Jesus went from His last meal with His disciples to a garden where He prayed. It was in this garden where He was then betrayed and arrested. His friends fled in fear. Peter denied Him, and Jesus was brought before the Jewish Supreme Court to be questioned. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus replied truthfully but the Jewish leaders called it blasphemy and insisted that He was worthy of death. But because the religious leaders did hold any power in the Roman world, the next step was to get the Roman government to authorize the death sentence for Jesus.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. Two small words: “I am.” Jesus really is who He says He is. Death did not hold the Author of life and He will come again because He is trustworthy. Will He come today? Oh, for the day when Jesus returns and all is made right! Until then, we trust Jesus who sits at the Mighty One’s right-hand-side as the Messiah, the Savior of the world, and the Savior of our hearts. He is the Son of the Blessed One.
Mark 14:61b-62 NIV
Matthew joined the other gospel writers and recorded the excitement that was felt by many as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. Can you hear the multitudes cheering Him on? Those who loved Jesus and acknowledged Him as their King surrounded Him. And the crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed Him kept shouting, Hosanna (O be propitious, graciously inclined) to the Son of David, [the Messiah]! Blessed (praised, glorified) is He Who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna (O be favorably disposed) in the highest [heaven]! Everyone was enthusiastically getting caught up in the movement. Our King is coming! Our King is coming!
Mark also penned what happened that day: Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” Was anyone besides Jesus prepared for the change of direction that each would soon encounter? Within the week emotions would swing wildly from joyfully celebrating His jubilant arrival, to fear, anger, betrayal, deep sadness, confusion, and pain. But for now, in God’s Story, it was a joyful time for many people. If we had been there to witness it all, what would we have said in the crowds?
Matthew 21:9 AMP; Mark 11:9-10 NLT
During our years of living in Thailand seeking to expand God’s Kingdom through love and awareness of Him, Russell traveled a lot. A minority group in China was our major focus and after years of interaction Bible translation was just beginning among them. To help bring greater awareness to our praying partners, I wrote a prayer journal that focused on each of the sixty-six books of the Bible combined with the customs and needs relating to this particular group. The prayer journal became a book, His First Bible, and it was printed towards the end of 2006. Here is an excerpt from it highlighting how Jesus blesses:
In his biography of Jesus, Mark describes the ultimate Servant. Event after event we see Christ’s character as he interacts with people. Tucked between Jesus answering the Pharisees’ testing about divorce and His encounter with the ambitious young ruler, Jesus engaged not the powerful or the rich but the meek. His disciples were brushing these little people aside, thinking the Teacher was too busy to be bothered. But Jesus values children. Can you envision His arms open wide, while children run to Him drawn in by His love? “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God.”
God’s Kingdom belongs to those who long for His love and closeness. What a contrast between the religious know-it-alls and the children who are pure in heart. Jesus tells us our faith should be like that of children running into His arms. Lord, we thank You for still calling children of all ages and all nations into Your love. May we run to You, holding nothing back. We pray for the SD children to know You at a young age. Jesus, teach us to learn from You never to be too busy to reach out to the little ones in our lives. What joy we would experience if we would follow Your example: “Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”
Mark 10:13-16 NLT (also in Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17)
As God’s Story went forward, the teaching ministry of Jesus continued. Many followed after Him to hear His messages on how to live the blessed life. On this particular occasion after a three-day teaching conference in a remote place, the crowds had run out of food, again. Instead of sending them home hungry, Jesus took seven loaves of bread and after He had thanked God for it, passed the bread out to about 4,000 people. A few small fish were found, too, so Jesus also blessed these and told the disciples to distribute them. Jesus is good to meet the needs of those who follow Him because He is tenderhearted and His blessings multiply. We are not Jesus, but do we interact with others using our lives so that blessings are multiplied? Jesus tells us to do good deeds so that our Father in Heaven is made known. Blessing people also blesses God. Let’s bless on!
Mark 8:7 NLT (also in Matthew 15:36)
This story might sound familiar. Many years ago there was a woman who became very poor as she sought doctor after doctor for a dozen years, and longed for a cure from her constant bleeding only to find her health getting worse. She had heard enough about Jesus to want to be near Him so she joined the crowd following Him. Her faith moved her to action and she reached down and touched the hem of His robe, thinking, “If I can just touch His robe I will be healed.” And she was! Now Jesus confronted the crowd, “Who touched Me?” She was terrified to single herself out. She also knew that she was healed. Would she flee in panic? No, instead she fell on her knees in front of Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you’re healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague.”
She had suffered long and reaching out to Jesus in faith healed her. Her joy was made complete by His words, “live blessed”. What areas of our lives do we need to leave at the hem of Jesus’ robe? Our healing may or may not be immediate, but the peace we have knowing we are not alone in our suffering gives us the strength to bravely go forward.
Isaiah passed his driver’s test the summer of 2012, so he and I made a 1,000-mile trip from Texas to Michigan and enjoyed visiting old friends along the way. When we arrived, we had a family reunion and celebrated my oldest nephew’s birthday. The following Sunday I sat between my mom and my stepdad as their priest wonderfully taught about Jesus as He encountered this specific woman of faith who had reached out for the hem of His robe. Although my issue was not bleeding, I related to the situation because migraine headaches affected my life for longer than a dozen years. As I pondered all of this, I was becoming more and more ill and I nearly passed out in church. And that was the beginning of yet another three-day migraine cycle. Three days and nights in bed, even with a head that is throbbing, allows a lot of time to think and pray. Jesus can heal; there is no doubt in my mind about that. I will not give up faith and I will praise Him with great joy when that time comes!
Mark 5:34 MSG (also in Luke 8:48 and Matthew 9:22)