Keeping It Simple… The Gospel isn’t complicated

The Gospel isn’t complicated. It’s easy to understand. Children can grasp it. Still, the good news that God shares with us in the Bible will be rejected by more people than those who will accept it.

People like to complicate

Left to their own devices, many people will complicate any topic. The Israelites took 10 commandments from God and created 613 rules and regulations. Every aspect of life came under the Law of Moses. The prophets came along and added to the mix. Religion was born.

Now there is nothing wrong with having religion. Certainly not. But religion and the Gospel are two different things. Religion dictates what man must do to be acceptable to God. The Gospel is what God did to make man acceptable to Him.

Those 613 laws were boiled down to one statement–

For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not parish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Jesus offered a clarifying statement when he said,

I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

He told the people that all of the law was still very much in force, but He was the one who would fulfill all of the righteous requirements of the law, so people who put their trust and faith in Him would be forever accepted into God’s family.

When I was a small child, I received a vaccination for polio. My parents didn’t know anything about the years that went into the development of the vaccine, or the science behind it, but they trusted that it would prevent the dreaded disease.

The law is impossible to follow. Every living human being has broken a commandment. The trouble is, Jesus said if you break one, you’ve broken them all. Breaking a commandment is sin, and the Apostle Paul wrote that

the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 3:23)

So what’s the point? The point is simple– the law, the 10 Commandments, points us to Christ. Jesus did not sin. He paid the full price. That is an amazing statement. He fulfilled all of the requirements so that anyone who believes in Him will be guaranteed heaven. We can’t, He can.

It’s simple, straight forward and easy, at least on the surface. Paul said “all have sinned,” which can be a sticking point for some, who do not believe in sin and do not believe they have committed any transgression worthy of an eternal punishment. But he adds,

the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

Those who acknowledge their sinfulness, big or small, and accept the gift of life through faith in Jesus, are welcomed with open arms, no strings attached. Jesus said,

I am the way the truth and the life. Nobody goes to the Father except by me.” ( John 14:6 )

In other words, there is no back door into heaven and no other way to satisfy God. It’s simple enough, yet so many choke on the idea that they have sinned. Call it pride, or maybe they just don’t understand, I have known some that seem incapable of understanding the simplest things of God. They scoff, they mock and completely dismiss the entire message of the Bible.

The Gospel offers salvation by grace and faith

There are many religions, but only one offers salvation by grace through faith. Christianity stands alone, completely alone. Judaism is the closest, and many Jewish people have accepted Jeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, much to the chagrin of the Jewish leadership. It was the same during the time of Christ.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe in the simple things. If you make up a religion and make it complicated, you just may find some followers. But God and the Gospel offer you a simple, straight forward invitation. Believe in My Son. Jesus gave Himself so you could live. He paid your debt in full… Simple.

The Ascension

The Ascension of Jesus
The Ascension of Jesus

What Happened

After Jesus walked out of the tomb, he appeared before many people throughout the area. He instructed his disciples to go back to Galilee and await Him there.

It was in there, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, that he first met them. It had been forty days since Jesus had come back to life and left His tomb.

The final meeting took place where at all began at the Sea of Galilee. Jesus charged them with going out beyond the immediate boundaries of Israel to spread the Gospel throughout the known world.

Then Jesus went back up to heaven, where He sits on the right hand of God. Jesus was still with His disciples and He is still with us.

Why it matters

There had to be an eye witness to the resurrection of Christ, and it was especially necessary for Jesus to show Himself before his disciples. With their own eyes, they saw the risen Savior.

Bible Verse

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28: 16-20

4 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Mark 16:4-20

Why it matters to you

People actually saw Jesus alive and well after the crucifixion. But it was hard to believe. After all, people coming back from being dead is a very rare occurrence. Today we hear stories about people who make miraculous recoveries in hospitals, but not after taking a brutal beating and dying on a cross.

It matters because it is God’s way of showing the whole world that He will do what He says. God wants man to trust Him and to follow Jesus.


When Jesus finished his talk with the disciples, He was taken up into heaven, according to the Gospels. Jesus had told his disciples that he would return to the Father, to sit at the right hand of the throne of God.

His rightful place is with His father, where He has always been before and after taking human form. All told, Jesus appeared to people over a 40 days period before going back home.

What you may not know

Jesus had a glorified body after the resurrection. He could appear here and there, and effortlessly go from place to place and not have any of the worries of human life.

Shortly after the resurrection, he appeared to two men on the road to Emmaus, which was near Jerusalem, and taught them about the events that people had seen and had been talking about.

The two men, once they realized who was talking to them, immediately went back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she came back from the tomb, as they found the account unbelievable.

Only 11 disciples went to Galilee. Judas Iscariot committed suicide shortly after betraying Christ to the Jewish authorities. He never got to enjoy his 30 pieces of silver. Matthias was later chosen to join the group.

Jesus’ Resurrection

Jesus' Resurrection

What Happened

Jesus has risen: After being crucified on the cross, Jesus died after a few hours, while the two thieves executed with him, lingered in agony. Because of the Passover, not wanting any trouble from the bulging population of Jerusalem, the Romans opted to bring a quick death to the three convicted men.

The Roman guards broke the legs of the two thieves, which took away their ability to leverage themselves to take a breath. They died of asphyxiation.

When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, not surprising considering that he had taken a brutal beating at the hands of Pilate before even being tried. The Roman guards did not break his legs and that fulfilled a prophesy that foretold that no bone in His body would be broken. To make sure he was dead, they thrust a spear into his side.

They ask for Jesus’ body

A wealthy man Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate for the body. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, a preeminent Rabbi, who had visited with Jesus previously. Joseph had a burial tomb and the two men wrapped Jesus in cloth and anointed his body with herbs and spices, as was the Jewish custom. It was the Jewish day of preparation.

Meanwhile, the Jewish authorities had gone to Pilate to demand that a guard be placed at the tomb. Now that Jesus was dead, the authorities wanted Him to stay dead, and wanted to make sure that nobody took the body to claim that he had risen.

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

“His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

Jesus than met both Mary’s on the road and told them not to be afraid, and to go and tell His disciples that He had risen from the dead.

Why it matters

This is the single most important event in human history. Everything that was told, all of the prophesies, all of the writings, point to this remarkable occurrence.

By supernatural power, Jesus is brought back to life, in human form, but in a glorified body, one that will never grow old, get sick, or die. Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead, a promise that God gives to all who believe.

Bible Verse

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10

Why it matters to you

Simply stated, if Jesus Christ did not rise on the third day and walked out of the tom. The prophets are all wrong, the New Testament is a myth and the Bible is a hoax. Without the resurrection, there is no hope for salvation and eternal life.


The Jewish authorities went to the Romans and demanded that a guard be placed on the tomb. They knew the prediction of Jesus rising from the dead and they wanted to squash that story.

The guards that were posted to the tomb were completely overwhelmed by the stone being rolled away. They were terrified and they knew that an empty tomb would mean their deaths.

Then they ran to the Jewish authorities, who told them to tell a lie about being attacked by the disciples. The guards were paid. The disciples were not anywhere near the tomb, too afraid to go out in public.

The Jewish authorities did not want the news of Jesus rising to get around. It would prove that He was right and they had missed His message. It would not have been good for them politically.

What you may not know

Mary Magdalene was the first person to declare the risen Christ. She ran back and met with the disciples, who were in hiding, and said “He is risen.”

The disciples did not believe her. Later Jesus appeared to them and at that point John was convinced. After Jesus let him touch His wrists and side. Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus has risen: The Jewish authorities had the most believable story for the Romans to swallow. Jesus’ body was stolen. But who could have taken it? Who ever did had to overcome the Roman guards, who were charged with killing anyone who dare to try.

The Romans guarding the tomb were no match for the earthquake that shook the stone lose and opened the tomb. Witnessing the awesome power of God, they took off like scared rabbits.

The least likely to have anything to do with the disappearance of Jesus were the disciples, who were in hiding.

The truth is, Jesus rose. And ss fantastic as that sounds, it is certainly consistent with everything that had happened between man and God since Adam and Eve.

Jesus’ Betrayal, Trail, Crucifixion

Jesus' Crucifixion

What Happened

Jesus took his disciples into the upper room of a house where he would share with them a ceremonial last supper. He would predict once again his death.

It was at this meeting that Judas Iscariot would make a hasty departure to inform the Jewish authorities where Jesus would be later that night. Jesus knew this was going to happen.

He took the group to the Garden of Gethsemane, just outside the city. Jesus prayed, as his disciples slept.

The guards came, Judas identified Jesus and he was arrested. Jesus was taken several places, before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders. The chief priest Ciaphas asked him directly if he was the Christ and Jesus “Yes, it is as you say.” Ciaphas was enraged, tore his clothes and called Jesus a blasphemer.

The authorities wanted Jesus killed. They handed him over to Pilate, the governor. Pilate questioned him, asking if he was the King of the Jews. Jesus affirmed this. Pilate found no criminal gilt in him, but the pressure from the Jewish authorities and the crowd that had gathered was great.

At first he ordered that Jesus be scourged, a brutal whipping that usually resulted in death. That did not satisfy the Jews. They wanted Him crucified. Pilate ordered the execution and Jesus was taken outside the walls of the city to be crucified.

He was executed along with two convicted criminals.

Why it matters

People read the account of the arrest and the trial and wonder how anybody could have found Jesus guilty of anything. But public opinion and political agenda can be very powerful.

Jesus was an inconvenient truth for the Jewish authorities, who had to protect their turf. Pilate didn’t want any trouble during the Passover, so he gave into the masses and let the crowd have its way.

All of the powerful Jews assembled at the trial of Jesus hated Him, because they believed that He was a threat to their authority. Jesus could perform miracles that they couldn’t explain. Jesus could discuss any religious issue with them with perfect reasoning. That’s why they wanted Him executed.

Jesus did not fight this because he knew that the only way to fulfill His Father’s plan of salvation was to offer his own life. He also knew that on the third day He would rise from the grave, and had actually predicted this to the authorities in the temple.

Bible Verse

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:32-34

Why it matters to you

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God had a plan for how he would reconcile man to Himself. Sin entered the world through man, and sin would be defeated by man.

Jesus, fully man and fully God, was sent by His Father to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. Nobody comes to the father except by me.” This selfless act of love is a gift, which cannot be purchased, earned or in any way deserved.


It was a bogus, kangaroo court. The arrest of Jesus was illegal. The trial was illegal, even under Jewish law. His crucifixion was a complete miscarriage of justice, yet his crucifixion is the single most loving act God had ever done for man.

Jesus willingly went to to the cross, in obedience to God, to offer his own life in sacrifice. Jesus paid the price that man could not, nor ever could pay himself. Jesus, just before he died, said “It is finished.” In the original Greek, the word used was “telelesti” which is a term used in commerce, meaning “paid in full.”

What you may not know

Crucifixion was a Roman form of punishment, designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering, as well as public humiliation. It was intended as a severe deterrent to any crime.

The person was nailed and tied to the cross, but a small foot plate was attached to give the person an opportunity to stretch and breathe. It would sometimes take days for a man to die, usually when he could no longer use his legs to get some relief. The man would die from lack of oxygen. He would suffocate.

The Roman guards broke the legs of the two thieves on either side of Jesus to expedite their deaths, due to the Passover. It was a way to control the people. When a Roman soldier thrust a spear into Jesus’ side, he was already dead. Water had built up in his lungs and came pouring out of the wound.

When Jesus died, the curtain in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, was torn top to bottom. The curtain was woven and rather thick, so it would have taken supernatural power to tear it like a piece of paper.

While on the cross, one of the thieves sentenced to die mocked Jesus and said that if He were the Christ to save himself and the other two. The other thief rebuked the man and turned to Jesus and asked him to “remember me when you enter your kingdom.” Jesus promised that the man would be with Him in paradise that very day.

The man who asked Jesus to remember him, had never attended a synagogue, was never baptized, never given any money. He just acknowledged who Jesus was. By asking to be remembered, he acknowledged that Jesus was who He said he was. He was also acknowledging that Jesus had the authority to save him and had hope and trust that this would happen.

It was a very powerful, albeit short conversation, but it encapsulates the message that Jesus brought to the world, that “whosoever believes Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The thief on the cross was saved by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

Jesus Promises The Holy Spirit

What Happened

During the last week of His earthly life, Jesus knew that he would be betrayed, arrested, tried and crucified. It was all a part of His Father’s plan to reconcile man to Himself. The Gospel of John contains a very long dissertation, in which Jesus talks to His disciples about things that are to come.

Jesus knew His time was short, but He also understood that the disciples would not fully understand. They had grown attached to Him. But Jesus wanted them to know that when He had gone, they would have a counselor to teach and guide them.

Why it matters

God does not leave His people high and dry. Jesus was with His disciples for a short period of time, but he did not abandon them. The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, was sent to believers to guide and comfort.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples became Apostles and spread the good news throughout the known world.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, people today continue the ministry of Jesus, doing that which they never imagined they were capable of doing, or making decisions to serve mankind, rather than pursuing a life of comfort and prominence.

Bible Verse

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me.

4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things.

7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

John 16:1-15

Why it matters to you

Followers of Jesus receive the Holy Spirit and, just as Jesus said, the Spirit guides and informs. The Spirit helps people to understand God’s Word. The Spirit brings illumination and meaning to the information in the Bible.

The Spirit helps people discern information and cast aside misinformation. The Holy Spirit comforts and encourages. The Holy Spirit is the gentle hand of God that guides and protects as we follow Jesus.


Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching his disciples personally, to prepare them for the task of carrying on His ministry.

The promise of the Holy Spirit was an essential piece in their preparation, as Jesus encouraged his followers to look ahead, look to the benefit of others, and trust that God would always be there for them and assist in their efforts.

What you may not know

The Holy Spirit had always been involved throughout history. Long before synagogues and churches, long before the written word, long before any formalized practice of faith was established, people had an innate sense that God was there we them and in control.

What prompted and guided Noah when he built the ark? What was it that guided Abram out of his home to a land that God had chosen for him?

Who informed the prophets to make prediction of events that would not happen until centuries after their deaths?

The Holy Spirit was at work from the beginning and in all things of God.

The Triumphal Entry

Jesus enters Jerusalem

What Happened

It was the time for the Passover, so Jesus and His disciples went to Jerusalem. The reception Jesus received was grand indeed, as people spread palm leaves and cloaks over the rode as He entered. The large, cheering crowd welcomed Jesus, who immediately recognized the sadness of the moment and as He approached Jerusalem, He wept in sorrow.

He knew that the city would come to ruin because they did not recognize God’s coming to them personally. By 70 AD the temple would lay in ruins, as the city was completely overtaken by the Roman army.

Why it matters

For a short moment, during a very busy week in Jerusalem, Jesus was greeted as a king. Caught up in the emotion of the moment, people worshiped the Messiah’s entry into the city. This would all change too quickly.

His entry illustrates His true standing as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but the emotional reaction is shallow, like the adulation for a movie star or celebrity.

What matters here is the truth of who Jesus was and is, something that got lost in the shuffle as the events of the week progressed. His entry was triumphant, but by the end of the week, He was tried, beaten, dragged through the streets of the city, and crucified.

Bible Verse

37 When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Luke 19:37-38

Why it matters to you

Interestingly, there were people who greeted Jesus like a rock star of His day and were excited upon His entry into the city, but many of those same people turned their backs on Him in just a few, short days.

Bowing to the political will of the religious authorities, they went from cheering His entry into the city to shouting for his crucifixion. The truth didn’t matter. They got caught up in public opinion and were easily swayed. People today are not any different.


Just as crowds had gathered across the country to see Jesus, they were waiting for Him at the gates of Jerusalem. For those who regarded Him as the Christ, there was cheering and the spreading of palm leafs on the path where He rode into town on the back of a colt.

Shouts of “Hosanna” (acclimation and praise) greeting Him along the way. The triumphant entry did not escape the eyes of the Jewish elite. They wanted Jesus arrested and prosecuted, as they considered Him a huge threat to Jewish laws and traditions.

The Romans were actually not that interested prosecuting Jesus, as long as there was law and order and no disturbances. When Jesus went before the governor Pontius Pilate, the Roman leader could find no fault with Jesus, under Roman law.

But the Jewish elite insisted that Jesus be found guilty. Pilate tried to avoid the miscarriage of justice by offering to let the crowd choose between the criminal Barabbas and Jesus. The crowd chose to have Barabbas go free and shouted for the crucifixion of Jesus.

What you may not know

It was customary for Jews to go to Jerusalem for the Passover and visit the temple to make their sacrifices. The city would swell in population during the week.

Passover was a great opportunity for merchants to make money, selling doves and animals for sacrifice, or changing money at the temple for people who came from distant lands. The commercialization of Passover angered Jesus, who in a fiery rebuke, overturned the tables of the money changers.

In much the same way today, the commercialization of Christmas has all but taken out the true meaning of the birth of the Messiah.

The events of the Passover week were watched carefully by the religious authorities, as any disruption of business would be an expensive inconvenience. They gave His disciple Judas Iscariot 30 pieces of silver to identify Jesus and help the guards arrest Him.

Even though Jesus attracted crowds, His appearance, according to the prophet Isaiah, was ordinary. Because He didn’t stand out, they needed someone to identify Him for the authorities.

Jesus speaks many parables

The prodigal son

What Happened

During his ministry Jesus would attract large crowds to hear Him teach. The vast majority of these people were poor, uneducated and illiterate. To illustrate a point, Jesus would use a parable, which is, simply put, a short story to help the listener understand a greater meaning.

Jesus did not give them theological concepts, scholarly dissertations or any deep intellectual thought. He told stories to make his message simple to understand. However, His parables were deeply theological, intellectual and have been studied in seminaries for centuries.

Why it matters

Parables help people understand important concepts. While it is good to learn versus of the Bible, it is more important to learn and understand the greater meaning of its passages. Jesus used the parables to bring home a much larger point.

Therefore, Jesus’ use of parables was a well-planned and necessary strategy to connect with the common people. Some of the parables were also a triggering point for confrontations with the religious elite.

Bible Verse

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

13 This is why I speak to them in parables.

Matthew 13:11-13

Why it matters to you

The meaning behind the message is where the real “gold” of the Bible is found. Regardless of intellect or educational achievement, even the best and brightest may not fully grasp the significance of one of these parables.

While others may nod their heads in agreement and enjoy the story, those who truly understand why it is being told and how it applies to their life, reap the most benefit.


The disciples lived and traveled with Jesus, and every day had access to his teaching, yet they did not fully understand what He was doing, or why. They asked Him directly why He spoke in parables. Jesus explained that the people did not know what they knew.

The disciples were learning from Him daily and were able to explore the deeper meaning of things, but Jesus had to get his point across to the crows quickly and effectively. The stories helped.

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.


Gospel of Matthew

The Parable of the Sower (Mt13:3-8), The Parable of the Weeds (Mt 13:24-30), The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mt 13:31-32), The Parable of the Yeast (Mt 13:33), The Parable the Pearl (Mt 13:47-50), The Parable of the Fishing Net (Mt 13:47-50), The Parable of the Two Sons (Mt 21:28-31), The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Mt 22:1-14), The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25:1-13).

Gospel of Mark

The Strong Man (Mk 3:23-27), The Parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3-8), The Parable of the Seed that Grows Itself (Mk 4:26-29), The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mk 12:1-9), The Parable of the Fig Tree (Mk 13:28-31)

Gospel of Luke

The Parable of the Patch (Lk36-39), The parable of the Sower (Lk 8:5-8), The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10: 25-37), The Parable of the Rich Fool (Lk 12:16-21), The Parable of the Faithful Servant (Lk 12:35-48), The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Lk 13:18-19), The Parable of the Leven (Lk 13:20-21), TheParable of the Great Banquet (Lk 14:16-24),

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:4-7), The Parable of the Lost Coin(Lk 15: 8-10), The Parable of the Lost Son (Lk 15:11-32),The Parable of the Shrewed Manager (Lk16:1-13), The Parable of the Persistant Widow (Lk 18:1-8), The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk18:9-14), The Parable of the Ten Minas (Lk 19:12-27), The Parable of the Tenants (Lk 20:9-16)

What you may not know

Parables are just stories to illustrate a point and do not point to a particular person, time or place. When Jesus tells of a specific person, with a name, that is not a story, but a true account of a real person.

For example, in Like 16, Jesus talks about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. He names Lazarus. It is not a parable.

Sermon on the Mount

Jesus at the sermon on the mount

What Happened

Jesus had been going from town to town in Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and healing the sick. Word traveled fast and crowds would gather. One day, when he saw the crowd gathering, he went to a mountainside, sat down and began to teach.

His disciples were with Him and listened along with the masses. The account is a quote from beginning to end, not a report. Matthew, inspired and directed by God, gave his account.

Why it matters

The Bible is a handbook for the human condition, and in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks to the human condition. It was a message for all people, regardless of their walk of life, in all places and for all times.

The sermon brings out the differences between the strict legalism of the Jewish tradition, and the new way of faith and trust in God. God as our Father is highlighted by His sermon.

Jesus knew that he would someday be sacrificed, making this message even more poignant. His gentle, loving invitation for people to come to God is in direct contrast to the harshness of Jewish law.

Bible Verse

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 children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Mathew 5:3-10

Why it matters to you

The Sermon on the Mount is about the ethics of the Kingdom, as Jesus talks of purity of heart and the standards of righteousness before God. We are taught the “Lord’s Prayer” in this dissertation and Jesus teaches about God’s Law. It is a gentle, but very clear illustration of God’s expectations.

Jesus tells the people that he has not come to abolish the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. He added that until heaven and earth are gone, every letter of the law is in place. Jesus gives an invitation to ask God and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.

Those who seek God will find Him, but it is an individual journey. Each person has their own, unique relationship to God.


The main thrust of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ was to herald the Kingdom of God. Jesus offers eight blessings, known as the Beatitudes, which are later chronicled in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus talks of his fulfilling the Law, which is essential to man’s chances of being in God’s Kingdom. Man cannot, by his sinful nature, fulfill the Law. Therefore, God had to do it.

Just as God had supplied the sacrifice to Abraham and spared Isaac, God spared man and sacrificed His son. He talks of social issues, such as murder, divorce, taking oaths, caring for the needy, loving your enemies, not judging others.

What you may not know

The writer of this Gospel, Matthew, was writing to Jews, as evidenced by his references to Jewish Law and his using the term “Kingdom of God.” As a tax collector, Matthew was given a quota to collect for the Romans. Anything above that quota was his to keep.

The irony is apparent, as this beautiful Sermon on the Mount is shared by a Jewish outcast, one who was hated by society. Matthew is writing to prove to Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jesus Testifies to the Samaritan Woman

Jesus with woman at the well
Jesus Testifies to the Samaritan Woman

What Happened

Jesus was walking through Samaria and sent his disciples to get food. He went to a well outside the village of Sychar located near the ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. The well was Jacob’s well, and likely more than 1900 years old from the time God created Israel.

It was mid-day and Jesus was tired. He sat at the well. A Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink. (John 4) She was shocked by this, because Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other.

They had an amazing conversation and Jesus told her things about her life that only God would have known. She was completely captivated by his gentle approach to the events of her life.

Excited about the good news He had shared with her, she ran to the village and told everybody about the man she met and his message. That marks the start of Jesus’ public ministry.

Why it matters

The good news that Jesus preached was not exclusively for the Jews. He took in the undesirables, like a tax collector and a Zealot, but his message was for the world. No matter what the circumstance in someone’s life, Jesus showed the way into God’s Kingdom.

The Jews and Samaritans were enemies, so a Jew would not talk to a Samaritan, let alone minister to them. But Jesus chose the woman at the well to bring his message of salvation to the Samaritans.

That same message would later be carried to all nations, all types of people. God cuts through all the insignificant details that separate one person from another, and unifies.

Bible Verse

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

John 4:7-10

Why it matters to you

The woman at the well was an outcast. She had five husbands and was living with a man. She was at the well at mid-day when no one else was there because it was so hot. Most of the women would go to the well in the morning, but she was an outcast among her own people. She went alone.

The message Jesus gave her was so liberating and so exciting that she ran back to town and told everybody. There is no social situation that God cannot overcome. In God’s Kingdom, there is no separation, no social strata. She was a part of the community again.


Jesus cuts through the life history of this woman and gives her “living water” that will never cause her to thirst again. It would have been very strange for a Jew to talk with a Samaritan.

Jesus began his conversation with her by asking for a drink of water. He then got her to open up to him and tell of her husbands and of the man she was currently living with.

Throughout this amazing conversation, Jesus never rebuked her, scolded her or judged her. He shared the message of salvation with her, and openly identified Himself as the Messiah, something he had not shared with anyone, publicly, to that point.

What you may not know

Samaritans are Semitic people, like the Jews, only separated by political and social barriers. Samaritans only red the first five books of the Bible and rejected the prophets. Israel had been divided in two. Of the 12 tribes, 10 were in the north and 2 were in the south, the south was called Judah.

Samaria was the capitol of the northern kingdom (1 Kings 12). There was animosity and war. The people of the north would no longer travel to Jerusalem to go to the Temple because Jerusalem was in Judah.

Northern resident had set up their own idols. When the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, the Samaritans were their adversary in their attempts to rebuild Jerusalem. That was a source of great hatred. Jews called the Samaritans dogs and half-breeds.

This is what makes Jesus’ choice to begin his public ministry with an imperfect woman from Samaria so interesting and meaningful.

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

Jesus with Disciples

What Happened

After being tempted in the desert, Jesus began his public ministry. There was no mass communication at the time, no newspapers, television or internet. Jesus needed to assemble a team to do the work. He called poor working men for the most part, men who were not educated or well connected in society.

They may not have been the most qualified, but they were willing to follow. They were “teachable” and eager to learn. His first two disciples were Peter and his brother Andrew, who were working at the time, casting their net into the lake (Sea of Galilee).

The brothers dropped what they were doing and went with Jesus. Others would follow as word got around. Jesus would hand pick these men and did so according to the plan of God the Father.

Why it matters

People are often reluctant to serve God by being an active part of a ministry. They do not feel qualified. Jesus said “follow me” and communicated rather effectively that this ministry would be about Him and not about the abilities or inabilities of his followers.

It was an invitation for seemingly insignificant men to be a part of the greatest movement in human history. God’s unfolding plan was coming to it’s most dramatic chapter and regular people, ordinary men and women, would follow the plan. God was in control.

It was all by design. Most of them were willing followers, but did not understand what was really going on. Some doubted Jesus. Still another would betray Jesus to the religious authorities, who would turn him over to the Romans.

Some who were the most unlikely people to play a significant role in the ministry were men who made the greatest impact.

Bible Verse

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

20 At once they left their nets and followed him. 21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4: 18-22

Why it matters to you

God uses regular people to do His work and advance his Kingdom. It’s not how smart, or how rich or how important they are. It’s all about a person’s willingness to follow and serve.

The disciples that Jesus selected were not at all impressive, but like other men that God has called, they were willing and obedient. They learned “on the job” and asked a lot of questions. Jesus was a patient and thoughtful teacher, allowing them to be themselves.


After being tempted in the desert, Jesus returned home, to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He spotted two fishermen and called to them to follow. That was the beginning. From there, he gathered ten others to follow him and be a part of his ministry.

They were: Simon (Peter), Andrew, James Zebedee, John, Levi (Matthew), Philip, Nathaniel, Thomas, James Alpheus, Judas Alpheus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot.

What you may not know

In Israel, during the time of Christ, it was customary that only the best and brightest would study to be a Rabbi. Students came to the Rabbi and were selected according to their abilities, and of course, their ability to pay for the educational opportunity.

The students would live with the Rabbi, study every move and mannerism, and in many cases become a kind of clone of the teacher. Jesus, on the other hand, took the opposite approach. He gathered from poor fishermen, who were rough around the edges and not educated.

He even called a tax collector, who was the scourge of Jewish society, a social outcast. He also called a Zealot, who was fiercely against the Roman occupation of Israel and the Zealot would have hated the tax collector.

He selected ordinary men to do an extraordinary job.