Between Baptism and Ascension: Great Crowds & Much People, But Few Disciples

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-nine verses of the fourth chapter. “And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them, in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: and it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:1-9). THERE WENT OUT A SOWER TO SOW! AS HE SOWED! SOME FELL BY THE WAY SIDE! THE FOWLS OF THE AIR CAME AND DEVOURED IT UP! SOME FELL ON STONY GROUND, WHERE IT HAD NOT MUCH EARTH! IMMEDIATELY IT SPRANG UP!IT HAD NOT DEPTH OF EARTH! WHEN THE SUN WAS UP, IT WAS SCORCHED! IT HAD NOT ROOT, IT WITHERED AWAY! SCORCHED AND WITHERED AWAY! SOME FELL AMONG THORNS! THE THORNS GREW P, AND CHOKED IT, AND IT YIELDED NO FRUIT! OTHERS FELL ON GOOD GROUND, AND DID YIELD FRUIT THAT SPRANG UP AND INCREASED! BROUGHT FORTH SOME THIRTY, AND SOME SIXTY, AND SOME AN HUNDRED!

            “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred” (Mark 4:10-20).

            ”And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? And not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath” (Mark 4:21-25).

            “And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come” (Mark 4:26-29).

            UNTO YOU IT IS GIVEN TO KNOW THE MYSTERY OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD! UNTO THEM THAT ARE WITHOUT, ALL THESE THINGS ARE DONE IN PARABLES! SEEING THEY MAY SEE, AND NOT PERCEIVE! HEARING THEY MAY HEAR, AND NOT UNDERSTAND! LEST AT ANY TIME THEY SHOULD BE CONVERTED, AND THEIR SINS SHOULD BE FORGIVEN THEM! KNOW YE NOT THIS PARABLE? HOW THEN WILL YE KNOW ALL PARABLES? THE SOWER SOWETH THE WORD! WHEN THEY HAVE HEARD, SATAN COMETH IMMEDIATELY, AND TAKETH AWAY THE WORD THAT WAS SOWN IN THEIR HEARTS! WHEN THEY HAVE HEARD THE WORD, IMMEDIATELY RECEIVE IT WITH GLADNESS! HAVE NO ROOT IN THEMSELVES, AND SO ENDURE BUT FOR A TIME! AFTERWARD, WHEN AFFLICTION OR PERSECUTION ARISETH FOR THE WORD’S SAKE, IMMEDIATELY THEY ARE OFFENDED! HEAR THE WORD, AND THE CARES OF THIS WORLD, AND THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES, AND THE LUSTS OF OTHER THINGS ENTERING IN, CHOKE THE WORD, AND IT BECOMETH UNFRUITFUL! HEAR THE WORD, AND RECEIVE IT, AND BRING FORTH FRUIT!

            THERE IS NOTHING HID, WHICH SHALL NOT BE MANIFESTED! NEITHER WAS ANY THING KEPT SECRET, BUT THAT IT SHOULD COME ABROAD! TAKE HEED WHAT YE HEAR! WITH WHAT MEASURE YE METE, IT SHALL BE MEASURED TO YOU! UNTO YOU THAT HEAR SHALL MORE BE GIVEN! TAKE HEED WHAT YE HEAR! WITH WHAT MEASURE YE METE, IT SHALL BE MEASURED TO YOU! AND UNTO YOU THAT HEAR SHALL MORE BE GIVEN! FOR HE THAT HATH, TO HIM SHALL BE GIVEN! HE THAT HATH NOT, FROM HIM SHALL BE TAKEN EVEN THAT WHICH HE HATH!

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find John Mark beginning to tell the narrative of Jesus teaching in parables—a means of communication Jesus would use to teach and reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. As you begin reading with the first verse of the fourth chapter you will find John Mark writing and describing Jesus as teaching in a place that would be somewhat familiar with Him given the tremendous crowds and multitudes that would gather themselves before and unto Him. Beginning with the first verse of this passage of Scripture you will find John Mark describing how Jesus began again to teach by the sea side, and how there was a great multitude which had gathered themselves unto Him. Because of and dud to this great multitude which had gathered themselves unto Jesus He would enter into a ship and would sit in the midst of the sea—perhaps even the very same sea which He would later be in with His disciples when the great tempest and storm rose up against them. If there is one thing that must be quickly pointed out upon reading the words found in this chapter—and not only this chapter, but also the gospel narratives themselves—it’s that Jesus was one who would and could be found teaching in a variety of different places. We know that Jesus would and did in fact teach in the Temple, as well as in the synagogues which were present in the land of Judaea and Galilee during those times. We know that Jesus would enter into the synagogues on the sabbath as was His custom, and would there in the midst of the synagogue teach and preach the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven. We know that there would be instances when Jesus would indeed and would in fact sit Himself on the side of a mountain and there teach the gospel and the principles concerning the kingdom. You cannot read the gospel narratives without encountering and coming face to face with the awesome truth that Jesus would Himself use whatever means were available unto Him that He might teach the great multitudes and crowds. On this particular occasion we find Jesus initially beginning on the shore of the sea, and yet how even that would not be able to accommodate Him because of the great multitude that would gather themselves before and unto Him. As a direct result of this Jesus would Himself enter into a ship and would sit in the midst of the sea where He would teach the people concerning the kingdom of heaven.

            What I so absolutely love about reading the gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus is how Jesus would use ordinary and common things which were known unto the Galilaeans during those times in order to teach the mysteries and principles of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would use those objects which they would have been familiar with that He might teach and expound upon the principles concerning the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is that not only would Jesus use items and objects they were familiar with to teach concerning the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus would also use certain inanimate objects as tools and means for Him to teach and preach before and among the people. On this particular occasion we find Jesus using a ship set in the midst of the sea to sit in as He would teach the people from the midst of the sea. It would be on this particular day Jesus would set Himself in the midst of a ship and sit in the midst of the sea that He might teach the people the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. This reality and concept of Jesus taking and using ordinary things for supernatural and eternal purposes would continue throughout the four gospel narratives as we will even find Him using a donkey—one which had never been ridden before—that He might not only enter into the city of Jerusalem meek and lowly, but also that He might fulfill the words which the prophet Zechariah prophesied generations earlier during the days of the Jewish people who had returned from captivity and had been restored unto the land. Jesus would also use an upper room which was fully furnished that He might celebrate the Passover meal together with His disciples. Jesus would use the fruit of the vine and the cup to signify and speak of His blood of the New Covenant which would be shed for the remission of sins. Jesus would use the bread as a sign and symbol of His body which would not only be broken, but would also be freely given as a sacrifice and offering before and unto the living and eternal God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for Jesus was a master at using His surroundings to His advantage—and not only using His surroundings to His advantage, but also using what was available to Him that He might teach the people concerning the divine mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. How absolutely wonderful and astonishing it is to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would Himself use those items and those common objects which might very well have been used for earthly, natural and temporal purposes, and would use them for His eternal purposes.

            I sit here today thinking about how this particular passage opens up and I can’t help but but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the awesome and tremendous truth that Jesus was a master at taking those objects which would be used for ordinary and temporal purposes, and would use them for supernatural and eternal purposes. You wouldn’t think that a ship in the midst of the sea would or even could be used for the purposes of the kingdom of heaven, and yet Jesus would use ships on more than one occasion for the eternal purposes of the living God. Jesus would use a ship to teach the disciples the principles of the kingdom when He would instruct them to launch out into the deep—and not only launch out into the deep, but also cast their net on the other side of the boat that they might gather unto themselves a great bounty of fish which would be available unto them. Jesus would use a ship to demonstrate His quiet trust and confidence in the Father in the midst of the storm, for in the gospels we find Jesus and the disciples in a ship in the midst of the sea when a great temptest rose up against them and threatened to destroy them. At first we find Jesus sleeping in the ship—and not only sleeping, but sleeping in the midst of the storm—and upon the disciples coming unto Him in fear, in doubt and with all anxiousness in their hearts Jesus would rebuke the disciples for their lack of faith, Jesus would stand in the midst of the storm, and Jesus would speak to the storm. Immediately after Jesus spoke to the storm—to the wind, to the waves and to the rain—the storm subsided and everything was peaceful and calm in the midst of the sea. This particular reality is even more captivating when you think about the fact that there would be another instance when the disciples would be found in a ship in the midst of the sea laboring and toiling against the wind and the waves as a storm was upon and all around them. Jesus would come unto them walking on the water, and would not only invite Simon called Peter to step out of the boat and come unto Him, but would also bring the storm to a complete and utter still once He and Simon entered into the ship.

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of how absolutely astonishing and remarkable this truly is, for there would be those times when Jesus would use ships—and not only ships, but ships in the midst of the storm—to teach His disciples concerning trust, confidence and faith in the eternal Father. With that being said—on this particular occasion we find Jesus using a ship as an instrument whereby He might set Himself in the midst of it that He could teach the people concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus would use both the ship and the sea as a pulpit whereby He might set Himself before the people and teach them the divine principles concerning the kingdom of heaven. How absolutely incredible it truly is to think about and consider this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful reality that Jesus would and could use ordinary items and objects for supernatural and eternal purposes. Jesus would indeed and would in fact use this particular ship as a pulpit whereby He might teach the multitude concerning the principles of the kingdom of heaven. With this being said, it is necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that within this particular chapter there were indeed two different types of two different groups of people. Although there would be a great multitude that would gather itself before and unto Jesus there by the sea side, and although there would be a great multitude which would hear the parables concerning the kingdom of heaven, there would indeed be two different groups of people. In the first two verses of the fourth chapter we find that Jesus “began to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And He taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine” (Mark 4:1-2). Here within the opening verses of this chapter we find and discover Jesus would set Himself in a ship in the midst of the sea, and it would be there in the ship in the midst of the sea Jesus would teach a great multitude. With this being said, however—if you come to the tenth verse you will find that even though there was a great multitude which was before Him, there would be a second group of people which was different from the multitude. In the tenth verse of this chapter you will find the following words which were written by John Mark: “And when He was alone, they that were about Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable” (Mark 4:10).

            Please don’t miss the tremendous significance of what is found in verses one and two of this chapter, as well as the words which are found in the tenth verse, for within these verses we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus would indeed and would in fact speak unto two different groups and types of people. What makes this particular truth so incredibly interesting is when you think about the fact that Jesus would conclude this initial parable with the words “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” This is something that is quite astonishing and worth thinking about and considering, for it draws and calls our attention to the fact that within and present among this multitude would indeed be those who would not have ears to hear and therefore would and could not hear. The words which Jesus spoke at the conclusion of this parable would indeed and would in fact reveal before and unto those who were present on that day that there would in fact be two different types of people which would listen to and hear the parables Jesus would teach and speak concerning the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. It is incredibly important for us to think about and consider this, for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that when we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs recognize and understand that present within and in the midst of this crowd would indeed and would in fact be two different and two distinct groups of people—those who had ears and were able to hear, understand and discern that which Jesus was speaking, and those who did not have ears, and coincidentally would not be able to hear and listen to the words which Jesus would speak unto them.

            In all reality, that which we find within this passage of Scripture is itself a powerful illustration and demonstration of that which is found in the parable itself, for it would call and draw our attention to the fact that when the word of the kingdom would indeed be taught and preached there would be different types of people that would hear the message, and different types of people who would respond to the message entirely and altogether differently. This particular parable begins and opens up with a great multitude being gathered before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ, while only a few short verses later we find a second and third group of people which would be present within and in the midst of this great multitude. We know there would indeed and would in fact be a great multitude of people that would be gathered before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole multitude would indeed hear the words which were found in the parable Jesus would speak, however, there would be another group of people that would be present after the parable was finished. John Mark reveals how there would be the twelve disciples which would be present before and with Jesus, while there would also be those who were about Him together with the twelve who would ask Him the meaning and understanding of the parable. The parable would conclude with Jesus inviting those who had ears to hear to hear what was being spoken unto them, while in the tenth verse we find that when Jesus was alone, those who were about Him with the twelve would ask Him the meaning of the parable. Now this is truly interesting when you think about the fact that more often than not we have thought that it was merely the twelve disciples which would walk with and follow Jesus who would hear the parable of the sower revealed and interpreted, however, John Mark brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that there would be other disciples who would be present together with the twelve disciples. This leads us to believe that there would indeed be the twelve disciples who would walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, but there would also be those additional disciples who would not be among the twelve, but would indeed walk with and follow Jesus. In fact, this reality is evidenced within the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts when we consider the number of those who were present in the upper room in the midst of Jerusalem, as well as the choosing of that one who would replace Judas as one of the twelve apostles. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first and opening chapter of the book of Acts:

            “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon ZElotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of the names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity: and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels bushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have compoanied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:13-26).

            Please pay close and careful attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here within this passage of Scripture not only points to the eleven disciples and apostles who would be present within the upper room there in the city of Jerusalem, but also a total of another one hundred and nine men and women who would be gathered together with them there in the upper room. What’s more, is that when the apostle Peter spoke up concerning the office of Judas being given unto another he made it known that the one who would be chosen from among them to be numbered among the twelve must needs have been one who accompanied them all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them, beginning with the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how incredibly important this is, for within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find the eleven remaining apostles after Judas’ death, but we also find one-hundred and nine additional disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus who would be present together with them there in the upper room. What’s more, is that the apostle Peter references and makes known those who accompanied them during the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ from the time of John’s baptism until the time of His ascension. Oh we have great need to recognize and understand this, for that one who would be chosen from among them would be one who would walk with and among them from baptism unto ascension. Pause for a moment and think about and consider how this would reference and suggest those who walked with and followed Jesus from the time He was baptized in the Jordan River by John Baptist throughout the three and a half years He would teach and preach unto and among them, and even through and in the midst of His suffering, His death, His burial, His resurrection and His ascension. That one who was to be chosen from among the one-hundred and twenty needed to be a witness and companion from the baptism of John all the way through to the ascension of Jesus. This wonderfully and powerfully suggests that although there were great multitudes which had gathered themselves before, unto and around the Lord Jesus Christ, there would be a smaller group of individuals who would actually be considered disciples and followers of Him.

            This reality of a distinction being made between the great multitudes which gathered themselves before and around the Lord Jesus Christ would also be evidenced and manifested in the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle John. It is in the sixth chapter of this New Testament gospel narrative you will find Jesus teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, and through and by His words there would be many who would strive and contend with those words, and many who would be offended with His words. Within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find and discover the Lord Jesus Christ teaching in the midst of the synagogue there in the town of Capernaum, and how His words would create a schism and divide between those who would walk with and follow Him. It is within this passage of Scripture where we not only find mention and reference of the twelve disciples who walked with and followed Jesus, but we also find it mentioned a greater group of disciples and those who would initially walk with Jesus, and yet those who would be offended with and by the words Jesus spoke unto them and would indeed and would in fact turn and walk away. What makes this particular concept all the more interesting is when you think about and consider the words of the apostle Peter in the book of Acts concerning those who would accompany the disciples from the time of John’s baptism all the way through and up to the time of the ascension of Jesus. Those who were present in the upper room would be those who although many other disciples would turn back and walk no more with Jesus would choose to remain faithful and loyal to walking with and following the Lord Jesus. What’s more, is I would dare say that among those who were present in the upper room and among those who were present here in the sixth chapter who were those who were not only unoffended by the words which Jesus spoke, but had ears to hear what He was speaking unto them and would not turn back and walk no more with Him. Consider if you will the following words which are found within the sixth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John:

            “…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? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dweleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying, who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:41-71).

            The words which we find here within this passage are an incredibly powerful picture, for the words we find here bring us face to face with essentially three distinct groups of people which would hear the words which Jesus would speak on this particular day in the synagogue at Capernaum. Upon reading the words found in this passage you will find the first group of people as being the Jews who were present in the midst of the synagogue. Moreover, you will find a second group of people present on this particular day in the midst of the synagogue as being the disciples of Jesus—those who were walking with and following Him. The third group of people you will find present on this particular occasion would indeed and would in fact be the twelve disciples themselves. What makes the words found in this passage so incredibly unique is that not only will you find the Jews striving with Jesus and murmuring against Him, but you will also find many of the disciples who walked with and followed Jesus being offended with and by the words Jesus spoke. The Jews themselves would strive and contend with Jesus because of the words which He had spoken unto them on this particular day in the synagogue in Capernaum, and there would be many disciples who walked with Jesus who would hear the words He would teach and speak and would ultimately be offended by those words and with Jesus. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand in this passage of Scripture how the apostle John—one who was undoubtedly present on this particular day—would write how the offense that was found within the hearts of many of the disciples of Jesus would indeed and would in fact be too great, and as a result they would turn back and walk no more with Jesus. Not only this, but you will find Jesus speaking directly unto the twelve and asking them if they too would turn back and walk no more with Him. It would Simon Peter who would speak up and would declare unto Jesus that He alone had the words of eternal life, and asked where they could go and to whom could they turn. Moreover, Simon called Peter would also emphatically proclaim and declare his trust and confidence in the fact that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God.

            It is necessary that we call and draw our attention to the words found within this passage, for they clearly indicate and bring us face to face with the tremendous truth that although there would indeed be great multitudes that would gather themselves before, around and unto the Lord Jesus Christ, there would be different groups which were present among them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of hos incredibly important this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention and our focus to the fact that even when Jesus taught in parables unto the great crowds and multitudes there would be those who would hear and understand the words which He spoke, while there would be others who would hear and would not understand. The opening portion of the fourth chapter of this gospel clearly points to the fact that there was a great multitude of people who had gathered themselves unto Jesus, and yet in the ninth verse we find that after Jesus concluded the parable of the sower He would give an invitation to those who had ears to hear to hear what was being said and spoken unto them. What’s more, is that when you come to the tenth verse you will find and discover two different groups of disciples who walked with and followed Jesus. On the one hand there was the smaller group of twelve disciples whom Jesus had specifically called and chosen according to the will of God to walk with and follow Him, while on the other hand there would be a larger group of disciples who would make the conscious and deliberate decision to walk with Him. Even more than this are the words which are found in the first chapter of the book of Acts which speaks of a group of individuals who walked with and accompanied the apostles from John’s baptism all the way through to the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that although there would indeed and would in fact be a great multitude that would gather themselves before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ to hear and listen to Him speak, as well as to behold and witness the works He would work, there would ultimately be a much smaller group of those who were actually disciples and followers of Him. We dare not and must not miss this, for just because great crowds and multitudes might gather themselves together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and even though there might be a great number of individuals who would gather themselves for the sake of the kingdom—not every one who is gathered together and present are actually disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Where this takes on a whole different meaning is when you think about and consider the fact that when you think about and consider many of our churches today—not every one who is in attendance is actually a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is one thing we must needs understand it’s that there is the earthly, the physical, and the natural church—those who might attend church services regularly, those who might even tithe and even respond to various altar calls—and there is the spiritual church which is the body of Christ. Would it shock and surprise you to think about and consider that not every one who is present among you within whatever church you attend is actually a part of the body of Christ? Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider that not every one who worships with you is actually a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? With this being said, I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are written and recorded in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, as well as the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul:

            “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 good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring 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 have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:13-27).

            “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee: Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:31-46).

            “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. IF the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? IF the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: Nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another, and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

            The words which we find within these passages of Scripture bring us face to face with the fact that although there might be great multitudes which gather themselves before and unto the Lord Jesus Christ—not every one of them is actually a disciple and follower of Him. During the days and times the Lord Jesus walked upon the earth we see Him continually surrounded by great crowds and multitudes of individuals as great crowds would gather themselves before and unto Him. In fact, when you read the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the apostle continually referencing the great crowds and multitudes which gathered themselves before the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, you cannot read the gospel narratives without and apart from finding Jesus in the midst of the synagogues teaching the people who gathered themselves together in the midst of it, as well as Jesus on the mountainside, or on the shore of the sea, or even in the midst of the sea as He taught the people concerning the principles and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. What we must needs realize and understand, however, is that although there might have been great crowds and great multitudes which gathered themselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ that didn’t mean that everyone among them was truly and indeed a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. The seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew calls and draws our attention to the fact there would be many who would come unto Jesus in that great day professing “Lord, Lord,” and yet Jesus will declare unto them, saying, “Depart from me, ye worker of iniquity; I never knew you.” These words are perhaps some of the most sobering words which are found in all of Scripture, for they reveal the tremendous truth that it is possible to prophesy in the name of the Lord, it is possible to cast out devils in the name of the Lord, and it is possible to do many great deeds in the name of the Lord, and yet stand before the Lord Jesus and hear those terrifying words “Depart from me, ye worker of iniquity.” It is possible to have done many great things while here upon the earth—even doing those things in the name of the Lord—and yet there will be men and women who will have to depart from the presence of Jesus because they did not the will of the Father.

            While the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew are incredibly sobering, we must also turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the same New Testament book. It is in this particular chapter we find Jesus sitting upon His throne and dividing the sheep and the goats—the sheep He would place on His right, while the goats He would place on His left. The one single and fundamental difference that we find when and as we read the words presented unto us in this passage of Scripture is what was and what was not done unto the least of these. Jesus makes it very clear and very plain that those who would be granted access into the kingdom of heaven and the pleasures therein were those who were kind and compassionate to the least of these—those who fed the hungry, those who gave drink to the thirsty, those who visited the sick and those who were in prison, and those who clothed the naked. Jesus made it very clear that when they did it unto the least of these which were His brethren they would do it unto Him. Conversely, however, we find and discover that there would be those who would not feed the hungry, those who would not give drink unto the thirsty, those who would not clothed the naked, and those who would not visit the sick and the imprisoned. If there is one thing we must needs realize when reading this particular passage it’s that there is a vast and present difference between the sheep and the goats, and it is based entirely and altogether on how they treated the least of these and what they did and didn’t do. Oh that we would recognize and understand this, for I would dare say that there would be some—if not many—among the goats who worshipped next to us within our church services, and those who would be numbered among the goats who we might have even ministered with in our church buildings and in our houses of worship. Jesus did in fact make it very clear that it was indeed and was in fact possible for men and women to do great things in the name of the Lord, and yet still be instructed to depart from the presence of Jesus because they did not the will of the Father in heaven.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark, and I can’t help but see this tremendous dichotomy that exists within the great multitude that gathered unto Jesus there on the sea side. There would be those who would promote and get excited and overjoyed about great crowds and great multitudes, and yet if there is one thing this passage demonstrates, proves and reveals unto us it’s that great multitudes and crowds doesn’t mean great disciples and many followers of Jesus Christ. Great multitudes doesn’t always equate, nor does it amount to a great number of disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. WE would like to think that great crowds and great multitudes of men and women gathering together—even gathering together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—automatically indicates the same type of number and scope of disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case. If there is one thing the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark demonstrates and reveals it’s that although there might very well have been a great multitude that gathered themselves unto Jesus and heard the parable of the sower—essentially this introductory parable that would help unlock all the other parables Jesus would speak—there was a much smaller group of men and women together with the disciples who would actually be present with Jesus when the multitude and crowd disbursed. There seems to be every indication when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture that after Jesus delivered this parable, and after Jesus invited those who had ears to hear to hear what the Spirit is speaking the great multitude and crowd would itself disburse as it would be Jesus left with His twelve disciples and a much smaller group of those who would walk with and follow Him. The book of Acts demonstrates and describes the reality that although there might very well have been great multitudes which gathered themselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ while He moved among us in the flesh there were far fewer individuals who actually walked with and followed the Lord Jesus.

            Consider if you will the fact that Jesus would feed five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish—and not only fed this great multitude, but also how there were twelve baskets of fragments which were left over after the multitude had enjoyed their fill. Within the gospels we also find Jesus feeding another great multitude which would total four thousand—and would not only fill them, and not only fill them to full, but there would also be baskets and fragments that would be left over. What’s more, is consider if you will the fact that in the fifteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul you will find that after Jesus was raised from death to life He would appear unto and manifested Himself unto upwards of five hundred men and women at once. When, however, we come to the first chapter of the book of Acts we find that after appearing unto five hundred after His resurrection, and even after feeding a total of nine thousand people, there were only one hundred and twenty who were present in the upper room. If you do the math and take the five thousand Jesus fed, plus the four thousand Jesus fed, plus the five hundred whom Jesus appeared to after the resurrection you will find that number totaling nine thousand five hundred men and women. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that in the upper room there were only one hundred and twenty men and women which were present. If you do the math that means that a little over one percent of the total number of people Jesus fed, as well as the additional five hundred people Jesus appeared to were present in the upper room. A little over one percent of the total number of Jesus fed were actually present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, and almost twenty-five percent of those whom Jesus appeared to after His resurrection were present there in the upper room.

            This is actually quite alarming, quite puzzling, and quite troublesome when you take the time to think about and consider it, for although Jesus would feed nine thousand men not including women and children, there would only be one hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room. We know that on the day of Pentecost after the sermon the apostle Peter preached three thousand souls were added to the number of those which were present in that upper room, however, you must recognize the tremendous disparity that exists between the number of people Jesus would feed, heal, deliver, and work many great signs, wonders and miracles before and those who would actually be there on the day of Pentecost. We know from the narrative which the apostle John wrote in his gospel account that in Capernaum many of the disciples which had walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ would turn back and walk no more with Him. Stop and think about the fact that many of the disciples who walked with Jesus turned and walked no more with Him. Consider the awesome truth that many are called, but few are actually chosen. Consider if you will how many will say in that day, “Lord, Lord” and will hear Jesus instruct them to “Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity; for I never knew you.” We know that broad is the way that leads to hell and destruction and many there be which find it, while narrow is the way that leads to life and there be few that find it. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please do not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for it draws and calls our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that the Lord Jesus Christ might attract great crowds and might attract great multitudes, however, He attracts far fewer disciples and actual followers. It is true that Jesus has always been one to attract great crowds and multitudes as is evidenced in the four gospel narratives, however, even with that being said we must needs realize and understand that Jesus attracts far fewer disciples and followers—those who are actually willing to walk with, abide with, and remain with Him. Matthias was chosen—not simply by the Holy Spirit and the divine will of the Father, but because he was one of those who tarried with the apostles from the time of John’s baptism until the time of the ascension of Jesus unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven.

            The more we think about and consider the parable of the sower the more we must needs come face to face with the reality of whether or not we are just another number in the great crowds and multitude which are attracted to Jesus, or whether or not we are among the few who are actually the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a great and present need to realize and understand whether or not we are those who are truly willing to walk as disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, or whether we are simply spectators and bystanders in the midst of the crowds and multitudes that might gather together—even among the crowds and multitude which might gather together in His name. Oh would it surprise you think about the fact that it’s possible for a great multitude and crowd of individuals to gather together—and even gather together in the name of Jesus—and yet from, among and in the midst of that crowd there are far fewer disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. Oh I wonder what would happen if we were actually able to see how many men and women among us within our churches and houses of worship are true disciples and true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though we might worship together with other men and women in the house of the Lord, and though we might fellowship together with other individuals, there is a great and pressing need to realize and understand whether or not we are truly a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize and understand that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, and not everyone in the crowd and multitude is a true disciple and follower of Jesus. Consider if you will 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 which Jesus spoke unto His disciples:

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which spaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up gainst their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israe, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as hias master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

            “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 foloweth 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).

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the parable which Jesus spoke concerning the sower and the seed, for there would essentially be four different types of people—four different types of hearts that would be found when the word concerning the kingdom would be preached. Jesus made it very clear that there would be those who would hear the word concerning the kingdom, and yet upon hearing the word Satan would immediately come and snatch away what was sown into their hearts. There would be another group of individuals who would have no root nor depth within themselves, and although they would hear the word—when persecution arises because of the word they are offended and ultimately turn back and walk no more with Jesus. A third group of individuals mentioned are those who hear the word of the kingdom and yet the deceitfulness of riches, the cares of this world and the lust of other things choke the life of the word out of their hearts and lives, and as a result they are unfruitful and unproductive within, for and on behalf the kingdom. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand these different types of people and groups, for although great multitudes and great crowds might gather themselves before and unto the Lord Jesus—and might even gather together in His name—not every one who is present in the midst of the crowd is actually a disciple and follower of Jesus and those who walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not assume that because great crowds and multitudes gather together and assemble—even gathering and assembling together in the name of Jesus—are all those who are walking and have walked with Jesus. We dare not and must not assume that everyone within our churches and houses of worship are those who are walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ, and are those whose hearts are genuinely committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. If this parable which Jesus spoke unto the multitude demonstrates and reveals it’s that possible that within the same great multitude—regardless of how enthusiastic we might grow and become over how large the crowd might be—there are those who will hear the word which is preached and will not only be those whose lives are unfruitful, but also those who have the word stolen away from their hearts, those who experience persecution because of the word, and those who will experience the cares of this world, the lust of other things, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the life out of the word within their hearts.

            If there is one thing great crowds and multitudes cannot guarantee us, and if there is one thing that even decisions and responses in the midst of those crowds and multitudes cannot provide for us it’s what can and might very well happen with the word of the kingdom within their hearts and lives. The parable which Jesus taught reveals how there would have been those present in the midst of the great crowds and multitudes who would hear the word of the kingdom and yet Satan would immediately come and steal away what was sown unto and among them. Jesus’ parable would also highlight and underscore that there would be those who would be present in the midst of the crowd and multitude who would hear the word and would even receive it with joy, yet because they had no root or depth within themselves, nor even because the word itself had no root or depth within them they would by and large become offended when persecution arises because of the word. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that while great crowds and multitudes might seem to be great and wonderful, and while even responses and decisions might seem to be great—there is absolutely no telling what will happen, nor even how someone can and will respond when persecution arises because of the word. What’s more, is there is absolutely no telling if and/or when someone might themselves become and grow offended with the Lord because of the suffering, the trials, the tribulation, the troubles, and the affliction they experience and endure. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this, for this particular parable also demonstrates and reveals the incredible truth that it is possible individuals to hear the word of the kingdom—perhaps even hear and receive it with joy and gladness within their hearts—and yet the cares of this world, the lust of other things, and the deceitfulness of riches chokes the life out of the word that was sown within their hearts.

I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs realize and recognize that even “the sinner’s prayer” itself isn’t enough, for there might be men and women who pray “the sinner’s prayer” and yet when suffering, when persecution, when affliction, when tribulation, when opposition, and when troubles arise they are offended. We know the disciples were offended in the garden when the persecution and suffering of Jesus began at the betrayal of Jesus. We know that many of the disciples of Jesus were offended because of the words He spoke and many turned back and walked no more with Him. I have previously written and I will emphatically declare again that there is a great and present need among us to not only “promote” and “peddle” the sinner’s prayer, but we must also seek to bring men and women into the place where they are willing to pray “the sufferer’s prayer.” Please note that this isn’t a specific formula, nor does it contain specific words that can and must be recited. What “the sufferer’s prayer” does in fact do is bring men and women into the realization that they are being called to make Jesus more than simply Savior in their lives, but also make Jesus Lord of and Lord over their lives. This prayer is the means whereby men and women recognize that walking with and following Jesus does not mean their lives can and will be absent suffering, persecution, affliction, tribulation, opposition and troubles, but that they are willing to embrace it. Great multitudes and great crowds might in fact cause us to respond with great joy and delight, however, we must needs realize and recognize that we do not need more “decisions,” but rather more “commitments.” We have been far too content accepting and rejoicing over “decisions,” and yet the entire time we have failed to recognize that what Jesus truly and ultimately looks for are those who are willing to make commitments—those who are willing to walk with and follow Him from baptism to ascension. Perhaps the single greatest question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to be those who are willing to walk with Jesus from baptism to ascension—and not even from His baptism and His ascension, but our own baptism and our own ascension in that moment when the last trump shall sound, and with the voice of an archangel Jesus descends and those who are dead in Christ and those who are alive and remain are gathered together and meet Him in the air.

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