Who Is This Jesus You Say You Are Following?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters thirteen and fourteen of this New Testament book. ENCOUNTERS IN THE TEMPLE! TEACHINGS IN THE TEMPLE! WHEN THE MESSIAH SHOWS UP AT THE TEMPLE AND EXERCISES HIS AUTHORITY WORD AND IN ACTION! “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the Temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the Temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves. And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His doctrine” (Mark 11:15-19). “And they come again to Jerusalem: and as He was walking in the Temple, there come to Him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? Answer me. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things” (Mark 11:27-33). “And Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the Son of David? For David Himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool. David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:35-37). “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:41-44).

            As you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find Jesus and His disciples departing from the Temple which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be as Jesus and His disciples would depart from the Temple one of His disciples would speak and declare unto Him concerning the manner of stones and what buildings were there in the midst of Jerusalem. The words which this particular disciple spoke were innocent enough concerning the buildings and the stones which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and yet upon hearing these words Jesus would proceed to proclaim and declare unto the disciples that the stones and buildings which they saw would ultimately and eventually crumble and collapse. Upon hearing these words which were spoken by the disciple Jesus would ask them if they saw the great buildings before them, and would then proceed to declare unto them that there would not be left one stone upon another which would not be thrown down. This disciple would point out the great stones and the great buildings which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and directly linked to the Temple where Jesus had taught and spent so much time over the previous days, and yet Jesus would reveal unto them a time of great calamity, destruction, and devastation. Jesus would indeed and would in fact hear the words which were spoken by the disciples concerning the Temple and concerning the stones and buildings which were present there in Jerusalem, and it would be in that moment Jesus would speak to and reveal the awesome truth that there was coming a time of great calamity, great devastation and great destruction upon and in the midst of the city. So great was this devastation and destruction going to be that there would not be one stone left upon another which would not be thrown down.

            It’s interesting to note that as Jesus and His disciples were leaving the Temple there would be a dialogue and exchange which would take place between them—not only concerning the coming days which were directly before them, but also concerning the days which were to come at the end of time. There is within this particular narrative a powerful declaration concerning events which would take place within the next forty years from when Jesus would walk within the courts of the Temple, as well as events which would take place in the coming days. It is important to note and recognize that what Jesus was speaking of and referencing within this particular portion of Scripture was a direct declaration of the invasion of Rome when they would invade the land of Judaea, would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem, and would ultimately destroy both the city of Jerusalem, as well as the Temple which stood upon the Temple Mount. We cannot miss the words which are found within these passages, for when Jesus spoke about there not being one stone upon another which would not be cast down, He was speaking about a time of great judgment and calamity that would come upon the city of Jerusalem. The words Jesus spoke and mentioned here in this passage essentially have a two-fold meaning and application, for on the one hand He would speak about a time of calamity, devastation and destruction that would come upon the city of Jerusalem, while on the other hand He would speak about a time of great tribulation that would come upon the whole earth. On the one hand there would be trouble that would be manifested within the midst of the city of Jerusalem itself, and on the other hand there would be trouble and tribulation which would come upon the whole world. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for while the disciples would speak about the great splendor and grandeur of the Temple and all the buildings that were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, Jesus knew that there was coming a day when all those buildings and all those stones would be cast down to the ground. Jesus knew the day was coming when a foreign army would invade the land, would lay siege to the city of Jerusalem, and would bring about a great devastation and destruction within and upon the city.

            THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS! The words we find in this particular passage of Scripture fall directly in alignment with the words we find in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew. It would be in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew we find what has become known as “The Olivet Discourse,” as Jesus would sit upon the mount of Olives and would speak unto His disciples concerning the coming days ahead. Jesus knew, recognized and understood times of great tribulation, trouble, chaos, confusion, devastation and destruction would come upon the city and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and in all reality—the words which we find in this passage provide a powerful warning and word of caution given and spoken unto the disciples. In fact, if you read the words which are found in the final verses of the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew—directly after Jesus indicted the scribes and the Pharisees for their hypocrisy—Jesus would weep over the city of Jerusalem. What’s more, is that the apostle Matthew wasn’t the only one who would write concerning this great weeping and mourning which would take place within the heart and soul of Jesus. If and as you read the Synoptic gospels you will find that the apostle Matthew was one of the gospel writers who wrote concerning this great weeping which would be done over the city of Jerusalem, as Jesus would weep over the city and how it did not recognize their time and day of visitation. Before we can truly understand the words which are found in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of the New Testament gospel of Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Mark—both which describe the events which will unfold in the latter times—it is necessary to consider the words concerning Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Consider if you will the following words which are found concerning this particular moment within the life and ministry of Jesus:

            “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all of the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:34-39).

            “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And He said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:31-35).

            BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE! Please do not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages, for both the apostle Matthew, as well as the beloved physician Luke write and record Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem. Both of these gospel authors write and speak of the great sorrow, the great anguish and the great travail that was found within the heart and soul of Jesus the Christ as He thought upon the city of Jerusalem. These passages describe the great mourning and weeping Jesus would experience when He thought about and considered Jerusalem—not only because the religious spirit that would grip and lay hold of the city, but also because of the spirit of rejection that would lay hold of the city. If and as you read the words which are found in the four gospel narratives you will find that while the city of Jerusalem would initially rejoice and take great delight in the appearance and manifestation of Jesus the Christ when He entered into the city riding on a colt, they would a week later align themselves as an angry mob that would shout out with one voice that they might be crucified. Pause for a moment and think about the awesome reality that the same city which would rejoice at Jesus’ triumphal entry would effectively demand His forceful removal from the midst of it. The city that would initially embrace Jesus as the Messiah and as the Christ when He entered into the midst of the city would turn their backs on Him within a matter of a week. What makes this even more intriguing and interesting is the fact that Jesus recognized and understood the religious spirit that would seize and lay hold of the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem and that they would despise the hour of their visitation. The inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem would indeed raise themselves up against Jesus the Christ, and would align themselves with one voice before Pontius Pilate crying out and demanding that He be crucified. We do know that it was the scribes, the chief priests and the elders of Israel—and ultimately the religious spirit itself—that would demand the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, and His forceful removal from among them in their midst.

            In the final verses of the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the New Testament gospel of Luke we find Jesus weeping and lamenting over the city of Jerusalem—and not only weeping and lamenting over the city, but weeping over it because of its rejection of the Messiah. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering how the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem would initially embrace and welcome Jesus the Christ with seemingly open arms and open hearts, and yet within a week’s time they would utterly and completely turn on the Messiah and would demand His crucifixion and removal from the earth. Before the city of Jerusalem would cry out for His crucifixion, and before the chief priests, scribes and elders would condemn Him to death Jesus would indict the Pharisees and the scribes for their hypocrisy, and would weep over Jerusalem. INDICTING RELIGION AND WEEPING OVER REJECTION! If and as you read the words found in the twenty-third chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find that not only would Jesus indict the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and religion, but He would also weep and lament over the city of Jerusalem and their rejection of the Messiah. Within the same chapter and before Jesus would leave and depart from the Temple in the midst of the city He would stop and consider the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, and would weep and lament over the rejection of the Jews and the hypocrisy of religion. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for it helps set the stage for the words we find in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as wel as the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark. Jesus would weep and lament over Jerusalem, and would do so because they did not recognize their hour of visitation, and they would reject the Messiah who was manifested among them in their midst to bring healing and wholeness to them. Jesus the Christ would weep over the city of Jerusalem because of their ignorance toward the hour of visitation and manifestation, and their rejection of the Messiah.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that we cannot truly understand the words which Jesus spoke concerning the Last Days without seeing their direct and intrinsic link to the indictment of religion and hypocrisy and the lament over rejection. It would be in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we would see Jesus’ indictment of the Pharisees and His subsequent invitation given unto His disciples and followers to deliver themselves out from under the heavy burdens, traditions, restrictions, rules and requirements the scribes and Pharisees would place on the people. Not only this, but after Jesus had issued His indictment and invitation He would then weep, lament and mourn in agony and anguish over the city of Jerusalem knowing their hour of visitation had come, and that they had despised the hour of visitation. Jesus knew and understood that the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem would reject Him as the Messiah, and would ultimately cry out for His removal from the land, and ultimately for His crucifixion and death. It is in this context of the Jews’ rejection of the Messiah we find Jesus speaking unto His disciples concerning the hour that would come when there would not be one stone left upon another which would not be cast down and destroyed. The words which Jesus would speak would be words that would directly speak of the devastation and destruction hat would come upon the city of Jerusalem—a devastation that would have directly linked and connected to it the persecution of the followers of Jesus the Christ. IT would be during the days of the apostles we find and read of a great persecution that would break out against the Church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and would thus cause the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ to be scattered abroad within the surrounding towns, villages, cities, and even the neighboring nations and lands. The persecution which would break out against the Christians and the Church would begin within the city of Jerusalem, and would essentially thrust many of the Christians out of the city before that time would come when the city itself would be overthrown and its buildings together with the Temple would be cast down.

            WILL THE REAL JESUS PLEASE STAND UP? WILL THE REAL CHRISTIANS PLEASE STAND UP? THERE IS ONLY ONE JESUS! THERE IS ONLY ONE CHRIST! THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE CHRISTIAN! As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I cannot help but be absolutely and completely captivated with the words Jesus spoke concerning a great deception which can and will take place in the Last Days. If and as you read the words found in the thirteenth chapter you will find words which were also found in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Beginning to read with and from the fifth verse you will find Jesus speaking unto His disciples and warning them concerning a powerful deception that would take place in the Last Days. It is important that we understand the words which are found in these narratives, for in all reality the Jews and the Christians during those times were themselves living in the last days—not the last days as we think about in terms of the tribulation and the final judgment upon the world, but the last days leading up to the judgment of Jerusalem and the subsequent destruction of the city by the Romans. What’s more, is that it would be during those days we find and read how Rome would not only invade the land of Judaea and lay siege to the city of Jerusalem, but Rome would also destroy the Temple which stood upon the Temple Mount. It’s quite astonishing to think about and consider the fact that during that final week of Jesus’ passion before His betrayal, condemnation to death, deliverance into the hands of sinners, His subsequent scourging and mocking, and ultimately His death and crucifixion He would enter into the Temple and would drive out those who bought and sold, would overturn the tables of money, and would cast out all commerce and merchandise that was found within the house of the LORD. It would be Jesus Himself who would enter into the Temple of the LORD and would completely and utterly cleanse and purify it from men who had transformed it from a house of prayer unto all nations into a den of thieves. It would be Jesus who would fashion a whip and would move within and throughout the courts of the LORD as He would utterly cleanse and purify the Temple and its courts, thus preparing it for that which would take place in the coming days. It’s worth noting that in the days of Jesus He would enter into the Temple and cleanse it prior to His death and crucifixion, and it’s almost as if this cleansing would be a sign and portent—and not only a sign and portent, but also preparation for something else that would take place in the midst of the city.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome and incredible reality of Jesus cleansing the Temple, and I can’t help but think about the fact that His entering into and cleansing the Temple would be a sign of judgment, for it would be the apostle Peter who would write that judgment must needs begin in the house of the LORD. Jesus would enter into the Temple and would execute the zeal of the LORD of hosts in the midst of it, as He would completely and utterly purge it of the commerce and merchandise that would take place within its courts. What’s worth noting is that less than forty years later a foreign enemy and adversary would enter into the city of Jerusalem and would completely and utterly destroy the Temple. It would be Jesus Himself who would enter into the Temple and cleanse it prior to His death and crucifixion, however, it would be Rome itself who would enter into the city of Jerusalem and would completely and utterly destroy and burn it with fire. The disciples sought to show Jesus all the stones and buildings of the Temple, and yet Jesus knew and understood that there was coming a day when the wall of the city would be broken down, the Temple of the LORD destroyed, and the stones of the buildings being cast down. It’s something truly astonishing and worth thinking about when you consider the fact that Jesus’ entrance into the Temple to cleanse it would be a sign and portent of a day that was to come when the Temple would ultimately be destroyed as a direct result of the rejection of the Messiah who was manifested among them in their midst. Jesus would enter into the Temple of the LORD and would bring cleansing to it as a sign unto them of something greater that would take place during their days. The interesting thing about it is when you consider the fact that there would have undoubtedly been those who witnessed Jesus cleansing the Temple—and would not only witness Jesus cleansing the Temple, but would also witness Rome entering into the city of Jerusalem and destroying the Temple. We dare not and must not lose sight of the fact that first would come the cleansing of the Temple at the hands of Jesus, and next would come the destruction of the Temple at the hands of sinful men.

            We must realize and recognize that during those days the apostles and the early Church were indeed living during an end times and last days of sorts, as those days would be prefaced with and by a great persecution that would break out against the Christians in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and would be punctuated by the destruction of the Temple. First would come the death and crucifixion of Jesus, second would come the persecution of the Christians and early Church, while third and finally would come the destruction of the Temple at the hands of the Romans. Those Jews and those Christians who were alive and present during those days would indeed and would in fact live during unparalleled and unprecedented times, for they would live during times of great persecution as it would first arise within the city of Jerusalem during the days of Saul of Tarsus and at the hands of the Sanhedrin, but would eventually culminate in Rome itself engaging in the persecution—and not merely a persecution of the Jews, but a persecution of the Christians. You cannot read the narrative of the early Church during those days—even leading up to when the apostle John was on the isle of Patmos—and not see how persecution would initially break out against the early Church within Jerusalem, and it would continue to manifest itself in the years to come at the hands of the Romans. There would be those who would be present in the midst of those days who would indeed and would in fact witness and experience both the cleansing of the Temple at the hands of Jesus, and the destruction of the Temple at the hands of the Romans, as well as the persecution of the Church by the hands of the Jews and Sanhedrin, and the persecution that would break out against the Church by the hands of the Romans. It’s worth noting that there would be an initial cleansing of the Temple that would take place at the hands of Jesus before the destruction of the Temple at the hands of the Romans, and there would be an initial persecution of the disciples and followers of Jesus which would come at the hands of the Jews before a greater persecution would break out against the followers of the Way at the hands of the Romans. Those days in which the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ lived in would indeed be marked by persecution at the hands of the Jews, as well as the Romans, but they would also be marked by great deception which would arise at the hands of false teachers, false apostles, false prophets, and even those whom Jesus would speak and refer to as “false Christs.”

            As you read the words found in this particular chapter of the gospel narrative written by John Mark—together with the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—you will find Jesus speaking of the days to come which would not only be marked by tremendous persecution and affliction, but would also be marked by great deception. You cannot read the words found within either of these passages of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that those days were indeed marked and were indeed characterized by a great deception, and by a great persecution which would break out against the early Church, and which would break out against the disciples and followers of the Way. This is important for us to realize, for when you read the words which Jesus spoke you will find Him warning of those days, and how many would arise during those days and would profess that they were the Christ, and would thus deceive many. There would be many who would come and arise during those days who would deceive many through their declaration that they were the Christ, and it is this deception which warrants a strong and powerful consideration. The more you read the words which are found in this particular chapter, as well as the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus warning His disciples and followers of a deception that would take place during the Last Days—a deception that wouldn’t necessarily be centered upon false teaching, but a deception that would center upon a declaration concerning Christ. Both John Mark and the apostle Matthew write and record the words of Jesus, and how Jesus would warn and caution the disciples that they take heed that no man would deceive them. Jesus would go on to speak to the disciples and declare unto them that there would be many who would come in His name claiming “I am Christ,” would so deceive many. Later on within this same chapter you will find Jesus going on to warn the disciples that if any man should say unto them, “Lo, He is there,” they were to believe it not. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to describe how there would be many false Christs and false prophets which would arise in the Last Days, and which would show great signs and wonders to seduce, if were possible, even the very elect.

            Please do not miss the awesome and wonderful truth that is found within these passages of Scripture, for not only would Jesus speak concerning many who would come in His name and would profess and declare that they are Christ, but there would also be many false Christs and false prophets who would rise up that they might seduce—if it were possible, even the very elect. I have previously written concerning these statements made by Jesus, and used to believe that when Jesus spoke of many coming in His name declaring themselves to be Christ, as well as false Christs which would arise referred to actual individuals who would rise up in the midst of the earth and make the bold and emphatic declaration that they themselves are Christ. The more I read and consider this, however, the more I am convinced that this simply is not the case. The more I read and consider these words the more I am brought face to face with the reality that what Jesus is most likely referencing and speaking about is not necessarily those who would rise up and make the declaration that they themselves are Christ, but rather that they themselves are “Christ’s”—that they themselves belong to Christ, and that they themselves are indeed disciples and followers of the Way. What must be truly recognized and understood when reading these words is how Jesus used the phrase “many will come in my name.” This would not be the first time this concept of the name of Jesus being used in direct reference to that which is done within and upon the earth. It’s interesting and worth noting that when speaking of the Last Days Jesus would speak of and reference many rising up and coming forth in His name declaring that they are indeed the Christ, while in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus would speak of many who would also profess allegiance to the name of Jesus, and yet such individuals would hear Him emphatically declare and proclaim unto them that He never knew them. If you consider the words which are written and recorded in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will not only find Jesus speaking and warning of false prophets, but you will also find Him speaking of those who would rise up in the Last Days and boast of the great and wonderful things they did in His name. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

            “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth evil fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Now every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23).

            Please do not miss the tremendous truth that is found within this passage of Scripture, for within it Jesus speaks about many who would come unto Him in that day professing the Lordship of Jesus the Christ, and even speaking of the great and wonderful works they did in His name, and the many wonderful things they prophesied in His name, and yet He would respond unto them declaring that He never knew them. It is this concept of speaking in the name of the Lord that is truly worth paying attention to, for when you read the words found in this section of Scripture you will find many rising up—not only professing Jesus as Lord, but also speaking of the great and wonderful things they did in His name. When delivering the Olivet Discourse unto His disciples Jesus would use this concept of “many” and “in His name,” for Jesus would speak of many who would come in His name declaring that they are Christ. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words “in my name” is the key to unlocking and understanding what is truly being spoken here, for in this particular narrative we find Jesus speaking of many who would come in His name professing and proclaiming that they are Christ, while in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus would speak of many who would come to Him in that day—not only speaking of and professing Him as Lord, but also speaking of the great and wonderful things they did and prophesied in His name. This concept of “in my name” is something which I firmly believe reveals the awesome and powerful truth that what Jesus was indeed speaking about when delivering the Olivet discourse was not those who would rise up in His name and profess that they are Christ, and that they are the Messiah, but rather that they are Christ’s—that they are disciples and followers of the Way, and that they belong to Christ. There are countless who believe that we are living in the Last Days—those days which the prophets, the apostles, and even which Jesus Himself spoke about—and yet during the days in which we are living there are very few who are rising up and making the declaration that they are Jesus, or that they are Christ, or that they are the Messiah. I fully realize and recognize that there are and there have been a select few who have risen up and made the declaration that they are the Christ, and that they are the Messiah, however, these individuals have been few and far between. There haven’t been a great many individuals who have risen up and made the declaration that they are the Christ, and that they are the Messiah, and there haven’t been many who would make the declaration that they are Jesus in the flesh.

            This reality is something which must be carefully considered and understood, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that there are those among us who come in the name of Jesus, and who make the declaration—not that they are Christ Himself, but that they are Christ’s. What I mean by this is that there are many who will rise up among us in the Last Days who will come in the name of the Lord, and those who will come in the name of Jesus, and will make the boast that they belong to Christ, and that they are indeed followers of Jesus the Christ. We must realize and recognize that this was something which was present and which took place during the days of the apostles, for the apostle Paul—when writing unto the churches in Galatia—wrote how there were false brethren who sought to enter and come in among them making the declaration and boast that they might spy out their liberty. The apostle Paul—when writing unto the Corinthian saints—would speak of false agents of light who would parade and masquerade themselves as ambassadors of Christ, and yet are nothing more than imposters. The apostle Paul would go on to write how this should not cause us to marvel or wonder, for even Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light and deceive many. When we read the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark, as well as the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the gospel written by the apostle Matthew, we must recognize and understand that when Jesus speaks about those who come in His name professing and making the declaration that they are the Christ—that which they are speaking and that which they are professing is not necessarily a declaration that they are the Messiah, nor that they are the Christ, but that they belong to the Messiah, and that they are disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ. If you ask me what one of the greatest deceptions can and will be during the Last Days I would hands down tell you that one of the greatest deceptions in the Last Days is, can and will come from those who make the declaration and profession that they belong to Christ, and that they are disciples and followers of Jesus. Jesus made it perfectly clear when speaking these words that these declarations would be such that would deceive countless men and women, as they would make the emphatic boast that they belong to Christ, and that they are truly disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ.

            Permit me to ask you a very pointed and powerful question—one that can and will require you to be brutally honest with me, as well as yourself. Can you identify a true disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ? Can you truly identity and recognize one who truly walks with and follows Jesus the Christ on a consistent and continual basis? What’s more, is can you truly say and speak of yourself that you are indeed a true follower and disciple of Jesus the Christ? Do you know what does in fact make a disciple of Jesus the Christ? Could you walk in the streets right now and discern who among us is a true follower and disciple of Jesus the Christ, and be able to comfortably and confidently say that they are in fact disciples? In order to answer this question I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs consider words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto His disciples and followers during those days in which He taught among us as the Word became flesh. There were certain key statements and key declarations Jesus would speak concerning those who are true disciples and true followers of Himself that help us to identity and recognize who among us are indeed true disciples and followers of Him. With this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the gospel narrative of Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the same New Testament gospel, and even words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John. Consider if you will the following words Jesus spoke which clearly demonstrate and reveal unto us those who are indeed true disciples and true followers of Him within this life:

            “Enter yet in at the strait: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23).

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Mathew 10:34-39).

            “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

            “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends: for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:11-19).

            SELF-DENIAL! LOSING ONE’S LIFE! TAKING UP THE CROSS! FORSAKING ALL! BEARING FRUIT! LOVING ONE ANOTHER! As you read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that there are indeed certain characteristics and marks of a true disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ. If you take the time to read each of these passages you will encounter the awesome reality that a true disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ can and will be known by the fruit they bear, for it was Jesus Himself who declared that it would be by your fruits you would be known. What’s more, is that both Jesus the Christ would say—and the apostle John would confirm—that herein will men know that we are the disciples and followers of Jesus through our love one for another. Even more, we must acknowledge the fact that self-denial, taking up our cross, and following Jesus is most certainly a mark of that genuine disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ. You cannot have a disciple without discipline, and there is a great need of men and women who wish to be disciples to be disciplined when it comes to denying themselves, taking up their cross, and effectively losing their life for the sake of the gospel. Jesus would go on to declare that those who loved father, or mother, or brother, or sister, or son, or daughter—yea, even husband and wife—more than Him was not worthy of Him. Suffice it to say there are plenty of passages within the four gospel narratives of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ that point to and reveal the true mark, the true nature, and the true characteristics of being a disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ. With this being said it is important that we note that being a true disciple and follower of Jesus is not witnessed and seen in works and word alone, but is actually something which goes beyond our works and words. You will notice in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus would speak of many coming unto Him in that last day saying, “Lord, Lord,” and would being to speak of the great things they prophesied in His name, as well as the many wonderful things they did in His name. The tragic reality concerning this, however, is that Jesus would turn—perhaps with sorrow and anguish in His heart—unto these individuals and declare unto them that He never knew them. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this truth, for it must be readily understand within our hearts and our minds if we are to be true disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ.

            I asked and presented the question of whether or not you could discern one who is a true disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ, and the passages I presented to you clearly demonstrate and reveal who among us are true disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ. While you and I might not be able to see, witness and behold someone taking up their cross, denying themselves, and losing their life for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ, we can indeed see and behold the fruit others bear, as well as the love which others have for and toward others—not only their neighbors either, but also their enemies. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out that Jesus drew no distinction, nor did He draw any line in the sand as it pertains to loving our enemies and loving our neighbors, for He commanded and instructed us to love both exactly alike. Jesus never commanded us to love our neighbors one way and love our enemies another way, nor did He ever command us to love our neighbors and hate our enemies. In fact, Scripture reveals unto us how we have been called to love our neighbor as ourselves while preparing to be hated of others. Jesus instructed us to love our enemies while at the same time preparing ourselves to be persecuted, afflicted, oppressed and hated by others. This is something we must needs recognize and understand, for it has the ability to dramatically alter and shift how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves within this life. Jesus warned us concerning the Last Days, and instructed us to take heed lest we be deceived by those who would rise up among us in His name professing themselves to be Christ. I firmly believe that this declaration concerning many rising up and coming in the name of Jesus professing themselves to be the Christ is not necessarily a declaration and statement concerning those who might profess themselves to actually be the Messiah, and profess themselves to actually be the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words we find within these chapters aptly demonstrate and point to those who can and will rise up among us professing themselves to be disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ, and professing themselves to be Christ’s in terms of ownership and possession. If there is one thing we must understand it’s that it is not a small, nor is it a light thing for us to make the claim and disciple that we are disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ, for there is and there must be certain evidences and proofs that our claim is indeed valid.

            Jesus the Christ indicated that in the last days there would be man who would come in His name claiming they are the Christ, as well as false Christs and false prophets who will rise up showing great signs and wonders to seduce and deceive—if were even possible—the very elect and chosen of God. It would be in this particular discourse Jesus would warn His disciples to take heed and to guard themselves against deception in the Last Days, for there will be those who will rise up among us professing themselves to be disciples and followers of Jesus, and who will profess themselves to be Christ’s. There is a great need to guard our hearts and our minds in the Last Days—not only from the deception of false teachers, false prophets and false apostles, but also from false brethren and false disciples who profess themselves to be disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ, and yet are not. What’s more, is that I would also dare say that in the last days one of the greatest means of deception is a presentation of a false gospel concerning Christ, and a false image of Christ. There will be in the Last Days a powerful delusion and deception that can and will rise up in many of our churches and Christian circles—one that will portray and paint a false picture of Christ, a false picture of the cross, a false picture of the gospel of the kingdom, and can and will seduce and deceive many. What’s more, is that these false gospels and false images of Jesus the Christ might even come with many signs, wonders and miracles, and yet our Lord looks upon them and emphatically declares and proclaims that He never knew them. Oh there is a great and present danger within the days in which we are living to not only know who the true disciples and followers of Jesus are, but also know Jesus Himself. We must needs recognize and remember that Jesus asked His disciples whom men said that He the Son of man was, but He would also ask them who they said the He the Son of man was. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this truly awesome truth, for there is a great need within the coming days to guard our hearts and our minds from these false gospels and these false images of Jesus the Christ. There is a great need to guard ourselves from the deceptive and seductive gospels that will paint a false picture of Jesus the Christ, and will attempt to lead us down a dark and dangerous path of worshipping and following one who is not the Christ. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the following words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the churches in Galatia:

            “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-10).

            Consider also if you will the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of the first New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were in Corinth:

            “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles…But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan Himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is not great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (1 Corinthians 11:1-15).

ANOTHER GOSPEL! ANOTHER JESUS! As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to draw and call your attention to the truth that in the last days there can and there will be a great need to guard our hearts and our minds against and from the false gospels and false images of Jesus the Christ that can and will be present among us. There is a great need within our hearts and our minds during these Last Days to be able to rightly and properly discern the false image of Christ from the true image of Christ, as well as the false gospel from the true gospel. The apostle Paul—when writing unto the Corinthian saints—was concerned and worried that they might be deceived and turned away from the simplicity that is in Christ, and would be seduced by others who preach another Jesus, and another gospel different than what they themselves had preached. When writing unto the churches in Galatia the apostle Paul was concerned that they would and could be turned away from another gospel which was not a gospel at all, but was a false and counterfeit gospel. The underlying question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are following and worshipping the Jesus of the Scripture, or whether or not we are worshipping and following another Jesus. We must needs ask ourselves if we are believing and holding on to the true gospel concerning Jesus the Christ, and the true gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, or whether or not we are allowing our hearts and our minds to be seduced and deceived by a false gospel which is no gospel at all. We must needs recognize and understand that in the Last Days deception can and will run rampant among us in our churches and in our Christian circles and that there will be those who profess to be disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ, as well as those who can and will attempt to present us with false images of who Jesus is. What’s more, is there will be countless false gospels that will be in circulation vying for our attention and our focus in an attempt to deceive and seduce us within our hearts and minds. The underlying question we must ask ourselves is do we know and truly know Jesus who is the Christ and the Son of the living God, and do we truly know—not only who the disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ are, but also the marks and signs of a true disciple and follower of Christ. What’s more, is we must be able to honestly and truthfully answer the question of whether or not we are indeed a true disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ, and whether or not the Jesus we claim to follow is truly the Jesus of the Scripture, and whether the gospel we are believing and preaching is the true gospel of the kingdom and the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ.

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