Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses thirteen through twenty-five of the second chapter. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle John transitioning from the first miracle which Jesus performed among men within the earth. In fact, when you read the eleventh verse of the second chapter you will find the following words which were written by the apostle: “This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him” (John 2:11). It’s actually quite remarkable to think about and consider the fact that the first ever recorded miracle which Jesus the Christ did upon being publicly took place at a place of covenant and commitment. The four gospels which are found within the New Testament gospels located at the beginning of the New Testament are replete with account after account of miracles which Jesus the Christ performed throughout His three and a half years of public ministry. What makes that which we find in this passage of Scripture so incredibly unique and powerful is that this is the first miracle which Jesus performed among many miracles which He performed while upon the earth. In fact, consider the words which the apostle John uses to close out this particular gospel in light of the first miracle which He performed in Cana of Galilee, as well as the knowledge of the many other miracles which He performed among men: “This is the disciples which testified he of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that His testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I supposed that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:24-25). Consider if you will the words which are found in the second chapter of this New Testament gospel concerning the first or the miracles which Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee—the first of which He demonstrated and manifested forth His glory in the sight of the disciples, as well as in the sight of all those whom He would encounter and interact with on a daily basis. Consider the fact that in the first half of the second chapter we encounter the first of the many miracles Jesus performed while upon the earth—the miracle of transforming water into wine in the place of celebration, covenant and commitment. Pause for a moment and consider that tremendous reality of how Jesus initially declared that His hour and time had not yet come, but yet would go on turn water into wine in order that those who orchestrated and planned the wedding might not experience humiliation and embarrassment.
As I sit here this morning and think about and consider that which is recorded in the second chapter of the New Testament gospel of John I can’t help but be wonderfully and powerful drawn to the tremendous reality that the first miracle which Jesus performed among men upon the earth was not healing the sick, was not opening the eyes of the blind, was not causing the deaf to hear, was not raising the dead, nor even causing the lame to walk. The first miracle which Jesus the Christ performed while manifesting and showing forth His glory in the earth was not that of casting out even and unclean spirits, nor was it even causing the mute to speak. When we think of the first miracle which Jesus the Christ would perform while walking upon the earth we would think if He was seeking manifest His glory for the very first time, He would have chosen to do something that would have essentially set the tone and set the stage for the rest of the miracles which He would perform among men within the earth. IN all reality, I can’t help but wonder if prior to Jesus taking on the form of human flesh He knew the miracles which He would perform among men within and upon the earth. I can’t help but wonder if while Jesus was still in His glory in the heavens whether or not He knew the vast miracles He would perform while walking among men within and upon the earth. Before Jesus ever stepped out of His glory and came to the earth He created, was He at all aware of the many miracles He would perform while walking upon the earth. Or, is it highly likely and possible that when Jesus came to the earth, and when He emerged from the wilderness after being tempted of the devil He was led by the Spirit in each and every one of His interactions with those whom He encountered. Is it possible that prior to Jesus stepping out of heaven and stepping into the earth He did not know what miracles He would be performing among men, and proceeded only with that which He saw and heard the Father doing. If you read and study the words which Jesus spoke within this very gospel you will find Him declaring how the Son of man can do nothing in and of Himself, and how the Son of Man can only do that which He sees and hears the Father doing. This is actually quite significant when you take the time to consider it, for it brings us face to face with the reality that any and every miracle Jesus did while upon the earth was simply and solely based on that which He saw the Father do. Essentially, it brings a whole new meaning to the words which Jesus quoted in the prayer He taught His disciples concerning the reality of that which takes place in earth as it is in heaven.
ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN! I can’t help but be absolutely and wonderfully drawn and captivated by and with the awesome reality, for when you consider the reality of “on earth as it is in heaven” with the reality that Jesus could and would do nothing without and apart from that which He saw the Father do. I would dare propose the awesome and incredible reality that what we find and what we read within the four New Testament gospels is not only a picture of events which were taking place within and upon the earth, but also a picture of that which is taking place in heaven. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find within the four gospels written by the New Testament gospel authors is a wonderful and powerful picture of a heavenly reality which is manifested within and upon the earth in the person and life of Jesus the Christ. I absolutely love the words which Jesus the Christ spoke when teaching the disciples to pray, for when He spoke unto the disciples in teaching them to pray He emphasized the wonderful and incredible reality that what we experience here on the earth should in fact be a picture of that which is taking place within the heavenly realm. What’s more, is Jesus made it very clear that the Son cannot and would not do anything upon the earth which He had not already seen the Father do. In order to understand this reality even further I am convinced it’s necessary to turn and direct our attention to the fifth chapter of this same New Testament gospel. It’s within the fifth chapter of this same gospel we find Jesus encountering the man at the pool of Bethesda whom He in fact healed on the Sabbath day. When it was discovered that Jesus did in fact heal this man on the Sabbath, the apostle John writes and records that the Jews therefore sought to persecute Him because of this gross violation of their rules and traditions. At the risk of getting ahead of myself in an upcoming writing I would like to draw your attention to that which is recorded in the fifth chapter of this gospel beginning with the sixteenth verse of the chapter. Consider if you will the words which are found within this passage—not only concerning the persecution of Jesus, but also His response to the Jews when they sought to persecute Him for healing on the Sabbath:
“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay Him, because He had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and Shemeth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works that these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickened them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judge the no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that that honoureth not the Son honoureth no the Father which hath sent Him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that heareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which He witnesseth of me is true. Ye sent unto John, and He bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in His light. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father Himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape. And ye have not His word abiding in you: for whom He hath sent, Him ye believe not. Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in hiw own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? DO not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuse the you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, the would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words” (John 5:16-47).
It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to that which is found within this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus emphatically declaring unto those who would seek to persecute Him that His Father works, and that because His Father works, He also works. We must pay careful and close attention to this, for everything—and I mean absolutely everything—Jesus ever said or did was based solely on that which He saw the Father do. There was not a single thing Jesus ever did or sought to do which He had not seen the Father do, and there was absolutely nothing Jesus ever said which He had not heard the Father speak. This reality is expressed even more when you come to the nineteenth verse of this chapter, for in this particular verse you will find Jesus building upon the reality of His Father working by stating that the Son could do nothing of Himself, but He sees the Father do. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare that those things which He as the Son of God and Son of man did, that was the Father also likewise doing. If there is one specific reality we must come face to face with when reading and considering the life and ministry of the Son, it’s that the Son spent each and every moment of every day living in the reality of that which was taking place in heaven also being that which was taking place on the earth. If we are truly honest with ourselves we must come face to face with the reality that the Son of God was the ultimate expression the reality of heavenly activity taking place in the earth, for there was absolutely nothing the Son did that He did not see the Father do, and had not seen the Father do. This truth builds on what Jesus the Christ spoke and declared unto His parents when they returned unto Jerusalem to find Him speaking and debating with the teachers of the Law and scribes. At the young age of twelve Jesus asked His mother Mary and his father Joseph whether or not they knew that He must be about His Father’s business. When we come to the public manifestation and revealing of Jesus Christ unto the house of Israel, we find Him spending and devoting His entire public ministry to being about the Father’s business. There was not a single moment that we do not find Jesus the Christ being about the Father’s business, and being about the business and work of the kingdom. What we find within this passage in the fifth chapter is not only Jesus declaring and speaking concerning His Father working, and His working, but we also find Jesus emphasizing the awesome and incredible reality that as it is in heaven, so also it must be in the earth. Jesus made it very clear that the Father was always working, and that because the Father was working, so also must, and so also would He work. Building upon this reality even more, Jesus would go on to declare unto those who sought to persecute Him that He could not do anything of Himself, but only what He sees the Father doing. Those things which the Father does in heaven are and were those things which He would do in the earth, for the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all those things which He Himself does.
Taking this a step further it is absolutely necessary to turn and direct our attention to that which is written and recorded within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, for when Jesus taught His disciples and the multitude how to pray, He instructed them to pray using the following words: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). Please don’t’ quickly dismiss or move past the words which Jesus spoke when teaching His disciples how to pray, for not only did He emphasize the will of the Father being done on earth, but He also emphasized the will of the Father being done on earth as it is in heaven. This is truly remarkable and important when we consider the actions of the Son upon the earth, for the Son lived to make manifest the will of the Father upon the earth exactly as it is in heaven. When we speak of the divine will of the Father, we must recognize and understand that the will of the Father originates in heaven, and that that divine will must be exercised and manifested within and upon the earth. Jesus spoke and declared that the Father works, and that because the Father works, so also He too works. With that being said, we must also recognize and notice that when teaching the disciples and crowds how to pray, He instructed and taught them—not only to pray, but also to pray unto their Father which is in heaven. Perhaps one of the greatest realities and thoughts that so intrigues me about the persecution of the Jews toward and against Jesus concerning His declaring that God was His Father was that He instructed His disciples to do the same thing. When Jesus came to the earth—not only did He teach and proclaim that God was His Father, but He also taught us that when we are praying we are to come before and approach the living God as our Heavenly Father. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray He taught them to pray unto the living God as their Father—and not only unto the living God as their Father, but also the living God who is their Father in heaven. What we notice about this prayer which Jesus instructed His disciples to pray is that not only is the Father in heaven—the Father whom we pray—but just as the Father is in heaven, so also the will of the Father is manifested and demonstrated in heaven. One of the greatest questions I can’t help but ask myself and wonder is what the will of the Father looks like in heaven. We have always known and understood the will of the Father to be expressed, demonstrated and manifested within the earth, but we rarely take the time to think about and consider the fact that the will of the Father is not first manifested in the earth and then manifested in heaven, but rather is manifested in heaven and is demonstrated in the earth. Oh, what would our prayer lives look and sound like if we truly sought—not only to ask for the will of the Father to be done on earth, but also sought to understand what that will looks like in heaven.
If you continue reading in the New Testament gospel which the apostle Matthew wrote you will find him writing and recounting the experience and encounter Jesus and His disciples had when they entered into the region of Caesera Philippi. If you begin reading with and from the thirteenth verse of this chapter you will quickly encounter the fact that when Jesus and His disciples entered into the coasts of Caesera Philippi, He asked them point blank whom men said that He the Son of man was. Initially the disciples responded by declaring unto Jesus that some said that He was John the Baptist, and some saying He was Elias, and some saying He was Jeremias, and others saying that He was one of the prophets. Upon hearing the disciples recounting the opinions of men and what they believed concerning Him, He quickly transitioned to asking them whom they said, whom they believed, and whom they declared that He the Son of man was. Simon Peter quickly and perhaps even immediately spoke up in the midst of the disciples and declared unto Jesus in the company and presence of them all that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Upon hearing the response and declaration of Simon Peter, Jesus would go on to declare unto him that he was blessed, because flesh and blood had not revealed this reality unto him, but His Father who was in heaven. Jesus would go on to declare concerning Simon that he is Peter, and upon this rock He would build His church. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to declare that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Jesus would continue speaking directly unto Peter by emphatically declaring that He would give unto him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever he would bind on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever would be loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. As a side note before moving any further, I find it absolutely necessary to declare that Caeserea Philippi was located directly beneath the famous Mount Hermon which stood in the northern part of the nation of Israel. It would be there at Mount Hermon where it is believed that the fallen sons of God engaged in a rebellion and insurrection against the throne and against the living God. What’s more, is that it is believed that at the base of Mount Hermon was an entrance to the underworld and to the abyss and bottomless pit. It is believed that Tartarus was located beneath Mount Hermon, so when Jesus declared that upon this rock He would build His church, is it possible that He was declaring that He would build His church in the place of the rebellion of the sons of God, and would in the place of rebellion establish and build His church. What’s more, is that when Jesus declared that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, is it possible that what He was declaring was that that which was located and lurking beneath Mount Hermon was the gates of hell, and that those gates and the powers of darkness would not prevail against the church. Taking this a step further, what if the declaration that Jesus made concerning giving Peter the keys of the kingdom was about more than what we have thought it to be about, and actually could have referenced that which had taken place previously at Mount Hermon when the sons of God were bound on earth and were cast into pits of darkness while they await judgment.
What we find in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew is the reality of the will of God being done on earth as it is in heaven, and what we find in the sixteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel is the picture of that which we bind on earth being bound in heaven, and that which we loose on earth being loosed in heaven. This reality of being bound on earth being bound in heaven and being loosed in earth as being loosed in heaven is again echoed in the eighteenth chapter of the same New Testament gospel and must be carefully considered concerning the ministry and works which Jesus the Christ actively engaged in upon the face of the earth. If you study and examine the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that He continually lived His life demonstrating and manifesting that which took place in heaven upon the earth. Reading the sixth, sixteenth and eighteenth chapters of this New Testament gospel directly line up with that which we find and read in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John, for Jesus emphatically and boldly declared that His Father was indeed working, and He Himself also worked. Jesus demonstrated and declared the awesome and incredible reality that He could do nothing on earth that was not manifested in heaven, and could not at all work within and upon the earth unless it was first done in heaven. This is an incredibly important truth to think about and consider—particularly and especially when we come to the miracles which Jesus demonstrated and manifested upon the earth. When we read Jesus turning water into wine in the place of celebration, commitment and covenant, we must recognize and understand that such a reality was first demonstrated and manifested in heaven. The demonstration and manifestation of the glory of the Son of God—and even of the Father who was in heaven—is quite remarkable, for the turning of water into wine was not merely about Jesus demonstrating His glory on earth, but about the demonstration of the glory which was manifested in heaven upon the earth. There was not a single demonstration and manifestation of the glory of God within and upon the earth that did not begin and originate in heaven. When we read of Jesus turning water into wine in the place of covenant and commitment, we must understand that this was in fact a demonstration of the Father Himself turning water into wine, and the Father Himself doing that which in the natural would seem utterly and completely absurd and impossible, and making it possible. Jesus would not command stones be turned into bread in the wilderness to satisfy His own hunger and needs, but Jesus would turn water into wine in the place of covenant and commitment.
With all this in mind we must come to that which is found in the latter portion of the second chapter of this New Testament gospel, for within the latter portion of the second chapter we find Jesus departing from Cana of Galilee and going down unto Capernaum with His mother, His brethren, as well as His disciples. The apostle John writes and records how Jesus, his brethren, his mother and his disciples continued there not many days, and there was at that time the Jewish Passover which was at hand. At the time of the Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem—perhaps to celebrate the Passover within the city itself. What the apostle John writes and records is that when Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem He came unto the Temple and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, as well as the changers of money sitting. What the apostle John writes and records next is absolutely stunning and highly provocative, for upon seeing those which sold oxen and sheep and doves in the Temple, as well as the money changers sitting, Jesus became angered and indignant within Himself and made a scourge of small cords. With the scourge of small cords Jesus drove those which sold oxen and sheep and doves out of the Temple, as well as the money changers. In all reality, I can’t help but find this to be absolutely captivating, for that which Jesus experienced and found within the Temple was a convenient form of worship, for no longer did and no longer would men and women have to give of their own sheep, their own oxen, and their own doves, but they could come to the Temple and simply buy their sacrifice and offering. Please don’t’ miss and please don’t lose sight of this awesome reality, for essentially what had happened was the commercialization of worship—the cheapening of worship to that which was comfortable and convenient for those who would seek to worship the true and living God. It might have been true that there were those who genuinely came to Jerusalem, and genuinely came to the Temple to worship the living God, however, there were those who desired a form of worship that was cheap and convenient. There were those who sought to capitalize on the seeking hearts of those who desired to come up to Jerusalem in order to line their own pockets and wallets. Pause for a moment and consider that there were actually those who sought to make a profit and gain—not only off worship itself, but also of the worship of those who would come unto Jerusalem and unto the Temple to worship the living God. Essentially what we find here is not only the commercialization of worship, sacrifice and offerings, but also the cheapening of worship to that which would no longer request men and women to give of what they themselves owned and had, but rather come to the Temple and purchase it.
As you read the words which are found within this portion of Scripture you will find Jesus emphatically commanding the sellers of goods and merchandise to take such things out of the Temple. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to emphatically and boldly declare unto them that His Father’s house was to be a house of prayer. What’s more, is that Jesus declared that rather than make His Father’s house a house of prayer they had taken and transformed it into a house of merchandise. Please don’t miss this absolutely sobering reality, for that which Jesus was seeking to do was to drive out any and all commercialization of worship from within His Father’s house, and to remove from within the Temple of the Lord the ability to worship without making it personal. I can’t help but be reminded of the account of David when he came to the threshing floor to offer a sacrifice unto the Lord, for he declared that he would and could not offer unto the living God that which cost him nothing. This is absolutely necessary for our understanding of worship, for there is a great temptation for us to come into the house of the LORd, and to come unto the courts of the Lord and offer that which has not cost us something. There is a growing temptation to come to the house of the Lord and to make an attempt to present that which has not cost us something, and that which is not truly a sacrifice. In fact, I would dare say that the sacrifice doesn’t merely take place and begin at the altar, but before we ever come to the altar, and before the gift and offering is presented unto the Lord. I am thoroughly and completely convinced that true and authentic sacrifice does not merely begin in the courts of the house of the Lord, and does not merely begin at the altar at the house of the Lord, but rather it begins at our own house and in our own personal and private place. True and athletic sacrifice takes place before we ever even arrive at the Temple of the Lord, and in fact begins the moment we make the conscious and deliberate decision to take what in all reality doesn’t even belong to us, and present it before and present it unto the living God. True sacrifice does not begin, nor has it ever begun simply at the altar of the living God in the courts of His Temple, but true and authentic sacrifice begins in our own homes when make the conscious and deliberate decision to take that which is in our possession and present it before and unto the living God. What Jesus was driving out of the Temple was not only the commercialization of worship, but also the cheapening of worship within the hearts of those who came to the Temple, as worship first begins in the home and not merely in the house of the living God.
While it is true that worship was intended and created to take place in a corporate setting, it is also true that worship does not merely begin in the house of the Lord when we gather ourselves in the company of other believers and saints of God. True worship before and unto the living God first begins in the home and in our own personal and private places before the true and living God, and never begins in and at the house of the Lord. By driving out the sellers of goods and merchandise, and by driving out the money changers, Jesus was restoring true worship of the Father—worship of the Father which needed to be in spirit and in truth. When Jesus drove out the money changers and those which sold goods and merchandise in the Temple, that which He was doing was restoring personal and private worship which would manifest itself in the corporate setting of the house of the living God in the company and presence of others. By driving out those who were commercializing worship, and by driving out the actual goods and merchandise which was sold at the Temple, Jesus was bringing worship back to the house and back to the personal and private place, for worship must first begin within the home, and even within our hearts as we make the conscious and deliberate decision to take what is in our position and what has never truly belonged to us and present it before and unto the Lord. Without a doubt I am convinced that first and foremost there must be a personal and private altar before the living God before there can ever be a corporate and public altar which exists in the Temple of the living God. We dare not lose sight and miss out on the reality that the public altar in the house of the Lord was never intended to take the place of the personal and private altar, for even Moses and Joshua engaged themselves in worshipping and serving the Lord in the Tent of Meeting—that place which was completely separated and independent from the Tabernacle of Moses, and was a place of personal and private devotion unto the living God. OH that we would allow Jesus to enter into our own Temples and into our own places of worship and restore the discipline and act of self sacrifice and worshipping in the personal and private place before we can worship in the corporate and public place of the Temple and sanctuary of the living God.