Matthew 9:35-37 segues between Jesus healing and restoring the multitudes and commissioning of His 12 apostles. The author recounted the narrative of the harvest saying:
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.(36) But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (37) Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Jesus couldn’t help but view the multitudes around Him through the lens of mission. He saw a great and plentiful spiritual harvest ready to reap, yet few laborers. The Lord of the Harvest, Jesus—God incarnated in flesh, was calling disciples to multiplication as missionary laborers in the field. That same call applies to us today. It’s a clarion call. In the Old Testament, it signaled impending danger or the arrival of a king. Leaders, the King will come again soon! The urgency of the hour requires the heralding of the trumpet message for the arrival of King Jesus for us to hear.
Jesus already made the call to His disciples to labor in the harvest. As His very disciples we too must go work in the harvest. Let me recount three key qualities we need as laborers from the model Jesus left us: zeal, compassion, and cost.
Zeal. Jesus did not wait for the people to come to Him, He went into “all the cities and villages.” Even when not welcomed, He never overlooked even the slightest village. Everywhere He went in His earthly ministry, He taught, He preached, and He healed all kinds of sicknesses. Today is the day; we don’t know about tomorrow. In John 4:35 after Jesus ministered to the woman at the well He told His disciples, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Now is the time. We must metaphorically speak to the woman at the well and stay two days with the Samaritans who have not received the presence of the Word. Do we have the same zeal for others’ salvation?
Compassion. Scripture says He was moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes. Their needs touched His heart. The New Testament includes five different words for compassion, but of them only one describes a divine meaning recorded of Christ toward the multitudes and individual sufferers–Compassion in Greek transilterates to splagchnizomai, originating from the stem word for bowels or intestines. The Hebrews regarded inner parts as the seat of the tenderer affections with deep-felt emotions. In the context of the Gospels, whenever Jesus felt compassion for someone or a mass of people, it surged from within Him to meet the needs of people and He acted upon it, He provided food, raised the dead, delivered the demon-possessed, healed the sick, and taught those like sheep without a shepherd. Can we labor with a surge of compassion to the multitudes?The hungry, thirsty, impoverished, sick, and imprisoned?
Cost. Laboring in the harvest field comes with a cost. Laborers help prepare for the harvest, souls brought to repentance and faith. Harvest has two meanings. Generally, In Matt 9:35-39, it referred to Israel’s regathering The harvest also indicates the close of ages . We live in the closing age of the Church. The sickle will be put to the harvest. The second coming of the Son of Man as the Righteous Judge will come sooner rather than later. Laboring comes with a cost. The Bible and early church records indicated the apostles, to the exclusion of Judas, died because they refused to deny their faith in Christ. The current world climate has become increasingly more hostile to Christians. We too will face it. Can we stand against the cost of laboring in the field?
Jesus said in John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” He has equipped us supernaturally with all power and authority in His name. Leaders, we comprise part of the sent Church–Sent to the harvest.
In Gal 1:10-12, Paul introduced his argument to redirect the Galatia ekklēsia away from the influence of the Judaizer’s false teaching resulting in the Galatians falling away to a Christian identity marked by Jewish rites and practices. In his letter, Paul refuted “a different gospel, which is not another” (1:6b-7a)–a false doctrine of works opposed to Christ’s gospel of grace (v.7b). Thus, in vv. 10-12, Paul began the process of building a case validating the gospel he preached and taught, which the Galatian believers originally accepted.
Galatians 1:10–For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Paul laid the foundation for his apostolic authority in this verse posing two, pointed questions serving to validate his integrity as a servant of Christ (Grk: δοῦλος; doulos), and accordingly, the gospel he preached: “For do I now persuade men, or God” and Do I seek to please men?” (1:10a). He utilized questions as rhetorical practices in his various epistles to draw the audience’s attention, organize his thoughts, or function persuasively in rhetoric (Rom 2:3-4; 3:1-9; 1 Cor 9:1-13). Perhaps, he either purposed to bring attention to his opponents’ claims against him over circumcision and observance of Mosaic Law or announce his intentions for the argument that ensued.
Nevertheless, his self-acknowledged status as a servant (Grk: δοῦλος; doulos) of Christ bound him to the truth of the gospel he preached. He did not seek to please men, rather the one God and Father of all who assumed the likeness and limits of man, Jesus. Paron (2013) explained a “bondservant gives up self-interests and will to advance God’s mission as a slave for the sake of Christ…” Therefore, Paul could not assume authority without service as a slave of Christ. A servant gives up all self-interests in devotion and obedience to God.
Galatians 1:11–But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
“But I certify you brethren,” γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν ἀδελφοί, announced further thoughts from Paul’s preceding points in verse ten. Defending the authenticity of the gospel he preached, Paul informed the brethren of the Galatian community how he received it. The apostle identified the source as divine through Jesus’ revelation (1:12), rather than “after man,” κατὰ ἄνθρωπον (1:11).
Galatians 1:12–For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The apostle defined “not after man.” Unlike the Galatians who received the gospel Paul taught them, he did so through direct revelation knowledge from Jesus to himself by His personal divine action. Hence, that which he received had no human basis because its genesis originated from Jesus by His Spirit.–The apostle neither received it through man’s preaching nor imparted by teaching. This same true gospel he preached to the Galatians and they accepted—the gospel of Christ (1:7,9).
Paul described himself as a “Hebrew of Hebrews; as to Torah, a Pharisee, as to zeal, a persecutor of the church” (Phil 3:5-6). He well understood Hebraic tradition. Judaizers, including Paul the former Saul prior to his conversion, learned religious instruction primarily from rabbinic tradition subject to human interpretations as to their religious authority and guide. However, Jesus in Spirit rather than flesh revealed the gospel to Paul. The Greek word kai gives a fuller meaning to Gal 1:3 as God the Father, even (kai) our Lord Jesus Christ speaking to the union of the man Jesus with God as one being.
In whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9-10), the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ serves as God in activity to man, indistinguishable from Him with the same mind, purpose, and will. Resulting from Saul’s baptism in the Spirit, as part of his personal encounter with Jesus and subsequent conversion and a new name as Paul, he had access to God’s self-revelation from Jesus. Paul’s once blinded eyes opened to the truth of the gospel, of which he argued and defended in his letter to the Galatians
 Ken Schenck, Making Sense of God’s Word, (Indianapolis: Wesleyan House Publishing, 2009): 54. Schenck cited categorizes for flow thought as follows: Determine how big blocks of text connect to each other. –
Patterns, Cause to effect (What is taught in the first block, follows in the second half. i.e. Romans logical movement from cause to effect),
Background (First block prepares of lays foundation or provides introduction for second block),
Compare and contrast (Stories of David and Saul contrast to each other.),
General and particulars (Can go in either order–i.e. arguments in Romans go from general to particular),
Logical causation (One idea can follow other ideas to produce an argument),
Conclusion (Effect caused by what preceded it),
Problem to solution and Question to answer (Specialized cause and effect–Much of Romans is structured as questions and answers.),
Themes (Reoccurrences – i.e., unity and rejoicing in Philippians),
Patterns (Like recurrent contrasts between Christ and various OT figures) and
Relationship: How do the big blocks of materials in a book relate to each other. (i.e., do the introductory paragraphs of Romans relate to the rest of the letter?)
the book of Esther, the narrative vividly described the power, riches, and
politics of the Persian Empire during the reign of Ahasuerus (or Xerxes). Established
by conquests and known for political unrest and unpredictable rule, the Persian
kingdom offered an earthly monarchal government, temporal wealth, whimsical
decisions, violent acts, and privileged class conditions.
Alongside the depiction of the king Ahasuerus’ worldly dominion and grandeur, the account illustrates the unwritten principles of God’s kingdom. What the book of Esther hides, it reveals by contrast without mention of the kingdom of heaven. Contrary to Ahasuerus’ rule, the kingdom of God presents a sovereign king with an immutable nature–the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6:15) characterized by His divine, providential rule “sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb 1:3). Having rich mercy and great love for all, He made His kingdom accessible to all people by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:4-10).
Though hidden by name in Esther, the Book points out God’s divine natures: His providence in ordering His salvation plan and immutability in keeping to His promises for redemption by delivering the people of Israel. God is at work, even when He is silent. The God of Israel operated in the background through His providence to fulfill His unchangeable covenant promise (Gen 17:1-8). As a result, Esther reveals He Who is, He Who was, and He Who is to Come (Mal 3:6; cf. Isa 44:6); which in turn, the New Testament ascribes to Jesus with the same title and purpose as God Himself–Jesus, He Who sits on the heavenly throne (1 Tim 1:16; Rev 1:7-8; 4; 22:3-4).
Even though the kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven) never ceases, its hiddenness in the book of Esther brings to bear the same in the lives of many believers today. The illusion and self-aggrandizement of wealth, power, and grandeur present in the kingdom of Ahasuerus still can attracts contemporary believers. It tempts believers to change their citizenship from the kingdom of heaven (God) to the kingdom of Ahasuerus (world). Like the lukewarm church of Laodicea, some believers even may reside in two kingdoms with dual citizenship. Christ followers exclusively must inhabit the kingdom of the One who dwells within them.
Kingdom of Ahasuerus
Ahasuerus’ vast empire ranged from India to Cush (the Upper Nile Valley region), including 127 provinces. At the peak of his reign, approximately 50 million people lived in the Persian Empire in 480 BC or about 44% of the world’s population. He held the most power of any ruler in that period.
king possessed abundant riches and prided himself on his acquisitions. Esther
1:1, 3-4 tells that King Ahasuerus displayed them in two feasts. One feast
spanned 180 days to allow sufficient time for those of higher rank to view his
wealth—military, nobles, and leader—from the 127 provinces in the empire. The
other lasted seven days for those present in the palace, the more common people
Feast guests at Ahasuerus’ Susa palace reclined on couches of gold and silver, resting on marble pavements with mother-of-pearl, porphyry, and precious stones in the courtyard. They drank from gold vessels, each unique from the other (v. 7). White, green, and blue wall hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings on marble pillars also adorned the area (v. 6).
The palace itself had walls of molded, glazed bricks depicting the spear bearers of the king’s bodyguard. Seated sphinxes and pacing lions lined it, while the splendid thirty six-columned audience hall featured a magnificent raised golden throne (see Esth 5:1). The royal builders brought cedar timbers from Lebanon and ivory of Ethiopia and India.
The riches of the kingdom did not offer wealth to its citizens. Kings of that day determined who would acquire citizenship. Jews lived an exiled life, aliens in a foreign land amid the Great Dispersion across the Persian Empire. Most did not return to decimated Jerusalem and sought opportunity elsewhere in the empire. Migratory streams moved in all directions, Jewish communities living in pagan territories. The fall of the temple causing a spiritual crisis among them, drawing them yet farther from God as the people of Israel floundered without His kingdom. The wealth and power of Ahasuerus (and his gods) tempted the Jews with their loss of faith. Paganized, they resided in an worldly kingdom with values contrary to God’s holiness.
Kingdom of Heaven
While the New Testament does not define the kingdom of heaven in a direct manner, Scripture explains who it is. John the Baptist announced the King would soon appear in the term’s first occurrence: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). In Luke 17:21, Jesus confirmed His identity when the Pharisees asked Him when the kingdom of God would come, He answered, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” The kingdom of heaven was in their midst. Jesus is the kingdom of heaven.
The New Covenant offers a reestablished kingdom of heaven through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus inaugurated the kingdom in the fullness of time as the Messiah, Israel’s awaited King (Mark 1:15); redeemed the kingdom’s people through His death and resurrection (Col 2:14-15); and returns the kingdom to completion during His final, righteous reign (Dan 7:14; Rev 19:16). No earthly kingdom can compare in greatness to the heavenly kingdom; neither could the earthly match the heavenly grandeur. Preferences and prejudices do not exist in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus, the express image of the invisible God, makes those who follow Him citizens of His kingdom with full benefits. He invites all people and gives equal privileges of citizenship to the riches of His grace (Luke 8:1).
The below table one compares the differences between the kingdom of Ahasuerus to the kingdom of God–one temporal, the other eternal. The kingdom at hand fulfills God’s design for redemption. The hope of Israel lives in Jesus Christ and extends to Gentiles as well.
Table 1. Comparison of the Kingdom of Ahasuerus to the Kingdom of God
Kingdom of Ahasuerus (World)
Kingdom of God (Heaven)
Ahasuerus—King (Esth 1:1-2)
Jesus—King of kings (1 Tim 6:15)
Jesus—God robed in flesh (both divine and human) with the full character, personality, and quality of the one God (John 10:30; 15:9-10)
Ahasuerus inherited the kingdom after King Darius’ death
Jesus inaugurated His kingdom in the fullness of time as the Messiah, Israel’s awaited King (Mark 1:15); redeemed its people through His death and resurrection (Col 2:14-15); and returns the kingdom to completion during His final, righteous reign (Dan 7:14; Rev 19:16)
Ahasuerus was king until assassination
Jesus as God existed from eternity, King before the earth began and King after it passes away (Isa 44:6; 48:12; Rev 21:6; 22:13)
Ahasuerus ruled from Ethiopia to India (Esth 1:1)
Jesus has all authority over heaven and earth (Matt 28:18) Jesus is the kingdom (Luke 17:21)
Ahasuerus showed his and his kingdom’s greatness by displaying its wealth (Esth 1:4-7)
No greater kingdom—God owns everything in all realms through His Word at creation (Gen 1:2; 2:4; Isa 45:12)
Jews considered aliens, not citizens—the king determined who would be a citizen
Jesus makes those who follow Him citizens of His kingdom with full benefits, He invites all people (Luke 8:1; Phil 3:20-21)
Ahasuerus was the image of power and wealth (Esth 1:4, 8, 11, 22)
Jesus is the express image of the invisible God (Phil 2:9-11: Col 1:15), while a servant in His human role “to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:25)
Obedience brought temporal reward, disobedience resulted in punishment such as death
Obedience brings rewards in heaven, forgives sin (1 Cor 3:8; Eph 2:4-5; Rev 2:23; 22:12)
Concerned with outward, material beauty (Esth 1:1:4, 6,11; 2:2, 4, 17)
Concerned with the heart of inward man (1 Sam 16:7; Matt 5:17-19)
Lived in a palace (Esth 1:2)
Lives within those baptized in His Spirit and identified as the One on the throne in heaven (Rev 1:7-8, 11, 17-18; 4:2,8; 5:6; 7:17; 22:3-4)
Displayed his own wealth, power, comfort, and pleasure for the king’s benefit (Esth 1:17)
Gives the riches of His grace to kingdom citizens for their benefit transforming His kingdom through redemption (John 18:26)
Ahasuerus acted impulsively and wavered in opinions and actions (Esth 1:22; 3:9; 7:5-6,9)
Jesus as God remains unchanging yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Ps 86:15; 119:89; Mal 3:6; John 1:1, 14; 10:30, 38; 14:10-11; Heb 13:8; Jas 1:17)
Ahasuerus gave authority only to the highest ranking in the kingdom, Haman and then Mordecai (Esth 3:10)
Jesus delegates His authority to all citizens of His kingdom to operate in His name as His ambassadors (Luke 10:9)
No one could go to Ahasuerus’ inner court and request anything of him unless the king first called for one’s presence and he held out the golden scepter (Esth 4:11)
Citizens can place their petition directly to the King at anytime (1 John 5:14-15)
Queen Esther in a Pagan World
Despite the fact that the book of Esther hides God within its text, He very much remained visible through His providential actions. While a pagan land and customs surrounded Queen Esther, the hand of God directed the miracles of the narrative’s events. God always makes Himself available even when one does not seek Him. The contrast between the two kingdoms not only illustrates the sovereignty of God, but also the rich, continuous mercies He offers by grace through Jesus Christ.
Like Esther, the contemporary believer lives as an alien in a foreign and pagan land. The cup of iniquity fills rapidly there, while end-time prophecy comes to completion with each passing day. Queen Esther largely relied on herself and other people to address the events that unfolded in the book of her namesake even though God worked silently. However, just as God gave Esther free will to select the kingdom in which to reside, He does so with His elect. The urgent question in these Last Days for the believer is, which kingdom does one choose–the kingdom of Ahasuerus (world) or kingdom of God (heaven)?
Though the name of God does not appear overtly in the book of Esther, the Almighty manifested His sovereignty and providence in the narrative’s background. The account makes evident Israel’s providential God. Jehovah, the covenantal name God showed to His people meaning He who will be (Exod 3:13-15; Heb 10:37; Rev 1:8), ordered all that concerned the Jews as a pledge to fulfill their final salvation. He acted in His silence—visible while invisible. How can the reader find the Invisible One’s evidence of providential actions? A close look at His providence reveals He manifested it in numerous manners from event reversals to the fulfillment of pledges.
Book of Esther: Deliverance of the Jewish People
At the forefront, the book of Esther revolves around the hidden hand of God working through ordinary people to accomplish His will and purpose for His chosen people. Most critically, He used the young Jewish woman Esther in the book bearing her name to shape governmental policy securing the safety of Jews in all 127 Persian provinces, which included the Yehud. God working through her delivered the Jews from Haman’s death edict (Esth 9:20-22) sparing thousands.
Esther narrates the story of God delivering the Jews from Haman’s “edict of death” (9: 20–22). God’s presence need not be overt to be effective. At times, the book feels worldly; however, opulence, kingly power, internal politics nonetheless advance the program of God! God also works from within.
The events in Esther took place 50 years after King Cyrus issued a decree in 538 BC allowing the Judeans’ return to Jerusalem after the fall of Babylon to Persia. Not all exiles went back due to various reasons; rather, many Jewish Diasporas remained in exile as foreigners in the Persian Empire’s capital and its 127 provinces.
Esther did not make known its author. Theologians and historians hold different theories as to its writer ranging from multiple people to the exile Mordecai. Perhaps, the book did not reveal its author since the story kept God hidden within the text. Of the books in the Bible, only Esther does not explicitly mention God by name or title. Instead, God’s hiding invites the reader to find Him in the passages. The name Esther itself may echo the notion of God hiding. The ‘ester (Esther) in the book’s central character seems similar to ‘astir (“I will hide;” Deut 31:18; cf. Ezek 39:23-24); while the Hebrew consonants ‘str appears identical. Jointly, they further reflect God’s hidden nature in the book. Still, God maintains a strong presence in the narrative carrying out His will and purpose for His chosen people.
A canonized book of historical type and post-exilic literature, the writer had a close-up knowledge of Persian customs and culture together with palatial plots and subplots in addition to the Jewish nationalism distinctive. Upon reading the narrative, detailed descriptions emerge throughout Esther portraying a vivid image of the ruling king’s riches, authority, and court politics surrounding the Diaspora Jews’ living conditions. The dating, content, and tone each point to the post-exilic community as the primary audience. No prophets spoke, nor miracles occurred during this period. Thus, the victorious event of deliverance lent hope to the Jewish population and led to the celebration of the Feast of Purim in its commemoration.
The book emphasized several themes. Its focuses include God’s (1) sovereignty in the lives of His people to carry out His will (Ps 115:3; Isa 46:9-11; Dan 4:35; Rom 9:20); (2) providence behind the scenes to order redemptive history; and (3) faithfulness in keeping His covenantal promises to raise up a deliverer (Moses: Exod 3:10; Joshua: Josh 4:14; Joseph: Gen 50:20, and Jesus: Isa 53:5).
Among these themes, the deliverance of the Jews resides centrally to the narrative. As God interacted with human will, His sovereignty and providence maintained His unchanging faithfulness for salvation. Esther, as one of the Old Testament mediators of deliverance, foreshadowed the Messiah of the New Testament as the ultimate Deliverer in His fulfilled First Coming and future Second Coming.
In reinforcing deliverance’s importance to God’s salvation plan for the Jewish people, Esther parallels other Old Testament exilic accounts. For example, Moses (Exod 3:10, 16-17) and Esther (Esth 5:2) both served as deliverance mediators. Other similarities between the two characters existed, also. Additionally, close family members assisted them: Aaron with Moses (Exod 4:14-15) and Mordecai to Esther (Esth 4:14). Further, both Moses (Exod 3:11) and Esther (Esth 4:11) hesitated to mediate deliverance. They both enjoyed favor as well, Moses from God (Exod 3:21; 11:3; 12:36) and Esther the king or other benefactors (Esth 2:9, 15, 17; 5:2; 8:5).
Resting on God’s sovereignty as the King over all, divine providence refers to the provisions for His creation He made beforehand. Killen explained providence preserves and purposefully directs what God created in that it excludes fate and chance. While the Jews could not conceive deliverance while in captivity, the Lord had an end and expectation in mind to fulfill for Israel’s future. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). His thoughts concern our present and future conditions.
Now released by captivity in Assyria and Babylonia, the hand of God displayed itself numerous times in Esther absent of coincidence to complete His foreshadowed end and expectation. He placed His fingerprints in each chapter of the book. For every event, God had a ready provision. While the book does not mention God’s present directly, He promised peace and prosperity restored with a hope and future. He did not forget the Diaspora.
Overview of God’s Providence
Deposing Vashti and Replacing with Esther
Ahasuerus deposed Vashti as queen because she refused to appear before him wearing her royal crown to show her beauty to the people at the royal banquet (1:11). Esther 1:19c goes on to say, “Vashti shall come no more before King Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she” (NKJV). So, then arrived Esther on the scene. She was among the beautiful young virgins gathered from the empire (2:3, 8). Esther gained favor initially from Hegai the custodian of the women and all who saw her (vv. 8, 15) and finally, from Ahasuerus over the other virgins in the women’s quarters. He made Esther the queen to replace Vashti (v 17)—Esther, a concealed Jew from the house of Kish and tribe of Benjamin, the daughter of Abihail and niece of Mordecai.
Watching at the Gate and Overhearing the Assassination Plot
Watching over his charge whom he raised as his daughter, Mordecai paced in front of the women’s quarter to keep an eye on Esther (v. 11). He continued to place himself strategically at the Gate a short distance from the main palace and court structures to monitor her safety even after crowned queen (vv. 19-23). The book referred to him as one of “those of the Gate” (2:2; 3:2). While there, Mordecai overheard assassins discuss plans to kill the king. He reported it to Esther, who in turn notified Ahasuerus. The scribes noted Mordecai’s deed in the book of chronicles in the king’s presence. Did his position at the gate constitute coincidence or fate? God placed him there. God had planted Esther inside the palace and Mordecai outside it.
“Mordecai had this message delivered to Esther: ‘Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis’” (Esth 4:13-14 Tanakh).
Coming to the Kingdom for Such a Time as This
Meanwhile, the events leading to the decree for Jewish destruction continued to unfold. Entwined in these affairs, Mordecai became more involved with court matters while keeping his daily watch over Esther at the gate. Now, it came to pass that Ahasuerus promoted Haman over the princes. The king then commanded those within the gate to bow to Haman as he passed through the gates (3:1). However, Mordecai would not bow (vv. 2-3). Being a Jew (and announcing it), the text implies that Mordecai only would worship Jehovah (v. 4). Bowing constituted idolatry. Mordecai’s refusal angered Haman, prompting him to seek the destruction of all Jews in Persia (vv. 5-6). Haman, from a lineage of enemies to the Jews, talked the king into approving a decree that threatened the Diaspora’s destruction (v. 10). Ahasuerus gave Haman his signet ring, and thus, broad power in governmental affairs. But, God! God who knows the end from the beginning already had intervention providentially prepared to counter Haman’s action.
In a pivotal moment, Queen Esther unaware of the decree entered the picture as Mordecai stands in front of the Gate clothed in sackcloth and ashes, mourning over the issuance. She learned of the reason through Hathach, her servant whom she sent to inquire of Mordecai. Esther also learned of her elder cousin’s request to mediate the dire affairs with a plea to Ahasuerus. Through a series of exchanges between Hathach, she hesitated since one only can enter the king’s inner court upon his calling (4:11). Finally, she heeded the request and acknowledged, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:14). She played an essential role in God’s plan for Israel. Take note that Mordecai highlights God’s sovereign and providential natures with his urging, “relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place“ (v. 14a). With or without Esther, victory over the enemy would arise from elsewhere. The Queen once again found favor with Ahasuerus within the inner court, but would not reveal her full request to the king.
Turning the Table
God’s intervention ensued, bringing insomnia upon the king. Ahasuerus could not sleep and had someone read the royal chronicles to him. (6:1). The portion reviewed highlighted Mordecai’s report that thwarted an assassination of the king. Ahasuerus learned that Mordecai’s deed went unrewarded (v. 3). About that same time, Haman visited Ahasuerus early to secure hanging Mordecai on gallows the Agagite constructed (6: 1–6). Calling Haman into the inner court, the king asked what he should do to honor a man. Haman responded, thinking Ahasuerus meant himself. In a reversal surely Haman did not anticipate, Ahasuerus had Haman carry out his very suggestions to honor Mordecai. Haman lead Mordecai in one of the king’s robes on a royal crested horse as he proclaimed, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!” (6:10). So much for executing Mordecai! Little did Haman know the fate awaiting him—God’s underplot to squash Haman’s scheme to kill the Jews.
Thwarting the Adversary
When Queen Esther finally appealed to Ahasuerus for her life and the lives of her people at a banquet, the king indignantly asked who devised the horrible plot. She had found favor with the king once again. She revealed the adversary as Haman (7:6). Meanwhile, the king left the banquet in anger. A terrified Haman stood before Esther pleading for his life. However, Haman fell on the couch where Esther sat. Rabbinical commentary surmised an angel pushed Haman. Nevertheless, Ahasuerus thought Haman was about to assault his queen in addition to his egregious acts against her people. The king hung Haman on the very gallows he earlier built for Mordecai.
Evidence of God’s Providence
Evidence 1: God Directs Reversals
The title God of Reversals well describes the attributes of the divine Unnamed One in the book of Esther. It serves to illustrate the revealed providential God hidden but active throughout the story. Each event that impeded God’s restoration for the Jews at the gathering of the Jews in Yehuda preceded with a reversal. Consider the following table that uncovers 15 reversed events, each turning the outcome towards God’s intended will and purpose for Israel (Table 1: Reversal Events in the book of Esther):
Table 1. Reversal events in the book of Esther
Vashti refused to appear before the king (1:12)
Esther appeared before the king (2:15)
Vashti angered the king (1:12; 2:4)
Esther delighted the king (2:17-18; 5:2; 6; 7:2; 8:4; 9:14)
Vashti removed as queen (1:19; 2:4)
Esther crowned queen (2:17); made policy (8:7; 9:13)
Vashti wronged the king, princes, and all those in the empire (1:16)
Ahasuerus made a great feast for Esther called it the Feast of Esther (2:18)
Vashti lost the king’s favor (1:19)
Esther gained the king and others’ favor (2:9, 15, 17)
Esther did not reveal her ethnicity (2:10)
Esther revealed her nationality (7:3-4)
Mordecai placed himself in front of the courts of the women’s quarters within the king’s gate (2:11; 19)
Mordecai because great among the Jews and received by the multitude of his brethren (10:3)
Esther waited to see the king until called by name (2:14)
Esther went to see the king without his request and gained favor (5:20)
Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite above the other princes (3:1)
Ahasuerus promoted Mordecai,
the son of Jair of Kish to second to
the king (10:3)
Haman felt Mordecai disrespected him because he would not bow
Mordecai became the most
respected among Jews (3:10)
Haman sought to destroy all the Jews in Ahasuerus’ kingdom (3:6)
Esther mediated deliverance of the Jews in Ahasuerus’ kingdom (5:2, 8; 7:3-4; 8:3, 5)
Haman cast pur (a lot) to destroy the Jews on the 13 Adar (3:7,12)
Jews great warred against their enemies on 13 Adar (9:1)
Ahasuerus gave his signet ring to Haman (3:10)
Ahasuerus gave his signet ring to Mordecai (8:2a)
Haman thought the king would honor him (6:6-9),
The king honored Mordecai (6:11-12)
Mordecai tore his clothes and wore sackcloth and ashes (8:15)
Ahasuerus dressed Mordecai in his royal robe (6:10)
Haman built gallows to hang Mordecai (5:14)
Ahasuerus hung Haman on his own gallows (7:9-10)
God providentially reversed several situations for other biblical figures as it relates to upholding His plan of redemption. He replaced King Saul with King David; changed misfortune to fortune for Ruth and Naomi; scattered and gathered the people of Israel (Jer 29:14); and brought death to life from the first Adam to the final Adam (Rom 5:14) to name a few.
Evidence 2: God Sees the End From the Beginning
God took on the dual roles of the main character and director of the story. Though not overtly mentioned in the story, the essence of His sovereignty played out in each chapter. The reader cannot help but anticipate what God will do next scene by scene. Isaiah 46:10 says “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: He sees the end from the beginning and controls every move towards that end.” God manifested as Jesus Himself has the nature of the beginning and end: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:14). He holds the Big Story in His hand.
Evidence 3: God Providentially Uses Various People for His Purposes
The narrative of Esther contained characters with continues moving parts within and outside the palace. God did not favor one class, gender, or ethnicity to accomplish His providence. Gate watchers, maids, eunuchs, princes, the queen, king, and more play a role in the deliverance of the Diaspora Jews in Persia.
Evidence 4: God Honors Defiant Faith
Esther stood in the face of uncertainty over God’s providence with defiant faith. While the text hides God’s presence in the story, the reader senses it when Esther asked Mordecai to gather all the Jews in Shushan to fast for her for three days as well as she and her maids also would fast. Though going to the king without his approval went contrary to the kingdom’s law and thus warranted execution, Esther displayed an essential act of faith by fasting individually and corporately united in a cry for salvation to their heavenly King. She met the task with spiritual force. In Jer 19:13, the Lord said, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (NKJV). God honored the actions of Esther’s heart when she appeared before the earthly king Ahasuerus.
Evidence 5: God Brings His Will to the Seemingly Impossible
The hand of God demonstrates His will in the face of challenging situations. In the passage for “such a time as this,” the Tanakh uses the word crisis instead of time. A crisis does not disturb God’s plan since He operates in the supernatural with an expected outcome to accomplish His plan.
Evidence 6: God Remembers His Enemies
In Deut 25:19, God said He would blot out the Amalekites (1 Sam 15:17-18). God commanded King Saul to wipe out the Amalek. He took the plunder of the Amalek but kept King Agag alive. Samuel later killed the Amalek king. Haman descended from the house of Agag (1 Chron 4:43), and Esther the house of Kish from Saul (Esth 2:5). Mordecai answered Esther, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esth 4:14). He quite possibly referred Esther back to King Saul and Samuel. Esther had the duty to kill off the enemy of Israel (Exod 17:16) that Saul did not complete. Otherwise, God providentially had another agency available to complete His deliverance for the Jewish Diaspora community.
The turn of events God authoritatively controlled confirms a divine testimony of the covenant-keeping Yahweh with the Jewish people. Through inspired text, Esther demonstrates His preserving redemption for Israel and directing events to deliver His people from annihilation during the reign of Ahasuerus. Regardless of humanity’s actions, He remained faithful to His promises as a providential God.
White Crawford, Sidnie, “Esther,” Society for Biblical Literature, 680.
 Sidnie White Crawford, “Esther,” Society for Biblical Literature, 680. The events took place in the early Hellenistic period dated approximately the fourth century BC.
 S.D. Goitein, Bible Studies, (Tel Aviv: Yavneh Publishing,1957), 62. Goitein believed an exile wrote Esther while in exile with the intended audience of exiles. Mordecai, as a possible author generates from Jewish tradition based on Esther 9:20.
 Michael Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham, eds., “Esther,” in Moody Bible Commentary (Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2014), 682.
 In the Hebrew canon the Tanakh, the Writings or Ketûbîm contain Esther.
 Post-exilic literature comprises pieces written after the fall of Babylon.
 Allan R. Killen, “Providence,” Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, (eds. Charles F. Pfeiffer, Howard F. Vos, and John Rea; Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 1421.
 Rashi, “Commentary on Esther,” Sefaria. Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi) wrote his commentary on the Tanakh in Troyes, France approximately 1075-1105 CE. He quoted numerous Midrashim and Talmudic passages.
For 40 days following His crucifixion, Jesus appeared to His followers alive from the dead. While they could not come to grips with His recent and senseless death, He revealed Himself alive beginning an exclusive ministry lasting until His ascension to heaven. On more than one occasion, He confirmed His resurrection with infallible proofs demonstrating its reality and power (Acts 1:3 KJV). Jesus moved His followers from the spectacle of His death to a life of power and ministry with confirmation, revelation, instruction, and commission. His followers’ post-resurrection experiences with Him prepared them for His departure, outpouring of the Holy Ghost, formation of His church, and proclamation of the Gospel (1:8). Prior to His ascension, Jesus addressed issues prohibiting the apostles outreach with the Gospel: their abandonment of Him on the eve of His death, fear of a subsequent execution at the hands of the Jews, significance of His death, and His death’s relationship to the Old Testament. Christ transformed His followers into a powerful group of witnesses who would turn this world upside down. By transforming His followers, Jesus exemplifies true ministry through life-changing encounters that give revelation of His identity and will. It provides a new place and purpose in His Kingdom for all who come to Him.
Jesus eliminated the hopelessness and fears of His followers by imparting peace to them, confirming His resurrection, reaffirming their apostolic calling, and speaking to things of the Kingdom of God (John 20:19; Acts 1.3). Their fears of an impending execution vanished. Not only His apostles, but family, and many friends and associates who witnessed His crucifixion, beheld Him alive throughout this period (1 Cor 15:1-8). Additionally, He explained how His death and resurrection changed the relationship dynamic between God’s Kingdom and humanity. Scripture proclaims two phases of God’s kingdom: one in which Christ rules all earth’s nations in resurrection glory (messianic; Rev 11:15) and another wherein He redeems humanity from sin and death through His shed blood, restoring them to a new relationship with God by rebirth (redemptive; Luke 24:46; John 3:5; Col 1:12-14).
Jesus acknowledged this new covenant relationship to Mary Magdalene just as He was about to ascend to the Father’s presence with His blood. This ascension occurred prior to His first appearing to the disciples (John 20:17). He was ascending to their God and Father to obtain humanity’s eternal redemption as sons (20:27) . God in Christ now becomes a believer’s God and Father by new birth. God making Himself in the likeness of men reveals the significance of this ascension (John 1:14; 2 Cor 5:19). As Scripture’s central truth, God in Christ unites its more advanced truths revealing salvation’s manifold dimensions. This was not His ascension to God’s right hand, but His human priestly entrance into God’s presence with His shed blood to remove sin and obtain redemptive rights to everyone for whom He died (Heb 1:3-4; 9:11-12). As God is omnipresent  both in heaven and manifest (incarnate) in Christ, Jesus with His own blood sprinkles God’s throne to purge humanity’s sin from His presence making it a throne of grace for all (Heb 4:16; 1 Pet 1:2). Based on humanity’s response to the Gospel, this becomes a life application. Furthermore, God’s omnipresent Spirit, both in Christ and upon heaven’s throne, received His blood sacrifice for sin allowing Jesus to claim everyone as children by His Spirit (Rom 8:9; Heb 2:10-15). From the union of God and Christ (man) by incarnation , Jesus through Scripture now calls all believers both His children and brethren .
Next, Scripture says Jesus presented His followers with infallible proofs–undeniable and unmistakable signs. These proofs removed all doubts Jesus still was dead. Initially, the disciples did not accept the testimonies of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary mother of James the less, Salome, Cleopas, and one other. The disciples’ mistaken disbelief in His resurrection changed when they beheld Him resurrected. Eight days following His initial appearing to His disciples, Jesus returned and allowed Thomas to touch and examine His physical body. With renewed faith, he called Jesus Lord and God (John 20:27-28). Jesus’ resurrection established His earlier claims to be the Son of God with certainty, also it served as the confession and foundation of His church (Rom 1:3-4). Jesus affirmed Thomas’ faith, because he just as the other disciples, saw Jesus. Those who believe Scripture’s witness will receive His blessing–eternal life by His indwelling Holy Spirit. By resurrection, Jesus conclusively showed He was Lord and God of all abolishing sin and death’s power over humanity thereby demonstrating His ability to forgive and deliver all from every bondage of sin and its consequences. His resurrection alone proves the superiority of His Gospel preached by the apostles.
Examination and Rededication
Then, Jesus appeared again to the disciples and commissioned them to preach. This time He gave them the key to fulfill His commission–follow Him. Christ transforms those who follow Him so they can mentor others in discipleship (John 21:1-19). Christ’s calling and way of life brings maturity and fulfillment of God’s purpose to His followers lives. It teaches them to relate to God and man properly.
Prior to starting His Galilean ministry, Christ told Peter and His brother Andrew to “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). For three and a half years they saw Christ’s miracles, heard His teachings, received apostolic appointment, and on private occasions witnessed signs above those seen by the populace. On this post-resurrection occasion, as Peter and seven other disciples fished into the morning, Jesus standing upon the shore questions their expedition’s result. Unaware to Whom they were speaking they answer Him no. Jesus instructs them to cast their net on the other side leading to a great catch. At this moment, they recognize the stranger as Jesus. He then questions Peter’s loyalty during a fellowship breakfast at the shore, “Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15-19). Peter considered each question in light of his abandonment and three denials on the night of His arrest. Answering with affirmation, he qualified each response saying “Lord thou knowest that I love thee.” Grief stricken, Peter responded a third time “Lord thou knowest all things.” Considering his love for Christ and knowing Jesus was no longer dead, Peter’s heart filled with grief (Greek: sadness). Peter then understood Christ’s love for him, personal failure and responsibility to feed Christ’s people.
In wake of failure, believers must consider their love for Christ, which leads to rededication of their lives to Him. Repentance and confession result in a cleansed spirit and refreshed walk with God. His calling exceeds human failures, and His death ensures its fulfillment. Jesus’ attitude towards Peter reaffirms His preeminent calling over His followers lives and fruitlessness of life without Him. Peter and his colleagues received a renewed purpose with Christ. Only this time, He was going to live and work in them by His Spirit. With knowledge and understanding, a church’s ministry leads its converts to maturity and closer fellowship with Christ. True ministry proclaims and expounds God’s Word to all producing mature believers who will impact this world for Him.
Remembering His love for Jesus allowed Peter and the other disciples to move beyond their failings in Gethsemane to walk with Christ. His death was the answer for their failure, and His resurrection changed their future. Christ’s blood removes all humanity’s sin upon repentance through water baptism in Jesus name. So, what constitutes true ministry? First, true ministry leads its recipients to receive salvation (Acts 2:38). Repentance results in receiving the Holy Ghost and transformation. When filled and renewed by the Holy Ghost, believers will carry out God’s will with dedication (2 Cor 5:17-21). Second, ministry reminds believers of their new identity in Christ along with their purpose and responsibility to fulfill it. Believers must ever be mindful of this privilege. Being filled with the Spirit establishes a new covenant relationship with God allowing Him to will and do of His good pleasure through them (Phil 2:13). Third, God working in His people to fulfill His goodness towards humanity exemplifies ministry. His heart seeks to reach the lost through believers. Those who make themselves available to God will find themselves used by God.
Finally, Jesus brought His disciples to a place of examination, reconsideration, and remembrance to prepare them for ministry ahead. His question, “lovest thou me?” calls for self-examination for if His followers love Him, then repentance and rededication likely will follow. Peter knew he loved Jesus. He only needed reminder and redirection. Following the disciples’ baptism with the Spirit, they changed their world for Christ. Do you love Jesus? When believers make the choice of repentance and recommitment, they can live for God with power and dedication.
A transforming encounter with Jesus Christ births a new relationship with God and gives a new direction for life with dedication. Christ’s filled His 40-day ministry to His disciples with signs, instruction, and commission preparing them to preach the gospel. These signs were of a different nature. They were acts beyond healing and deliverance that established His resurrection and identity. As followers of Christ, they received experiences and teachings with Him beyond what the multitudes experienced. Discipleship blessings enrich our relationship with God while multitude blessings meet needs. While physical blessings are great, seeking and knowing Jesus brings blessedness and purpose. When the disciples renewed their faith in Him, Jesus strengthened them in knowing He was Christ, the Almighty God in flesh. This essential knowledge flowed throughout apostolic teaching and preaching. It made His crucifixion along with its disgrace glorious and powerful. Today, Christ’s death and resurrection stands as God’s ability to save to all who believe His message of salvation. New Testament ministry becomes effective by its proclamation and worship of Jesus Christ. Using New Testament ministry, God transitions both His people and the lost from life shaking events to Christ changing moments and dedication.
Pastor Daryl Cox | October 8, 2015 Professor of Theology All Nations Leadership Institute
 On the Jewish feast day of atonement, following the death of the chosen goat, the high priest entered the holy of holies sprinkling the mercy-seat with its blood renewing the relationship between Jehovah and Israel. During this time, no one ministered in the tabernacle. If someone interrupted or touched the high priest, it rendered his sacrifice ineffective. This explains Christ’s words to Mary in not touching him (Lev 16:17).
 Omnipresent indicates God’s ability to be present everywhere at once as a result of His spiritual nature (1 Kgs 8:27; Ps 139:7-8; Jer 23:24).
 The Incarnation explains the act whereby God assumed human form as Jesus Christ(John 1:14; Phil 2:6-9).
 Christ’s death was a redemptive intercession for everyone. It became active when He entered God’s presence and purged sin with His own blood to remit sin at baptism and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. This act continues as intercession for both saints and sinners today (Heb 7:25).
Bernard, D. (1984). New birth. Florissant, MO: Word Aflame Press.
Bernard, D. (1983). Oneness of God. Florissant, MO: Word Aflame Press.
Kenyon, E. W. (1999) Bible in light of our redemption. Lynnwood, WA: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society.
Kenyon, E. W. (1998). From the cross to the throne. Lynnwood, WA: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society.
All Nations Leadership Institute
October 8, 2015
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,” (Matt 5:1-2 KJV).
Jan Paron|November 16, 2014
Jan Paron, All Rights Reserved 2014
Matthew in his gospel vividly describes the events leading to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.–Jesus had left Nazareth and settled in Galilee at Capernaum. From this region, He gathered His disciples who reflected the microcosm of the multitudes Jesus served (4:18). And, the disciples followed Him. Jesus then traveled throughout Galilee and taught in the Jewish synagogues, preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healed all manners of sickness and disease among the people (vv. 23-25). As news spread about Him throughout Syria, people brought Jesus their sick, possessed, lunatick, and palsey (v. 24). He healed them (v. 24). Multitudes came from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond Jordan. And, they too followed Him.
Seeing the mountain, Jesus preaches the gospel of the Kingdom with His first of five teachings on the character for the salt of the earth and light of the world (5:13-14). Scripture shows five actions Jesus took at this time: He saw the multitudes, went into a mountain, sat down on the mountain, opened His mouth, and then taught His disciples (vv. 1-2). When ancient Jewish teachers sat, they had something important to teach their disciples. But first, their pupils had to be present for the lesson. The same held true with Jesus. He sat on the mountain and began His teachings once “his disciples came unto him” (v. 1). The phrase came unto him means to draw near with the reason being for the disciple to hear Jesus teach (Thayers, 2009). Presumably, the gathered multitudes did likewise.
Jesus makes His guidance available through Scripture and His Spirit. He sits ever-present on the Kingdom mountain ready to teach His disciples. But, this takes action on the part of believers in Christ. They must draw near to hear. This gives pause to reflect on the question, Can you come unto Him?
Prayer for Salt and Light
Heavenly Father, I honor you as the Great Light to those who once sat in darkness. I humbly ask You to help Your children live according to the Kingdom at hand with a character that reflects salt of the earth and light of the world. I stand before You to lay down that which leads me and others astray from You, O Jesus. Purge us of self-centered barriers that prevent Your beloved from drawing near to you. Let us come unto to You and seek Your voice to learn of the Kingdom lifestyle. We lift You up, son of David, son of Abraham–JESUS, Who saved Your people from their sins. I give You all praise and say this prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Let Your Light go forth and shine so that all may know You, O God of redemption.
We will praise You, O Lord, our Rock, Our Shield, our Hightower;
We will tell of You, Lord, of Your mightiness.
We will rejoice and be glad in You, Lord, Our Redeemer, our Salvation, our Light;
We will sing praise to Your grace and enduring love.
Order our hearts, minds, and our bodies for Your purpose, O God.
Let Your favor go before us for Your glory, O God of all righteousness.
We will look to You, O Lord to prepare our hearts for Grace-full leadership;
We will yield our hearts to You, Lord, we are Yours.
We will draw upon Your divine wisdom, Lord, to guide our hearts;
We will look to You to fill us with Your strength.
Keep our hearts close to Your bosom, O God.
Let Your Spirit flow free and dwell within us, O God of truth.
We will listen to You, O Lord, focusing our minds on Christ-centered leadership.
We will serve You, Lord, telling others of salvation.
We will seek understanding, Lord, of Your ways for our lives as leaders;
We will use our minds to accomplish Your vision.
Sustain our minds with Your far-reaching knowledge, O God.
Let Your will be done, Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, O God of creation.
We will be a living testimony to You, O Lord, patterning our ways as Spirit-led leaders;
We will walk with You, Lord, making our actions and words honor You.
We will be shepherds, Lord, and feed Your lambs and take care of Your sheep;
We will show our love and follow You.
Lead our hands and our habits to demonstrate a grace-filled life, O God.
Let others know of Your joy and peace, O God of grace.
We thank You, O Lord, our Comforter, our Shepherd, our Healer;
We sing for joy to You, Lord, marveling at the wonders of Your might and works of Your hands.
We shout our love for You, our Redeemer, our Savior, Our Light;
We bow down and worship You.
Teach us to be humble, O God, King of kings.
January 15, 2007/ All Rights Reserved
Two groups attended Jesus’ crucifixion. The first group, His followers and acquaintances, intimately knew Him and stood at a distance from the execution site in sorrow and mourning. Rather the second group, the Jewish antagonists, displayed great public contempt. This latter consensually cried out for His death. Along with the Roman soldiers who oversaw this spectacle, the opposition witnessed a demonstration of God’s power that gave them a second chance to accept Jesus as the Messiah. God ordained Calvary to deal with sin and death giving all men an opportunity for salvation!
Daryl Cox/March 31, 2013
Followers, Willingly and Lovingly Separated to Jesus
The Gospel author Luke identifies Jesus’ followers and acquaintances as a separate group from the crowd who called for His death (23:48-49). Unable to stop the events ordered by Pontius Pilate, they stood at a distance from the site out of fear not wanting to identify themselves with the crowd. First Corinthians 2:7-8 defines why they stood at a distance. It says, “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.” Those who loved and followed Jesus knew His identity.
Jesus changed the lives of His disciples. In addition to this impact on their lives, He revealed Himself to them as the Son of God. They rooted their loyalty in the truth that the Lord of glory came to earth as a man to live among His people. Prior to His death, Jesus’ followers did not comprehend His coming. Many of them looked for the kingdom promised by the Scriptures. According to the Apostle Paul, this lack of knowing premised Jesus’ rejection and execution (1 Cor 2:8). Many thought that Jesus would deliver them from Roman oppression as Scripture foretold. However, their love for Christ was the reason for their stand away from the crowd. They did not want to associate themselves amidst those who hated Him.
In like manner, as Christians we should distinguish ourselves from the crowd of this world by our love for Christ. Does our love and knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Christ motivate us to live separate from the ungodly thinking and behaviors of this world? Does our love for Him cause us to withdraw from conversations that morally have gone south? Does it allow us to maintain relationships that are harmful to our calling and purpose? We should root our love for Christ in devotion to Him.
Antagonists, Spiritually and Morally Hostile to Jesus
Luke describes the crowd at the site as spiritually and morally hostile to Jesus. Along with the soldiers who brutally afflicted Jesus, the crowd contemptuously laughed and mocked Him with shame. Furthermore, they dared Him to save Himself. Others walked across the site shaking their heads in disbelief of Him. The two thieves crucified with Him similarly taunted Him to save Himself if he was the Messiah. The soldiers, who carried out the crucifixion, gambled for His cloths at the foot of the cross. Above all else, everyone wanted to see a supernatural deliverance of Jesus from the cross to prove His claim as the Messiah. Luke uses the Greek transliterated word theōria for “sight” (Luke 23:48) to describe this event, which means “a spectacle.” The Lord’s crucifixion was a public spectacle of disgrace and humiliation, yet out of it Jesus cries, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34b). This prayer, in contrast to the many vengeful psalmic ones, would give opportunity to the crowd and eventually the world to correct the biggest error in the history of the human race, the rejection and crucifixion of the Lord of glory.
The Resurrection’s Effect
As the account continues, one of the thieves repents. In the midst of all the confusion and hatred, the one thief witnesses the majesty and glory of Christ that continued to flow from within His brutally disfigured and wounded form. This revelation touched his heart producing recognition of his wrong and Jesus’ identity. His repentantly cried, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42). The thief realized that Jesus was Lord. Our first steps toward salvation include recognizing our wrong and confessing Jesus as our Lord (God manifested in the flesh). Jesus responded to the thief’s confession and request; however, he gave no response to the continual hatred of the crowd. The Lord responds to faith. This thief embraced who Jesus was found pardon. In a similar vein, we can receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Ghost by embracing the Gospel (Acts 2:38). The Lord’s promise of paradise to this man gave him hope beyond his impending death. It would also reveal the spiritual change that would take place for everyone who died prior to Christ’s return for His people. No longer would believers go to a place in hades (hell) called Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). The sacrifice of Jesus’ human and divine life would forever settle the issue of our sin with God and give us access to His presence in this world and the one to come. “Upon death, our spirits rest with Jesus in paradise until His return” (1 Thess 4:14b). Jesus’ death on the cross gives us a new opportunity to repent and get right with God!
At His death, Jesus prays the submission of His life into the hand of God. This powerful prayer let God use the death and resurrection of Christ to abolish the reign of death over humanity. Jesus’ taste of death for everyone set the stage for our release as the Hosea the prophet promised (Hos 13:14). God gave the people two signs that revealed who Jesus was and their error in crucifying Him. With the first sign, God supernaturally split the temple veil that led to the Holy of Holies. A veil 50 inches thick and 36 inches long completely tore apart. God no longer restricts us from His presence with this veil. He now lives in us through the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Jesus opened the door to a New Covenant relationship with God by way of His death. The Father’s presence in us through the Holy Ghost makes both fellowship with Him and worship real. Next, God sends a great earthquake as the second sign. He allows death to overcome Jesus and thus destroys it upon His resurrection ending its reign over us who believe (Rom 8:1-2). His death atoned the transgressions of all future believers and those who lived prior to His first coming. With sin now resolved, Gospel author Matthew tells us that many of the Old Testament saints physically rose from the dead upon Christ’s resurrection and showed themselves to many in Jerusalem (27:52-53). The earthquake only opened the dead’s tombs. They came out from their graves when Jesus rose from the dead (vv.51-53). This resurrection reveals the extensive effect of His death. God forgave and restored everyone who believed from Adam to Christ by Jesus’ death, and He continues to restore those of us who believe since His resurrection.
This act also gives us hope. We have the promise of the future resurrection for the righteous. God answered Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness for the crowd and their unbelieving expectation of His deliverance from the cross through these two signs. God did not deliver Jesus from the cross, but delivered Him out of death by the resurrection. Using these two events, He convicted the crowd that they might repent and receive His forgiveness.
God never disregarded the unbelief of the people during the crucifixion. Once He dealt with the issue of sin by Jesus’ death, He now turned to the crowd. God did not execute judgment upon them. Luke describes a change in the crowd in his Gospel. When the crowd saw what happened, they “smote their breasts and returned to their lives” (23:48 NLT). In response to Jesus’ request to forgive His executioners, God opened the eyes of the crowd and conviction followed as He revealed Jesus’ identity and the error of their ways. Thus, they felt sorrow and distress.
By using the Greek typtō (v. 48) for “smite,” Luke suggests the events moved the crowd and caused them to experience remorse  for their actions.  They stood convicted of their deeds but remained unrepentant. As a nation, Israel continued to reject Jesus as their Messiah. God wanted to forgive the nation as well, but it likewise did not repent. When God convicts us, do we turn to Him in repentance? Change and forgiveness comes when we repent, too. The Gospel deals with our sin and unbelief to the point of seeking change.
Remembering the Death and Resurrection of Christ
Let us keep in mind that God dealt with sin and death through Calvary in His ordained time, making salvation possible for everyone. He gives us four key points to consider:
Rejoice and celebrate His victoryover the world, sin and death.
Take the opportunity to know and serve Jesus as the almighty God in the flesh.
Perfect your walkwith His continued forgiveness and grace to overcome sin.
Identify yourself as a true believer in Christ before the world.
God gives us the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the Gospel until Jesus returns. The Gospel offers a message of hope for everyone. Do not change the message, but faithfully stand for its truth. Our lives are a witness to this world.
 Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009), 290.
 (Matt 27:52-53; cf. Ezek 37:12; Dan 12:2 and Zech 14:5b)
 Luke Timothy Johnson, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1991), 382.
 Darrell Bock, Luke, 9:51-24:53: Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 1996), 1865.
Grace (Greek: charis, χάρις) only comes through Jesus Christ. Through the Word tabernacling within you and out of His fulness, Jesus gives grace—an unearned and undeserved spiritual blessing (John 1:16). God offers grace as a free gift and work in humankind.
Jan Paron/January 22, 2013
The author of John’s Gospel records that after John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God, two disciples follow Jesus (1:36). According to the narrator, Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them what they seek (v. 38). After learning they seek where He dwells, Jesus invites the disciples to “Come and see.” The disciples respond to His beckoning (v. 39b). “They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day, for it was the tenth hour” (v. 39 KJV). Jesus extends this same invitation to all believers today. He wants them to follow Him, and then dwell and abide in the fulness of His grace: “one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift” (v. 16b AMP).
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (v. 14 KJV).
The word dwells refers to the Incarnation, where “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19 NKJV). The author of John uses the term dwell as a culturally-relevant means for early Jewish Christians to understand that God’s covenant relationship with His people now manifests itself in Christ, as opposed to confirmation through the Tabernacle/Temple. As author David Norris notes, “Jesus is the unique revelation of God, where both the name and presence of God dwells.” Jesus is Grace, by manifestation and name.
While God provides grace through Jesus, a person must experience it through the obedience of faith. When the disciples ask Jesus, “Where dwellest thou?” (John 1:38b KJV), He answers them with an invitation to “Come and see” (1:39b), foreshadowing grace with an offer to abide in His tent. Jesus extends this same invitation for grace today to enter His dwelling place. A person’s acceptance hinges on faith in the belief that Jesus is the Messiah, He pitches His tent and indwells within at New Birth. One abides in Him from that time on, regenerated and renewed.
Faith does not excuse one from obedience to the Word. While the inward evidence to the believer of His salvation is the direct witness of the Spirit (Rom 8:16), outward evidence is a life of righteousness and true holiness. Inward evidence comes through changes resulting from the fruit produced through the inner workings of God’s Spirit: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23 NIV).
Upon abiding in Jesus’ tent, He bestows honor as a son in God’s Kingdom under the New Covenant, and separates His beloved from sin unto the Gospel for a regenerated life. A member of the Kingdom now belongs to the household God, and walks according to a different code. Desiring a closer relationship with Him and submitting to His will, a servant of Christ freely gives oneself to God. The believer joyfully lives in chains for Christ; and diligently seeks Him through daily dying to self, prayer, speaking in tongues, fasting, solitude, meditation, thanksgiving, worship and studying the Word. Additionally, one follows the ordinance of breaking bread in remembrance of His suffering and takes part in fellowship for the perfecting of the saints. These actions support covenant with God in a two-fold manner. The first provides opportunity to hear His voice with the mind of Christ, while the second gives Spirit-driven power to walk in healing and deliverance from sin.
Since all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), Jesus’ constant presence makes grace work in a person’s life. He does not limit grace, rather freely makes it available incarnated from within. The Holy Spirit’s inner working produces a righteous and holy walk. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17 NKJV). Since God is Grace, His Spirit fully dispenses it to all those who abide in His tent.
How do you access grace in your life?
 David S. Norris, A Oneness Pentecostal Theology (Hazelwood, WAP Academic, 2009), 73.