Consuming Zeal: The character of God and his people

John 2:13-25

March 19th, 2006

The Third Sunday of Lent, Year B


The “Other Jesus”

Many people seem to believe that Jesus is like a candy-coated Prozac. You take a weekly dose of him and it helps you feel better for a few days. To those people, Jesus is a comfortable, neighborly “guy” that lifts our spirits and doesn’t cause a whole lot of controversy in our lives.

In this lesson we read about the “OTHER Jesus.” He is not a comfortable guy. As soon as you think you have the “Other Jesus” in a box—you find that you are like a man giving a bath to a bobcat in the kitchen sink.

This is not the Tea-Party Jesus. He is not the Potluck Jesus; the Jesus who joins me in my pew singing praise songs louder than the band nor is he a Messiah who would me to feel comfortable with a placid commitment to a “feel good” religion.

This is the Jesus who comes to our church and asks why we have cushioned pews instead of mattresses for the homeless. This is the Jesus who interrupts worship and says; “Why are you singing happy songs in here when children in this very neighborhood went to bed hungry or abused last night?”

Amos 5:21-24

[Amos 5:21] “I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. [22] “Even though you offer up to me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept {them} and I will not {even} look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. [23] “Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. [24] “But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (NAS)

The “Other Jesus” makes statements like:

Matthew 10:21-22

[Matthew 10:21] “And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father {his} child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. [22] “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (NAS)

Matthew 10:21-34-37

[Matthew 10:34] “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. [35] “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; [36] and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. [37] “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (NAS)

Matthew 10:38

[Matthew 10:38] “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (NAS)

The Other Jesus invades religious assemblies and motivates attendees (with a whip made from his belt) to move aside and make way for the crippled, the unclean and the broken. The Other Jesus won’t let us treat him like a weekly “upper”; a lukewarm response to the Other Jesus is even worse than denying him to his face! “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” [Revelation 3:16]

This Jesus doesn’t want us to visit him on weekends and remember him in prayer. This Jesus turns away his own mother and brothers in favor of those who obey what he teaches: “But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.’” [Luke 8:21]

This Jesus wants us to demonstrate our belief with action!

This “Other Jesus” is difficult to preach about. He convicts, he shouts, he calls his best friend “Satan,” and he even whips people when he gets mad enough! Throughout a great many “Prozac” churches this Sunday, Pastors will try to “explain” this Jesus in contemporary terminology. “We mustn’t misunderstand him. We must realize that ‘those times’ were different. Jesus wouldn’t do that today.”

However, the reality is; this Jesus cannot be explained. He must not be explained. We are left with three choices: Run away from him; stand with open mouths embarrassed by him; or run out and bring in the crippled, unclean and forgotten to fill the gap that is left when Jesus is done the selfish, complacent, and unjust.

Let’s quit explaining this Other Jesus. Let’s quit acting like embarrassed relatives of a madman. Let’s start really asking; “What would happen if this Other Jesus came to cleanse my sanctuary?” “What would happen if this “Other Jesus” came into the temple of my heart?”

John 2:13-25

[John2:13] When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [14] In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. [15] So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [16] To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

[17] His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

[18] Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

[19] Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

[20] The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

[23] Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. [24] But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. [25] He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (NAS)

John 2:13

[13] When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (NAS)

In order of significance

The first thing we note about John’s version of this event is that he places it at the start of Christ’s ministry while the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew; Mark and Luke) place it as one of the very last events in Christ’s life. This is not a contradiction as some might think. We must remember that John is sharing his remembrances after seventy years of reflection. He is not recounting his images in chronological order but in order of significance. John puts this event right at the start of his book because he wants us to understand the significance of this event in Christ’s earthly ministry. This event, to John, sets the tone of Christ’s work on earth.

John 2:14-17

[14] In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. [15] So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [16] To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

[17] His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (NAS)

The tone of Christ’s ministry

So what is the number one thing that John feels is so significant about Christ’s ministry on earth? “Zeal for your house will consume me [John 2:17].”

This simple sentence only came to John after seventy years of reflection. It is a quote from Psalm 69:

Psalm 69:7-9

[7] Because for Thy sake I have borne reproach; dishonor has covered my face. [8] I have become estranged from my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s sons. [9] For zeal for Thy house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me. (NAS)

It is truly worth taking a moment to look at the words used of the passion of Jesus.

·         Zeal [GSN2205, zelos]

The root word of zeal is zeo [GSN2204] and it describes boiling liquids or metal that is molten hot. Applied to a person; the word would mean jealousy, indignation or to burn with anger. The image John gives us is of our Lord (the face of God on earth) burning, seething with anger.

·         Consumes [GSN2719, katesthio]

Anything that burns is consumed. It literally means to be devoured. What is Christ devoured by?

·         Father’s House [GSN3624, oikos]

Christ is consumed by a passion for his Father’s house. Yet, we must always remember, that the Lord’s house did not imply a temple prior to Solomon’s day. It was a people. It was the family of God, the people of God. Above all else, it represented the commitment of the Nomadic tribe of Abraham and Moses to protect each child and every widow. The house of God is the “refuge” of God; a place where the poorest of the poor find shelter, food and comfort. The House of God will leave no one behind even at the expense of the whole. In the House of God, we stand or fall in unity.

Look at the clear picture of God that this event and story gives us! Look at the clear picture this gives us about being a follower of Christ. What consumes Christ should consume us! It is not a passion for elaborate buildings, groomed lawns or ornate temples. It is a passion for God’s people especially the one’s most easily left behind. You don’t see the early apostles start talking about expanding the upper room because the church is growing. They are out on the streets preaching and healing in public places. They are taking God’s message out of the Upper Room and into the cities. Indeed, look at what happens when they start talking about getting comfortable; “Let’s divide up the ministry—it isn’t fair for us preachers to have to feed the poor too [Author’s reflection on Acts 6:2].” It is at that point that the weight of the Chief Priests and the Romans comes down upon the church and forces it out of its comfort zone; out of Jerusalem, out into the world.

In a time where income disparity in the United States has never been greater, in a time when such a small percentage of the world’s people uses so much of the world’s resources, we must ask if God’s zeal might not be burning now. God is not zealous to build bigger churches, he is zealous that his people be included, sheltered, fed, healed (receive adequate health care). So, the Follower of Christ must always ask; “Who is being left out?”

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that when we don’t invite the poor in we keep Jesus shut out: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, {even} the least {of them,} you did it to Me.’“ [Matt 25:40]

To forget the poor is to forget Jesus. To leave behind the least of these is to leave Jesus out of our life. To not visit the sick, the elderly, impoverished, imprisoned is to not have Jesus in our day. To build bigger churches and praise God ostentatiously while health care and education are crumbling around us is to despise God. He will not bless a nation that does not have zeal for the Father’s people.

Psalm 73:1-28

[1] Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! [2] But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped.

[3] For I was envious of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked. [4] For there are no pains in their death; and their body is fat.

[5] They are not in trouble {as other} men; nor are they plagued like mankind. [6] Therefore pride is their necklace; the garment of violence covers them.

[7] Their eye bulges from fatness; the imaginations of {their} heart run riot. [8] They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; they speak from on high.

[9] They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth. [10] Therefore his people return to this place; and waters of abundance are drunk by them.

[11] And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” [12] Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased {in} wealth.

[13] Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, and washed my hands in innocence; [14] For I have been stricken all day long, and chastened every morning.

[15] If I had said, “I will speak thus,” behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children. [16] When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight

[17] Until I came into the sanctuary of God; {then} I perceived their end. [18] Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction.

[19] How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! [20] Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form.

[21] When my heart was embittered, and I was pierced within, [22] Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was {like} a beast before Thee.

[23] Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. [24[ With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.

[25] Whom have I in heaven {but Thee} And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. [26] My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

[27] For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. [28] But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works. (NAS)

Deuteronomy 15:7-11

[Deut 15:7] “If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; [8] but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need {in} whatever he lacks. [9] “Beware, lest there is a base thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing; then he may cry to the LORD against you, and it will be a sin in you. [10] “You shall generously give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. [11] “For the poor will never cease {to be} in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’ (NAS)

What makes our God boil?

God boils for his people. The temple had become a place where the people of God were commanded to go; but where access to God was a scam. Look at the cost of worship to the common man of Christ’s day:

Temple tax                                      = 2 days wages

Money Changer’s Share                    = 1 days wages

Sacrifice Inspector                            = ½ days wages

Sacrifice                                          = (1 pair of doves outside the temple); 2 days wages

                                                      = (1 pair of doves purchased inside the temple—should your offering not be accepted); 40 days wages

In today’s economy, a day at the temple could cost about $3,000—$4,000 dollars and any Jew within 15 miles of temple was required to attend at least one of the three festivals each year. The Roman historian, Josephus, wrote that Passover visitors could number as many as two and a quarter million. This would put revenues from such gatherings at hundreds of millions of current dollars. It is indeed hard to imagine such wealth in the hands of so few. It is harder still to imagine the burden of poverty that it would place on so many. No wonder God’s blood boiled; no wonder Jesus chased these profiteers from the temple!

  And all of this injustice was done in the name of religion. That is the real definition of using God’s name in vain; preying upon God’s weakest to gratify one’s need for power, pleasure or popularity. This is institutionalized sin; using God’s name to cover up for a rapacious system.

Thomas Merton (monk, theologian and servant of Christ) tells us that the greatest sin today is what institutions do in our name; with our contributions, tax dollars, profits or investment. I never truly understood this until I visited Central America and saw how our Government’s support of men like General Pinochet or General Noriega created systems of repressive power. I talked to families who lost loved ones to their dreaded death squads trained by our own CIA. It was dollars spent in our name that funded the regimes of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (whose oppressive regime led to the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini). It was our clandestine support that funded the coup that brought Saddam Hussein to power and funded Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan.

We have learned how tobacco companies used profits from cigarettes to target ten to twelve-year-old children. We have seen huge corporations like Bechtel, Halliburton and the cult of Enron use government influence to fix prices that have raped the poor in multiple countries around our globe. Far too often, the cry of the Christian has been either shamefully silent or sadly on the side of profit rather than the prophetic.

In order for these horrible things to occur, many eyes have to be turned aside. People have to say, “There’s nothing I can do,” or, “Someone is going to do it anyway,” in order for these things to occur on a repetitive basis.

The sin that makes God sick is complacency:


“Were that you were hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm I will vomit you from my mouth.”

Our God vomits at complacency! Over and over in the scriptures I realize that the opposite of love is not hate; it is complacency. We have a God of action. A God consumed by zeal for his people. Does our zeal for God’s people measure on the Richter Scale or are we catatonic Christians?

Am I part of a comatose community of Christians? Does my city see “zealous behavior for the poor” from my church or are we known more for our bake and rummage sales? Did you ever see Jesus and the Apostles have a rummage sale?

Our God is a zealous God, a God on the move, a God of decisive action, if I claim his name, if my church calls itself after his son, then I need to model the same zealous behavior. Look at the final blessing of David for his son Solomon.

1 Chronicles 28:20

Take courage and act!

Does that sound like the benediction in our church? Are we calling each other to take courage and act?

John 2:18-22

[18] Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

[19] Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

[20] The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” [21] But the temple he had spoken of was his body. [22] After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (NAS)

A Sanctuary

Here is the most amazing news we could ever receive; God made the temple obsolete by making Jesus our temple. We are no longer bound to a place or a time because Jesus broke the bonds of temporality. The temple of God had become a prison in which the religious tried to keep God in and the people of God out. Access was gained only through extreme financial sacrifice and the inside of the temple had become a wasteland—a desolate place of abomination. Were you a Gentile seeking to learn more about the faith—you would only be allowed to visit the outer court—the Court of the Gentiles. That outer court had been overrun by relatives and associates of the high priests who hawked sacrificial animals and extorted the people of God. Were you a sincere believer, it would cost you an exorbitant amount to offer your sacrifice to God. The House of God, his temple, had become a sham, a “den of thieves.”

God took worship back and gave it to the people. Wherever Jesus was—that was the temple [GSN3485, naos]. The word for temple also means sanctuary, a refuge, a place where those without rights can find solace and safety. So, “what miraculous sign did Jesus show us to prove his authority to do all this?”

His offered us his own body, blessed and broken for our salvation.

The Body of Jesus is the miraculous presence of God given as both example and sacrifice. Through Jesus we can taste and see the goodness of the Lord: “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him [Ps 34:8]!”

We do not need to fight for Jerusalem or ‘the Holy Places” because wherever we find ourselves is holy when we invite Jesus into our situation! Wherever two or three are gathered in his name—that is our temple [Matt 18:20]! No longer are we tied to a place, a location or even a doctrine; we are tied to a relationship. If we follow Jesus wherever he goes—we are tied to him through his miraculous sacrifice. If we learn anything from this lesson it is that we should never become attached to places and buildings again.

We must be tied and attached to the Body of Christ in the form of the least of these. To heap exorbitant amounts on buildings and comforts while God’s body is wounded and impoverished is an abomination before the Lord. God does not want us meeting in ornate churches—he wants us meeting with the least of these. The fancier our meeting places—the more it attests to our selfishness and the lack of God’s presence! We must begin meeting in jails, hospitals, rest homes and on street corners for that is where the Body of Christ would lead us. God will rejoice on the day that we turn our empty buildings into adult day cares, children’s after school programs, restoration ministries and bread pantries with a little coffee shop for the visiting impoverished.

Isaiah 1:13-17

[Isa 1:13] “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. [14] “I hate your new moon {festivals} and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to me. I am weary of bearing {them.} [15] “So when you spread out your hands {in prayer,} I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. [16] “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, [17] Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow. (NAS)

To love the Lord is to focus on his body—not a building. To love the Lord is to become refuge and sanctuary for his wounded. To love the Lord is to be the Samaritan; the hated outsider who goes out of his way and gives from his depth to care for the unknown wounded—a man he may never see again! The two religious men were busy hurrying to the temple—they did not want to be distracted by the wounded man. That man—the one wounded on the roadside—is Jesus inviting us into compassionate relationship!

Here is how the early church defined temple:

Acts 17:24-25

[Acts 17:24] “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; [25] neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things. (NAS)

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

[1 Cor 3:16] Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and {that} the Spirit of God dwells in you? [17] If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (NAS)

2 Corinthians 6:14-16

[2 Cor 6:14] Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? [15] Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? [16] Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (NAS)

Ephesians 2:19-22

[Eph 2:19] So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, [20] having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner {stone} [21] in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; [22] in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (NAS)

So then, the temple is a living place, it is God’s household. It is made out of the faith and justice of those who cared for the wounded body of Jesus. Someday, that glory will be abundantly evident to those who “endure”—who are not dissuaded or waylaid by the temptations of the temporal and spatial. Focus on the body of Jesus and his temple will be inside of you!

Rev 3:12

[Rev 3:12] “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. (NAS)

Revelation 21:22-23

[Rev 21:22] And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. [23] And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp {is} the Lamb. (NAS)

Tearing out the pews

Here is the saddest story in the history of mankind. It is a story of a people called to greatness but who instead chose expediency.

John 11:47-53

[John 11:47] Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. [48] “If we let Him {go on} like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” [49] But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, [50] nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.” [51] Now this he did not say on his own initiative; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, [52] and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. [53] So from that day on they planned together to kill Him. (NAS)

It is a story of children—loved dearly by a father—that turned away from his love for vice and pleasure and even worse; complacency. This is not a story of the Jews—it is a story of religion. It is a story of a people that chose to listen to God prejudicially. They heard only what stroked their egos and tickled their ears and turned away from the challenging and just words of God.

I remember leading a study once for a church women’s group. Part of the study dealt with some of the tough words of Haggai:

Haggai 1:2-9

[Hag 1:2] “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.””’ [3] Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, [4] “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” [5] Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! [6] “You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”

[7] Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! [8] “Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD. [9] “You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?” declares the LORD of hosts, “Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. (NAS)

One of the ladies lashed out angrily about those words and said; “I disagree with you; I don’t like what you’re saying!”

I asked her if her bible had the book of Haggai in it. When she found it I suggested she tear out that particular book if she didn’t like it. Then I suggested she also rip out Joel and Amos; “they are pretty offensive too.”

“Certainly the book of Job can upset our sensibilities and then there’s all that talk from Jesus about picking up our own cross or abandoning ourselves to the least of these. Pretty soon we’re left with an awful thin book that has an awful big cover.”

“There really is only one way to not be challenged by the scriptures,” I said. “Don’t read them. Study the ritual and leave out the service.  Focus on potlucks and garage sales and stay away from jails and shelters. However, don’t be surprised if you cannot recognize Jesus when he returns. The Religious of Christ’s time thought he was a demoniac, a crazy demon, they pulled out all the stops to have him killed.”

Does that sound harsh? Is it less harsh to let someone comfortably lose their soul? Is it less harsh than un-strapping a belt and claiming a church as a shelter? What would that look like? If we began claiming churches as sanctuaries for the indigent and chased out those who were worried about shoes scuffing the hallways? How long before we would be thrown out or even arrested for trespassing?

What does my faith look like? Am I an awfully thin book with an awfully thick cover? Or am I known for my zeal for God’s household?

The Word of God is not confusing

It is not that the words of God are confusing; it is just that we are confused by them. We can’t believe that Jesus really wants us to give up all of our distractions and follow him. We can’t believe he really wants us to seek a cross; to seek to be despised for his name. We don’t want to believe that he came to bring a sword that would divide families and unite us with outcasts. We want Jesus; but we want him for tea and pleasantries, not confrontation and division. We want a Jesus who would attend our church and not question why we call ourselves followers without following. We don’t want a Jesus who says; “I’m glad you believe in me—so let’s tear out the cushioned pews and instead put in mattresses for those abandoned in our own city.”

The word of God is not confusing; we just don’t want to take it at face value. We don’t want it to push us out of our complacency and into zeal. We fear that if we took Jesus at face value it would change our lives radically. Yet, our Lord did not come to recruit followers; he came to tell the truth to a lost and stiff-necked people:

Ezekiel 2:1-7

[Ezek 2:1] Then He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet that I may speak with you!” [2] And as He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard {Him} speaking to me. [3] Then He said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. [4] “And I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children; and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ [5] “As for them, whether they listen or not-- for they are a rebellious house-- they will know that a prophet has been among them. [6] “And you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. [7] “But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious. (NAS)

What if we really shared the Good News as it was actually written; as hope for the lost and freedom from the bondage of sin? What if we really lived like Jesus or as radically as the Acts 2 Church? What if we upset the sensible and made sense to the vulnerable? What if the comfort we offered was deeper than cushioned pews and actually healed the wounded? “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God [Isaiah 40:1].

What if we embraced the Gospel instead of trying to explain it? Would we then reawaken the power of the living Christ in our gatherings? A power to actually do what Christ actually told his disciples to do:

Matthew 10:7-11

[Mt 10:7] “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ [8] “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. [9] “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, [10] or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. [11] “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. (NAS)

Religion-ism: Religious Superiority and Exclusivity

Here is a heart-rending story; a people destined to be a light to all nations is known instead for constantly choosing religious ritual over relationship and a stone edifice over a living sanctuary.

However, it is less a story about Judaism than it is about “religion-ism”. This same story continues to haunt us whenever people want a religion that is comfortable and not challenging. It happens when we want a Gospel that tickles the ears without kicking our derrieres.

2 Timothy 4:3-7

[2 Tim 4:3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; [4] and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. [5] But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. [6] For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. (NAS)

There is a subtle but horrible switch that occurs in any church when even one member is allowed to think exclusively rather than inclusively without being challenged. It seems harsh to say, but that is the moment when evil finds a voice. The racial joke that is tolerated, the youth who receives a cold glance because of what they look like, the angry sneer that is cast toward the young parent as a newborn wiggles in church—do not give footway to such behavior.

Matt 18:15-17

[Matt 18:15] “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. [16] “But if he does not listen {to you,} take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. [17] “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. (NAS)

In Matthew 18 (the chapter on Christ-centered confrontation) Jesus describes two things that a church must confront:

1.        Religious superiority

Matt 18:1-4

[Matt 18:1] At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” [2] And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, [3] and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. [4] “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (NAS)

1.        And religious exclusivity (especially when it turns away the lost and the young)

Matt 18:6-14

[Matt 18:6] But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. [7] “Woe to the world because of {its} stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! [8] “And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. [9] “And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell. [10] “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven. [11] [“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.] [12] “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? [13] “And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. [14] “Thus it is not {the} will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (NAS)

Clearly, the issue to Jesus is not the humbled servant who trips and falls into sin. It is the proud religious who proclaims his own greatness to the congregation. It is the attitude of superiority and exclusivity that Jesus says prevents our access into his Kingdom:

Luke 18:9-14

[Luke 18:9] And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: [10] “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. [11] “The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. [12] ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ [13] “But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ [14] “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (NAS)

Religious intolerance is what crucified Jesus, it was disguised as piety and “protecting the faithful” but it was little more than rouge on the hood of a cobra. Exclusivity and intolerance in any form make it impossible for people to hear the word of God:

John 8:43-51

[John 8:43] “Why do you not understand what I am saying? {It is} because you cannot hear My word. [44] “You are of {your} father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own {nature;} for he is a liar, and the father of lies. [45] “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. [46] “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? [47] “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear {them,} because you are not of God.” [48] The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” [49] Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. [50] “But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. [51] “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” (NAS)

Furthermore, God is not bound by our biases. He is like a powerful riptide against our feeble walls of sand; against him our biases will not stand. He will simply go over, under and around our pretenses. God’s Word will reach the needy—even if it means destroying the temple. God is not like the person who threatens to leave but yells all the louder if you do not respond. God makes no threats. When God’s people become biased and intolerant; God goes to others on his own.

Rom 10:19-21

[Rom 10:19] But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses says, “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.” [20] And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who sought Me not, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” [21] But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” (NAS)

God wants us to follow because he loves us—but he does not need followers to be God. He is God whether we follow or not.

Become a community of challengers

Flee pride, flee intolerance and flee exclusivity.

It is worth everything to become a community that will challenge you to be like Jesus by including the least of these. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask others to challenge you to remain open to the needs of the people of God. Remaining open to the lost will open your ears to God. Seek a group of people who will engage you in the quest to find the invitational Jesus.

Proverbs 27:17

[Prov 27:17] Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (NAS)

Ecclesiates 10:10

[Eccl 10:10] If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen {its} edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. (NAS)

John 2:22-25

[23] Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. [24] But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. [25] He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (NAS)

The Strength to be Hated

The minute you choose to order your life by internal principles—instead of what your peers or neighbors will say—you have made the step out of adolescence and into adulthood. Jesus knew far better than to trust in man’s assessment; he did not give his values over to the whimsical nature of popular opinion. Actions such as clearing the temple could never be accomplished by someone with a weak value system. It went against every cultural bias of Christ’s day. It put Jesus at odds with the highest religious and civil authorities of his time.  It was on that day that Jesus signed his own death warrant. What Jesus did not only exposed the High Priest’s negligence of God’s commission; it went further and exposed their outright corruption of the law for personal gain. The prophetic Jesus had the inner strength to expose the institutional religious.

Only through God does one have the strength to be loved by the powerless and hated by the powerful. It is a corollary of Mature Christianity that one is just as comfortable being disliked by those who are exclusive and superior as being loved by those who are humiliated and neglected.

John 15:18-20

[John 15:18] “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before {it hated} you. [19] “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. [20] “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (NAS)

Jesus shows us that Christian maturity leads to fanatical passion (zeal) and that fanatical passion results in inevitable consequences. It is not a passion for popularity, titles, or anything temporal. It is a fanaticism for God’s people—the household of God—that not one person would be left behind. It was Christian maturity that killed Jesus; the maturity that allowed him to be fanatical.  Jesus would not find solace in standards or promises of this world, he would only find rest in a radical commitment to God’s word; a zeal for his father’s house.

Zeal for his father’s house

Jesus’ coming was fore-ordained not because of any external attack that God’s people faced; there were many times that the Great Jehovah actually placed the “Nation” under foreign governments to make them dependent on him again. The arrival of Jesus was a result of an irreversible internal threat by those given the responsibility of the flock. They had begun to devour their own sheep! They left God’s people exposed in the fields to be attacked by wolves.

Matthew 9:36

[Mt 9:36] Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (NAS)

Matthew 25:32-46

[Mt 25:32] “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; [33] and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

[34] “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. [35] ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; [36] naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ [37] “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? [38] ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? [39] ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ [40] “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

[41] “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; [42] for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; [43] I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ [44] “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ [45] “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ [46] “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (NAS)

(Author’s note: Sheep were an intrinsic part of the Palestinian economy; every person in Palestine would have some idea of the religious significance of the “goat analogy”. Shepherds always sought to keep the goats away from the sheep. Goats were wild animals—not domesticated. They would mix with the sheep while they were feeding in the pastures and then run off into the wilderness when the sheep were threatened. Goats knew how to flee—but the sheep were too domesticated and would become easy prey to the dangers that surrounded them. Therefore a goat was a symbol of a false leader [see Jeremiah 50:6-8]).

John 10:11-18

[Jn 10:11] “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. [12] “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. [13] “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. [14] “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, [15] even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. [16] “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. [17] “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. [18] “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (NAS)

The Delicate Balance

The Institutional Challenge

The prophetic will always be at odds with the institutional. Yet, neither group is inherently good or evil. Both must remember they are still church. It is the role of the prophetic church to create stress whenever the institutional church becomes self-serving. It is the role of the institution to seek truth in the uncomfortable defiance of the prophetic. However, the institution is most “at risk” when it relies on its very existence as a pseudo-claim of righteousness; “We’ve been here longest so we must be best.” Even two thousand years ago the institution that Jesus confronted relied on its lineage to license its righteousness. As a result, they closed their ears and killed their prophets.

Matthew 5:11-12

[Mt 5:11] “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. [12] “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NAS)

Matthew 23:29-39

[Mt 23:29] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, [30] and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ [31] “So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. [32] “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. [33] “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

[34] “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, [35] so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. [36] “Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

[37] “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. [38] “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! [39] “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ “ (NAS)

Luke 13:34

[Lk 13:34] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (NAS)

There is an interesting business corollary to this issue. A couple decades ago, 3M realized it was losing huge business advantages when company employees took innovative ideas and became entrepreneurs; leaving 3M and marketing their ideas to other corporations. To address this loss of creative and motivated individuals, 3M developed an “intrapreneur” program. They mentored and financially supported ideas that had viable, market potential and espoused the company’s mission (including product quality, customer and investor expectation). Indeed, one of their first products were the sticky notes that adorn desks, computer screens and refrigerators all over the world. Instead of driving away corporate innovation (the prophetic); they made seeking and rewarding creativity part of their corporate culture (institution).

Embracing creative is terrifying to most institutions especially if their primary task has become defending itself. Yet, the more institutions fortify their walls; the louder and more attractive becomes the cry of the prophetic is in the wilderness. Institutions must embrace the prophetic (and the messy chaos they bring with them) in order to stay viable.

The Prophetic Responsibility

Similarly, the prophetic also bears a grave responsibility. For, as soon as they become self-focused and defiant they verge on becoming manipulative; calling people to follow them and not Christ. It is the role of the prophetic to live what they preach and to preach only Christ. The Prophet preaches God’s glory but never his/her own:

John 8:54

[John 8:54] Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’.” (NAS)

When Jesus finally did attack “the institution” he was zealous but not a “Zealot” or a “Terrorist”. He never sought to aggrandize himself or to be “anti-establishment” for the sake of being defiant. He ignored his own rights and spoke on behalf of the needs of others. Neither did Jesus play the role of the prophet in order to become a politician. We must acknowledge that this incident in the temple was the ONLY time that Jesus sought out the institution to purposefully attack it. With the exception of this incident, Jesus spent all of his time preaching, teaching, healing and cleansing, not attacking, defending, and trying to build a “membership base.”

It was because Jesus was so effective at changing lives that the institutional religious sought him out. First, they sent Nicodemus (to bring Jesus into the flock), when Nicodemus became enamored they sent out others to try and expose Jesus. When that didn’t work, they sent out spies to build a case against Jesus. He attacked the institution only because it had placed itself between God and his wayward people.

The true prophet seeks neither confrontation nor acquiescence. The true prophet seeks transparency. It is the role of the prophet to decrease the attention that is focused upon him/her and increase the attention that is focused on God. In the words of John the Baptist:

John 3:30

[John 3:30] “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (NAS)

It would be the appropriate goal of every Christian life to become less and less visible, humbler and humbler everyday until our very existence pointed away from ourselves and towards our Lord. That is the temple within each of us that needs to be destroyed; the one that locks out the Lord and raises ourselves upon a pedestal or pride. That is the courtyard that Jesus wishes to clear out in our own lives. Until finally, we discover that it is only when we become nothing—that he becomes everything.

Are we zealous about God’s Household: Not the institution nor the building, but the people of God and, in particular, the wounded and forgotten? Are we complacent in the midst of injustice? Have we forgotten the Jesus that uprooted manipulators in the temple and sent the extortionists fleeing for cover?

Let’s become zealous for a cause, his cause, the cause of communal salvation; not just a personal relationship between “the big guy and me.” Let’s be known for our zeal for God’s household.

Youth Supplement

John 2:25

[John 2:25] He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (NAS)

Getting Radical with Jesus

The difference between being an adult and being an adolescent lies mostly in who has the most influence on our choices and self-concept. As long as peers are the major influence on my decisions or my self-concept—then I am still an adolescent. Becoming an adult means that my decisions and self-concept are based on my own values—not what other people think or say.

The first step (and the toughest part) of moving from adolescent to adult is to know what I value—what’s most important to me. If I know what is important to me—it is much harder to fall under the pressure of whoever is around me. It is helps prevent me from being used by immediate physical urges. It’s funny, but I often meet people my age and older who are still a victim of their urges and other people’s opinions. Some of them wear banker’s suits and some of them wear prison uniforms; but they base their choices on pleasure and popularity. Without named values, they cannot make choices based on what is important to their long-term growth; especially the type of long-term growth that God has in mind for each of us.

Jeremiah 29:11-12

[Jer 29:11] “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. [12] In those days when you pray, I will listen. [13] You will find me when you seek me, if you look for me in earnest.” (TLB)

Jesus was a radical adult in this manner. He knew exactly who God called him to be, his role in eternity. As a result, popularity and prestige meant nothing to our Lord. None of his actions were based upon, “What will others think?” His actions were not based upon getting a cheap and immediate thrill—especially if it was at someone else’s expense.

Radical Jesus didn’t change his values to gain recognition nor use others for his own pleasure. Instead, his actions were based completely on one value; “How will this action or thought serve my Living God?”

To be such a radical adult means to be radically free. It is hard to understand that concept in our culture because we tend to associate adulthood with impressive job titles or high incomes. We tend to consider freedom in terms of financial freedom or freedom to buy or do whatever I want. Jesus thought of freedom as being available to God in every circumstance.

Look how the Apostle Paul described radical freedom:

Philippians 4:11-13

[Philippians 4:11] Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. [12] I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. [13] I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (NAS)

Paul wrote that while he was under arrest. He declared his spiritual freedom; he was unconcerned with financial or even physical freedom.

Dealing with imprisoned people, I have had to re-evaluate what I mean by freedom. For many of those I visit; they think of freedom as the ability to do whatever they want. The inevitable result of that type of freedom put them behind bars. That’s selfish freedom—it is a freedom that leads to imprisonment; whether of the body or the spirit.

Instead, I offer these friends of mine a radical freedom that is only available to radical adults. It is a freedom from “what others think”; freedom from addictive urges and compulsive, animal-like behavior and even freedom from hatred. I offer them Christ’s radical freedom.

Imagine that type of freedom! It’s a freedom from having to impress other people; a freedom from being ruled by a constant, gnawing hunger that keeps shouting; “What about me?” That is the radical freedom available through a radical Jesus to radical adults.

Lord, make me that type of radical!


1.       What are some of your most important values?

2.       How can a strong sense of personal values help you stand for what you believe?

3.       How would someone with strong personal values respond to negative peer pressure? For example:

·         Someone tells you that to be a part of their group you need to loosen up and use drugs. What value of Christ would that go against?

·         Someone tells you that everybody is smoking—so why don’t you? What value of Christ would that go against?

·         Someone tells you if you loved them than you would have sex with them. What value of Christ would that go against?

4.       What are some ways that this world’s values conflict with the values taught by Jesus in Matthew 5:1-16?

5.       List three people who could help support you in living out the values that Christ taught.


Watch TV with a group of friends or your family tonight and write down the values that each commercial is trying to use to convince you to buy their product. Compare these values to some of the radical values of Jesus named in Matthew Chapter 5; The Beatitudes:

Matthew 5:1-12

[Matt 5:1] Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, [2] and he began to teach them, saying: [3] “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [4] Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. [5] Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. [6] Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. [7] Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. [8] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. [9] Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. [10] Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. [11] “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. [12] Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (NIV)

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2005 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved. This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2005 ©

Scripture taken from God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society original work copyright © 1995.

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