. . . But Now I See!

On the road to Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly shone around Saul (252).  He fell to the ground, and heard a brilliant voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  Saul responded, “Who are you?”  The voice said, “I am Jesus.  Why are you resisting me?”

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Saul trembled with astonishment and, in that instant, he surrendered control of his life saying, “Master, what do you want me to do?”  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up & go into Damascus, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men who were travelling with Saul stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. When Saul got up & opened his eyes, he couldn’t see at all!  So his companions led him by the hand into Damascus. Saul waited there for 3 days – without any sight & without taking any food or water.

There was in Damascus another man named Ananias who was a student of Jesus.  In a vision, God said to him, “Get up & go to the street called ‘Straight.’  Inquire at the house of Judas for Saul of Tarsus; you will find him praying. In a vision he has seen you laying your hands on him to restore his sight.”

Ananias objected, “Master, I have heard how this man has persecuted believers in Jerusalem. And now he has authority to persecute believers here in Damascus as well.”  But God answered Ananias, “I have chosen Saul to testify of me before Gentiles, Jews & kings. Now I will show him how much he must suffer in doing what I have chosen him to do.”

So Ananias found Saul & laid his hands on him & said, “Jesus –who appeared to you on the road to Damascus –has sent me, so you may have your sight restored & be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

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Immediately, as though scales were falling from his eyes, Saul was able to see!   And immediately, Saul got up & was baptized.  When he had eaten some food, he was strengthened.  Saul then spent a number of days with the students of Jesus at Damascus.

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(252) Acts 9:3-19

Walk To Emmaus

The men who had been guarding Jesus’ tomb reported the disappearance of Jesus’ body (219). They were bribed by the Jewish religious leaders to say that Jesus’ body had been stolen by some of his students.

Later that same day, two of Jesus’ students were walking to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.

As they talked of all the things that had happened in recent days, Jesus drew near and walked along with them, but they didn’t recognize him. When Jesus greeted them & asked what they were discussing, they stopped & stood still, with sad faces. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Jesus, “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know about the things that have been happening there these last few days?” “What things?” Jesus asked.

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“The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they both answered.  “This man was a prophet; he was powerful in everything he said & did. Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free from the Roman occupation.

“Besides all that, this is now the third day since his execution. Some of the women of our group went to his tomb at dawn, but they couldn’t find his body. One came back saying she had seen Jesus, alive! Then Peter & John went to the tomb and found it empty, exactly as the woman had said!  But they didn’t see Jesus . . .”

Then Jesus said to them, “How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things before entering into glory?” Jesus went on to explain to them what was written about him in all the inspired scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets.

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As they came near to Emmaus, Jesus seemed intent on going farther, but the two men said, “Stay with us; the day is almost over & it’s getting dark.” So Jesus went in to stay with them.

As they sat down to eat, Jesus took the bread & asked the blessing; then he broke the bread & gave it to them.

Suddenly their eyes were opened & they recognized him!  But then Jesus left them . . .

 

(219) Matthew 28:11-15, Mark 16:12, Luke 24:13-31

The Way: The Main Thing

Repeating himself for emphasis, Jesus insisted on this particular point (195).

Love each other, in the same way that I love you.

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“You are my true friends.  I can’t call you students any longer, because a student doesn’t really know everything his master is doing.  Because I’m telling you everything God is doing, I can truly say that you are my true friends.

“Doing the things I’ve taught you is what will show the world that you are my friends.  For example, the greatest love you can ever experience is to give up your independent self-life for your friends.

“You didn’t choose to become my friends; I chose you.

“Now you’re being sent out to bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. For this purpose, God will give you whatever you ask for, just as he has done for me.

Just don’t forget this main thing: Love each other.”

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(195) John 15:12-17

The Way: Love Each Other

In the confusion following the departure of Judas, the students became distracted & began to debate which among them would be thought of as the greatest (189).

In reply, Jesus emphasized an important point that he had taught them before.  “You know that worldly leaders exercise power & authority, always claiming to act in the people’s best interest.  But this is not the way I intend for you to lead people to God. If you want to lead people to God, you must serve them just as I have served you.

“You have stayed with me through all my trials.  And we will share this meal again in heaven.  But now it is time for God’s glory to be revealed on earth through me.  As God has given me the right to rule, so I will give you the same right. Your lives will become rules of righteousness  for the twelve tribes of Israel.

“I cannot stay here with you very much longer. I must go, and you cannot yet go where I am going. So I give you this new commandment: love each other. In the same way I have loved you, you must love each other.

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“When people see you loving each other, that’s how they’ll know that you’re my witnesses.”

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(189) Luke 22:24-30, John 13:31-35

What She Could, When She Could

Six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus returned to Bethany, the hometown of Martha & Mary & their brother, Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from death (182).

A few days later, another man named Simon, whose leprosy Jesus had healed, prepared a big dinner for Jesus at his home in Bethany.  Martha helped serve the dinner; Lazarus was one of the guests sitting at the table with Jesus.

Then Mary took a whole pint of a very expensive perfume, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house.

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Some of Jesus’ students, including Judas Iscariot — the one who was going to betray him — said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins, so the money could be given to the poor?” (Judas didn’t really care about the poor; he cared more about the money.  He was responsible for the donations given to support Jesus’ ministry, and he used to steal some of that money.)

But Jesus said, “Leave Mary alone. She has done a good thing in preparation for the day of my burial.  You will always have poor people with you, but you will not always have me with you.

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“Mary has done what she could for me now.  Wherever the good news about God is preached all over the world, what Mary has done will be remembered.”

Many people heard that Jesus was in Bethany, so they went there, not just to see Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, because Jesus had raised Lazarus from death.

Because of Lazarus, the Jewish religious leaders were frustrated that many Jews were rejecting their authority & believing in Jesus.  So they made plans to kill Lazarus, along with Jesus.

 

(182) Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-11

Hold On!

Jesus was leaving the temple when his students called his attention to the grandeur of its buildings (175).

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Jesus told them, “Not a single stone here will be left in its place; every one of them will be thrown down.”

Later, as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, some of the chosen witnesses came to him in private & asked, “How will we know that it’s time for your return at the end of the age?” Jesus gave a lengthy answer.

“You have to be very careful about this. Many men will claim to be me, and they will fool many people. You’ll also hear the noise of wars close by & news of wars far away; nations will definitely make war against one another.  There will also be famines & earthquakes everywhere.  But all these things won’t mean that the end has come; they are simply like the first pains of childbirth.

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“Also, some people will hate you because of your testimonies about me.  Be aware that men will arrest some of you & haul you into court; they will even beat some of you in the synagogues.

“But when you are brought to trial before rulers & kings, you’ll have opportunities to tell God’s good news to many Jews & non-Jews. Don’t worry about what to say or how to say it; when the time comes, the Spirit of God will give you the right words to say.

“In the face of such opposition, many of your co-workers will give up their faith; some will even hate & betray those of you who remain faithful; and sometimes even your own family members will turn against you.

“Also, many false prophets will appear & fool many people with lies about me. As evil spreads, many people’s love for me will simply die.

“But you have to hold on!

“Whoever holds on to the end will be saved & used by God to preach the good news about God’s kingdom to people all over the world.”

 

(175) Matthew 24:1-14, Mark 13:1-13, Luke 21:5-19

One Poor Widow

Later, Jesus sat near the temple treasury room, watching people as they dropped in their money offerings (174).   Many rich men dropped in a lot of money.

But then a poor widow came along and dropped in two little copper coins, barely worth one penny.

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Jesus was overwhelmed!  He called his students together to explain how this tiny offering was amazingly generous from God’s perspective: “This poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. Everyone else put in their spare change, but she put in all the money she had.

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“Think of it: poor as she is, she gave everything she had for God!”

 

(174) Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4