Prepare For Suffering! Prepare For Death! Prepare For Resurrection!

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by John Mark. More specifically today’s passage is found in the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: For such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginning of sorrows” (Mark 13:1-8). “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:9-13). “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: and let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: and let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the LORD had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things” (Mark 13:14-23). “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the mon shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:24-31). “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the clock rowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:24-36). When you come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark you can and will be brought face to face with the second account of the Olivet discourse which is recorded in the New Testament gospels. If you take the time to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you can and will be brought face to face with the truly astonishing truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and His understanding of the Last Days—and not only His understanding of the Last Days but also how He sought to deliberately and intentionally warn and prepare His disciples for the days which where to come. You cannot read the words found within this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding Jesus’ understanding of the Last Days. What’s more is that when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find that Jesus’ words concerning the Last Days would be directly on the heels of His departure from the Temple together with His disciples. The Lord Jesus would depart from the Temple together with His disciples and it would be upon their departure the disciples would seek to call and draw His attention to the magnificence of the building and its stones. If you begin reading the words which are found in the opening verses of this chapter you will find Jesus departing from the Temple and one of His disciples calling His attention to the manner of stones and the buildings were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Undoubtedly this disciple was amazed and marveled at the tremendous stones and buildings which were present in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and sought to call and draw the attention of the Lord Jesus to the handiwork which was present in the midst of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem itself. What’s more is this would be the second time within the four gospel accounts the recounting of Jesus’ departure from the temple and how it would ultimately lead the disciples to a place where the Lord Jesus would warn and prepare them for the coming days. As I write these words I can’t help but think about and consider how when you read the four gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ you will find that He sought to prepare and make His disciples ready for those things which they would face and encounter in the coming days. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for you will recall how the Lord Jesus prepared the disciples for that which they would face when He sent them out two by two as ambassadors of the kingdom which was present in the midst of the earth. The Lord Jesus would prepare the disciples for that time when they would be sent forth as apostles and would heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out unclean spirits and preach the gospel of the kingdom. In fact you annoy read the words which are found in these two gospels—and not only these two gospels but also the Gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke—and not come face to face with Jesus readying and preparing the disciples for their time which would be spent in the midst of the cities, the towns and villages which they would enter. The disciples would be sent before the face of the Lord Jesus that they might preach the gospel of the kingdom and yet Jesus warned and prepared them for the truth that it would not be as smooth and easy as they might think about and consider. The Lord Jesus would send His disciples out to be those who would love others as themselves and love their neighbor and enemies alike and yet He would also prepare them to be hated of all nations and all men for His name’s sake. In all reality I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to pay attention to the words which are found in the tenth and twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for within it we encounter the preparation of the Lord Jesus for His disciples as He would not only send them forth as ambassadors into the harvest but also for that which would come in the days ahead. With all of this being said it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we also recognize and understand the words which are found in chapters thirteen through sixteen of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John. It is within these four chapters we find the Lord Jesus making read and preparing His disciples for His departure from them and subsequent return unto the Father which was in heaven. IN all reality when you read the four gospel narratives which were written by the gospel authors you will find that not only did the Lord Jesus prepare His disciples when He sent them forth two by two as His ambassadors for the kingdom of heaven but He would also prepare them for the coming days which were ahead. Moreover you will find within the four gospel narratives the Lord Jesus preparing and making ready His disciples for His betrayal, His suffering, His death and his subsequent resurrection from the dead. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for directly connected and linked to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus would be two distinct elements of His appearing the first time. The first would be His ascension unto the right hand of the Father while the second would be His return and combing again. You cannot read the words which are found in chapters thirteen through sixteen of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John and not find Jesus preparing and making ready His disciples for His departure from this earth but how it would ultimately prepare them for His coming again. There is something we must needs recognize when considering these words and passages for they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus and how He would prepare and make His disciples ready for that which they would face in the coming days. Oh if there is one thing we must needs understand it’s how we as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs be ready and prepared for the days in which we are to experience. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words found within the four gospel narratives written by the gospel authors the you can and will be brought face to face with the deliberate and intentional time the Lord Jesus would spend preparing and making ready His disciples for the days in which they would face—not only the days they would face during His suffering and death but also the days in which they would walk and enter into after His ascension of the right hand of the Father. THE DAYS OF SUFFERING AND DEATH! THE DAYS OF RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION! PREPARING FOR THE RETURN! The more I think about the words which are found within the four gospels the more I am brought face to face with the incredible truth of how the Lord Jesus readied and prepared His disciples for certain events and experiences they would have. What’s more is that some of these experiences and events would take place while He was still walking among them as the Word made flesh while others were and would be experienced after He had ascended from this earth and returned unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. As you take the time to read the four gospel narratives you can and will be brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the deliberate and intentional time the Lord Jesus took to prepare and make ready His disciples for that which they would experience in this life. It’s important to note that regardless of what the Lord Jesus prepared and made the disciples ready for they would experience all of it in this life. There would indeed be certain experiences and events the Lord Jesus would prepare them for which would indeed begin with His sending them out after appointing them as apostles and ambassadors for the kingdom. It was indeed true the Lord Jesus would give them authority and power over all manner of sickness, to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to cast out unclean spirits, to raise the dead and to preach the gospel of the kingdom unto the poor, however, the Lord Jesus would also prepare them for the discipleship part of walking with and following Him. There are those who think that walking with and following the Lord Jesus is simply and solely about ministry as it pertains to preaching the gospel, healing the sick, casting out unclean spirits, raising the dead and the like. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case. When you come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesus appointing and ordaining the twelve disciples as apostles who would go forth before His face in the midst of the earth. The Lord Jesus would raise up and send forth His disciples as sheep in the midst of wolves and would instruct them to be wise as serpents and harmless or innocent as doves. There is a great need to consider the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for it calls and draws our attention to the Lord’s sending forth and how that sending forth would not only include works of ministry but it would also include marks of discipleship. WORKS OF MINISTRY & MARKS OF DISCIPLESHIP! This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when we read the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew we are brought face to face with the Lord Jesus calling the twelve disciples unto Him—perhaps from the midst of all those who would walk with and follow Him as He prepared to send them forth into the midst of the earth. Within this particular chapter we encounter the awesome and wonderful reality of the Lord Jesus calling these twelve disciples unto Him and preparing them for ministry. With this being said we must needs understand that the Lord Jesus didn’t merely prepare and make ready the disciples for ministry but He also prepared them for discipleship—a reality we need to grasp and understand. I am absolutely convinced there are countless men and women among us within many of our churches who have been prepared and taught for the ministry and works part of walking with and following the Lord Jesus and yet have had virtually zero training and/or preparation for the discipleship piece of it. Such disciples and saints of the living God are those whom the Lord Jesus would speak of are not only those who would be offended when persecution and affliction arises because of the Word but would also turn back and walk no more with the Lord Jesus. What’s is that these individuals would indeed be those who would stand before the Lord Jesus at the last day and profess all they had prophesied in His name, how many devils they cast out in His name and how they had done many wonderful works in His name. It would be unto these individuals whom the Lord Jesus would respond by declaring unto them how He never knew them and would declare them to be workers of iniquity. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventh, thirteenth and twenty-fourth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew before presenting you with the words we see in the tenth chapter of the same gospel: “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 there at: 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 an 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 will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23). “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understand with it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catchers away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath not root in himself, but surety for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arise the because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word: and the care of this world, and the deceitful ness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received the seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also heareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23). “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginnings of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:4-14). I am absolutely convinced there is a need to pay careful attention to the words we see within these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to those who view walking with and following the Lord Jesus through the lens of ministry alone and have absolutely no context for discipleship whatsoever. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider even for a moment there aren’t men and women among us within this generation who are focused solely on the ministry and works side of walking with and following Jesus that they have absolutely no room and space within their hearts and lives for true and authentic discipleship before and in the sight of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are men and women who focus so much on healing the sick, casting out devils, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers and the like and as a direct result of this they have absolutely no context or framework for true discipleship which not only means that we will need to pick up and carry our cross but also that we can and will be hated of all men—and not only all men but all nations—for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s incredibly interesting to read the words which are found within the tenth and twenty-fourth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew for within these two chapters we find the Lord Jesus revealing unto them that they would not only be hated by all nations but also that they would be hated of all men for the sake of His name. What’s more is that when you read the words found in the tenth and twenty-fourth chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find Jesus preparing the disciples to be put out of the synagogues—and not only put out of the synagogues but also beaten in the midst of the synagogues. The Lord Jesus prepared His disciples to enter into cities, towns, villages and even homes and not be received nor welcomed. Despite the fact the disciples were instruct to love their neighbor as themselves there would be those places where they would enter which would not receive or welcome them. There would be those places they would come bringing peace unto them and yet they would and reject the disciples. What’s more is that not only would they reject the disciples and their message but they would ultimately reject the Lord Jesus Christ and thereby reject the One who sent the Lord Jesus who would in turn send the disciples—namely the Father which is in heaven. Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. The words which we find here not only bring us face to face with the Lord Jesus calling the twelve unto Himself and appointing and ordaining them as apostles but also sending them forth into the harvest as vessels and conduits of the kingdom of heaven. What’s more is that Jesus did more than just send them forth with power and authority over sicknesses, over demons, over unclean spirits, over leprosy and even over death itself. If you take the time to think about the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus prepared the disciples for sickness, for unclean spirits, for leprosy and even for death, however, you will also find the Lord Jesus preparing His disciples to be hated of all men for His name’s sake and even to be rejected and not received in some of the towns, villages, cities and even some of the homes they would enter in. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when the Lord Jesus sent forth His disciples He prepared them for persecution, for affliction, for suffering, for opposition and even for rejection. It would have been one thing for the Lord Jesus to prepare and make ready His disciples solely for ministry and a life of works, however, that which we find the Lord Jesus do is prepare them for a life of discipleship. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also prepare His disciples for the opposition, the rejection, the affliction and the persecution that would be directly linked to the works and the ministry. Oh that we would recognize and understand that just as much as healing, deliverance, cleansing, wholeness and even life itself would be directly connected to the works and ministry of the disciples there would also be affliction, persecution, suffering, opposition and the like. Jesus sent His disciples forth as sheep in the midst of wolves and instructed them to be as shrewd and wise as serpents and as harmless and innocent as doves. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the first verse: “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any of the city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither hoses, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:1-15). “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise s 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 speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents and case 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 Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciples is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his 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 Houston’s. 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 followers after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loveth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39). THEY WILL DELIVER YOU UP TO THE COUNCILS! THEY WILL SCOURGE YOU IN THEIR SYNAGOGUES! YE SHALL BE BROUGHT BEFORE GOVERNORS AND KINGS FOR MY SAKE, FOR A TESTIMONY AGAINST THEM AND THE GENTILES! THE BROTHER SHALL DELIVER UP THE BROTHER TO DEATH, AND THE FATHER THE CHILD! THE CHILDREN SHALL RISE UP AGAINST THEIR PARENTS, AND CAUSE THEM TO BE PUT TO DEATH! AND YE SHALL BE HATED OF ALL MEN FOR MY NAME’S SAKE! WHEN THEY PERSECUTE YOU IN THIS CITY, FLEE YE INTO ANOTHER! It is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for within them we find the Lord Jesus sending forth His twelve disciples into the cities, towns, and villages present in Judaea and Galilee as ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven. With this being said, however, it is important to note that in sending them out He didn’t merely prepare them to heal the sick, to cast out unclean spirits, to raise the dead, to cleanse the lepers and to preach the gospel of the kingdom unto the poor. Jesus prepared them to freely give unto others as they had received and to bring peace into every home and place they entered. Having said this it is imperative we recognize and understand that the Lord Jesus also prepared and made them ready for that which they would face in the midst of their journey into these places. The Lord Jesus prepared and made them ready for their peace to not be received in the places where they went—and not only for their peace not to be received but also for them to depart from certain houses, towns, villages and cities having shaken the dust off their feet as a sign of judgment unto them. The Lord Jesus prepared His disciples for the tremendous reality that they would indeed experience suffering, affliction, persecution and opposition where they went. It wasn’t enough for the Lord Jesus to prepare them for works and preaching without making them keenly aware of the reality that serving Him in the earth would and could very well lead them to the place where they would be rejected and despised of men. The Lord Jesus would indeed ready and prepare His disciples to experience a great deal of rejection and opposition in those cities wherein they journeyed and would do so for the sake of His name. I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for if you read the four New Testament gospels you will find that the Lord Jesus would indeed prepare His disciples for persecution, suffering and affliction when He sent them out into the earth. The Lord Jesus would send them forth into the earth as His ambassadors while He was still present among them as there would be a powerful prophetic, apostolic and kingdom force that would be present in the midst of the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for this would not be the only thing the Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for while present among them. If you continue reading in the New Testament gospels you will find the Lord Jesus would prepare them for His own suffering. The more you read the four gospel narratives the more you will find the Lord Jesus beginning to teach His disciples concerning those things He must needs suffer in the flesh as He walked among them. The Lord Jesus would at one point begin teaching and shewing His disciples how He must needs be betrayed into the hands of His enemies and adversaries and how that betrayal would ultimately lead to His suffering in the flesh. What’s more is that not only would Jesus suffer in the flesh but He would ultimately be put to death. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples concerning those things He would experience in the flesh. In fact if you begin reading in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the Lord Jesus beginning to teach His disciples concerning those things which He must needs suffer. What’s more is that in addition to this the Lord Jesus would prepare and make ready His disciples for the tremendous reality of that suffering ultimately leading to His death at the hands of sinners. If you take the time to read the four gospel narratives you will find that in addition to the Lord Jesus preparing and making ready His disciples for suffering, affliction and persecution within their own lives He would also prepare them for His own suffering in the flesh. It would be true Jesus would be persecuted and vehemently opposed and attacked by the religious Jews and their religious leaders, however, we must also recognize and understand that the Lord Jesus would indeed suffer even greater things at the appointed time when the hand of the Father would essentially be lifted from His Son thus exposing Him to betrayal, to suffering in the flesh and ultimately being put to death. Immediately after the Lord Jesus had that profound encounter in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi with His disciples when asking them who men said that He the Son of man was before making it personal and asking them who they said that He was He would begin teaching them of the things which He must needs suffer in the flesh before ultimately being put to death. What we must needs recognize and understand that when we come to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find directly on the heels of this revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God He would begin teaching His disciples those things which He must needs suffer. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to think about it is when you consider the fact that the Lord Jesus would also link and connect His suffering in the flesh to their own call to discipleship. In the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—not only did the Lord Jesus begin preparing them for His suffering in the flesh and ultimately His death and resurrection but He would also further prepare them for the call to discipleship. Directly on the heels of the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God we have further revelation of suffering and death as well as further revelation of discipleship and the need to deny oneself, to take up their cross and follow Him. Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. Beginning with the twenty-first verse of this chapter we encounter this time in which Jesus and His disciples would spend in the midst of the coasts of Caesarea Philippi where He would first ask them who men said that He the Son of man was before He would transition it into a more personal question and ask them who they themselves said that He the Son of man was. Oh there is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are not only brought face to face with revelation from the Father but we are also brought face to face with the Lord Jesus preparing His disciples for those things which He must suffer in the flesh as well as their own call to discipleship. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel beginning to read with and from the thirteenth verse: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: Some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Joan: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ” (Matthew 16:13-20). “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. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savor rest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:21-23). “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). The words we find here call and invite us into the incredible place within the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ where He would ask His disciples who they said that He the Son of man was. It would be from that personal place in the presence of the Lord Jesus Simon called Peter would emphatically profess and confess Jesus to be the Christ and the Son of the living God. We must needs understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for directly and immediately on the heels of this personal revelation the Lord Jesus would not only declare that flesh and blood had not revealed this unto Peter but also that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. What we must needs understand is that following this we find the Lord Jesus beginning to teach and show unto his disciples how He must needs go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders, of the chief priests and of the scribes. What’s more is that not only would the Lord Jesus suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders but He would also be killed. What an incredible revelation Jesus would give unto His disciples on this particular occasion as He would begin teaching and showing them those things which He must needs suffer in the flesh which would ultimately lead to His death. The Lord Jesus would begin teaching His disciples how He must needs suffer in the flesh and how it would be in that place of suffering He would indeed show and reveal unto them how He would ultimately be killed. The Lord Jesus wouldn’t reveal who it was that would kill and put Him to death—only that He would be killed and put to death. From that time—from the time of the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of the living God—the Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for those things which He must needs suffer in the flesh and how it would ultimately lead to His death. What we must needs remember when reading the four gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is that leading up to His actual suffering and subsequent death the Lord Jesus would prepare and make ready His disciples in advance. What’s more is that when you read the gospel narratives you will find the Lord Jesus preparing His disciples for this particular reality in advance so when the time came for His suffering to begin they would not be caught by surprise and would not be caught off guard. The Lord Jesus would teach and prepare His disciples for His suffering in the flesh and how that suffering would indeed lead to His being killed and put to death. With this being said, however, it is also worth nothing that with each subsequent revelation of the Lord Jesus speaking of His being put to death He would also declare and reveal unto them how He would be raised from death to life. Oh there is something truly astonishing about these series of revelations from the mouth of the Lord Jesus for although He would indeed prepare His disciples to be hated of all men for His name’s sake and although He would prepare His disciples for affliction, suffering and persecution he would declare and reveal unto them how He Himself would suffer many things in the flesh. The Lord Jesus would indeed suffer many things in the flesh before He would ultimately be put to death—something which we must needs pay close and careful attention. We must needs recognize the incredible significance that is found within these passages of Scripture for within them we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus and how He would prepare His disciples for that which He Himself would face. In fact the suffering Jesus would face in the flesh would indeed take place while He still walked among them in the flesh. The Lord Jesus would walk among them in the flesh and they would be personal witnesses to His suffering in the flesh—this despite the fact they would all abandon and forsake Him in the garden of Gethsemane. Before I transition to the Lord Jesus preparing and making ready his disciples for his departure from this world and subsequent return unto the Father I find it absolutely necessary to draw your attention to the different times the Lord would prepare and make ready His disciples for His suffering in the flesh. It would be within or near the coasts of Caesarea Philippi the Lord Jesus would begin teaching His disciples those things which He must suffer at the behest of the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel as well as His being put to death. With this being said, however, there would be other times and places where the Lord Jesus would continue to build upon this revelation of His suffering in the flesh and ultimately being put to death. The Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for their journey unto the city of Jerusalem and how it would be there in the midst of the city He would suffer many things at the hands of the chief priests, scribes and elders of Israel—and not only at the hands of the religious leaders but also at the hands of sinners as well. This is something we must needs understand for in addition to the Lord Jesus preparing and making ready His disciples for those things which they would suffer in the flesh in this life He would also prepare and make them ready for His own suffering in the flesh which would ultimately lead to His being put to death. It’s worth noting how the Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for their own suffering in the flesh, however, before they would experience that suffering in the flesh He Himself would suffer. The servant was indeed not above His mater nor the disciple above his lord and as a direct result of this the Lord Jesus would suffer many things in the flesh before ultimately being put to death. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew beginning with the sixteenth chapter: “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 as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elilas is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist” (Matthew 17:9-13). “And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be b strayed 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 17:22-23). “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). “And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (Matthew 26:1-2). It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they help set the stage for continued revelation within the hearts and lives of the disciples. If you continue reading the four gospel narratives—particularly the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John—you will find the Lord Jesus doing more than simply preparing His disciples for His suffering in the flesh and ultimately His being put to death before being raised from death to life on the third day. As you come to chapters thirteen through sixteen of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find the Lord Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure from this earth—and not only His departure from this earth but also His subsequent return unto the Father. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for while it would indeed be true the Lord Jesus would be betrayed, would suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders, would suffer, be mocked and scourged by sinners before being crucified He would ultimately be raised from death to life on the third day. What’s more is that it would be His resurrection on the third day that would ultimately be the portent and sign that would point to something which would take place forty days after He was raised from death to life. The Lord Jesus would indeed be raised from death to life on the third day and would show Himself alive with many infallible proofs over the next forty days, however, He would ultimately ascend and return unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. Prior to Jesus’ suffering and being crucified He would prepare and make ready His disciples for His departure from this earth. The Lord Jesus would indeed reveal unto His disciples how a little while they would see Him and then a little while and they would no longer see Him. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also teach and reveal unto His disciples how it was necessary for Him to depart from this earth and return unto the Father—not only that the promise of the Holy Spirit might be given but also that He might prepare a place in His Father’s house that where He would be there they could be. The words which we find in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John are a powerful picture of the revelation the Lord Jesus would provide His disciples as He would prepare them for His departure from this earth. The Lord Jesus would indeed prepare the disciples for His departure from this earth and subsequent return unto the Father which was in heaven. Within the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John we find Jesus preparing His disciples for His departure from this earth and how directly linked and connected to it would be the coming and giving of the promise of the Father as well as the Lord Jesus ultimately preparing a place for them in His Father’s house that where He was there they would be also. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for while the Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for those things which they would suffer in the flesh and while the Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for His suffering in the flesh before ultimately being put to death He would also prepare them for His departure from this world and return unto the Father. THIS WAS ALWAYS THE PLAN! THIS WAS ALWAYS THE PATH! We have a great need to recognize and understand that while the Lord Jesus would indeed come in the flesh and walk among us as the Word made flesh before suffering and ultimately being put to death and raised from death to life on the third day He would ultimately ascend unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. The Lord Jesus would ultimately return unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven and it would be from that place of glory and honor He would not only send the promise of the Father which was the person of the Holy Spirit but would also begin preparing a place for His disciples and followers that where He was there they might be. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John concerning the words the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples concerning His departure from this world and return unto the right hand of the Father: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would not have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:1-4). “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than those shall he do; because I go unto my Father” (John 15:12). “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:15-19). “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not. Mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:23-24). “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto my Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do” (John 14:25-31). “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when He is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: OF sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:4-11). “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:12-16). “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:24-28). Having considered all the words which are found in these three chapters I find it necessary to return to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark. The words we find in this chapter are not new language nor are they new revelation when reading the four gospels for you will find them having previously been written of by the apostle Matthew. It would be in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we are brought face to face with the same words the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples concerning those days which were to come. It is when you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find the Lord Jesus benign asked of His disciples when those things He spoke of would be and what would be the sign when all those things would be fulfilled. What’s more is that when you consider the words and language found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find the disciples asking what would be the sign of His coming and the sign of the end of the age. It would be in direct response to this the Lord Jesus Christ would begin speaking unto them of the Last Days. Oh what we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words is that the Lord Jesus would indeed prepare and make ready His disciples for those days which were to come ahead—days which we know would indeed come after His departure from this world. Oh if we are to truly understand the words found in this passage of Scripture we must understand them in the context of His suffering in the flesh and His being crucified before being raised from death to life on the third day. What’s more is that we must needs understand these words in the context of Jesus departing from this world and returning unto the right hand of the Father. After the Lord Jesus would indeed be raised from death to life on the third day He would show Himself alive with many infallible proofs before ultimately ascending unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand concerning the ascension of the Lord Jesus—and not only the ascension of the Lord Jesus but also the giving of the person of the Holy Spirit—it’s that it would indeed mark the beginning of the last days and the end times. As I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but encounter the incredible mission the Lord Jesus would undertake to prepare and make His disciples ready for His departure from this world. Jesus knew that He would return unto His Father which was in heaven and He knew that as a direct result of His returning unto His Father which would be in heaven the last days and end of times would begin. Jesus’ ascension unto the right hand of the Father and His subsequent giving of the Holy Spirit would indeed set the stage for the clock to begin ticking and counting down until the time when He would come again that He might rapture His bride and hIs body unto Himself that where He was there they might also be. Oh we must needs understand this for the words which we find within this particular chapter call and draw our attention to the last days which the Lord Jesus would speak unto His disciples about. The Lord Jesus would indeed teach and reveal unto His disciples concerning the Last Days and those days which were ahead of and for them. The words and language we find in this passage of Scripture must needs be carefully considered for these things would be taught and explained by the Lord Jesus that when those days did indeed and did in fact come they would not be caught off guard nor would they be surprised by what would take place among them. Jesus would initially call His disciples to take heed lest any man deceive them and would go on to declare unto them how many would come in His name professing and saying they are Christ and would deceive many. Not only this but the Lord Jesus would also go on to declare how they would hear of wars and rumors of wars but they ought not to be troubled for such things must needs be before the end would indeed come. Not only this but nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom while there would also be earthquakes in divers places as well as famines and troubles. These things would indeed be the beginning of sorrows which would come upon the earth and signal the end of all things and the last days which would be present in the midst of the earth. What we must needs recognize when reading these words is that in addition to this the Lord Jesus would also go on to warn and prepare His disciples for those things which they would suffer in the flesh during in these days. The Lord Jesus would instruct them to take heed to themselves for they would be delivered up to councils and in the synagogues they would be beaten. Moreover the Lord Jesus would go on to declare how they would be brought before rulers and kings for His sake for a testimony against them. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for Jesus would emphatically declare that the gospel must first be published among all nations before the end will come. Furthermore the Lord Jesus would declare unto his disciples that when they would be led and were delivered up they were to take no thought beforehand for what they will speak, neither were they to premeditate what they would say for it would not be them that spoke but the Holy Ghost. Oh what makes this all the more astonishing and intriguing when you think about it is how the Lord Jesus would go on to reveal how brother would betray the brother unto death and the father the son in addition o children rising up against their parents and causing them to be put to death. What’s more is that Jesus would also go on to declare unto them once more how they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake and how he who endured unto the end would indeed be saved. Oh that we would recognize the words which are found within this passage and the clarion call given by the Lord Jesus for endurance as He would emphatically declare unto his disciples that those who endure unto the end—it would be those who would be saved. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we do indeed and do in fact have endurance within our hearts and our souls—something the apostle Peter wrote about in the first epistle which was written unto the saints which were scattered throughout Asia during those days. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found within the first epistle written by the apostle Peter beginning with the final verses of the fourth chapter: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God reset the upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any many suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19). “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, Standish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:8-11). 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 thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark for this would be the second time in as many gospels we find Jesus’ words concerning the Last Days. There is a great need for us to pay attention to the words found in this passage for they call and draw our attention to the incredible truth surrounding Jesus’ understanding of the Last Days and how the Lord Jesus would indeed prepare and make ready His disciples for those days. The Lord Jesus was not willing that His disciples be caught off guard nor be unawares of the dangers, the trials, the conflicts, the struggles, the sufferings and the afflictions that would lie before them in the coming days. The Lord Jesus would deliver these words unto them that they might indeed recognize and understand that which they were going to enter and walk into. We as the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus in these days must needs understand just how incredibly powerful these words truly are for they bring us face to face with the wonderful reality of Jesus’ being compelled to prepare and make us ready for those days which were to come. Jesus wanted us to guard our hearts and our minds from deception—and not only from deception but also from offense in the coming days. Oh that we would recognize and understand the words found in this passage of Scripture and recognize the need for us as the saints of God to indeed be ready and prepared for those days we are in—and not only those days we are in but also those days which lie ahead for us. We as the saints of God must needs guard our hearts and souls with all diligence that we might be found faithful—and not only faithful but also watching and praying that we might be those saints who are able to endure through and until the end.

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