Of Little faith - Part 2:
January 1, 2010 was the sixth anniversary of Faith Studies. Over the last 6 years, 94 have been sent through cyberspace to about 450 e-mail addresses. As with any human endeavor there are bound to have been errors along the way, certainly in grammar, punctuation and sentence structure, but I hope none in the presentation of God's Word. There are two things I'd like to remind you of at this time: 1) if you change your e-mail address and you wish to continue receiving faith studies please let me know about the change; 2) feedback or questions are appreciated. There are times some point may need clarification and if you let me know I will attempt to clarify, as is the case today.
Our last study began examining the Greek word “Oligopistos,” translated “of little faith,” which is only found 5 times in the New Testament; four in Matthew and once in Luke. We saw how Jesus Christ used this word twice to rebuke His followers for Care/ Anxiety. In Matthew 6:3030 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
He said: “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye (Oligopistos) of little faith?” He said basically the same thing on another occasion as recorded in Luke 12:2828 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
. When Jesus uttered these words He was teaching His disciples, among other things, that because of God's promise they were to literally sell all they had, Luke 12:3333 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
, in faith that God would provide all their basic needs, i.e., food, water and clothing.
After the last study a reader informed me he believes I misstated a fact. He said I was in error when I wrote that Jesus “offered” His Kingdom to the Nation of Israel during His three-year ministry among them. His point being that God's Kingdom could not be established on earth until after Jesus died to redeem mankind from sin. This statement is true and thus the “offering” of the Kingdom needs clarification before proceeding with the word “Oligopistos,” “of little faith.” Therefore, we will examine what Jesus said about His Kingdom during His 3-year ministry, as well as how the Apostles/ Disciples, the Leaders of Israel and the general public of Israel perceived what He said about it.
God had promised Israel a King to sit in David's seat and at the time of Jesus, Israel was looking for that Messiah to set them free from Roman domination. Jesus, the Son of God, came to Israel as Christ, i.e., their Messiah. He was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and God's Kingdom on earth is mentioned many times in the accounts of His ministry, in fact, the word Kingdom is found 119 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Here, we will look at some highlights. To start with, John the Baptist prepared the way for the Messiah's appearance on the public scene by preaching that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, Matthew 3:1 & 21 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Jesus' communication to Israel - He told Israel to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, Matthew 4:1717 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
. He preached the gospel (or good news) of the Kingdom, Matthew 4:2323 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
, 9:35; qualifications for entering the Kingdom, Matthew 5:33 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
, 10; pointed out who would be the least and greatest there, 5:19; 11:11; the level of righteousness required for any to enter, 5:20 and He taught His disciples to pray for the Kingdom to come, Matthew 6:9 & 109 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
. At one point He told His Apostles not to go to the Gentiles or even to the Samaritans but only to the lost sheep of Israel and preach that the Kingdom of Heaven was at Hand, Matthew 10:5 - 85 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Jesus' communication received - It's clear that during the 3-years He spent among them: 1) His followers did not understand He had to die and 2) they were expecting Him to establish His Kingdom on earth during their time. Early in His ministry the disciples argued among themselves as to who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom, Mark 9:3434 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
, Luke 9:4646 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
, see also Matthew 20:20 - 2420 Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
& Mark 10:35 - 3735 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
36 And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
37 They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
. While Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom, the disciples asked Him who would be the greatest there, Matthew 18:11 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
. Jesus told Peter he would give him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, with the authority and power to bind and loose, Matthew 16:1919 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.
. But He then told His disciples not to tell anyone He was Jesus the Christ, 16:20 and began to reveal to them that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes and how He would be killed and raised the third day, 16:21. Peter obviously didn't understand this and answered that Him being killed was not going to happen, 16:22. Jesus rebuked Peter, telling him “get thee behind me Satan.” Jesus told Peter he did not understand the things of God and he was thinking like men, 16:23. Peter was the leader of the others and he exemplified they understood at that time.
Peter and the other Apostles/Disciples simply didn't grasp that Jesus was going to have to die before His Kingdom could be established. Some time elapsed between Matthew 16:2121 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.
, when Jesus began to reveal He was going to suffer, die and be raised from the dead and the time of the last supper at Passover time. And even though Jesus presented the bread as His body and the wine as His blood given for them at that Passover feast, Luke 22:15 - 2215 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21 But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!
, they still didn't understand; it didn't sink in. They continued to argue about who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom, Luke 22:2424 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
. If they did understand His imminent fate they were terribly callous and uncaring, but they didn't. Never the less, Jesus understood and loved them, they were human and only by divine intervention could they come to understand all this. (See also Luke 18:33 & 3433 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
.) In fact, it was not until after Jesus died, rose from the dead that they came to understand these things: “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:” Luke 24:44 - 4644 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Therefore, during His 3-year ministry, all who truly believed Jesus was Israel's Messiah and God's son, that is, the Apostles and disciples, looked for Him to establish the Kingdom right then; it was foremost in their minds and about to happen. “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” Luke 19:1111 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
. Actually, it had been common knowledge to everyone from the beginning that Jesus had come as Israel's Messiah/ King: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1 & 21 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
. King Harod tried to have baby Jesus killed in order to eliminate competition for his throne. The leaders of Israel looked for a King to their liking but they resented Jesus because He was a threat to their authority and power. He castigated them for their selfishness, self-righteousness and hypocrisy, and thus in the end they delivered Him over to the Roman authorities to be crucified.
Thus Jesus Christ did come as Israel's Messiah and King but only He knew He had to die before that could happen. As we have seen, He preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and explained all facets of it. He also explained that believing Jews will have to go through great tribulation, Matthew 24:9 - 299 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.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14 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.
15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25 Behold, I have told you before.
26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
; Mark 13:19 - 2519 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.
20 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.
21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:
22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.
24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
, before they see Him (the Son of Man) come to establish His Kingdom, Matthew 24:30 & 3130 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
; Mark 13:26 & 2726 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
27 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.
. But His followers did not understand, they were looking for Him to set up His Kingdom. The people of Israel in general welcomed Him as their King, as proven by their demonstration just before His death when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, Matthew 21:1 - 141 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
, but the rulers of Israel resented that the people hailed him “Hosanna to the son of David,” Matthew 21:1515 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased,
. They wanted Him dead. So we must conclude that Jesus did not “offer” His Kingdom immediately while He was here that first time. The fact is that He “offered” His life, Hebrews 7:2727 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
; 9:14, 28; 10:12. His followers did not want or believe He was going to die, while the leaders of Israel wanted to kill Him. But, no one could take His life, He willingly gave it up, John 10:17 & 1817 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
After all was said and done the Apostle Paul wrote: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” I Corinthians 2:7 & 8. God revealed to the Apostle Paul the reason no one living during Christ's time could know about His offering up His life on the cross. The Prince and the Power of the Air is Satan, Ephesians 2:22 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
, and had he known Christ's death would seal his (Satan's) fate, he would have done everything possible to keep the man Christ from dying: “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” Hebrews 2:1414 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;