THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch20 – part 1

STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK – Temple Mount, Mount of Olives, JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Two days had passed since Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city. Everyday he came into the Temple court and taught the people on the steps of Solomon’s Columns. He taught much and soon even the elites of the city came to hear him teach. The day before the celebrated Passover Meal, an exceptional group of Pharisees many of whom were members of the Jewish governing body, the Sanhedrin, were there. When Jesus saw them gathering, he finished the latest parable he was imparting to the crowd. Then he stood up like he was about to orate. He turned first to Peter and the others then toward Cornelius. He smiled and Cornelius knew to be ready because Jesus is going to say something controversial that can lead to violence.

Then he turned to the crowd and said…

“The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” [Matthew 23:1-12]

Angry murmurs were coming from the Pharisees and scribes, while confusion was coming from his own group. They were caught off guard. They didn’t expect and understand why he was attacking them. Jesus criticized them for taking the place of honor at banquets, for wearing such ostentatious clothing, for encouraging people to call them Rabbi. For this he reminded the people that it was not them who are their true leader but only Christ. He was telling people that the true servants of God are not them who exult themselves but those that humbles himself. Some of the Pharisees were loudly protesting, while some were trying to maintain decorum. His own followers were probably relieved that things were calming down. But apparently, he was not done yet.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch19 – part 2

ENTER THE KING – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

The entourage entered the Eastern gate of the Temple Mount base after crossing a narrow bridge that spanned the Kidron Creek. They followed three winding ramps up until went through another gate. Jesus dismounted and James tied off the animals. Then they climbed a set of stairs unto the Eastern wing of Solomon’s Colonnade. Already Cornelius could hear the sounds of selling and bartering. As they emerged from among the columns, the temple court was an unattractive scene of a busy marketplace.

Cornelius looked over at Jesus and saw him actually composed. Peter was whispering in his ears, probably trying to talk him from doing what he did the last time. Jesus turned his head toward the Temple complex where a group of priests were already watching him. Jesus then looked at him and smiled ever so slightly. Cornelius knew he was going to do something drastic.

Jesus pulled up his sleeves and stepped over to the nearest money changer’s table and started to tip it over. Coins scattered everywhere and the money-changer scrambled after them. He went next to a peddler of birds and tore into the soft baskets releasing the birds that took flight. He turns over more tables then turned his attention on breaking the pens that held the animals and drive the corrupt merchants away. All the while he was causing chaos, he was directing these very same words he used before at the growing gatherings of priests.

“My House shall be a House of Prayer,’ but you have made it a Den of Thieves.”

A squad of Temple guards were dispatched to arrest him but were thwarted by an excited and ever so growing crowds that surrounded Jesus hailing him the son of David. As the dust settled, Jesus went back up the steps of the collonade and sat down to teach the people. He taught until early evening and retired back to Bethany.
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch19 – part 1

ENTER THE KING – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Two days later, a big crowd gathered expectantly on the road outside the village of Bethany. The road which was already thick with foot traffic ran from Jericho down unto the Jordan River Valley going wounding up the Judean Highlands to Jerusalem. Cornelius, dressed as a local, waited with his group. Many on the pilgrimage were singing.

“Jacob? What are those songs they’re singing?” asked Cestus.

“Oh, those are the Psalms that Moses commanded us to sing on the way to Festival.”

“Look. Here they come,” Cornelius said. He was looking towards the Bethany gate as Jesus and his disciples emerged.

The people cheered and clapped. Jesus greeted many as they walked among the crowd. But they have not moved on the road to the city. Cornelius worked his way through the crowd by Jesus’ side. But before he could ask, Jesus smiled and whispered.

“We wait to fulfill righteousness.” He looked toward a side track that led to a small village. After a while, Cornelius recognized two of Jesus’ followers coming from that village leading a donkey trailed by a colt.

“Of course, it is a prophecy from Zecharia,” Jacob whispered to Cornelius. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” [Zecharia 9:9]

Peter and James placed their robes on the donkey and helped Jesus climbed on. Just as Peter and James were about to lead the donkey on the road, the men in the crowd took their own robes off and laid them on the road while the women and children tore palm branches off and waved them at him as he rode by. For the two miles to get to the city, it was like this; singing, dancing, clapping and the waving of palms.

Upon entering the Kidron Valley where there was a massive encampment, the people there too joined in. They slowly made their way, through the throng. Young people and children went ahead of the procession shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” [Matthew 21:9]

Among the crowd, there were some of the Pharisees who tried unsuccessfully to quiet those shouting out their praise. They finally pleaded with Jesus saying, “Teacher, rebuke them for they say.”

But Jesus joyously laughed and answered them, “I tell you, if these become silent, the very stones on the ground will cry out!”   [Luke 19:37-40]
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #10

How can Christians be able to worship during the pandemic crisis?

One time, I met a Christian woman who had missed several worship services because her job did not allow the time for her to attend. She was in tears when she described her situation. But then, in the middle of her story, she told me that she and another Christian co-worker would often get together and encourage each other. I told that young woman that her meeting with this other Christian is worship. Why? Because Jesus was with them.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” [Matthew 18:20]

In the news media today, I hear them say how bad it is for Christians not to be able to gather together. How little do they know. For us Christians, when Jesus is in your midst even if we’re only two, what else can we ask for?

GOSPEL part 7

THE COVENANT OF BLOOD

Once a month, usually on the first Sunday, most churches celebrate by partaking in the Lord’s Supper (Communion). This is when little pieces of bread and tiny cups of grape juice or as some churches prefer, red wine are distributed among the congregation to commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Technically speaking, this practice of eating the bread and drinking the wine is a ritual. Now, I am not usually fond on doing rituals and many traditions, however this ritual is one that I just love to practice. Do you know why? Because it was Jesus who institutionalized it for us until He finally comes and claims us .

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. [Matthew 26:26-28]

I have been privileged to go to four churches; 2 churches here in Manila and a couple in Washington State and in California. And in all of them, I had heard many wonderful sermons on the first part of the Lord’s Supper about how the bread represents the body of Christ and what He endured on the cross. But because the preachers were allotted with a limited amount of time during the services, I have yet to hear about the second part. What does Jesus want us to learn about the blood of the covenant? First things first…

What does the Bible say about blood?

For the life of a creature is in the blood… [Leviticus 17:11a]

I need not have to explain why the life of all creature is in the blood.

I learned this quite young when my grandfather who was a farmer had me watched for the first time the slaughtering of a pig. I am afraid I may have to be a little bit graphic here. In those old days, the animal was still very much alive when the farmer plunged his knife into the creature’s neck severing the jugular vein. Its lifeblood gushed out in a constant crimson stream slowly and surely denying the brain of oxygen. It was not long until what was once a living creature, had then become a lifeless carcass. I was 7 years old then.

So, since blood is synonymous to life, God commanded this…

But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. [Deuteronomy 12:23]

One reason God prohibited the consumption of animal blood in the Old Testament was to teach respect for the sacredness of life. Blood is viewed as a symbol of life throughout the Bible, so much so that after mankind sinned, God had set a precedence for their redemption.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul… [Leviticus 17:11,14]

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:22]

By definition, redemption means the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt… and innocent blood was the price.

God illustrated this to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had just sinned by eating the fruit that was forbidden. They then covered themselves with fig leaves in an attempt to hide their shame. Deep down they probably thought they were successful in hiding their guilt. Of course, God is never fooled.

gen-3-skins-wHe saw through their futile attempt to make themselves look presentable that He disapproved. Verse 21 simply stated that the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Did God just simply cause the garments of skin to appear from out of nowhere? He could, quite easily, in fact, but what was evident in Scriptures suggested that God had a large animal slaughtered before their eyes. They witnessed the blood of an innocent creature being spilled so that their sins will be covered. Instead of being totally cut off from His grace, God had provided the people of the Old Testament a way to approach Him without being destroyed by Him.

Adam passed this practice down to Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and yes even to Job. But it was in the time of Moses, in the book of Exodus, that God provided us with a clear picture of how innocent blood redeems.

It was at the time when Moses confronted the king of Egypt with the commandment of God to ‘let His people go’. Nine plagues God had already released upon Egypt and yet Pharaoh refused to obey. So, God intended to send the tenth and final plague… the worst of plagues… the deaths of the first born in Egypt. This would have included the first born of Israel if God had not provided a way for them to escape. How? Every family would have to kill a lamb and place its blood on the door frames so that God’s angel of death will pass over that house and spare their first born. Which he did.   [Exodus 11]

After the fateful event, God had commanded that an intricate system of animal sacrifices  be established as way for the people of Israel to gain forgiveness and then worship. A system that was repeated year after year. Why year after year? The system was meant to be temporary and besides which…

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. [Hebrews 10:4]

Here still lies the problem for mankind – SIN. If the shed blood of innocent animals could not truly redeem us from eternal damnation of hell, then what could?

By every right, it was one man that brought SIN in, so, it should be a man to pay the price.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. [Romans 5:19]

The problem is that no man born in this world (i.e. born of man and woman) can qualify to God’s precedence for redemption. So, who can save us?

Enter JESUS CHRIST! Hallelujah!

The Old Testament Temple practices were never meant to solve mankind’s ultimate dilemma. It was a dress rehearsal, so to speak, for the biggest show!

The show when God enters our reality as man… Jesus Christ…

Who, being in very nature a God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! [Philippians 2:6-8]

To what end?

…and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies (cleanses) us from all sin. [1 John 1:7]

So, when you partake in drinking the cup, keep mind of what Jesus preciously shed and remember the covenant which is when God who is Holy looks at you, He will choose not see your old sinful self but the blood of Christ than covers you.

If you are not sure if the blood of Christ is covering you, then set your mind to learn and get to know Jesus Christ. Then believe.

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Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.*

* Note: It is not the prayer that saves us but faith in Christ. The prayer is a way express belief.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch18 – part 4

THE ANNOINTING ANSWER – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

They returned to the table. Jesus was lounging on his side talking to old man Simon and Lazarus, when young Mary, sister of Martha came in followed by the other women. She paused just at the threshold. In her hands was a slender white alabaster jar with a golden stopper. She then walked over to Jesus caressing the jar over her heart. She looks down and no words were exchanged. Jesus nodded ever so slightly to her. With a smile in her face, she gracefully knelt and unstoppered the jar. Cornelius smelled perfume. She then poured some on his head and her fingers gently combed it into his hair. The other women then sounded wavering, high-pitched tongue sound which they do as a sign of honor. Mary then poured some on Jesus’ feet and used her long hair to gently wipe them.
Abruptly, Judas Iscariot stood up quite indignantly speaking out loud.
“What is this waste? We could have sold this perfume for three hundred denarii and used the money to feed a multitude of poor.”
“Let her alone. Why do you bother her so?” Jesus said calmly. “You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. Mary has done a good deed to me. For when she poured this perfume on me, she was preparing me for burial. I tell you all the truth that wherever this gospel is preached in the world, what she did for me will be spoken of in memory of her.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

Thank you

Johann Q

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #9

How do you know when God is answering prayers?

How can we as Christians see, touch, or even feel that God answered our prayers?

First and foremost, the answer is FAITH.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. [Hebrews 11:1]

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. [1 John 5:14-15]

So, when you pray in accordance to God’s will, well… your attitude, that is your settled way of thinking or feeling should be like this next verse.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [Mark 11:24]

If for some reason, you still don’t know whether God had answered your prayers then I offer the following theories.

  • If you ask, seek or knock and yet don’t get an answer, it may be that the SILENCE is God’s answer. However, God’s SILENCE does not mean an outright NO! We have a tendency to be impatient in our expectation of answered prayers. It would be best to remember that God’s timing is not our own.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. [Psalm 27:14]

  • If there is still no answer, it may be that your prayer request was not up to par. It may be wise to review your requests.

And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures. [James 4:3]