God-in-a-Box–Your Inbox… for appreciating God
Get a Cosmic View of Jesus' Life in Small Bytes

Jesus’ words hold the people spellbound. His knowledge of the sacrificial service, the law, and the prophets far exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees–his understanding brings the true meaning alive. As at Capernaum, the people in Jerusalem are enthralled.
The priests observing this, try to discredit him, “You haven’t attended our schools; what authority do you have to teach in the temple?”
“My teaching is from Him who sent me,” answers Jesus. “If you want to do God’s will, you will know whether it is from Him.”
Jesus says that receiving truth depends on your heart’s openness to God. They are hiding from God because ever since Jesus healed on the Sabbath at the Pool of Bethesda, they have been plotting his death.
“Moses gave the law you accuse me of breaking by making a man whole on Sabbath, but you break it by wanting to kill me.” He confronts them, showing he knows their hearts.
For an instant terror fills them, they see they are fighting Infinite power. Somehow they must disparage him. “You have a demon! Who wants to kill you?” they scoff.
Many believe Jesus; others are mislead by the pretense of the Pharisees. If the people would study the prophecies for themselves they wouldn’t be fooled. Spirit would help them understand. God wants them to recognize His son.*
But God does not force us to believe. He leaves us free to choose between light and darkness; He desires us to investigate the evidence and decide. He will open the minds of those seeking truth.**
John 7:16-30   *Isaiah 53, 59 and 61 give a clear picture of Jesus life, work and death   **John 7:17,
The Feast of Tabernacles was the harvest festival, celebrating God’s gifts throughout the year.
Three times a year there were major feasts when people crowded Jerusalem. Many of them had become ritual, but this occasion was joyful, everyone bringing a gift. People built booths from branches, and stayed in them. Everything pretty was brought from the woods, decorating the city until it looked like a beautiful forest.
Jesus is home for a visit in Nazareth. His brothers urge him to go to Jerusalem and declare himself to the world. They aren’t ready to acknowledge him as Messiah, but are now impressed by his works. Still, they are bothered that he does nothing to lessen the antagonism of the priests and rabbis, who they are sure are right.
“You haven’t even been to Jerusalem for a year and a half!”  they say.
“It’s not time yet,” answers Jesus, trying to help them understand, “Our world doesn’t hate you because you agree with it. But it hates me because I confront it’s evil. You go ahead.”
Every event of his life has an appointed time, and he waits patiently. After they leave, God directs him to go down alone, avoiding the crowds, and any possible demonstration that would stir the jealousy of the leaders.
In Jerusalem, everyone is talking about him. “Where is he?” people are quietly asking everywhere.
Suddenly, in the middle of the festival, he appears in the temple courts, teaching. His bearing is dignity and courage, silencing gossip that he is afraid of the priests.
John 7:1-14
Jesus teaches on humility.
It isn’t feeling bad about yourself. It is realizing you don’t know everything–letting God be God and teach you.
Jesus explains the way things work here, saying we should treat others as we want them to treat us, or better, as we want God to treat us. What you give others comes back to you–you turn into what you do.
About defensiveness he says, “Don’t hide or justify your behavior. Admit it, face consequences, and trust Me. Let Me protect, turn your fear into joy, your doubt into hope. Deal drastically with anything that comes between us.”
He tells them the story of the shepherd who is missing one sheep; “leaves 99 in the fold, and goes looking until he finds that one.” That’s how God feels about us! He doesn’t want to lose even one of us!
But he is realistic. He speaks of sad choices that come because of offenses (evil). Pain will come, but it is sadder for the person who gives it than for the receiver. Why would that be?
Because those giving evil are becoming what they give–developing habits–character scripts. They become evil.
Jesus also gives a detailed plan for dealing with defiance: Clear, personal, direct and respectful. Confront privately; don’t expose unless necessary. In matters of the heart, a delicate touch is needed.
Finally he reminds them that our choices are honored and powerful, some lasting forever. He assures that if two of us agree on asking anything good, our heavenly Father will do it. We aren’t alone. We are loved.
Matthew 18:7-20
Even the watching universe is learning, as Jesus instructs that the characteristics of greatness aren’t power and authority, as the disciples believe.
Jesus, holding a child, explains that heaven values the characteristics of simplicity, sincerity, and the trusting love of a little child. He says unless they become like that, they can’t even be in his kingdom, let alone hold high positions.
Heavenly intelligences can cooperate with those who know God enough to trust Him, depending on Him confidently, as a well-loved child depends on a parent.
John, with the spirit of a child, confides, “Master we stopped someone who was casting out devils in your name, because he wasn’t one of us.”
Grateful for his risk-taking confidence, Jesus responds gently, “Anyone doing miracles in my name won’t easily speak evil of me, so you don’t want to stop him.”
We don’t read people’s hearts or motives, and can so easily discourage people from doing good. Everyone Jesus has drawn is a conduit for God’s love. We have no ability to judge one who doesn’t think like us, who isn’t part of our group.
Jesus uses intense metaphors to impress them with God’s value of children and the weak, including those weak in faith. Those who misrepresent God’s attitude and character by harshness and coldness, and yet claim to know Him, are especially offensive.
All of us are broken, needing God’s tenderness and love. Time with Jesus pours God’s love into us. Love brings wisdom (recognizing what you don’t know) before honor.
Matthew 18:1-7,  Mark 9:36-50,  Luke 9:48-50
In his temporary home at Capernaum, Jesus calls his disciples to him. He so wants to prepare them for their greatest test. If they can receive it, they will suffer so much less when he dies. So he asks, “What were you discussing on the way here?”
Suddenly, it feels different in his presence, and they are embarrassed. Especially since he has said he’s facing death. Afraid to ask him about it, they had dismissed it, and had gone back to their own ideas and wishes.
Finally one gets brave enough to ask, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
“If you want to be first, become the servant of all,” begins Jesus. They are shocked. They don’t understand that their contention is the same as the one Satan started in heaven–the very attitude that brought Jesus here to silence Satan’s accusations by showing God’s heart.
Jesus is thinking of Lucifer, Spirit has shown him that former most beautiful of angels, who wanted to be like God–who wanted the position and power, but not God’s character.* Satan’s kingdom is one of force and getting the highest position, whatever it takes, no matter who you have to step on.
They just have to get this! Jesus thinks. They are so full of Satan’s spirit they can’t even hear me!
He calls one of the children who live there, and taking him in his arms, says, “Unless you are changed and become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” They are stunned.
Matthew 18:1-3,  Mark 9:30-37,  Luke 9:44-48   *Isaiah 14:12,14
As Jesus takes his disciples back to Capernaum he avoids the crowds. He wants to prepare them for what is ahead, and he continues to speak to them about his coming betrayal into enemy hands. He’s said they’re heading for Jerusalem, so they are thinking “kingdom”.
They’ve been lagging behind, arguing about who should be greatest in his kingdom, even though they know what he has said… He longs to counsel them, but waits for a quiet time when they can relax and be open to his words.
As they walk to his house, the treasurer for the temple approaches Peter asking, “Doesn’t your master pay the temple tax?”
Peter, zealous for Jesus’ reputation, says, “Of course,” not realizing the trap they’ve set. The collector is implying that Jesus isn’t a prophet and isn’t exempt from the tax. If he pays it, he’s admitting as much. Jesus ignores the controversy, knowing their intent.
He catches the teachable moment later, in the house, and says to Peter, “What do you think, Simon? Do kings tax their children or strangers?”
“Strangers,” says Peter, wondering.
“Then the children are exempt,” smiles Jesus, and Peter remembers declaring Jesus the son of God, and seeing it confirmed on the mountain a few days ago.
Suddenly Peter realizes the trap he was caught in.
Jesus continues, “But not to offend them, go to the lake, the first fish you catch will have a coin in its mouth. Take it and pay my tax and yours.”
 Peter gets it. Remember who I AM and be bold!
Matthew 17:22-27,  Mark 9:30-32,  Luke 9:44-46
When Satan sees Jesus, he throws the son to the ground. The giver of life and the giver of death stand face to face on the battlefield once again.
Jesus asks, ” How long has he been like this?”
“Since childhood,” says the father. “Often it has tried to kill him by throwing him into fire or water. If you can do anything, have compassion and help us.”
“If I can? All things are possible if you believe,” responds Jesus.
With a burst of tears, the desperate father cries, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (You can never fail with this prayer–never.)
Jesus speaks to the devil, “Come out of him and don’t return.” The young man convulses violently, then stops, so that everyone whispers, “He is dead.”
Jesus takes his hand and lifts him up alive and whole.
When Jesus is alone with the disciples, they ask, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” They are remembering how demons fled at their commands.
“Your unbelief,” answers Jesus. “If your will catches onto God’s will, a grain of mustard seed is enough to move mountains of obstacles that demons pile on your path. Nothing will be impossible for you. However, this one won’t leave without prayer and fasting” (requires God-focus and complete connection).
The disciples had spent a week in doubt, questioning Jesus’ identity. In their negativity, they had separated from God and weren’t prepared in heart or mind to meet The power of darkness, Satan himself.
Matthew 17:18-21,  Mark 9:20-29,   Luke 9:42-43
As Jesus and the three come down the mountain the sun is rising. They have been on the mountain all night. Each is wrapped in his own thoughts, they are silent and awed, processing. Then Jesus says, “Don’t tell anyone what you saw until I am risen from the dead.”
Why does he keep talking about death? they wonder. Finally one of them gets up his courage and asks, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah comes first?”
Jesus answers, “Elijah does come. Actually, he has already come, and they did what they wanted to him. Like him, the Messiah will suffer at their hands.”
They realize he is talking about John the Baptist. More confusion. The reference is clear, but then what was that on the mountain?
As they reach the bottom, they see a large crowd gathered. Scribes are there questioning and taunting the other nine. One look at them, and Jesus asks, “Why are you harassing my followers?”
A  man steps forward, “I brought you my son who has a mute spirit. It makes him grind his teeth and foam at the mouth and tear himself, but your disciples couldn’t cast it out.”
Jesus sighs, his eyes piercing through the hearts of the sporting scribes, but comforting his confused disciples. The contrast between Moses and Elijah, and the attitude of these Pharisees jars Jesus’ spirit, “Oh faithless generation, how long do I have to stay and put up with you?”
Embracing the father, he says, “Bring your son to me.”
Mark 9:9-19,  Luke 9:37-41,   Matthew 17:9-17
The answer to Jesus prayer brought more than asked.
The disciples awaken and reorient to their surroundings. They see Jesus radiant and glowing with light like they’ve never seen. As their eyes adjust, they see him speaking with Moses and Elijah. They’ve never seen them, yet they know them. This must be the rescue they’ve anticipated–Elijah has come to set up Christ’s kingdom!
Peter, overcome with joy, says, “Thank you for sharing your good news with us! If you want, we’ll set up a base of operations on this spot.”
But they missed the conversation; God has sent two humans who understand what it is to feel lonely and misunderstood to encourage his Son. Both of them suffered greatly here, and have been speaking with Jesus about the importance of his mission, assuring him that all heaven is focused here, is cheering for him, and he will succeed.
This was while the disciples were sleeping–they missed information God would’ve shared to help them. So now, a bright cloud envelopes them, and a voice says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am very pleased. Listen to him.” And then it is gone.
Terrified, they are on their faces on the ground.
“Get up” Jesus says, touching them, “Don’t be afraid.” And they look up and see only Jesus. The light and the visitors are gone. Only the memory, wonder, and awe remain. It went too fast! God wanted to share more with them, but they were sleeping.
Matthew 17:3-7,  Mark 9:4-8,  Luke 9:30-36
A week after his disturbing death revelation, Jesus calls Peter, James, and John, and leads them across fields and up a rugged mountain path. They have been walking, teaching, and healing all day and are tired.
The sunset lights the path with brilliance and then fades and they continue in twilight and darkness. The three wonder why this climb, now? but assume it is for prayer.
Soon Jesus says, “Let’s stop here; pray with me,” and then steps aside and begins to pray.
He pours out his heart with tears, asking that he will have the strength to go through the test before him and not fail. He prays for them to have understanding and acceptance. He has seen their grief, their gloom of disillusionment, and longs to relieve it.
They join him in prayer, but soon, overcome by fatigue, fall asleep.
Jesus asks for some manifestation of his divine glory to comfort and convince these followers that his horrible death is part of the plan he must fulfill, that he is who they believe he is.
His prayer is answered. Radiance shines from the heavens and covers him bowed on the ground. Agony gone, he rises shining like the sun in godlike majesty, to meet two guests.
Moses and Elijah are sent from heaven to comfort and encourage Jesus. Elijah represents those to be translated, and Moses those resurrected. Eager angels aren’t given this privilege, but two humans who were close to him as Adonai during their own difficult lives (before God became Jesus).
Matthew 17:1-2,  Mark 9:2-3,  Luke 9:28-29