A Prayer
of Jesus

I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

Puzzle pieces

By Edgar Jones

The Voice of the Shepherd:

I am born for this and am come into the world for this, in order that I witness to the truth. All those being from the truth hear my voice.
(Jesus, John 18:37 FNT)

This is the concluding paper of the series of six papers on the commandments of Jesus.  We will briefly discuss several things -- assembling the basic components of the Gospel of the kingdom -- but primarily I hope to show how His commandments fit into the Truth as key components of the Gospel.  The whole scope of Truth consists of the revelations of Jesus concerning how God in heaven is achieving the ultimate purpose for which he is creating the Universe.  Everything we include in "reality" works toward the completion of the will and purpose of God. 

And what is this "will and purpose' of God?

It is simply this: to acquire many glorified children, spirits like unto Himself, who (in both freedom and Glory) are (by the resurrection) to inhabit and inherit his kingdom and glory forever.  This is the absolute will of God as it pertains to us who yet inhabit the world.  Please keep this foremost in your mind as we proceed.

The components of the Gospel of the Kingdom, like the pieces of a carefully designed jigsaw puzzle, match perfectly.  When all the pieces are in place they display a scene of awesome beauty.  Matching the pieces is easy, for they are few and the shapes are simple, yet few there are who succeed in putting it together.  The explanation for this is likewise simple: it is maximally radical and the finished picture, though of awesome beauty, is offensive to almost all.  Seeing the scene as it develops soon shocks and horrifies and they cannot continue a good beginning.  "This can't be correct" is the conclusion as they rescramble the pieces and begin anew.   Or, more often the case, they lose interest and turn away from it forever, to live out their lives in the world on the broad way with its crowd of fellow travelers and, often, in a church where they abide in utter ignorance of their true purpose and destiny.

So has it ever been, is now and ever shall be.

But I write for you my friend, whoever you are, that desperately hunger for the Truth -- for the Truth that can make sense of this world and give hope and purpose to your life in the world.  Here, for you, is a listing of some key pieces of the puzzle.  After listing them, we will show how they fit together to bring
the Light into the minds and hearts of humans.

1. The Stage and the players -- the world, you, me

2. The Promise of God -- first to Israel, then to the Little Flock

3. The Will of God the Father -- His family, His children, His kingdom           and it's coming to earth.  Why Jesus came.

4. The Truth and the Witness to the Truth -- the way, the Truth, and           the life

5. The  Separation From the World -- being made holy in the Truth

6. The Great Principle of Jesus -- free will, the choice and individual           responsibility

7. The Prime Commandments of Jesus -- all three of them, The Great       Commandments (First and Second) and the New Commandment

8: The Resurrection to Glory -- the gathering of His glorified children
    into the Father's house

9. The Kingdom of God -- the good news of the kingdom.

1. The Stage

"All the world's a stage and the men and women merely players."  Shakespeare's line (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII) says what we need to begin.  We need a stage for the cosmic drama wrought by the Creator, and that stage is the world.  Before we come to the end of this paper, though, we will need to correct the part about men and women being merely players. They are that, and more. 

God is creating the world and He does so because He has a purpose for it.  Jesus of Nazareth is the one who can inform us of the purpose (specified above), and in doing so provide the deepest meaning imaginable for all humanity.

We start with the stage (the world), and we find the Great Drama already long in progress.  We do not know what the act is, whether near the beginning, the middle or the end.  We have been here for a while -- participants in the Great Drama -- and have learned why we are here and we know our destiny.  We know the Mystery of Life.  If you are listening to him -- to the Good Shepherd -- you know it also, or you will in due time. Just keep listening to him as he speaks to you from the gospels.

The stage is the world.  We also have the players, the men and women, you and me.  We are here trying to sort things so as to find the meaning of life and we are heavily involved in the Great Drama. 

In addition, for two thousand years we have had the Word -- the carefully preserved and compiled records of the Sayings of Jesus that constitute the divine Word, the Logos or simply "the Word" as we will continue to refer to it.  The Word is usually contained in a larger volume known as "The Holy Bible."  We have that as a given, and it also contains the props that serve as background for the Word.

2. The Promise of God

The Promise is here now, for us and to us players, and we find it set forth in
the Old Testament.  It establishes the central theme of much of the Great Drama.  It is so central a prop to the Great Drama that I have set it to the front of the stage.  This Promise is a golden thread passing through the acts and scenes up to the time of our entrance.

The Promise is also the major theme weaving through the Bible's Law and  Prophets to unify them and to inform us of the Creator's intentions.  God the Creator has set men and women in the world and, about 4000 years ago, made himself known to a man by the name of Abraham, at which point our Great Drama began in earnest.  Men were primitive in their thinking.  They had been evolving for millions of years until the curtain parted on Abraham's act.  The Creator's intent was, and is, to take a primitive man and make himself known to him so that through him and his descendants he might progressively reveal himself to his continually evolving creatures as they were able to receive.  We tend to think of Abraham's act as being ancient, but seen in the full span of the Great Drama -- billions of years -- that included the time of preparation for Abraham, it was only a few minutes ago. 

Briefly, the Promise was three fold in its presentation to Israel but one in its fulfillment.  To Abraham, it was a promise of a land and a nation.  To Moses, it was the Promise of a Prophet like unto Moses but who would bring to Israel Words he had heard from God.  The promises were unconditional.

To Abraham, God said:

Gen.12:[1] Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.
[2] And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
[3] I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."

To Moses, God said,

Deut. 18:
[15]"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren -- him you shall heed --
[16] just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, `Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.'
[17] And the LORD said to me, `They have rightly said all that they have spoken.
[18] I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
[19] And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

To David it was the promise of a kingdom and a king that would come from his line and who would reign forever. 

Psalm 89:[3] Thou hast said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
[4] `I will establish your descendants for ever,
and build your throne for all generations.'" [Selah]

26] He shall cry to me, `Thou art my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.'
[27] And I will make him the first-born,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
[28] My steadfast love I will keep for him for ever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.
[29] I will establish his line for ever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
[30] If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my ordinances,
[31] if they violate my statutes
and do not keep my commandments,
[32] then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with scourges;
[33] but I will not remove from him my steadfast love,
or be false to my faithfulness.
[34] I will not violate my covenant,
or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
[35] Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
I will not lie to David.
[36] His line shall endure for ever,
his throne as long as the sun before me.
[37] Like the moon it shall be established for ever;
it shall stand firm while the skies endure." [Selah]

The Promised Nation

The promises found fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth, whose designation of himself was Son of man.  The progeny of Abraham were to become a nation of men through whom the final fulfillment of the promise of a nation was realized.  The Lord had said to Abraham,

Gen.12[2] And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
[3] I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."

As God promised, it became.  The children of Abraham persevered and became a Great Nation in a Promised Land.  However, their history shows a rocky road, littered with the boulders of unfaithful kings and popular idolatry.  God manifested his mercy toward them by sending faithful prophets to call them back to repentance, but these they did not heed.  He continued to abide with fickle kings and false prophets until at last he would abide no more. 
Zedekiah was the last king of Israel -- of Judah -- to reign in the promised land over the descendants of Abraham -- the very last.  He rebelled against the Chaldeans only to have his city, Jerusalem, captured, himself also, then to have all his sons slaughtered before his eyes.  Then he was blinded and permitted to live in captivity!

The Coming Prophet

Jesus of Nazareth was the prophet promised to Moses, identifying himself as such.

Jn.5:46 FNT
For if you were believing Moses, you would have believed me; for concerning me did that [one] write.

The Lord had said through Moses concerning  the prophet:

  . . .
and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

And Jesus said of himself:

Jn.8:26 FNT  But the [one] having sent me is true, and I, what I heard from him, these [things] I speak to the world. 27 They did not know that he was speaking [about] the father. 28 So Jesus said: When you have lifted up the son of man, then you will know that I am [he], and [that] from myself I do nothing, but just as the father taught me, these [things] I speak..

Jn.12:48 FNT 49 Because I have not spoken from myself, but the [one] having sent me, [the] father himself has given to me commandment what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal zoe-life. What therefore I speak, just as the father has spoken to me, thusly I speak.

Jn.15:15 FNT  . . . because everything that I heard from my father I made known to you.

It was not by his Word only that we know him to be the prophet promised through Moses.  No, it is also by the message contained in the words.  If we had no other information whatever about Jesus -- no prophecies, nothing to validate him and the Word, we would accord to him a divine status nevertheless because his message, the message framed by the Word, is so astonishing as to command a divine origin.  it is not something that men would have the ability to conceive and deliver to the world.  Jesus of Nazareth is the prophet of whom Moses spoke.

The Coming Kingdom and King

He is also the completion of the prophecy of a kingdom and a king.  We learn this by what he said and did and by the way it complies with prophecy and with the representation of Jesus.  These are convincing to anyone who will open up to hear his Word.  Recall again these words from Psalm 89 above, the Lord's promise to David:

I will establish your descendants for ever,
and build your throne for all generations.

Keeping this promise was not an easy task for the Father.  The difficulty lay in the often faithlessness of the kings, David's descendants who followed him on the throne of Israel until Zedekiah.  All of the descendants of Abraham, twelve tribes, were to be incorporated into the kingdom, but ten tribes pulled away to form the Northern kingdom of Israel, leaving two tribes, Benjamin and Judah, to continue under the royal line of David as claimants of the promise in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.  The people and rulers of the Northern kingdom were so perverse as to be abandoned by God after two hundred years of side by side existence with the Southern kingdom of Judah (often belligerent), when it was conquered, its peoples carried away into captivity and its territory annexed by Assyria in 722 BC.  The Southern Kingdom of Judah contained to maintain its kingdom and throne for another century and a half.  It fell to the Babylonian Empire in 587 BC and it's principle people were carried captive to Babylon.

It was through the kings of Judah that the line of David continued, beginning with Solomon's son, Rehoboam (Luke traces the line through David's son, Nathan).  The Hebrew prophets have preserved the history of these kings.  Some were godly men, including Hezikiah and Josiah, but there was a constant struggle with idolatry in the royal house and with loyalty to the tenets of Moses.  Zedekiah was the last king of the line of David to rule over Judah.  Judah had been subject to Babylon and Zedekiah was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 597 BC.  He rebelled nine years later, was defeated and his kingdom destroyed, after which he was carried away into Babylon.  Allowed to live, he was forced to watch while all his male descendants were put to the sword, then his eyes were put out making that the last scene he remembered, as I stated above.  Jeremiah prophesied during the demise of Judah but his words were not accepted by Zedekiah.  Ezekiel also prophesied at that time, and it is primarily through him that we learn of the Lord's continuing intention to maintain the Promise to David.  The kingdom would some day be restored under a descendent of David, so that it would not be forever fallen. 

Ezekiel addressed these words of God to Zedekiah:

Ez.21[24] "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have made your guilt to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your doings your sins appear -- because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in them.
[25] And you, O unhallowed wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of your final punishment,
[26] thus says the Lord GOD: Remove the turban, and take off the crown; things shall not remain as they are; exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high.
[27] A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it; there shall not be even a trace of it until he comes whose right it is; and to him I will give it.

He went on to speak for the Lord and comfort the people with these words:

Ezekiel 37[24] "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes.
[25] They shall dwell in the land where your fathers dwelt that I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children and their children's children shall dwell there for ever; and David my servant shall be their prince for ever.
[26] I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.
[27] My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
[28] Then the nations will know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore."

When we later hear Jesus saying,

Jn.10:16 FNT And I have other sheep that are not of this sheep-pen, and I must lead [these], and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.
We can with confidence understand that he has reference to Ezek. 37:24 above.  He is Jesus of Nazareth, the One Shepherd of the One Flock. 

Many of the Jews in Babylon returned to the Land of Promise after many years.  We do not know exactly when to date the return, as it may have been conducted in stages.  It was less than the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah.  They returned at the behest of Cyrus the Persian, who had defeated and destroyed the Babylonian monarchy.

The temple was rebuilt, beginning in 520 BC and being finished in 515 BC.  This began the Second Temple Period of Jewish history.  Mystery shrouds the fate of the line of David during this period.  Darius (who had replaced Cyrus as master of Babylon) had assumed the throne of Persia in 522 BC and he dispatched Zerrubabel to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and govern the people.  The hopes of the Jews for the resumption of the reigning line of David probably resided in Zerrubabel because he was the grandson of king Jehoiachin (Jechoniah), who preceded Zedekiah.  The line could not continue through Zedekiah because Nebuchadnezzar had killed all his offspring.  However, at the time of the dedication of the Second Temple in 515 BC there is no mention of Zerubbabel.  He is, however, listed by both Matthew and Luke as an ancestor of Jesus, so we have that evidence of Jesus having been a descendent of David and qualified to assume the throne in Judah. The Second Temple Period lasted until the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple (which had been renovated by Herod) by the Roman armies under their general, Titus, in 70 AD.

King Herod (an Idumean Roman client king and not a descendant of David), died in 4 BC, and Jesus was born near the end of Herod's life, probably 6 BC, and died by crucifixion about 30 AD. The Jews  continued to expect the promised "Messiah" to appear and assume the throne of David in Jerusalem.  Some pretenders to the throne had attempted to claim power, but none succeeded.  By the birth of Jesus, there was intense interest in the Promise, and many were looking for the hope of Israel.  Jesus, reluctantly it appears, accepted the identification of the king that was to come but privately, to his disciples.  When a multitude of people attempted to take him and force the kingship upon him, he withdrew from them and refused to accept the throne under those conditions.  This is a strong indicator that this vision of the coming kingdom differed radically from the historic pattern in which a descendent of the royal line of David ruled over Israel from Jerusalem.

Was the Promise void?

No, and
it is through Jesus' teaching that we learn what was transpiring behind the scenes during the long period of almost 600 years from the return of the Jews from Babylon (some as early as 538 BC) to the end of the Second Temple Period, when there was no king in Judah and no evidence of the line of David.  The thing is vividly portrayed by his Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree, that runs as follows:

Lk.13:6 FNT But he was saying this parable: A certain man has [a] fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to his vinedresser: Behold from which three years I come seeking fruit on this tree and found none. Cut it down, why also waste the land? 8 But answering he said to him: Lord, leave it even this year, until I dig around it and throw dung, 9 and for result it may give fruit. Otherwise, cut it down.

Quite simply, there had been no fruit from Israel, either during all the six hundred years since the return from Babylon or before.  The Lord God had decided to abandon it (Israel)  -- worse, to "cut it down" and get it out of the way.  In this parable, the vinedresser represents Jesus, who has negotiated with the Father for one more season in hope of fruit.  The Father then sent him to do the necessary cultivating and feeding of the unfruitful fig tree with results that we all know.  The tree was cut down in 70 AD. 

We know that, but Jesus came with hope for Israel, a hope build upon the prophets -- on Ezekiel in particular.  We see that he sought to fulfill the pattern of Ezekiel as he speaks concerning Israel:

Ezek.34:[5] So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the wild beasts.
[6] My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

Echoing this prophecy, Jesus same with the clear assertion:

Mt.15:24 FNT But answering he said: I was not sent except to the lost sheep of Israel.

Sending out his disciples he emphasized the same:

Mt.10:5  FNT Jesus sent out these twelve after he exhorted them saying: Do not go in the road of the nations, and do not enter into the city of Samaritans. 6 But be going instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And while going, be proclaiming that the kingdom of the heavens [is] at hand.

He saw them in this way:

Mk.6:34 FNT And having come out he saw [a] great crowd, and had compassion on them because they were as sheep not having [a] shepherd, and he began to be teaching them many [things].

The shepherd king was now in their midst, collecting the scattered sheep.  He was optimistic at the first, saying:

Mt.9:35 FNT And Jesus went about all the cities and all the towns, teaching in the synagogues and teaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and weakness. 36 And having seen the crowd he had compassion for them, for they were troubled and thrown about as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then he says to his disciples: The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest that he throw workers into his harvest.

The Preaching of the Kingdom

Jesus was busy fulfilling the prophets.  As himself the prophet like unto Moses who had come, he taught and prophesied many things, but in his teaching he always stressed the other aspect of his fulfillment of prophecy, for he was more than a prophet -- more than a shepherd -- he was the king in the line of David through whom the Promise is being fulfilled.  To this end he was continually preaching, and instructing his disciples to preach that the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew) or of God (the other gospels) was near, very near!  This was the glorious good news, the good news of the kingdom, the Gospel of the kingdom!  God's promise to David was, after many disappointing centuries, about to materialize.  The kingdom of the heavens was very, very near!

It was thus that he faithfully tilled and fed the fruitless fig tree  -- all to no avail.  I do not know when the change took place, but at some point in the mission of Jesus he came to the realization that the nation of Israel was not to respond to the will of the Father.  His conception of the kingdom differed, but the people of Israel insisted on the kingdom as it had been. 

How would the kingdom have appeared if the people of Israel had responded to Jesus' new vision of the kingdom?  How would Israel have been integrated into it?  How would the Father have prevailed to realize his will and purpose of calling many sons to Glory?

I do not know.  What I do know is that they sought to force him into their mold, their perception of a king descending from David, and he refused.  There are several relevant factors, but one that ranks high in influence.  If Jesus had responded to their effort to draft him into the kingship according to their vision, there would have been immediate and violent response from the Roman masters of the land.  Whatever else we can say about Jesus' vision of the kingdom, it was to be a peaceful kingdom, founded in peace and without violence against anyone by it's citizens and king.  His disciples should have begun to conceive this at an early time.  His commandments to non resistance issued early in the Sermon on the Mount would have given them the needed insight.  But no, the vision of an earthly monarch was too deeply set in their minds and hearts.  It is as the evangelist said,

Lk.9:43 And all were amazed at the majesty of God. So when all were marveling at what [things] he had done he said to his disciples: 44Place in your ears these words, for the son of man is [about] to be delivered up into the hands of men. 45 But they were not understanding this word, and it was hidden from them in order that they not perceive it, and they were fearing to ask him concerning this word.

When, some 35 years later, the Jews did mount a violent rebellion so as to gain their freedom from Rome, the nation was utterly destroyed.  Jesus would have spared them that, because his vision of the kingdom had a certain character that they all, including his disciples, could understand, and that determined the non violent and peaceful course of the kingdom of God. He explained to Pontius Pilate:

Jn.18:33 FNT Pilate therefore went in again into the Praetorium and called Jesus and said to him: Are you the king of the Jews? 34 Jesus answered: Do you say this from yourself or did others tell you concerning me? 35 Pilate answered: Am I [a] Jew? Your nation and chief priests have delivered you up to me. What did you do? 36 Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my officers would have fought in order that I not be delivered up to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.

But even his Apostles yet did not understand this distinction, for they were ready to fight for him in Gethsemane.  After the Resurrection and just prior to his Ascension, they were yet asking,

Ac.1:6 FNT Indeed therefore, having gathered, they were asking him saying: Lord, do you restore in this time the kingdom to Israel?

The Way of Peace

There was something about his closest disciples, the Apostles and others, that nevertheless made the Lord confident in their eventual comprehension of the kingdom as it is.  It was not to be so with the multitudes of Israel.  As time passed and they failed to respond to his vision of the kingdom, he came to the point at last of being forced to see that the fig tree would remain fruitless.  There was no help for it, so it had to be cut down and removed out of the way.  Shortly thereafter he wept over Jerusalem and was heard to say:

Mt.23:37 FNT Jerusalem Jerusalem, who killed the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how often I would gather your children, just as [a] bird gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not. 38 Behold your house is abandoned to you desolate.

Lk.19:41 And as he drew near, seeing the city he wept over it, 42 saying: If you [only] knew in this day the [things] towards peace - but now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For [the] days will come upon you and your enemies will cast up stakes for you and will surround you and attack you from all directions. 44 And they will dash to the ground you and your children in you, and they will not leave stone upon stone in you, for you did not know the opportune-time [of your] visitation.

It was as he said, and as I have indicated above, in the 70 AD destruction of the city.  There was a point, then, when the Lord Jesus realized fully that the fig tree must be cut down.  At that point he began to work toward saving what he could from the mission, to prevent all from being in vain.  The Father had promised a kingdom to David, and so it was to be.  But it would not be the House of Israel that hosted this kingdom.  At the point of this decision, we find our Lord saying:

Mt.21:42 FNT Have you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
This became the head of the cornerstones.
By the Lord this came to pass
And is a wonder in our eyes.
43 Because of this I say to you that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to [a] nation producing the fruits of it.

Then he told his disciples:

  Lk.12:32 FNT Be not fearing, O small flock for your father delights to give to you the kingdom.

The Kingdom Came

But the kingdom had not come. 

What was this good news of the kingdom that Jesus and his disciples had been preaching?  The Lord does not leave us in the dark, if only we can hear him.  If, however, you are like the Apostles before the Ascension, and you continue to insist that Jesus yet come back to earth to reign in Glory, you will never see it.

He told exactly when it came:

Lk.22:17 FNT And having taken [the] cup, having given thanks he said: Take this and divide [it] among yourselves, 18 for I say to you, I will not
drink of the product of the vine from now until the kingdom of God come.

That was the marker, for he wanted both them and us to know the exact time.  We know it when we look to the last moments on the cross:

Jn.19:28 FNT After this Jesus knowing that already everything is fulfilled, in order that the Scripture be fulfilled, says: I thirst. 29 There lay [a] vessel full of sour wine; placing hyssop around [a] sponge full of sour wine they brought it to his mouth. 30 When therefore Jesus received the sour wine he said: It is finished, and having bowed his head he gave up his spirit.

Do you now to see the puzzle coming together?  Oh, it is beautiful, if only you can see it!  Let it not remain hidden from you, only listen to the one Shepherd of Ezekiel and believe.  See the small flock of Ezekiel and believe!  And know of a surety that there is only one flock and one shepherd, one king and one kingdom of the heavens that has come on the earth.

The Lord confirmed this after his ascension -- yes, he confirmed it and confirmed that he is indeed the king when he announced to the Little Flock gathered around him:

Mt.28:18 FNT And having come Jesus spoke to them saying: All authority in heaven and on [the] earth has been given me.


Many are the players that have come onto the stage.  Most have played their parts and departed.  To the viewers, it will appear to have been a pure tragedy.  It was not; rather, it was the consummate victory of all of human history -- of the history of the world!  Now we are here, not just as spectators but as players on the stage of the Great Drama.  We have not yet fully learned our lines, but we learn them as we hear them, and we hear them from Jesus, who now directs the whole. 

Have you begun to assemble the puzzle of which you are a part?  Or is it yet a complete mystery?  The pieces are here, all of them, and some of them you may have identified and assembled already.  But we have not set all of them before you as yet.  Pieces remain and we can find them in the continuing resort to the Word of Jesus, where he has explained all.  The next act will therefore be giving full attention to his sayings as we seek to assemble everything that we may know the Mystery of Life.

Attention, now!  The curtain rises, and you may find that you have a part in the next act. 

3. The Will of the Father

This is the heart of the puzzle.  Men seldom hear it so as to assemble it into the whole where it should be, but now is your time, your privilege, to work on the puzzle and play your part in the Great Drama.  The piece is glaringly obvious and I have already defined it, but it is universally overlooked by churchmen because it is not as they want it to be.  They actually speak of it every time they meet for "public worship."  They pray for it, yearn for it, do everything but examine it closely enough to perceive its true shape and color.  No one can assemble a puzzle without all of the pieces, and this is a key piece!

Jesus expressed his reason for coming into the world in different terms, but all amount to the same thing.  We have already heard his response when
Pilate asked him about himself, and he answered:

Jn.18:37 FNT Pilate therefore said to him: So are you [a] king? Jesus answered: You say that I am king. I am born for this and am come into the world for this, in order that I witness to the truth. All those being from the truth hear my voice.

He came into the world to witness to the truth.  But what is this "truth?"  It is surely an important piece.  Now hear this from the same gospel:

Jn.6:38 FNT For I am come down from heaven not in order that I do my will, but the will of the [one] having sent me. 39 This is the will of the [one] having sent me, that of all he has given me I not lose [any] of it, but raise it up in the last day. 40 For this is the will of my father, that everyone beholding the son and believing in him have zoe-life eternal, and I will raise him up in the last day.

The Will of the Father

Jesus came down from heaven (to earth) to do the will of the one who sent him!  In this brief saying the Lord defined the will of the Father -- not once, but twice!  You will notice that it points to the Resurrection, the raising up at the last day.  Do you observe that it heavily involves "all that he has given me?"  We will come back to that, because this is also a critical piece of the puzzle.  But for now, we need to examine the expression,
the will of the [one] having sent me. Do not fail to consider this fact also, that he has come down from heaven to earth for the purpose of doing the will of the Father, the one having sent him, and of doing it on the earth.

We will first examine this piece as it relates to him.  This being his purpose in coming down from heaven to earth, we can understand that it must be one of his primary concerns throughout his stay on the earth.  We can also believe that he must stay on the earth until he has done it.  Then, having done it, he can return to the one having sent him because he has completed his mission.

He came down from heaven to do the will of his Father on the earth.  When we find him heavily involved with these ideas -- these words -- we can safely conclude that he has uppermost in mind his personal task.  Very early he began to call disciples and to teach others, and they will enter into the picture, but now we are interested only in what this meant, personally, to Jesus. 

Also very early, he gave to his disciples a model prayer, that we call the "Lord's Prayer."  He instructed them to thus pray when they prayed, saying,

Mt.6:9 FNT Our father in the heavens,
Let your name be holy,
10 Your kingdom come
Your will come to pass
as in heaven, so also on earth.

Your will come to pass on earth!  That is what he was sent for, and we can safely and correctly believe that he was instructing his disciples to pray, first of all, for him that he would succeed in doing, on earth, what he came down from heaven to do here.

Let's pause for a moment to give you some time, if this idea is new to you, to take it in.  Chances are, you have joined in public worship in a church with many others in repeating this prayer aloud, and with the understanding that it is a prayer for the earth to become like heaven, at least to become so that it will be a place where the Father's will is done.  What does that mean to you?  Peace on earth?  The end of poverty?  No more war?

Seems a reasonable conclusion, and it is seldom questioned, which is precisely why the churchmen fail utterly to assemble the pieces correctly, or even to recognize the legitimate pieces.  It also explains why their prayers for
secure peace on earth have never been answered, not will they be.  Do you want to throw up your hands and say, "This can't be correct," and then scramble the pieces and begin anew as I mentioned in the introduction?  Or just give up?

Don't do that, please.  The picture will have great beauty; you'll see, as we continue to listen to the Word.  However, if you aren't having any of it, let me remind you of another part of Jesus' response to Pilate:

All those being from the truth hear my voice.

Can you hear that voice?

We go on now to the last great struggle in the mission of the Lord.  We find him in Gethsemane, knowing that he is about to be taken and crucified if he does not change his course.  He is spending the night in prayer, desperate prayer, earnest prayer.  And what is he saying?  Someone overheard him, and here it is:

Lk.22:41 FNT And he withdrew from them [about] [a] stone's throw and having kneeled he was praying, 42 saying: Father, if you intend [it], take this cup from me, nevertheless let not my will but yours come to pass. 43 Now there appeared to him [an] angel from heaven strengthening him. 44 And becoming more fervently in agony he was praying; and this sweat became as blood clots falling upon the ground.

Hear it again,
Father, let not my will but yours come to pass.

Do you begin to see the outlines of this piece of the puzzle?  He came to earth from heaven saying that he had come for the purpose of doing the will of the Father, the one who sent him; he urged his followers to pray that it would be so done; and now we find him not yet having done it, but knowing the hour had come.  It involves a terrible agony that he, a man, had no will or desire for, but it was the Father's will. Not his will, but the Father's!  We know that, having done it, he would have completed his mission.  He would have done what he came to the earth from heaven to do, which is to do the Father's will on earth as it is in heaven.

He did it!  And so that we would know, he cried out at the end of his agony,
Jn.19:30 FNT It is finished!

There is more to it than this, and the Lord was careful to give us the Light we need to see the whole thing -- if we are of the Truth.  Let's go back to the earlier expression of his purpose from the Fourth Gospel:

Jn.6:38 FNT For I am come down from heaven not in order that I do my will, but the will of the [one] having sent me. 39 This is the will of the [one] having sent me, that of all he has given me I not lose [any] of it, but raise it up in the last day. 40 For this is the will of my father, that everyone beholding the son and believing in him have zoe-life eternal, and I will raise him up in the last day.

Next, examine the phrase in vs. 39:   

but raise it up in the last day

Then  examine the concluding phrase of the next vs., vs. 40:

I will raise him up in the last day.

Now do you see?  The Father's will is all about the resurrection and the last day -- doubly stated for emphasis.  It is the resurrection of his children to Glory, to the completion of the Father's will and purpose as stated at the beginning of this paper.  This is the motive of the Creator in creation; it so remains as he continues to create!

The Scope

Next, let us expand the scope of this will of the Father as indicated in vss. 39 & 40:

This is the will of the [one] having sent me, that of all he has given me I not lose [any] of it, but raise it up in the last day.

For this is the will of my father, that everyone beholding the son and believing in him have zoe-life eternal, and I will raise him up in the last day.

What is this, this
all he has given me?

Who are these
everyone beholding the son and believing in him?  

Just keep listening and these questions will find the answers he wants us to have.  Here we see it:

Jn.17:6 FNT I revealed your name to the men whom you gave to me out of the world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have given heed to your word. 7 Now they have known that all, whatsoever you gave to me, is from you; 8 that the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they received [them] and they knew truly that I came from beside you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I ask concerning them, not concerning the world do I ask , but concerning whom you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and all mine is yours and yours mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And no longer am I in the world, and they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy father, keep them in your name that you have given to me, in order that they be one [thing] just as we. 12 When I was with them, I was keeping them in your name that you have given me, and I guarded [them] and no one of them perished except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to you, and I speak these [things] in the world in order that they have my joy made full in them.

Yes, the scope has broadened.  It includes Jesus himself, and at least eleven others, the faithful apostles.  Is that all?  No, listen:

Jn.17:20 FNT But not concerning these [ones] only do I ask, but also concerning those believing in me through their word, 21 in order that they all be one [thing], just as you, father, [are] in me and I in you, in order that they also be in us, in order that the world believe that you sent me.

Jn.10:16 FNT And I have other sheep that are not of this sheep-pen, and I must lead [these], and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.

I have said it so many times -- it all depends on hearing and receiving the Word.  And would "their word" be the same as his had been?  Of course:

Jn.14:25 FNT These [things] have I spoken while dwelling with you. 26 But the advocate, the Holy Spirit, which the father will send in my name, that [one] will teach you everything and will remind you of everything which I spoke to you.

Mk.18:31 FNT Heaven and [the] earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

This indicates the scope, but the determinant he gave Pilate is the final determinant of who is included in the definition of the Father's will:

Jn.18:37 FNT All those being from the truth hear my voice.

The will of the Father, which Jesus came to earth to do, therefore encompasses him and all who are of the Truth -- who hear his voice.  Further, the Father's will is precisely the same for all these as for Jesus -- to be raised with him at the Resurrection.  The Lord's Prayer, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, is precisely the same for all who are of the Truth as it was for Jesus.

Now you know the will of the Father. 

Does it say anything about earthly conditions?

No, nothing.  It only effects those who are of the Truth, and it directs those to the Father in heaven!  The Father's will has little significance for the world and those who are of the world.  This explains the prayer petition of the Lord, when he said to the Father,

Jn.17:9 FNT I ask concerning them, not concerning the world do I ask, but concerning whom you have given me, because they are yours,
10 and all mine is yours and yours mine, and I have been glorified in them.

I have exposed you to the Word of Truth that defines the will of God, of the Father, in all it's aspects.  It is the central piece of the puzzle and if you do not get this right, nothing will be right for you.  In brief summary, the will of the Father is simply this: that all who are of the Truth hear and receive the Word, through which they obtain life eternal and are raised to be with the Father.  One thing you may have missed and that I should add here is of the essence: by calling God "Father" as we are doing, we are accepting the status of children of God, which is precisely the focus of the Father's will -- that all his children in this world turn away from the world and rise to him.

He has no other will, no other purpose where men on earth are concerned.  This is his purpose in creation. It is impossible to do the Father's will by any means other than deciding to want, above all other things, to go to Him.  Nothing humans do on this planet to promote nations and other earthly causes is of interest to God who is creating the universe. 

4. The Truth

Jesus of Nazareth is the central character in the Great Drama.  You should have guessed this already from observing that he has the preponderance of the lines -- one could almost say that he has every line that matters.  All of the others -- lines of the prophets, of John the Baptist, of the apostles  -- all of them are relative bit parts.  This piece of the puzzle is named "Truth" and so it is, but it is personified in Jesus.  Let's listen:

Jn.14:6 FNT Jesus says to him: I am the way, the truth and the zoe-life; no one comes to the father except through me.

This does two things: it identifies him and specifies his prime functions.  First listed is the Way, and we see immediately that it is further described as the way to the Father. 

We have already defined the Will of the Father as the coming to HIm through the Resurrection of his children who are in the world.  That's the Will, Jesus is the Way, which means that he has come into the world to both explain the Way and to lead us upon it and, once upon it, to the Father as he has gone to the Father.  He told us clearly where he was going as his hour approached:

Jn.14:12 FNT  I go to the father.
Jn.14:28 FNT  I go to the father
Jn.16:5   FNT  But now I go to the [one] having sent me
Jn.16:10 FNT  I depart to the father and you no longer behold me:
Jn.16:28 FNT I leave the world and go to the father.
Jn.17:11 FNT I come to you. Holy father 
Jn.17:13 FNT But now I come to you

He came to the earth to do the Father's will, and that involves collecting his sheep so as to lead them also to the Father.  His going to the Father is in our behalf as well as his own, as he clearly stated:

Jn.14:2 FNT In my father's house[hold] are many dwelling-places . If [it were] not [so], I would have told you, 3 because I go to prepare [a] place for you. And if I go and prepare [a] place for you, again do I come and will take you to myself, in order that where I am you may be also.

Jn.12:26 FNT If anyone be serving me, he must be following me, and where I am, there also will be the [one] serving me. If anyone be serving me, the father will honor him.

The Truth, the absolute Truth is that Jesus came only to call his sheep to himself, to collect his Little Flock, and lead them on the Way back to his Father.  When I was a Baptist preacher, I was preaching (under great stress) that Jesus calls us to follow him in the way we lead our lives in this world.  He wants us to preach as he preached, to heal as he healed, to render to the poor, to manifest love in all that we do in this life. 

Indeed, that will take place, but only as a by-product!  What he meant by following him was to pick up our crosses and let him lead us out of this world to the Father.  His is a commitment to death in the flesh, not to life in the flesh!

I preached that picking up our cross means to accept the abuse of men while we live in this world, because we are following him!  Seems rather foolish now, because picking up the Baptist cross only wins one the respect of his fellow citizens in this world.  "He's doing something to make the world a better place," they may say, "like Jesus, and that's good!"

I finally learned better, as I pursued answers to all the questions that popped into my head as I preached from such texts as this:

Mt.7:13 FNT Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road leading to destruction, and many are those entering through it. 14 And confined is the way leading to zoe-life , and few are those finding it.

Few finding it?  I looked out on the multitudes who were following in the very same way as I and questioned. A narrow gate?  My Baptist brethren and I were making it very, very, very wide!  Just believe that Jesus died for you, confess him before men and you're in! 

Confined, hard, difficult the Way?  To the contrary, it was the easiest of all easy ways!  Be a good servant of the church, serve the congregation in it's thousand and one activities, keep your faith orthodox and that's it!  Then, just see how "all men speak well of you" in that way.

I am eternally grateful that he delivered me from that way, which is the way of death and not the way of life.

Christians often sing the chorus, "The Way of the Cross Leads Home."  It both exemplifies the blindness of churchmen and expresses the magnificent message of the Way that leads home to the Father in the Wake of the Lord.  Here is it's wonderful message:

I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There's no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the gates of light,
If the way of the cross I miss.

The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.

I must needs go on in the blood sprinkled way,
The path that the Savior trod,
If I ever climb to the heights sublime,
Where the soul is at home with God.

The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.

Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it never more;
For the Lord says, Come, and I seek my home,
Where He waits at the open door.

The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home,
It is sweet to know as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.

I sang, with them, those Truth packed lines with joy!  I did not have know the meaning of what I was singing, though I sensed, deep within, the gross contradiction of those lines issuing from the mouths of Christians.

Here we are speaking of Truth, Absolute Eternal Truth that is Jesus.  It is all manifest in the words that he spoke, words he received from his Father in heaven and described as follows:

Jn.17:17 FNT Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth.

Jesus is the gate, he is the way, he is the truth, the only truth, that leads to the Father. 

He is also the life.  That's another piece of the puzzle that we will save to near the end of this paper.  Here, we have set our attention on "the Truth" that is also the Way that leads us to the Father. 

How does this fit with other pieces of the Puzzle?

It's all taking place in the world, on the stage of the Great Drama.  It's the consummation of the will of the Father, which is that we go to him as his dear children.  Keep listening to Jesus and you will see!  The pieces all fit together to perfection.

5. The  Separation from the world

It is mysterious but real -- how the players in the Great Drama become separate from the stage on which they play, even while remaining upon it.  This is one of those puzzle pieces that fits together perfectly with the others as the drama continues.  The Great Commandment clarifies the distinctions that issue from becoming "not of the world" as our Lord is not of the world and as his kingdom is not of the world.  Whenever a player realizes the radical meaning of the Great Commandment and resolves to obey -- that is the great divider that separates one from the other players.  From that point, the one that has submitted to this commandment has a mind and heart to attend to the Eternal while the affairs of the temporal consume the energies and efforts of those unaffected players upon that stage.  As to the realities within the scope of Truth, the Word is brutally precise:

Jn.15:18 FNT If the world hates you, you know that it has first hated me. 19 If you were of the world, the world was philia-loving its own. But because you [are] not of this world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

Jn.17:13 FNT But now I come to you, and I speak these [things] in the world in order that they have my joy made full in them. 14 I have given them your word, and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them of the world, but that you keep them from the wicked [one]. 16 They are not of the world just as I am not of the world.

Jn.18:36 FNT Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my officers would have fought in order that I not be delivered up to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.

This becoming not of this world marks the first step in a players transition from this stage, the world, on which a curtain will surely fall, to that most glorious and everlasting home (not a stage!) where no curtain falls.  Planet Earth is surely but one of countless "scenes" flung across the vastness of the Universe and bearing its troop of thespians, each to a destiny determined by the free choice of each individual -- one to the Eternal Glory, another to the fire.  I say this because I have no reason to believe that God is so small as to attend to only one planet, Earth, among the multitudes of such bodies that must navigate their Suns in the far reaches of outer space.  Yes, it is possible but not probable that Earth is the only planet that harbors candidates for heavens glory.

The Living Word energizes the process of separation -- of moving from of the world to not of the world -- as it takes root in the heart of the individual player and blooms with blossoms of Truth.  This is to be "made holy in the Truth" as our Lord stated.  Many Christians speak of it as sanctification, and so it is; but sadly there are few that, even in the midst of their vaunted sanctification, have received the Word so as to be truly parted from the World and made holy for the Father.

Jn.17:17 FNT Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world. 19 And in their behalf do I make myself holy, in order that they also be made holy in [the] truth.

We turn now to examine yet another piece of the puzzle and, while all the pieces are precious, this one is absolutely vital to the realization of eternal life in the individual believer.

6. The Great Principle

There is a principle in Truth that constitutes a critical piece of the puzzle, which falls apart when one omits it.  All churchmen in my experience omit it, though it is one of the most often repeated and emphasized assertions of the Lord.  Most of them omit it because of the character of the Principle -- it threatens what they value most, life in this world, and the treasures of this world that enrich that life.  You can review all of the Lord's versions of the Great Principle on this page; this is one of them:

Jn.12:25 FNT The [one] philia-loving his psyche-life will lose it, and the [one] hating his psyche-life in this world will guard it to zoe-life eternal.

This statement is from a context in the Fourth Gospel where Jesus is explaining to us why he must soon lay down his life.  It is sometimes interpreted, therefore, as applying only to Jesus, i.e., if he had loved his life and saved it, rather than laying it down on  the cross, he would have lost his life eternal.  This is evasive of the Truth, for the statement of the Principle is clearly general, applying to all.  Further, it comes association with another statement that the Lord gave to provide a metaphorical understanding of what he was about to do through laying down his life. The preceding verse reads:

Truly truly I say to you, unless [a] grain of wheat having fallen into the earth die, it remains alone, but if it die, it bears much fruit.

Yes, it applied to him immediately but he did not personalize it, therefore, like the statement of the Great Principle that follows, it illustrates the general and universal application of the Principle.  Yes, it applies to Jesus, but it also applies to everyone who aspires to the Eternal Glory.

This can only mean that the Christian doctrines that state that Jesus was doing something in our stead when he went to the cross are utterly false and without basis in Truth.  The verse immediately following the statement of the Great Principle settles it -- if you are able to hear:

If anyone be serving me, he must be following me, and where I am, there also will be the [one] serving me. If anyone be serving me, the father will honor him.

It's all there!  Just listen to him, and follow our Good Shepherd. 

Follow him where?

Jn.17:13 FNT But now I come to you, and I speak these [things] in the world in order that they have my joy made full in them.

Follow him to the Father!  This piece fits perfectly with the preceding one that establishes his followers who are in the world as yet not of the world. 

He has sent us who receive and believe him into the world to be his witnesses while we remain in the world.  If we are his witnesses, we can only proclaim and conform to the Great Principle -- proclaim it while we remain, and complete our testimony when we die.  That is what he means when he commands us to follow him.  He bore his cross and died ahead of us, not instead of us! So he issues this condition:

Mt.16:24 FNT Then Jesus said to his disciples: Whoever wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his psyche-life will lose it, and whoever loses his psyche-life because of me will find it.

So there we have it, linked again with the Great Principle (vs.25)!

The Great Principle mandates a choice between life in this world and the Life Eternal.  Everyone chooses, for the "no choice" option is for life in this world, the only life that the "no chooser" knows.  Once one realizes this, integrates it into his life view and value system, all of the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place and fit perfectly.  Until one has conformed to the Great Principle by choosing life eternal, one always confronts a great mystery -- what is this life about? 

What's it for? 

Why is it such as it is? 

Having conformed to the Great Principle and resolved to follow the Good Shepherd home to the Father, the question marks disappear and one begins to rejoice in the Light of Truth. 

Our Father in heaven wants his children to come home, and he has put us here to make it our choice.  If we love him, we will choose to go to him, following the Lord Jesus. This brings us to the Commandments that constitute yet another critical piece of the puzzle.

7. The Prime Commandments

"The Commandments of Jesus" is the subject of a series of which this is the sixth and last.  Most of what I can say of his commandments, I have already stated in prior units of the series -- except for the part they play in the Truth as a whole -- how they fit into and mesh with other pieces of the puzzle we are examining.  Here are the commandments we have in view.  There are only three:

Mt.22:34 FNT But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they were gathered together, 35 And one of them, [an] expert on the Law, testing him asked, 36 Teacher, what sort of commandment [is] great in the Law? 37 So he said to him: You will agape-love the Lord your God in all your heart and in all your psyche-life and in all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 The second is like it: You will agape-love your neighbor as yourself. 40 In these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

These two summarize the essence of the Law and the Prophets.  We have examined, in No.?? of the series, the significance of this, and will not do this again.  I will only mention that the Lord took the Law delivered by Moses and tightened it severely, delivering completely new insights on their significance.  The Second Commandment,
You will agape-love your neighbor as yourself, exemplifies this tightening, for Moses identified the neighbor as "one of your own people" whereas Jesus redefined the word to include every person to whom one comes near, including enemies intent on harm.

The Law and the Prophets were conformed to the standards of the past, but Jesus introduced a new thing into Israel and the world that Moses and the prophets could never have imagined.  This established the need of one more commandment:

Jn.13:34 FNT [A] new commandment I give to you, that you be agape-loving one another; just as I agape-loved you, be agape-loving one another. 35 By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have agape-love for one another.

These three are the foundation commandments.  Under each we can list sub commandments, but all are contained in these three. 

Now we will show how each forms an essential piece of the puzzle.  We begin with the first, the commandment, to Love God.  Here is is again:

You will agape-love the Lord your God in all your heart and in all your psyche-life and in all your mind.

This matches the Great Principle exactly.  If I love the Lord my God with all of my heart, life and mind, I must want to give up my life, my psyche-life, so that I can go to Him where he is.  And you will recall that the Great Principle states that whoever seeks to save his psychelife will lose it.  It logically follows that this is the reason for the loss -- a person does not love God so as to want to go to Him.  It follows that all people that love life and fear death do not want to go to the Father, do not love him, and are lost.  To want to go means that it is the will -- the earnest desire -- of the individual to go to the Father.  The Prodigal Son, living it up in his "far country," careless of his father or his father's house, is a perfect example of such a person.  So these two, the Great Commandment and the Great Principle, together form a Great Correlate, the one with the other and both with the whole of the gospel.

This puzzle piece matches perfectly with the one that expresses separation from the world.  The world is composed of men and nations that love life and that live on the basis of that love.  They spend their energies and interests in doing the things essential to its protection and preservation.  Choosing to hate life in this world, the psyche-life, so as to go to the Father, sets one immediately apart from the world, which is driven by the love of life.  The Lord expressed it this way:

Lk.12:29 FNT And you be not seeking what you shall eat and what you shall drink, and be not being anxious. 30 For all these do the nations of the world seek. But your father knows that you need these [things]. 31 Rather be seeking his kingdom, and all these [things] will be added.

This simple correlation explains all of the radical commandments of the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in the Gospel.  One simply does not take these commandments seriously apart from the Great Principle and the Great Commandment.  Many of these radical commands speak of reactions to other persons who are near, which explains the essence of the Second Commandment of Jesus.

This also matches perfectly with the Truth and the witness to the Truth that is personified in Jesus of Nazareth.  When we look at him, throughout his love driven and merciful life, we see him loving his neighbors as himself, and wanting above all other things to leave this world and return to the Father. 
He manifested these two things as an eternal testimony in his death by crucifixion.  The Gospels show that this death was planned by himself as a demonstration of his love of the Father and his desire, above all things, of returning to the Father. Then, hanging in agony on the torture stake, he cried out to the Father, praying in death agony that the Father would forgive the very persons who instigated and applauded his suffering and death.  It was necessary that a man demonstrate both love of God and neighbor in the most extreme circumstances and in a manner that could never be forgotten by the world.  So this piece, the Witness to the Truth, perfectly matches the others.

This piece (the commandments) also matches perfectly with the will of the Father.  His will -- his desire of us -- is only that we love him with all we are and have, and desire from the heart to do his will on earth, as the Lord Jesus did his will on earth, showing the Way to us, which is to lay down our lives on earth so as to rise in the Resurrection to be with our Father.  And precisely as it was the ultimate will of the Lord Jesus to leave his family and friends and rise to the Father, so must it be with us if we are to be acceptable. 

He wills for us to become his children.  More than that, he is not satisfied until we are his children in heaven, partaking of his Glory.  And we are not acceptable until we love him according to the Great Commandment and want only to go to him as our only Father.  We must also be obedient and witness to the Word of Truth in the world and to the people of the world, that all who are of the Truth will hear his voice.  Strange as it may seem, the Lord Jesus sends us, his disciples, into the world to do the very thing that the Father sent him in the world to accomplish:

Jn.20:21 FNT Jesus therefore said to them again: Peace to you. Just as the father sent me, I also send you.

As he came into the world to be the Light of the world, so he sends us, his disciples, into the world to the same end:

Jn.8:12 FNT So, again Jesus spoke to them saying: I am the light of the world. The [one] following me shall not walk in darkness, but will have the light of zoe-life.

Mt.5:14 You are the light of the world.

It is for this sole reason that we must remain in this world, even though our hearts yearn for the Father's house.  And there is one more reason:

Jn.13:35 FNT By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have agape-love for one another. 36 Simon Peter says to him: Lord, where do you go? Jesus answered: Where I go you are not now able to follow, but you follow later. 37 Peter says to him: Lord, why am I not able to follow you now? I will give my psyche-life in your behalf. 38 Jesus answered: You will give your psyche-life in my behalf? Truly truly I say to you, the rooster will not crow until you deny me thrice.

We will not qualify to follow Jesus to the Father until we have been tested, as Peter was and for the same reason.  Peter's shallow certainty collapsed as soon as he perceived a threat to his life in this world.  Surely he had not been listening very well!

Continuing now to work our way back through the list of the major pieces of the puzzle, we find only two others: The Promise of God and the Stage on which the Great Drama is being produced.  These two are foundational.  Had God not made certain promises to the Patriarchs and Prophets, they would not have taken him seriously.  Had he not been faithful to his promises -- to Abraham of a land, to David of a kingdom, etc. -- there would have been no knowledge of Him on the earth!  Other peoples were in total darkness, bound by superstition and fear, worshipping a thousand imagined gods and sacrificing their children to them.  The Promises brought forth a people, and this people brought forth prophets and kings responsible to God alone.  It was in the context of His working with this people, the Hebrews, that he introduced his commandments.  The puzzle pieces we are now examining, consisting of the First and Second Commandments, were first delivered to the Hebrews by the prophet, Moses.  It is true that Moses and his followers did not understand the radical requirement of these commandments, but they kept them before themselves, and God kept them before them so that, through many hundreds of years, there came a fullness in time when it was appropriate for the Father to take the next step in his plan to prepare children for his Glory.  Then he sent his Son to teach and manifest the radical significance of these two commandments, and to deliver one more to rule the gathering of his disciples on the earth. 

These commandments absolutely required the promises of God to inspire and motivate men to the end that we are able to recognize the divine mandate delivered to us by the Son of God.  So, his promises are a perfect match for his commandments, and we begin to see the puzzle take form and reach completion before our eyes.

Finally, there is the stage on which we, the players, are playing our parts in the Great Drama.  Most are totally unaware!  But we play the part none the less, and blessed are they who can see the commandments as essential props without which the Drama would have no direction and, perhaps, no director!  The stage consists of the created world in its totality, with all its contents that include you and me.  When all that are "of the Truth" have heard the Directors voice and followed him toward the Father, the stage will have served its purpose -- the only purpose (that is of concern to humans) for which it was created.  Every stage in my slight thespian experience -- mostly in churches and public schools -- long ago suffered destruction.  Even the buildings are no more.  This one, also.

The Glad Tidings of the Kingdom

This is our conclusion. 

The gospels reduce the message of Jesus to a single, simple essence:

Mk.1:14 FNT And after John was handed over, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying: The time has been completed and the kingdom of God is at hand. Be repenting and be believing in the good news.

Mt.24:14 FNT And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as [a] witness to all the nations, and then will the end come.
Lk.22:17 FNT And having taken [the] cup, having given thanks he said: Take this and divide [it] among yourselves, 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the product of the vine from now until the kingdom of God come.

Jn.19:28 FNT After this Jesus knowing that already everything is fulfilled, in order that the Scripture be fulfilled, says: I thirst. 29 There lay [a] vessel full of sour wine; placing hyssop around [a] sponge full of sour wine they brought it to his mouth. 30 When therefore Jesus received the sour wine he said: It is finished, and having bowed his head he gave up his spirit.

Mt.28:18 FNT All authority in heaven and on [the] earth has been given me.

Jn.14:15 FNT If you agape-love me, you will keep my commandments.

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