and, after he had said the blessing, he told the disciples to serve out these as well. 8 The people had sufficient to eat, and they picked up seven baskets full of the broken pieces that were left. 9 There were about four thousand people. Then Jesus dismissed them.
10 Immediately afterwards, getting into the boat with his disciples, Jesus went to the district of Dalmanutha. 11 Here the Pharisees came out, and began to argue with Jesus, asking him for some sign from the heavens, to test him. 12 Sighing deeply, Jesus said: “Why does this generation ask for a sign? I tell you, no sign shall be given it.” 13 So he left them to themselves, and, getting into the boat again, went away to the opposite shore.
14 Now the disciples had forgotten to take any bread with them, one loaf being all that they had in the boat. 15 So Jesus gave them this warning. “Take care,” he said, “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 They began talking to one another about their being short of bread. 17 And, noticing this, Jesus said to them: “Why are you talking about your being short of bread? Do not you yet see or understand? Are your minds still so slow to comprehend?
18 ‘Though you have eyes, do you not see? And though you have ears, do you not hear?’ Do not you remember, 19 When I broke up the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets of broken pieces you picked up?” “Twelve,” they said. 20 And when the seven for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of broken pieces did you pick up?” “Seven,” they said. 21 “Do not you understand now?” he repeated.
The Lord’s Prayer means more than you think.
To continue reading Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Mark, including Peter saying ‘You are the Christ,’ please click on page 2 below.