Jesus Christ Prison Ministry

Book of Matthew 

with Commentary

A Church Built on Sand

Part 3

As we continue in the book of Matthew, we are finding that what Jesus taught was very different from what the church teachers and leaders taught. The church leaders and teachers were more concerned about the physical and social health and welfare of their church than the spiritual health and welfare of its members. They were more involved with putting on a show than making sure the heart was filled with spiritual substance. Making people look the part was more important than teaching people how to live the part. Therefore, Jesus continued with His teachings that touched the heart. Again, remember, Jesus never taught church. Jesus never instructed anyone to “go to church”. Church was like a mad dog, ready to bite and devour anyone who got in its way.

Matthew 7:6 - Matthew 9:38

Don’t give to dogs what belongs to God. They will only turn and attack you. Don’t throw pearls down in front of pigs. They will trample all over them.

The tithe-paying, Sabbath church-going leaders were the ones trampling all over the teachings of Jesus. As Jesus attempted to feed them the Word of Life, truth that would save their souls, they turned and attacked Him. It is the same with this ministry. God has dictated and directed to this ministry “present truth” for our day to prepare people for physically going to Heaven. As this ministry attempts to share it with church people, most trample all over it and attack it. If it doesn’t come from their church, they disdain it. Few are willing to test and investigate in order to see if the teachings are truly of God, no matter what the source.

This concept is very important for inmates in particular. Good Christian inmates have a good heart and desire to help others. The other inmates take advantage of their Christian love and work their conscience to get everything they can from them. Christians are not to waste God’s material blessings on those who would not appreciate it. Inmates have food, clothes and drink. You don’t need to give them yours just because they play the game on you. That would be throwing your pearls before pigs. However, you can use your material blessings to entice other inmates to come and learn the truth of Jesus. You can let it be known that you will throw a spread for those who have come to listen and learn what you are learning. Use what God has given you wisely. God requires that of you. You are to be good managers of His things. Only the “worthy” poor are to be helped. Give only as it will glorify God and not the work of the devil. The devil may want your stuff, but he doesn’t need your support. Don’t let him “steal” it.

The same is true for those not in prison. God wants them to open their homes and use His material blessings to “entice” people to come for Bible studies. By using the material God has dictated and directed to this ministry, you can bring many souls to Jesus.

Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread? Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask. Treat others as you want them to treat you. This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.

As bad as you are”. Jesus is talking to church people. If He were standing in our churches today, whether Sabbath or Sunday churches, He would be saying the very same thing. When will we wake up?

Ask, search and knock. Many have not learned how to accomplish this concept. Instead of asking, they demand. Instead of searching, they ravish and bulldoze. Instead of knocking, they beat the door down. God will not respond if you are not respectful of His authority in your life. An inmate would understand this. If he went before the judge to ask, search and knock for a pardon, he would not go barging in, demanding a pardon while knocking everything off the desk of the judge. No, he would approach very humbly, with a carefully worded statement that was limited only to the case at hand. He would respectfully present his petition and with reverence, honor the judge.

But how many stand before God, who holds their very life in His hands, and yell, scream, shout, demand and act as if they control their own destinies. They bang on the door and attempt to break it down while bulldozing over every request and command that God has given them to do. It is amazing how many shout and proclaim the “Love of God” while they refuse to give back “Love to God”.

God is ready and willing to give good gifts to His children. But you must be one of “His children”. “A son honors his father and a servant his master. So if I’m a father, where is my honor?” Malachi 1:6. The fifth commandment commands children to obey, reverence and fear their parents. If we revere, obey and fear our Heavenly Father, asking, seeking and knocking with all humility and respect, fulfilling the requirements He has laid down, He will give us whatever we ask for. I am learning this in my life. In other words, do unto God as you would have Him do unto you. Treat God as you want Him to treat you. Give to God as you would want Him to give to you. Love God as you would want Him to love you. As we do unto others, you do unto God.  

Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it.

I do not understand why people are not listening to Jesus. Especially those who claim to be “God’s special people”. For some reason, they equate going through the doors of their church with going through the “narrow gate” to heaven. Not possible. Why? Because going through a church door is very easy. Everyone can do it. But to get to heaven, you must turn around, walk out of your church and walk on God’s narrow road. That is very hard to do. The power of the church influence is hard to break. We love our idols. Very few are on the road to Heaven. It requires a character that not one church is producing. It requires an obedience that not one church is teaching. It requires a love for Jesus and Jesus only that not one church is practicing. Churches are not willing to give up their power and authority over you. They want your obedience. Churches are not teaching you how to give your life to God. Churches follow the Catholic model for power and money.

Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you. You can tell what they are by what they do. No one picks grapes or figs from thornbushes. A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. Every tree that produces bad fruit will be chopped down and burned. You can tell who the false prophets are by their deeds.

Good deeds! Why is it, while God is working so hard for our salvation, we refuse to even admit that we have any responsibility to work hard for our own salvation. If you are not producing the good fruits of the Ten Commandments in your life, you are producing bad fruit. If you are feeling the chop-chop of the ax in your life, maybe it is time to start producing the good fruits of the Ten Commandments. Why do we listen to our churches and pastors, the false prophets, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, who tell us that we can’t work our way into heaven? Why? Why not listen to Jesus who tells us what we must do, obey, work, strive in order to enter Heaven? How many claim to have “faith in Jesus” and yet that “faith” has absolutely no life. Their faith has no power to obey Jesus to do, obey, work, strive in order to enter Heaven. James is right, their faith is dead. And so are they.

Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, “We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.” But I will tell them, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!”

Every church, every pastor, every denomination teaching that we are “saved by grace”, that we “can’t work our way into heaven”, that all we have to do is “have faith” or “believe” to be saved, is evil. It is the work of “evil people” to keep you from believing in the teachings of Jesus. They are attempting to flood out the truth with evil, good-sounding lies.

On the day of judgment church people will stand before Jesus and claim, “We preached in your name, we went to church on Sabbath, we read the church Sabbath School Lessons, why are you destroying us”? He will respond, “I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people! I never asked you to go to church. I never asked you to read the Sabbath School Lesson. I asked you to stop sinning, be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life.”

Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock. Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn’t obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash.

All pastors, churches and denominations are crashing. They no longer obey the teachings of Jesus to be perfect, stop sinning and to keep the Ten Commandments to get eternal life. Get out now before they crash on you. If you are not standing on the Rock, Who teaches us the way to salvation, that Rock will crush you for eternity.

When Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were surprised at his teaching. He taught them like someone with authority, and not like their teachers of the Law of Moses.

The messages Jesus has given this ministry are not like the teachers of the churches of today. No, this message, dictated and directed by the Holy Spirit, is from the authority of God. All who reject it reject Jesus. The ax and the curse of God will fall on all who reject it.

When Jesus came down from the hillside, large crowds followed him. Suddenly a leper came up to him, fell down before him, and said, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.” So Jesus reached out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want to. Be clean!” And instantly his leprosy was made clean. Then Jesus told him, “See to it that you don’t speak to anyone. Instead, go and show yourself to the priest, and then offer the sacrifice that Moses commanded as proof to the authorities.”

Here was an “unclean” leper who had real faith. The majority of church people today have no faith. What they have is a sick, “unclean” emotion of “goody, goody” feelings that have nothing to do with true faith. But here was a leper who was forbidden to be close to people. He was forbidden to let anyone touch him. However, he had faith that motivated him to act. He did not care what his church taught or did. His faith motivated him to search out and find Jesus. His faith motivated him to stand in the presence of a crowd with the possibility of being stoned to death, and asked Jesus, an outcast from the church, to heal him. How many in the crowd were sick? How many claimed to have “faith” in God, but refused to ask Jesus for healing? How many were so chained to their denomination that they refused to believe the evidences right before their eyes? But the “unclean” leper, who was an outcast from his denomination, he had no trouble seeing and believing.

For Jesus to touch such a person was a death sentence. According to the church, He would be forbidden to work in public or to touch anyone else. He would be excluded from all religious services, gatherings and ceremonies. How sad that the church had fallen so far it had no idea what true Christianity was all about: loving and healing sin-sick people. Jesus was not afraid of sin or the effects of sin. Why are we so afraid to stand up and meet sin head-on? Maybe because it is hard to confront sin when we love it so much. We are very comfortable in our churches and don’t want to make waves. That is not following Jesus.

Jesus told the man not to tell anyone but to go straight to the priest and offer the sacrifices necessary for cleansing. Why? Because Jesus did not want the news of how the man was healed to prejudice the outcome of the decision the priest had to make. He wanted the priest to make a fair and honest decision that the man was clean. How sad. Even today, people are so prejudiced by their church teachings and influences that they are not able to see and acknowledge the truth of Jesus standing before them. Like Cain, their church-way of doing things is more important than listening to Abel telling them the truth. How many hate those “Abels” Jesus is sending them to correct their selfish opinions, beliefs and actions! Church people would kill “Abel” today if the laws permitted it.

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a centurion came up to him and begged him repeatedly, “Sir, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus told him, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion replied, “Sir, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed, because I, too, am a man under authority and I have soldiers under me. I say to one of them ‘Go’ and he goes, to another ‘Come’ and he comes, and to my servant ‘Do this’ and he does it.”

Again, how sad that the church who claimed to be “God’s special people” refused to accept their God. They had made up their own god and refused to accept any proof to the contrary. And yet, here was a pagan, a man of secular authority, coming to Jesus and begging Him repeatedly to heal his servant. The same is true today. While church leaders and members treat this ministry with disdain, the “pagan”, rejected outcasts of society, are coming to be physically and spiritually healed by God’s power.

But not only did the Roman, pagan centurion come, he let it be known that he, a man of wealth, influence and who had command of a hundred men, did not consider himself worthy to stand in the presence of God or to have Jesus come under his roof. He begged before Jesus while the church leaders offered only insults. His faith was so strong that all he needed was a “word”. How unlike the church leaders who kept demanding “a sign” from Jesus to prove His authority. How arrogant, prideful and wicked the church was. How like our churches, pastors and denominations of today. They just refuse to accept the teachings that God has given to this humble, simple and unworthy ministry.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and told those who were following him, “I tell you with certainty, not even in Israel have I found this kind of faith! I tell you, many will come from east and west and will feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom from heaven. But the unfaithful heirs of that kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. In that place there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

How true! “Not even in Israel (modern “Christian” churches of today) have I found this kind of faith.” Those who claim to be “God’s special church” and “the Remnant” “will be thrown into the darkness outside” for their unfaithfulness. But inmates, “sinners” and those rejected by the church will “feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom from heaven”. When will the church members wake up and get out? When will they realize that they are acting this part, right now, today? Why do they go on sleeping in their fantasies?

“Go,” Jesus told the centurion, “and it will be done for you, just as you have believed.” And his servant was healed that very hour.

No problem with the faith of the pagan. No problem with the faith of a Roman Centurion. No problem with the faith of an “unclean” outcast. Big problem with the faith of the church and its members. You want to be healed? You want to have the blessings that come from God? Get out of your church and go to Jesus, humbling yourself and recognizing that you are not worthy, and be obedient to every word that comes from His mouth.

When Jesus went into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed, sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and began serving him. When evening came, people brought to him many who were possessed by demons. He drove out the spirits by speaking a command and healed everyone who was sick. This was to fulfill what was declared by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “It was he who took our illnesses away and removed our diseases.”

What if Peter had been influenced by the church of his day and was intimidated and took Jesus somewhere other than his home? Would his mother-in-law have been healed? Are we doing the same today? We sure love our churches. We let in all kinds of evil under the guise of “religion” and under the name of our church and denomination. But have we invited Jesus into our homes? Jesus and sickness cannot dwell together. Think about that!

By now the people who had been under the influence of their church could no longer be held back. However, the church regulations about the “Sabbath” were so strong that the people waited until the Sabbath was over before they came for healing. How sad. The Sabbath was made for the healing of man. If they had been taught right by their church, they would have realized that the Sabbath was made to make man whole. That is why God gave it to us. Those who properly keep the Sabbath won’t be going to church, but will be found being healed, and healing the sick in Jesus.

Like my sister, how many go to the church to be healed. They want the church leadership to pour oil over them, pray over them and to perform all kinds of “Catholic” rituals for them. If the church can’t heal, they go to doctors. Why not just go to Jesus? He is our Physician. He has promised to heal all who come to Him. But to come to Him, you must accept Him and what He teaches: to be perfect, stop sinning and keep the Ten Commandments to get your eternal life.

When Jesus saw the large crowds around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus then had to leave in order not to let the devil tempt Him with pride, ego and a desire to stay and bask in the adulations of the church crowd. How unlike our pastors of today. They love the fame, glory and adulations of the crowd. Church leaders travel all over the world and from one church to another to get glory, fame and adulations. But Jesus was on a mission. Impossible though that mission was, He had to go and continue giving His life for the good of those who would kill Him.

Just then, a scribe came up and told him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest.” Then another of his disciples told him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

How typical, when all is going well, and the crowds are giving praise, a member of the church leadership steps forward to “follow”. Isn’t that the way it is today. We love to follow fame, pride, ego and success. But when the crowds stop cheering and there is no more “pride” in following, people turn away to find the next “in thing”. That is why they love their churches. Churches simply reflect our own pride, arrogance, ego and desires.

Then there are those who want to “follow” but they have so many burdens that it is impossible. How many inmates “wanted” to come work in this ministry! However, they could not because they had so many “dead things” in their lives to “bury” first. Unless we are ready to give up everything and follow Jesus without any conditions, we will never make it to Heaven. Leave the world and church alone and let them bury their own dead.

When Jesus got into the boat, his disciples went with him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat began to be swamped by the waves. Yet Jesus kept sleeping. They went to him and woke him up. “Lord!” they cried, “save us! We’re going to die!” He asked them, “Why are you afraid, you who have little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. The men were amazed. “What kind of man is this?” they asked. “Even the winds and the sea obey him!”

When we work for Jesus, stepping out into the unknown can be very violent and filled with storms. The devil hates those of us who walk by faith every day. Every day we step into our little boats and set out onto a sea that is unstable and filled with dangers. But if we ride with Jesus, firmly planted on the Rock, we have nothing to fear. Even though, I will admit, my human nature has feared many times in this ministry. Yet, as I look back upon the years since 1997, of riding into the unknown with Jesus, I see great growth in my faith and confidence in my Lord and Savior. He has never let me or this ministry down. I too have been “amazed” at the storms in my life, and in this ministry, that Jesus has rebuked and calmed with His gentle voice. Many times I thought this little “boat” would be swamped and sunk. Never give up. No matter how rough the storm, keep your eyes on Jesus, be obedient and He will calm the storms that come against you.

When Jesus arrived on the other side in the region of the Gerasenes, two demon-possessed men met him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so violent that no one could travel on that road. Suddenly they screamed, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Did you come here to torture us before the proper time?” Now a large herd of pigs was grazing some distance away from them. So the demons began to plead with Jesus, saying, “If you drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.” He told them, “Go,” and they came out and went into the pigs. Suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the cliff into the sea and drowned in the water.

The devil and his agents will always stand in the way of God’s work. The devil did not want Jesus to demonstrate His healing powers in that region. He was determined to keep Jesus out. However, whatever the devil throws at us, God will always turn it around and use for good, if we work in conjunction with Jesus. Never are we to do it our way or the way of the church, but through God’s methods.

The disciples turned and ran from the work of the devil. Jesus stood His ground. Righteousness should never turn and run from the attacks of evil. However, we are not to defeat the work of evil with evil. We are not to use our own power, wisdom or force. We are to stand our ground in loving kindness and gentleness and watch the power of God.

As long as we are doing the work of God, not sitting in our churches, we have the power of God. Jesus wasn’t sitting in a church, He was out doing the work God had commanded Him to do. Therefore, He had all the power of God at His disposal. Instead of using worldly methods to subdue and control the situation, He used His Father’s power of love. Jesus did not want to hurt, He came to heal. He did not direct the men to a psychologist, or a counselor. He did not direct the men to a half-way house or a therapist. He did not suggest the men go to church. After allowing the demons to demonstrate their power, Jesus showed the difference between evil and righteousness. Evil was destroying the lives of the men, Jesus came to give them back their lives. Evil took away their “right” mind, Jesus came to give it back. Evil took away their ability to control themselves, Jesus came to give them back their manhood and self-control.

Knowing that they were defeated, the demons asked to be let loose upon a heard of pigs. Evil always wants to destroy. Since these pigs belonged to Jews, the demons wanted to make Jesus responsible for their economic loss. In this way the devil hoped to turn the people against Him. Why did Jesus allow the demons to go into the pigs? Because in the Old Testament, the “Bible” for the Jews at that time, God explicitly commanded to have nothing to do with pigs. But the Jews had become very good church members and turned their backs on the truth of God in order to become wealthy church supporters. Pig raising was big business. Church is big business. Sin under any disguise is always big business.

Now when those who had been taking care of the pigs ran away, they came into the city and reported everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole city went out to meet Jesus, and as soon as they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. After getting into a boat, Jesus crossed to the other side and came to his own city.

Sure enough, as soon as the towns’ people heard of what had happened, they came out and would have stoned Jesus if it had not been for the power of God to control their emotions. Their business and livelihood had been ruined. God came to bring them a better way of living, but they were not able to see past their present economic loss. All they could do, while under the power of God, was ask Jesus to leave their country. Jesus does not force Himself upon anyone. He must be invited in. He turned and left.

In the book of Luke, we are told that a man Jesus healed wanted to go with Jesus. He felt safe with Him. He did not want to leave the side of Christ. But Jesus knew what was best for the man. He needed some “backbone”. He needed to develop a character which he had failed to form in his former life. Therefore, He instructed him to go back to his home and to pick up where he had left off, but this time, saying “no” to the evil practices that had taken control of him. Jesus did not send him to church. He sent him to work. He did not suggest he become a good church member. He instructed him to go and tell what good things Jesus had done for him.

The same in our lives. God brings us over and over again the same ground which we have failed in the past in order to teach us how to overcome. No one can get to Heaven unless he overcomes. In the process of overcoming, the men became new creatures through obedience and self-control. At the same time, they would be sharing the good news as a testimony of what Jesus had done for them. They would be explaining to people how they had become filled with evil through disobedience to the commands of God. They would teach people to stop sinning, to be perfect and to keep the Ten Commandments in order not to become as they were. Jesus knew the people would listen. Are people listening to your testimony? Maybe people are not listening to you because you have no witness or testimony to make. Maybe all you have is church. Maybe you need to get out of your church and find the power of Jesus in your life. We will pick up the rest of this story later in Matthew. Jesus left and went across the lake and went “home”.

All at once some people brought him a paralyzed man lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he told the paralyzed man, “Be courageous, son! Your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes told themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking, replied, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...” he told the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your stretcher, and go home!” So the man got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they became frightened and glorified God for giving such authority to humans.

Why is it, when God attempts to do a good work, it is always the church people who stand in the way? Church leaders and members are so selfish, prideful and jealous of their church that anything done outside of it is considered to be of the devil. What they don’t get is, it is just the opposite. This ministry is doing the works of God and church people “have such evil thoughts in your hearts” about it.

This paralyzed man had looked to the church for support, comfort and mercy. All he got was contempt and pronouncements of “you are a sinner and under the condemnation of God” and with that the church people smugly turned away from the man and back to their church rituals and ceremonies.

Therefore, when he heard of Jesus and His mercy to sinners, there was only one thing to do in his mind, he had to get to Jesus. Now, being paralyzed, he could not do this on his own, he had to enlist the help of friends. How wonderful to have friends. Would to God there were more “friends” to bring “sinners” to Jesus and not to a church. They helped the man to Jesus. In the process they received a blessing that nothing of this earth could have accomplished. They were able to see the power of God in a friend restored to health.

But the church officials and leaders were not very happy to see health and healing restored to the man. They did not want to see people going to Jesus instead of church. After all, the people could see the difference between their church “love” and God’s “love”. All healings and miracles had to come from within their church. Everything had to uplift the church. While the church talked of love, Jesus went about demonstrating that love. Why is it that those who talk so much about the “love of God” do not show “love to God”? Therefore, the church leaders had to find a way to denounce Jesus before their good church members.   Remember, for church people, it is all about protecting the church. So they leveled the charge of “blasphemy”. And of course, they were right. Technically speaking, if Jesus had only been a “man”, He was a blasphemer. Only God can forgive sins. This “sin” is not the same as if someone had sinned against you. You can forgive that sin. That is your duty and right. But sins against God, only God can forgive. In the end, all sins must be forsaken in order for God to forgive them and cleanse us of all our sins to get to heaven. Jesus proved He was God by not only restoring him to perfect health, but in that act, He proved His authority to cleans the man of his sins.

How sad that churches refuse to let Jesus into their organizations. They do nothing but talk about Jesus. To allow Jesus in would destroy the church system and restore God’s original “church” system that is not being experienced today. That system would teach members how to work for Jesus instead of sitting in church. It would teach them to love Jesus by obeying Jesus who said, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.”

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s desk and told him, “Follow me.” So he got up and followed him. While he was having dinner at Matthew’s home, many tax collectors and sinners arrived and began eating with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a physician, but sick people do. Go and learn what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ because I did not come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

Matthew, a Jew, was looked down upon as a traitor to his “church”. He was working for the Romans collecting taxes from the Jews. To the Jewish church that was about as low as one could get. He was thought of as a “sinner” with no hope of being accepted by God since he was “betraying” the church. But Jesus saw his heart. Jesus knew that Matthew longed for a better life. He had heard of Jesus and would have followed Him gladly, but thought that Jesus, righteous as He was, would never accept him.

Matthew was surprised and delighted to be called. The Pharisee spies who followed Jesus were aghast at such behavior by Jesus. To accept a man the church had rejected, and called a “sinner”, was too much for them.

Matthew was so excited he prepared a dinner and invited the only friends he had, more tax collectors and “sinners”. Good church people would not be found dead in Matthews home. But Jesus gave Matthew respect, courtesy, love and dignity. The church spies wanted to make an example out of His behavior. After all, it was not “church sanctioned”. Wanting to drive a wedge between the disciples and Jesus they began a whispering campaign asking why Jesus would sit with tax collectors and “sinners”.

After allowing the whispering to circulate among the guests, Jesus spoke up. It was time to set the church people straight. Jesus did not come to save church people. Jesus did not come to save those who felt no need of a Savior. Jesus did not come to save those who felt their church was what God wanted of them. Those who think themselves healthy are not looking for a doctor. They could go back to their church services, rituals and ceremonies. Very carefully and with great emphasis, Jesus let it be known that His mission was to save sinners. His mission was to bring healing to the sick. The Pharisees accused Him of doing exactly what God had called Him to do. Jesus said, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice’. Jesus wants us to bring sinners to Him, not church. All the “sacrifice” of church going will do you no good in the judgment. The work Jesus was doing was the work the church people were supposed to be doing but refused. Church membership, rituals, ceremonies and services were far more important than healing “sinners”.

Then John’s disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don’t fast?” Jesus asked them, “The wedding guests can’t mourn as long as the groom is with them, can they? But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Having operated my own wedding photography business for 10 years prior to God called me to this ministry, I understand very well what Jesus was saying to John’s disciples. At the wedding feast the guests are all happy and full of joy for the married couple. For a few hours the guests can forget about the troubles and problems of their lives. But when the couple drives off and the party is over, there are those who are sad. The party has come to an end and now they must return to their mundane lives. More importantly, many of the groom’s bachelor friends understood that they would no longer have the same relationship with him as they had before. That would make them sad. The groom now has a closer relationship with another person.

There is trouble enough in the world. Trials and problems will come along that will seem to separate us from Jesus. At those times we may be sad and need to fast. But when we have Jesus by our side and can spend time with Him, rejoice and be happy, be full of joy for the good times you can spend with Jesus uninterrupted by the world or church.

“No one patches an old garment with a piece of unshrunk cloth, because the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will spill out, and the skins will be ruined. Instead, they pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Before the days of “pre-washed” material and pre-shrunk cloth, if you took a new patch and sewed it into an old piece of clothing, after washing, the new piece would shrink making the tear even worse. Oh, the blessings of modern living! Both of these metaphors referred to the “new” teachings of Jesus against the “old” traditional church teachings. The people loved their “old” raggedy traditional clothes of the church. To the people of the Jewish church, the teachings of Jesus were very “new”. The “new” teachings of Christ were “unshrunk” and very hard for them to put on without tearing, even more, their old traditional clothes. Attempting to put the “new” teachings of Jesus into their old church system would not work. The “new” teachings of Jesus would eventually tear and destroy the old church system. They had to take off the old in order to understand and accept the “new”.

The same was true with the “new” wine in old wineskins. The people preferred sitting in church drinking from the “old” wineskins of the Pharisees. They had acquired a taste for the “old” wine and were not prepared to receive the “new” wine from Jesus. Trying to put the “new” wine of Christ’s teaching into their “old” church thinking would not work. The majority would prefer the “old”. It was satisfying. “New” was not what they wanted.

“Christ does not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the soul now than He expected of man in Paradise, perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness. The requirement under the covenant of grace is just as broad as the requirement made in Eden—harmony with God’s law, which is holy, just, and good.” COL 391.

How true of those who first hear of this message. How “new” and startling it is. John said he was teaching a “new” love, even though it was the old original love of God, presented in the Old Testament, but new to the people. They had never heard of it. The church had erased what God had been teaching and had put man-made wisdom and church doctrine in its place. 1 John 2:7, 8. Jesus and all the New Testament writers were only teaching Old Testament truths, again. But to church members, that was “new”. It is the same today. Most return to their church vomit. It is comfortable and requires no sacrifice or hard work. The “new” teachings of the original “Old Testament” that Jesus taught are not wanted today any more than the Jews wanted it in the days of Christ.

While Jesus was telling them these things, an official came up and fell down before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said. “But come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” So Jesus got up and followed him, along with his disciples. Just then a woman who had been suffering from chronic bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel of his garment, because she had been saying to herself, “If I just touch his robe, I will get well.” When Jesus turned and saw her, he said, “Be courageous, daughter! Your faith has made you well.” And from that very hour the woman was well. When Jesus came to the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away! The young lady hasn’t died but is sleeping.” But they ridiculed him with laughter. When the crowd had been driven outside, he went in, took her by the hand, and the young lady got up. The news of this spread throughout that land.

At times, God must allow a very traumatic experience to happen in our lives to get us up and out of our comfort zone and to Jesus. As long as everything is moving along smoothly, church is great, who needs God? Life was going smoothly for the official in his church, his belief system and life. He didn’t need Jesus. God attempts to wake us up by allowing events that motivate us. In that process, there may be obstacles and hindrances, but at no time are we to let those minor annoyances deter us from our quest. I can just see the official standing by Jesus, doing everything in his power not to grab Jesus and pull Him away from that low-class woman who was taking precious time from his dead daughter. Every moment must have seemed like hours. In our lives, do we want to rush Jesus? It was through the delay that the greater part of the miracle was demonstrated. If Jesus had shown up when the girl had “just died”, it would have been thought that the girl truly was just “sleeping” and not dead. By waiting, there was no confusion as to the “death” of the girl. It was in the delay that the official and his family were able to fully appreciate Jesus.

Let us never rush Jesus. I can tell you from experience, it is better to wait on the Lord and develop the patience we need for Heaven than to be impatient and rush the Lord. God will never let us down if we wait on Him. If we are living in obedience, God will bring about that which is necessary for our character development. And by the way, don’t let the crowd of ridiculers keep you from listening to Jesus. Your church may ridicule you trying to keep you “in church” and away from Jesus, but don’t. Get off the sinking sand of human wisdom and step up on the Rock to Jesus . Sit at His feet and wait patiently. He, not church, will work all things out for your good.

As Jesus was traveling on from there, two blind men followed him, shouting, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he had gone into the house, the blind men came to him. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I can do this?" They told him, “Yes, Lord!” Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith, let it be done for you!” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly told them, “See to it that nobody knows about this.” But they went out and spread the news about him throughout that region.

Those sitting in “the box” of church are truly “blind”. Church people have no idea where they are going. When God called me to this ministry, I was truly blind. I had no idea where I was going. Church was my life. It was Jesus who gave me sight. We may think we know where we are going, others may think we have it “all together” in our lives, but there comes a time when the air gets knocked out of us and we realize that we need to “see”. All you need to do is recognize that you are blind, recognize that only Jesus can open your eyes and then believe, and it will be done “according to your faith”. Their “faith” was a faith of action. They did not call out to the church. They did not go to church. Their belief motivated them to get off the sinking sand their church was built on and go to Jesus, call out to Him and obey Him.

As the men were going out, a man who couldn’t talk because he was demon-possessed was brought to him. As soon as the demon had been driven out, the man began to speak. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!”

If you have been following along, you have been noticing how, little by little, the faith of the people was growing. Little by little, the influence of the sinking church was being replaced by the influence of the Rock of Love. More and more were seeing the difference between a sinking church system of ceremonies, rituals and observances and that of a real Life living the truth. More were coming to Jesus. If you are being controlled by the devil, sitting in church unable to speak the teachings of Jesus, get out, drive out that demon and you will also begin to speak of Jesus.

But the Pharisees kept saying, “He drives out demons by the ruler of demons.”

How sad. Every time God works through His servants to do good, the church and its members do everything in their power to stand in the way. How many have requested that I take their names off our mailing list. How many quibble and strain out gnats while swallowing camels and stop supporting God’s little ministry. The devil entices them to hurt this ministry, while God is testing their hearts. The church system just can’t stand having God work outside of it. It wants the glory, the praise and power over men. Therefore, it will do everything in its power to repudiate the power of God in the eyes of its members.

Then Jesus began traveling throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness. When he saw the crowds, he was deeply moved with compassion for them, because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he told his disciples, “The harvest is vast, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

Many will say, “See, Jesus went to church”. No, Jesus didn’t “go to church”, Jesus went “teaching” in their churches. He didn’t go to sit or become a member. He went to teach them. Why, because when He looked upon the church members, “He was deeply moved with compassion for them, because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. And when He did teach them in their churches, they threw Him out.

Even more true of church members today. They are troubled, helpless and like sheep without a shepherd. The “shepherds” they do have are wolves in sheep’s skins. All church members are being “fleeced” and robbed of their physical and eternal life. Jesus has come to offer us life more abundantly. But how few are willing to stand up, get off the sinking sand and go to the Rock of Jesus to receive that abundant life.

Are you willing to be a worker in His harvest? Are you willing to request a case of books to hand out so others can find that abundant life? Or maybe you have not yet found that abundant life? If not, please, lay down your prejudice, pick up the book, “Change Your Life Biblically” and find what pleases the Lord and obey. Your eyes will be opened and your old, dead life, will be raised up into a new life. God is alive today. He is working, just not in your church. Stop going to church and go to Jesus. Hear Him speaking individually to you, personally.

Continue to Part 4