Jesus often communicated in parables. His first parable compared his followers to salt.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
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Jesus’ first public sermon was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 5) and Luke (Luke 6). His eighth blessing from God, called the “Beatitudes,” that Matthew recorded was:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In an earlier post we’ve already looked at what the word “righteousness” means. If you missed that one, I recommend going and reading that post first. For this verse, I want to take a closer look at what “persecution” means. In the original Greek, it is διώκω and is transliterated “diókó” (pronounced dee-o’-ko), which means to “persue with haste” or “aggressively chase.” It can be used in a positive way, such as to “earnestly pursue,” or a negative way, such as to “zealously hunt down” or “earnestly desire to apprehend.”
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Jesus’ first public sermon was recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 5) and Luke (Luke 6). His fifth blessing from God, called the “Beatitudes,” that Matthew recorded was:
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
We all have an idea of what it means to be merciful, so what I want to do is examine what the Bible says about mercy. In the Old Testament, the word “mercy” in Hebrew is חֶמְלַת, transliterated “chemlah” (pronounced khem-law’) and “merciful” is חָסַד, transliterated “chacad” (pronounced khaw-sad’); meanings are to “be good,” “kind,” “pious,” “compassionate” and to “bow in courtesy to an equal.” In the New Testament, the word “mercy” in Greek is ἔλεος, transliterated “eleos” (pronounced el’-eh-os), and “merciful” is ἐλεήμονες, transliterated “eleémón” (pronounced el-eh-ay’-mone); meanings are to have “pity,” “compassion” or “covenant-love” for someone. Additional words we can look at in Hebrew are חַנּוּן, transliterated “channun” (pronounced khan-noon’), meaning “gracious,” and רָ֫חַם , transliterated “racham” (pronounced rakh’-am), meaning “compassionate.”
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In Matthew 4 the story is told how Jesus felt the Holy Spirit urge him to go into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days in preparation for a testing of the devil. Then the devil came to him in his very human state of hunger and weakness saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
This temptation occurred at the start of Jesus’ ministry. Since Jesus could have certainly turned the stones into bread as the devil suggested, or had a thousand angels come to his aide with whatever food he wanted, what is really going on in these verses? Why doesn’t Jesus make himself something to eat and be done with his fast?
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In this verse, John the Baptist was preaching in Judea and began baptizing new believers in the river Jordan, saying,
Truly, I give baptism with water to those of you whose hearts are changed; but he who comes after me is greater than I, whose shoes I am not good enough to take up; he will give you baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The baptism of “water, Holy Spirit and fire.” is a fascinating topic. It is represented by and related to Moses’ Tabernacle, the Israelite’s portable holy place of worship where God interacted with them. It is also the proof that God exists, which so many people struggle over.
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