Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament narrative of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written about by the beloved physician in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters twenty-one through twenty-four of this New Testament book. FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE LORD! WALKING WITH THE LORD UNTO JERUSALEM! JERUSALEM: A CUP OF TREMBLING FOR THE JEWS! JERUSALEM: A POWDER KEG JUST WAITING TO EXPLODE! JERUSALEM! A CITY WAITING TO ERUPT! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture—these chapters which set up the final chapters of this New Testament book—you will encounter and come face to face with the resolute desire of the apostle Paul to depart from the churches, to depart from the brethren, and to depart from the disciples that he might go unto Jerusalem. In fact, if you begin reading with and from the eighteenth chapter of this book you will find the initial desire of the apostle Paul to journey down unto the city of Jerusalem that he might observe and celebrate the feast of the Jews. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider this, for these chapters found within the New Testament book of Acts seem to follow the pattern and progression that is found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. If and as you read the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will encounter and come face to face with the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ being directly linked to the Jewish feasts which would be observed in the city of Jerusalem. You cannot read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not find Jesus’ movement and ministry being intrinsically linked and connected to the Jewish feasts of the LORD, and those feasts which would call upon and require Jews from throughout Judaea, from throughout Galilee, and even from the surrounding regions and lands to make their way unto this holy city that they might celebrate and observe the feasts of the LORD. We know from the gospel narrative written by the apostle John that there were at least two distinct Jewish feasts which were celebrated within the gospel—namely, the feast of the Passover, as well as the feast of Tabernacles. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the movement and ministry of Jesus within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for that which we find within this gospel narrative not only helps us understand the movement and ministry of Jesus, but it also helps us understand and recognize that within the life and ministry of the apostle Paul.
There is not a doubt in my mind that when we come to chapters eighteen and beyond within the New Testament book of Acts we will find the apostle Paul desirous—perhaps even being burdened within his soul and spirit—to journey unto Jerusalem to celebrate and observe the feast of the Jewish people. Before we can truly understand this journey the apostle Paul would set on from among the Gentiles unto the Jews and unto the city of Jerusalem it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we first recognize and understand the journeys Jesus often took from Galilee unto the city of Jerusalem that He might celebrate the feasts of the LORD. What’s more, is that there were those specific times when Jesus would depart from among the Galilaeans that He might make His way and His journey unto the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the feast(s) of the LORD, and He would experience tremendous opposition and persecution in the midst of the city. In fact, you cannot read the gospel narrative of the apostle John and not find Jesus moving within the city of Jerusalem at a time of the feasts of the LORD—and not only moving within the city during and at the time of the feasts of the LORD, but you will also find Him experiencing opposition and persecution from the Jews because of the words which He spoke and the actions which He wrought among them. In fact, there were at least two times within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John when we find the opposition and persecution rising up against Jesus the Christ being directly linked to His healing of one among them—and not only healing one among them, but also healing on the sabbath. It would be Jesus’ act of healing those on one of the sabbath days—a day when according to the Law of Moses was to be observed as a day within the feast when no servile work should be done—that would so provoke, offend, and infuriate the Jews that they would rise up against Him in staunch criticism, condemnation, judgment, accusation, and the like.
It is with all of this in mind I invite you to consider—not only Jesus’ movement and journey from Galilee unto the city of Jerusalem, and not only Jesus’ movement unto Jerusalem at and during a time of one of the Jewish feasts of the LORD, but also Jesus’ deliberate and intentional healing of those who were in poor, those who were needy, those who were afflicted, and those who had been a long time in their present condition. It would be in the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative we find Jesus coming unto the pool which in the Hebrew tongue was known as Bethesda and healing a man who had an infirmity for thirty and eight years. Jesus would deliberately and intentionally enter the city of Jerusalem during a time of one of the feasts of the LORD, and He would also deliberately and intentionally choose to heal this man on the sabbath—this knowing exactly what this miracle itself would have wrought within and among the hearts and minds of the Jewish people. In the ninth chapter we find a man who was born blind whom Jesus anointed his eyes with clay he had made from the dirt of the ground, and then instructed him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. What we must recognize concerning this particular narrative within the gospel of John is that this too would take place on the sabbath, and undoubtedly would have taken place at the time of one of the Jewish feasts which was celebrated in the midst of the city. It would be this healing and this miracle that would so anger and offend the Jews, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, and the Pharisees that they would seek to lay hold of Him that they might destroy Him from their midst. With this in mind we must recognize one of the ultimate demonstrations and manifestations of the movement, the ministry and activity of the LORD Jesus the Christ within the city of Jerusalem is written and recorded in the second chapter of the book when after making a scourge of small cords He would overturn the tables of money within the Temple, as well as cast out all those which bought and sold, and drive out all that was sold in the court of the Temple. It would be this particular action that would set in motion a series of acts Jesus would perform in Jerusalem that would anger and infuriate the Jews along with their religious leaders.
The more I think about and consider the New Testament book of Acts the more I can’t help but take a long and hard look at the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, for Jesus was a man who continually, routinely and resolutely set forth to journey unto Jerusalem. Not only this, but Jesus would deliberately and intentionally set forth to make His way unto the city of Jerusalem during the times of those feasts which were celebrated by the Jews from throughout Judaea and Galilee, as well as those Jews within the city of Jerusalem, and all those within and throughout the surrounding regions who would make their way unto the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the feast together at the Temple and house of the LORD. In all reality, this is something else which must needs be recognized and understood, for not only was Jesus’ movement and ministry intrinsically linked to the city of Jerusalem, and not only was His movement and ministry linked to the Jewish feasts of the LORD, but His movement and ministry was also linked to the Temple of the LORD which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this awesome and powerful truth, for it helps us to truly understand the activity of Jesus within the gospel—Jesus who would indeed be the Word made flesh and would dwell among us. Time and time again the Word which was made flesh would journey unto and enter into the city of Jerusalem during a time of one of the feasts, and would not only find those who were in need in the midst of the vast crowds of people that were undoubtedly in the city, but would also bring healing, restoration and wholeness within their lives.
I sit here today thinking about the desire and the resolute purpose of the apostle Paul to make his way unto the city of Jerusalem and I can’t help but get the strong sense that this apostle of Christ was indeed walking in and following the same path and footsteps as his Lord. There is not a doubt in my mind that the words we read within the New Testament book of Acts concerning the desire of the apostle to journey unto the city of Jerusalem is a powerful testimony of one who made the decision to walk with and follow the Lord, and one who would have that decision bring them into the place where they would walk along the same path and journey the Lord Himself did. Within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find and discover Jesus continually journeying up unto the city of Jerusalem during the time of the Jewish feasts of the LORD, and it would be there in the midst of the city where He would experience tremendous suffering, opposition and persecution—this despite the fact that there were several times while Jesus was in the city of Jerusalem the Jews, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders of Israel, the Pharisees and the like sought to lay hold of Him that they might destroy Him, and yet they could not because as the apostle John so aptly and eloquently wrote—“His time and His hour had not yet come.” Time and time again within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find Jesus in the city of Jerusalem during and at the time of the feasts of the LORD, and you will find Him performing an act of healing that would provoke the Jews to anger and rage, and would ultimately and inevitably experience opposition and persecution as a direct result of this. It would be in the seventh chapter where we again find Jesus in Jerusalem at the time of one of the feasts, however, within this chapter we don’t find Jesus engaging in any particular or specific act among the Jews, but rather having to speak to that which He had previously done in the midst of the city when He healed the man who had the infirmity for thirty and eight years. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and consider Jesus’ movement and ministry within the city of Jerusalem, for it is His movement and ministry in the midst of the city that would help us to understand the journey of the apostle Paul unto the city of Jerusalem—and not only the journey the apostle Paul would take unto the city of Jerusalem, but also the tremendous opposition and affliction he would face and experience there. It is with this in mind I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand and consider three distinct narratives found within the gospel written by the apostle John—Jesus in the city of Jerusalem at the time of the feast, the opposition against and the persecution of Jesus by the Jews, and the declaration that the time and hour had not yet come for Him to be glorified:
“After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days. And the Jews’ Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the Temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the Temple, and the sheep, and the oxen: and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (John 2:12-17).
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25).
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having porches. IN these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto Him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath” (John 5:1-9).
“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do” (John 6:1-6).
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him. Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto Him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:1-5).
“But when His brethren were gone up, then went He also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Then the Jews sought for Him at the feast, and said, Where is He? And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. Howbeit no man spake openly of Him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:10-13).
“Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the Temple, and taught. And the Jews’ marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man will do His will, He shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of Himself seeketh His own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” (John 7:14-19).
“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scriptures hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the Scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Beth-lehem, where David was?” (John 7:37-42).
“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the Temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:22-24).
“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of LORD. And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: Behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’ colt” (John 12:12-15).
“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus” (John 12:20-22).
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having not put into the heart of Judas Isacriot, Simon’s son, to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God” (John 13:1-3).
It is with these various passages found within the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Paul you will find the movement and ministry being intrinsically and directly linked to the Jewish feasts which were celebrated in the city of Jerusalem. IN fact, I continue to hold to the awesome and powerful truth that you cannot truly understand the ministry of Jesus the Christ within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John without and apart from understanding it in direct link and connection to the Jewish feasts which were celebrated by the Lord. This gospel narrative—more than any of the other gospel narratives—was one that was written with the Jewish feasts, the city of Jerusalem, and even the Temple of the LORD at the very heart and center of it. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that when and as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus’ movement and ministry would intrinsically be linked—not only to the city of Jerusalem, but also unto the Temple and the Jewish feasts. It would be in the city of Jerusalem where the feasts would be celebrated, and it would undoubtedly be in the Temple where the greatest number of people were. There would have undoubtedly been countless men and women which were present in the midst of the court(s) of the Temple during and at the time of the feasts of the Jews in observance and celebration of the feast, and it would be in this context Jesus would step in and perform a great and mighty work among them—one that would deliberately and intentionally provoke them. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for it not only helps us to understand the movement and ministry of Jesus the Christ in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, but it also helps us to understand that which we find and read in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the apostle Paul. It would be the apostle Paul—this apostle of the Lord Jesus the Christ—who himself would need to journey unto Jerusalem, and would need to do so at the time of one of the Jewish feasts in observe and celebration of the feasts. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul—much like his Lord whom he faithfully served and worshipped—knew what awaited him in the city of Jerusalem. Much like his Lord would know and understand what awaited Him in the city of Jerusalem, so also did the apostle Paul know and understand the tremendous opposition and persecution that would await him there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem.
While we have just seen Jesus’ movement and ministry within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John being intrinsically linked to the Jewish feasts which were celebrated in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, it is now necessary and imperative that we examine and take a look at the tremendous opposition and persecution that would rise up against Jesus the Christ there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It wasn’t merely enough that Jesus would venture unto the city of Jerusalem at and during the times of the Jewish feasts of the LORD, but it would also be there where Jesus would face and experience tremendous persecution and tremendous opposition. Although we find in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John a great falling away of those who walked with Him as disciples and followers there would be no opposition, nor would there be any persecution against Jesus. Perhaps the one exception that would be found within Galilee of those present there rising up against Jesus would be those of His hometown of Nazareth who would seek to destroy Him from their midst after the words which He spoke in the midst of the synagogue among them. The gospel narrative written by the apostle John is one that is incredibly and absolutely powerful when you think about and consider it, for not only do we find Jesus journeying up unto the city of Jerusalem at and during a time of the Jewish feasts, but you will also find a tremendous opposition and persecution breaking out against Him therein. In fact, you cannot understand Jesus’ movement and ministry within the city of Jerusalem without and apart from encountering and coming face to face with the severe and vehement opposition and persecution of the Jews toward and against Him. Jesus’ movement within the city of Jerusalem would so provoke and so offend the Jews that they would continually seek to oppose and persecute Him that they might destroy Him from among them in their midst. Time and time again we find the Jews seeking to destroy Jesus—not only because of the words which He spoke, but also because of the words which He performed among them in their midst. Consider if you will the following words which are found within this same gospel concerning the opposition and persecution of Jesus by and at the hands of the Jews:
“Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But He spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said” (John 2:18-22).
“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” (John 5:16-18).
“The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. NO man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw Him: and I will raise Him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat” (John 6:41-52).
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand” (John 7:1).
“Then answered the Jews, and said unto Him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil: but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, He shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto Him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death: Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? And the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself” (John 8:48-53).
“But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that was born blind: but by what means he now seeth, we know not; for who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:18-22).
“Then the Jews took up stones against to stone Him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:31-33).
“Therefore they sought again to take him: but He escaped out o their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there” (John 10:39-41).
“Then after that saith He to His disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto Him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? (John 11:7-8).
“Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples” (John 11:53-54).
The words which are found in these passages offer us a powerful picture into the tremendous opposition of the Jews which was raised up against Jesus in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—not only during a time of the feasts of the Jews, but also because of the words which Jesus spoke, and the works which He had wrought among them in their midst. We dare not, we cannot and must not seek to understand the words found in this gospel narrative without and apart from coming face to face with the awesome truth that when Jesus walked among the Jews in Judaea and in Jerusalem there were many among them which believed, however, there were a great number of them which strove and contended against Him in opposition and rose up in persecution against Him. It’s necessary that we recognize and understand this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus was very much aware of the opposition and the persecution that He would experience there in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus was very much aware of the tremendous opposition and persecution He would experience in the midst of the city of Jerusalem—persecution and opposition which would ultimately and inevitably lead to the ultimate confrontation and showdown in Jerusalem when one of His own would betray Him in the garden of Gethsemane into the hands of His enemies and adversaries. Time and time again Jesus would enter into and walk within the city of Jerusalem and would experience and suffer persecution and opposition from the hands of the Jews, and yet it wouldn’t be until the appointed time of God when their vehement animosity, hatred, rage and fury against Him would actually come to fruition among them in their midst. Perhaps one of the most remarkable and astounding realities found within this gospel narrative is when you think about how often the Jews sought to rise up against Him in opposition and persecution, and how oft the Jews sought to kill and destroy Him, and yet they could not because His hour and His time had not yet come.
Now I fully and completely realize and recognize that we haven’t yet come to the narrative found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the apostle Paul and his own journey unto the city of Jerusalem, and yet I am absolutely convinced that if you want to understand the apostle you have to understand the Christ—if you want to understand the man you have to understand the Master. It would be very easy to read the words found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the life of the apostle Paul, and it would be very easy to read of his own journey unto the city of Jerusalem—and even his journey unto the city of Jerusalem during and at the time of one of their feasts—and yet there is not a doubt in my mind that in order to truly understand the journey of the apostle Paul unto the city of Jerusalem one must needs recognize and understand the journey(s) of his Master and Lord unto Jerusalem. In fact, there would come a point within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when He would resolutely and adamantly set His face toward Jerusalem—this despite the fact that He knew what would await Him there at Jerusalem. The gospel narrative written by the apostle John points to and reveals how often Jesus would go up unto the city of Jerusalem during and at the time of the feasts of the LORD, however, it is in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you are brought face to face with Jesus teaching and speaking unto His disciples concerning His betrayal, concerning His suffering, concerning His being mocked and scourged, and ultimately concerning His death. In fact, what is so absolutely astounding and remarkable concerning that which is found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is that Jesus knew those things which would befall Him within and at the city of Jerusalem, and yet He would still set forth to make His journey unto the city. Jesus would know the hour and the time of His suffering and His ultimate death, and yet not once do we find Him avoiding the city of Jerusalem. Oh there were times when Jesus would not walk in Jewry, and there were times when Jesus would walk in Galilee, and would even dwell in the place where John the Baptist baptized at first, and even in another remote place because of the opposition of the Jews, but when the appointed time of His suffering and death actually came we find Him heading straight for Jerusalem. Much like Abraham rose early in the morning to obey the command of the LORD to offer his one and only son Isaac upon the altar upon one of the mountains in Moriah, so also would Jesus resolutely set His face like flint toward the city of Jerusalem. Not only this, but Jesus would set His face resolutely toward the very same place Abraham himself had journeyed to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar.
There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew that you can and will be brought face to face with the words and teaching of Jesus concerning the suffering, the affliction, the opposition, and ultimately the death He would face and experience in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. It would be in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find and encounter multiple references of Jesus the Christ speaking unto His disciples concerning the suffering, the affliction and the opposition He would face and experience in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. You cannot read the words which are found in this New Testament gospel narrative and not encounter and come face to face with these realities, for Jesus knew that His life would be moving closer and closer to that for which He had been appointed to—namely, that He would offer His life as a sacrifice upon the altar of the cross atop Golgotha. It would be after Simon also called Peter would emphatically declare and proclaim Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God Jesus would begin teaching and speaking unto them concerning those things He must suffer at Jerusalem, and that He must ultimately be killed and crucified. We dare not, we cannot and we must not miss and lose sight of this truly incredible truth and reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the journey the apostle Paul himself would make unto the city of Jerusalem. I am absolutely and completely convinced that in order to understand the journey the apostle Paul would make unto the city of Jerusalem it is necessary that we understand the journey his Lord Himself would make unto Jerusalem, for just as his Lord knew and understood that which await Him in the city of Jerusalem, so also would the apostle Paul—not only know within himself, but would also be warned of the danger, the trouble, the opposition, the affliction, and the persecution that would await him in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Oh this actually brings me to an incredibly important question which we must needs ask ourselves—namely, if we knew and were aware of the opposition, the affliction, the persecution, and the trial, trouble and danger we would face in a certain place, would we still continue journeying unto and toward that place. Would we—knowing what danger, what toil, and what trouble awaited us in a certain and specific place—continue to make our way unto that place? Abraham knew what the region of Moriah would mean, and he knew when he saw the mountain before him what that mountain represented, and yet he neither turned back, nor did he journey around the mountain.
ABRAHAM JOURNEYED UNTO MORIAH! JESUS JOURNEYED UNTO JERUSALEM AND UNTO GOLGOTHA! PAUL WOULD JOURNEY UNTO JERUSALEM! It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this awesome and powerful truth, for we must needs consider the narratives of Abraham and Jesus, for it would be the pilgrimage and journey Abraham would take that would not only be a prophetic portent, picture and symbol of that journey Jesus the Christ would take unto the city of Jerusalem and unto the mountain of Moriah, but it would also be a journey the apostle Paul himself would take as he made his way unto the city of Jerusalem. There is not a doubt in my mind that we must needs carefully consider the journey of sacrifice and the path of offering which Abraham Himself made, which Jesus Himself would make, and which the apostle Paul would make. The journey which would begin with Abraham would ultimately continue with Jesus the Christ as the fulfillment of Abraham’s journey, and as an invitation unto His disciples and followers to partake in a similar journey. It would be Abraham’s journey that would take him unto Jerusalem during his generation—despite and although it was not known as Jerusalem during those days. It would be Abraham’s journey that would take him unto Jerusalem where he would be tested of the LORD in offering his one and only son upon the altar there at Moriah. OH how absolutely incredible and powerful it is to think about and consider the journey of Abraham which would be a journey unto Jerusalem and unto a place of sacrifice, and how that journey would be a prophetic symbol and picture of the journey which Jesus the Christ would take unto Jerusalem—and not only unto Jerusalem, but unto the very place Abraham himself would take. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider first the words which are found in the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis, as well as the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning Jesus’ journey unto Jerusalem, and even the words which Jesus the Christ would speak concerning His disciples and followers:
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him: Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell the of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of: and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:1-15).
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).
“And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry” (Matthew 17:22).
“And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him; and the third day he shall rise again” (Matthew 20:17-19).
It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand the journey which Abraham himself took unto Jerusalem, for although it would not be called, nor would it be known at that time as Jerusalem, he would nonetheless make that same journey and would walk that same path of sacrifice and offering. Despite the fact that the region of Moriah—specifically the mountain upon which he would build an altar before and unto the LORD—would not be known as Jerusalem, he would nonetheless make the journey unto Jerusalem at the instruction of the LORD God in heaven. Not only this, but it would essentially be Israel that would make the journey and would make the pilgrimage unto the region of Moriah, and unto that mountain in Moriah where the altar itself would be built—Israel which would himself be the name of Abraham’s grandson, as well as the name of the people and nation that would come forth from Abraham’s loins. What makes this even more intriguing and interesting is that Israel within the loins and bosom of Abraham would make the journey unto Moriah and unto this place of sacrifice, and would indeed make the journey unto the place of covenant and offering still being in the bosom and womb of Abraham. By the time Jesus would walk among us as the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us, and would Himself make His own journey of sacrifice and offering unto the city of Jerusalem, this ancient place of covenant, sacrifice and offering would be the capital city of Judaea, which was indeed the ancient land of Israel. Although it would not be called Israel at the time of Jesus, it would nonetheless be the ancient land of Israel as it was known during the days of the judges, the kings and the prophets of the LORD. Oh that we would recognize, understand and pay close and careful attention to this, for the journey which Abraham would make unto Jerusalem would be the same journey Jesus Himself would make unto Jerusalem. What’s more, is that I can’t help but wonder if the same journey, the same path, and the same direction Abraham took that he might come unto Jerusalem wasn’t’ the same journey Jesus Himself had taken during those days. Not only this, but I can’t help but wonder if this also was not the same journey the apostle Paul himself would make, as he would begin in Caesarea and would ultimately make his way unto the city of Jerusalem. It is possible that the same starting point of Abraham was indeed the same starting point of Jesus the Christ, and was not also the same starting point of the apostle Paul?
With all of this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for it is what is found in these chapters which helps us to truly understand and recognize and understand the journey which the apostle Paul would make as he himself would deny himself, take up his own cross, and follow Jesus the Christ. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the apostle Paul would indeed take up his cross and follow after Jesus, for it would be this apostle who would so passionately and earnestly write about the need to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable in the sight of the living God, which is our reasonable service. It would be the apostle Paul who would also write unto the churches in Galatia emphatically declaring that he was crucified with Christ, and that it is no longer he that lives, but Christ that lives in him. Not only this, but the apostle Paul would also emphatically declare that the life which he lives in the flesh he lives by faith in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is with this before us I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth and sixteenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning the words Jesus spoke unto us concerning our own self-denial and path of sacrifice and offering:
“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” (Matthew 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).
With all of this in mind I feel it is now an appropriate time to draw and point out the narrative which was written concerning the apostle Paul, for after spending a considerable amount of time with and among the Gentiles the apostle Paul knew in the spirit that he must needs journey unto the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul knew, recognized and understood that there was a great need for him to journey and make his way unto the city of Jerusalem, and it would be there in the city of Jerusalem he would experience tremendous opposition, affliction and suffering. What’s more, is that there would be those who would seek to warn the apostle concerning the opposition and affliction he would face and experience within this ancient city of Jerusalem. There would be those who would prophetically speak of that which awaited the apostle in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and would even try and persuade him from going up unto the city. This is also quite astounding when you think about it, for when Jesus first began teaching and showing His disciples that He must needs suffer and die it would be Simon also called Peter who would pull him aside and would rebuke Him stating that he would not suffer such things, nor would He die. This is necessary for us to recognize and understand, for when the apostle Paul desired to journey toward and unto the city of Jerusalem he knew that which would await him there, and yet he still chose to journey toward and unto the city of Jerusalem. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that the journey which began with Abraham centuries earlier as he himself would journey unto Jerusalem would continue with Jesus the Christ, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, and the Son of God. (As a side note, it’s interesting to note that in the beginning of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew Jesus would be referred to as the Son of Abraham, and would make the same journey unto Jerusalem Abraham himself would make. The fundamental difference between the two journeys was that Abraham’s journey would be the testing of the sacrifice of his son, while the journey Jesus would make would not be a test, and it would not be the sacrifice of an earthly son, but rather He Himself would be the only begotten Son of the Father which would be sacrificed—not as a goat that would be sacrificed in the stead of the son, but as the Son that would be sacrificed instead of man). It is with all of this in mind that the journey which Abraham would begin centuries and generations earlier would continue with Jesus the Christ as He Himself would make the same journey unto Jerusalem—not to exempt us from the journey ourselves, but rather as an example.
JESUS WAS NOT THE EXEMPTION, BUT THE EXAMPLE! PAUL NEVER VIEWED JESUS AS THE EXEMPTION, BUT RATHER AS THE EXAMPLE, AND IT WOULD BE THE APOSTLE PAUL WHO WOULD FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE! OH THAT WE WOULD STOP MAKING JESUS THE CHRIST THE EXEMPTION BUT THE EXAMPLE! JESUS WOULD NOT JOURNEY TO JERUSALEM TO EXEMPT US FROM THE JOURNEY, BUT RATHER AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE JOURNEY WE MUST NEEDS TAKE OURSELVES. Perhaps one of the greatest truth surrounding the narrative of the apostle Paul is that not once did he ever view Jesus as one who had exempted him from his own journey to Jerusalem, nor even from his own need of and for sacrifice. The apostle Paul never viewed, nor did he ever believe Jesus was offered and provided unto him an exemption from suffering, from affliction, from opposition, from trial and from trouble—a reality which is without a doubt evidenced within the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. What we must needs realize and recognize concerning the apostle Paul is that he continually and always viewed Jesus as the example for which to pattern His own life—a reality which was demonstrated when he made the declaration unto others to follow him as he followed Christ. How absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul would never view Jesus as the ultimate exemption from sacrifice, but as the ultimate example for and the ultimate example of sacrifice. The apostle Paul never viewed Jesus the Christ as the ultimate exemption unto us for opposition, for trouble, for trial, and for affliction, but rather as the example which we must needs follow and pattern our lives after. There are far too many men and women who are following Jesus Christ as the exemption and are using Jesus to make themselves an exception rather than following the example. OH that we would recognize and understand that when we choose to worship and serve Jesus the Christ as the pattern of exemption rather than as example we make ourselves the exception(s). Heaven help us as those who profess that we are disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ if we worship and follow Him as the exemption to suffering and opposition rather than sacrifice. Heaven help—not only the spiritual body of Christ, but also the world among us within our midst—if we make ourselves exceptions to and exceptions in suffering, affliction and opposition by making Jesus an exemption of suffering rather than an example of suffering. Oh dear reader, oh dear brother and sister—are you worshipping and following Jesus as an exemption, or as an example, and might potentially be making yourself an exception to suffering and opposition?
As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts concerning the apostle Paul, for it is within these words we find the apostle Paul walking with, following, worshipping and serving Jesus the Christ as an example—and not only as an example, but also as a model and a pattern for which he himself ought to live his life. The apostle Paul would never and could never view Jesus the Christ as an exemption and as an exemption of suffering, affliction, opposition, trial, trouble, and yea, even death itself. The apostle Paul never believed for one minute that Jesus died on the cross and suffered so we wouldn’t have to. The more we read and the more we consider the life of the apostle Paul the more we must be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that for him Jesus the Christ was a model, a pattern, and an example of sacrifice, of offering, of suffering, of opposition, of affliction, and of that which we have been called to within our lives. It is with all of this in mind I now present you with the words written concerning the apostle Paul—not necessarily to call and draw your attention to his sacrifice and offering alone, but rather that we might follow him as he followed Christ, and that by doing so we might indeed fulfill that which is demanded of us—namely, that we deny ourselves, that we take up our crosses, and that we might follow after Jesus Oh that we would cease viewing Christ as the exemption for suffering, for offering and for sacrifice, and thus make ourselves exceptions to such realities and manifestations within our lives. OH that we would realize that such realities are incredibly dangerous within our hearts and our lives, and that we do ourselves and the LORD a great disservice and dishonor when we choose to live our lives this way. It is absolutely necessary that we view, worship, serve, walk with and follow Jesus as the example for suffering, for sacrifice, for offering, and even death itself rather than as an exemption, thus somehow making ourselves exceptions to the rule. With this in mind I leave you with the following words written in the New Testament book of Acts, as well as the words which are found in the second epistle written unto the epistle unto the Corinthians, and even the words the apostle Paul wrote in one of his epistles written unto Timothy:
“When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; but bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. And after he had spent some time there, he departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:20-23).
“And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:13-16).
“And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” (Acts 20:22-25).
“…and finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went out way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed” (Acts 21:4-5).
“…And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done. And after those days we took up our carriages, and went up to Jerusalem” (Acts 21:10-15).
“I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting. Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham/ so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times receive I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Corinthians 11:16-30).
“It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tel: God knoweth) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them that also love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).