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The Ministry Continues

Another healing and more opposition

On another Jewish festival, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There was a pool there with five porticoes at the Sheep Gate, which in Hebrew is called Bethzatha. A large number of the disabled— blind, lame, sick— were set down in the porticoes to wait for the stirring of the water. Every now and then, an angel of the Master would come to stir up the water, and the first person to get into the water would be healed of whatever ailment they had.

Now a certain person was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. Jesus saw him lying down and knew he had been there a long time, so he said to him, “I assume you want to be healed.”

The disabled one replied, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the water whenever it’s disturbed. Before I can get in, someone else gets there first.”

Then Jesus said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” Immediately he was healed, and he picked up his mat and walked around. But since it was a Sabbath day, the Jews said to the one who was healed, “You are not permitted to carry your mat on a Sabbath!”

But he answered, “The one who healed me is the one who told me to pick up my mat and walk.”

Then they asked him who told him to do that, but the one who was healed didn’t see who it was, because Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. Then Jesus found him in the temple compound and said, “Look at you— you’ve been healed. Be sure not to sin any more, or else something worse may happen to you.”

The person went away and informed the Jews that Jesus was the one who healed him, and they hounded Jesus because he did these things on the Sabbath. So he told them, “My Father is at work, and so am I.” This made the Jews all the more determined to kill him, since he not only violated the Sabbath but also called God his father, making himself the same as God.

Then Jesus responded, “Very truly I tell you all, that the Son can do nothing of his own accord but only that which he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does is what the Son also does. The Father loves the Son and shows him everything he’s doing. And he will show him greater and more amazing things than these! Just as the Father raises the dead back to life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he chooses. The Father is not judging anyone but has instead handed it all over to the Son, so that all might honor the Son just as they honor the Father. On the other hand, those who dishonor the Son dishonor the Father who sent him.

“Very truly I tell you all, that the one who hears what I say and puts their trust in the one sending me has eternal life. Instead of facing judgment they’ve escaped death and attained life. I tell you that an hour is coming— and in fact is upon us— when the dead will hear the voice of the God-Man and come to life. After all, the Father controls life, and so does the Son. The Father gives him authority to judge, even though he’s a human being.

“Don’t be surprised at this, since the hour is coming when all those in their graves will hear his voice. Those who do good things will be raised to eternal life, but those who do bad things will be raised to face judgment. I can do nothing of my own accord; I only judge as I’m told. My judgment is impartial due to the fact that I’m not following my own agenda but that of the one who sent me.

“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. But there is another who vouches for me, and I know that his testimony is true. You sent people to John and he served as a witness to the truth. But I don’t get my testimony from people; I tell you these things so you can be saved. John was a little candle that burned and shined, and for a short time you enjoyed that light. Yet my testimony is greater than his, because the tasks the Father has given me to complete— the very things I’m doing— are evidence that the Father has sent me.

“The Father has testified about me, though you have neither heard nor seen him and don’t keep his word, because you haven’t believed the one he sent. You search the scriptures because you think you’ll find eternal life in them, yet those very scriptures point to me. But you refuse to come to me so you could have life.

“People don’t honor me, but I know you all, and the love of God is not in you. I have come with the authority of my Father and you won’t accept me, but if someone comes by their own authority you’ll accept them. How can you believe, when you only honor each other instead of reaching for the honor that only comes from God? Don’t think that I’m the one who will accuse you before the Father; your accuser will be none other than Moses, the one upon whom you’ve pinned all your hopes. If you had believed Moses you’d believe me, since I’m the one he wrote about. So if you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

Herod executes John the Immerser

Sometime during Jesus’ public activities, Herod had arrested John the Immerser, because he called Herod out for marrying the wife of his brother Philip. So his wife, Herodias, was out to get John and wanted to kill him. But she couldn’t because Herod feared John and knew him to be a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. He was intrigued with him and liked to listen to him.

But then came the opportune moment. On his birthday, Herod was hosting a dinner for all his important guests, including legion commanders and leading citizens of Galilee. When Herodias’ daughter came in and danced for them, this pleased Herod and his guests. So the king said to the young girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he swore a strong oath to her: “Anything you ask of me, I will give to you— even up to half my kingdom!”

So she went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?”

“The head of John the Immerser!” her mother replied.

So she hurried to the king and said, “I choose that you immediately give me, on a platter, the head of John the Immerser!”

The king was devastated. But because of his oaths and the dinner guests, he didn’t want to decline her request. So he immediately dispatched his executioner to behead John in the prison. Then he brought the head on a platter and gave it to the young girl, who gave it to her mother. Upon hearing this, his disciples came and carried away his body and buried it.

Eventually Herod heard about all that Jesus was doing, since his name had become well-known. People were saying that John the Immerser had been raised from the dead, since he had these powers. Others said he was Elijah, and still others that he was a prophet like the prophets of old. But when Herod heard this he said, “It’s John, the one I had beheaded! He has come back from the dead!”

Jesus feeds five thousand

After John’s death, Jesus went off alone by boat to a solitary place. But the crowd found out and followed on foot from all the cities. And when Jesus came out of there he saw the large crowd and was moved with compassion for them, so he healed the sick among them. But eventually his disciples came to him and said, “This is an isolated place and the hour is getting late. Dismiss the crowd so they can go off to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

But Jesus said to them, “There’s no need for them to go; you feed them!”

“How are we supposed to do that?!” they exclaimed. “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish. It would take 200 days’ wages to buy enough bread for them to eat!’

“Bring them to me,” Jesus replied.

He ordered the crowd to recline on the grass for a meal. He had them all sit down in equally-sized groups on the green grass, and they reclined according to a grid of plots in groups of hundreds and fifties. Then, taking the five loaves and two fish, he looked up to the sky and blessed them, then broke them up and gave them to his disciples. The disciples then passed them out to the crowd, and they all ate until they were full; the leftovers filled twelve wicker baskets. The number of men who had eaten was around five thousand, not counting the women and children.

Jesus walks on water

Immediately Jesus had his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side of the lake, while he stayed and dismissed the crowd. Then he went up into the mountain alone to pray. It was late when he was there alone, and by that time the boat had already gone far from land. But he saw that they were straining at the oars because the wind was against them, so at about three in the morning he came to them, walking on the sea. And when his disciples saw him they were very disturbed and shouted out in terror, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus quickly assured them, “Have courage, it’s me! Don’t be afraid.”

Then Peter said to him, “Master, if it’s really you, command me to come to you on the water.”

“Come on!” replied Jesus. So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water. He came near Jesus but then got distracted by the strong wind. He became afraid and started to sink, so he called out to him, “Master, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter and said, “You skeptic! Why did you doubt?” As soon as they got into the boat, the wind died down and they were all suddenly at their destination. So they worshiped him and said, “Truly you are the God-Man!” They were beside themselves with awe, even after seeing the miracle of feeding the five thousand (they were slow to catch on).

The next day the crowd was standing on the other side of the sea. They knew that there had only been one other boat there, and Jesus did not leave with his disciples, who had gone off alone. But boats from Tiberias arrived near the place where they had eaten the bread for which the Master had given thanks. So, realizing that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and set off for Capernaum to look for Jesus.

The Bread of Life

Finding him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus replied, “I know very well that you didn’t come looking for me because of the miracles you saw, but because you filled yourselves with bread. Don’t work for food that spoils, but food that gives eternal life. This is what The Human will give you, the one confirmed by the Father.”

Then they asked him, “What can we do, so that we are performing the work God wants from us?”

Jesus answered, “This is what God wants you to do: to put your trust into the one he sent.”

Then they asked, “So then, what miracle will you do, so we can see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness just as it is written, ‘Out of the sky he gave them bread to eat.’ ”

Jesus replied, “I tell you very truly, it wasn’t Moses who gave you bread from the sky, but my Father who has given you true bread from heaven. For the Bread of God is the one descending from heaven and giving eternal life to the world.”

So they said to him, “Sir, keep on giving us this bread!”

But Jesus explained, “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever puts their trust in me will never go thirsty. But though I told you this and you’ve been watching me, you still don’t believe. Everyone the Father gives me will reach me; I will never reject any that come to me. The reason I came down from heaven was not to do my own will but that of the one who sent me. And this is what he wants: that I would not lose one of them, but raise them up in the last day. My Father’s will is that all who look to the Son and put their trust in him may have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

Then the Judeans grumbled about him because he said “I am the Bread of Life, the one coming down from heaven.” So they said, “Isn’t this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say that he came down from heaven?”

Jesus replied, “Stop grumbling among yourselves! No one can come to me without being pulled by the Father who sent me, and I will raise them up on the last day. It has been written by the prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes toward me. The Father has been seen by no one except the one from God.

“I tell you very truly, that the one who believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness and died, but anyone who eats this Bread from heaven will not die. I am the living Bread from heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever. Now what I mean by ‘bread’ is my flesh, which I will give up so that the world may live.”

Then the Jews argued with each other and said, “How can he give us his flesh to eat?”

So Jesus responded, “I tell you very truly that if you do not consume the flesh and blood of the Human, you have no life in yourselves. The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that one up at the last day, for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. The one who consumes my flesh and blood remains in me, and I remain in that one. Just as the Father who commissioned me lives, I too live because of him. In the same way, the one consuming me will live because of me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven; unlike our ancestors who ate and died, the one consuming this Bread will live forever.”

He said these things while teaching in a meeting place in Capernaum. But upon hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a harsh teaching! Who can listen to it?”

Now Jesus, perceiving that his disciples were grumbling about this, asked them, “Is this tripping you up? What if you were to watch the Human going up to where he was at first? The spirit is what gives life; the flesh is of no advantage. The things I have declared to you are spirit and life. But there are some among you who do not believe.” Now Jesus knew from the beginning who the unbelievers were, as well as who would betray him. So he continued, “Therefore I have stated that no one could come to me without the Father granting it to them.”

At this, many of his disciples turned away and no longer followed him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Please tell me you don’t want to leave too!”

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom would we turn? You have the message of eternal life! We trust you and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus replied to them all, “Haven’t I chosen you Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He was referring to Judas, son of Simon of Kerioth. Though one of the Twelve, he intended to betray Jesus.)

The hypocrisy of the religious leaders

Next Jesus and the disciples crossed over and landed at Gennesaret. The people there recognized him and sent word throughout the whole area and brought him all the sick people. They begged to be allowed to touch the hem of his cloak, and whoever did was restored to health.

Then a religious leader asked Jesus to have lunch with him. So he went and reclined at the table, but the religious leader was surprised to see that Jesus did not perform ritual cleansing before the meal. So he asked, “Why is it that your disciples violate the tradition of the elders by not ceremonially washing their hands before they eat?”

“And why do you violate the command of God with your traditions?” Jesus retorted. “You religious leaders wash the outside of the cup and plate, but on the inside you’re full of greed and evil. Dimwits! Didn’t the one who made the outside also make the inside? But if you give charitably from within, then you will be clean through and through. For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother; whoever speaks abusively against their father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that someone can get out of helping their father or mother by telling them, ‘Any help you would have received from me is a gift to God’. So you override the word of God by your tradition. Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied about you very well when he said, ‘These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far away from me. They revere me for no reason, and their teachings are the edicts of mere humans.’ ”

He called the crowd to himself and said to them, “Listen and understand: It isn’t what goes into the mouth that makes a person ‘unclean’, it’s what comes out of the mouth.” Then his disciples came to him and said, “Do you realize that the religious leaders were offended by what you said?”

And Jesus replied, “Every plant that my Father in heaven didn’t plant will be uprooted! Leave them; they are blind leaders of the blind. And if one blind person leads another, both will fall into a ditch.”

Then Peter asked him to explain the parable, and Jesus replied, “Are you really that dense? Don’t you understand that everything that goes into the mouth goes through the digestive tract and then is eliminated? But what comes out of the mouth comes from the mind and heart, and that’s what contaminates a person. That’s where evil thoughts, murder, adultery, promiscuity, theft, false testimony, and slander come from. These are what contaminate a person, not how they wash their hands before eating.”

A foreign woman impresses Jesus

From there, Jesus went away to the areas of Tyre and Sidon. Suddenly there was a Canaanite woman from around there, and she shouted out, “Have pity on me, sir, Descendant of David! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” But he did not respond to her. So his disciples went up to him and said, “Dismiss her, she’s shouting at us!”

Then he said to her, “I was only sent to the lost sheep of Israel.”

But she came and worshiped him and said, “Sir, please help!”

“We shouldn’t take the children’s food and toss it to the puppies,” he replied.

“Yes, sir,” the woman agreed. “But the puppies do get the scraps that fall from their master’s table.”

“Dear lady,” Jesus replied, “You have great faith! What you wanted will happen.” And her daughter was healed that very hour.

More healings

Next Jesus went from there to the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up the mountain and sat down. Crowds of people came to him, bringing the lame the blind, the crippled, the deaf, and many others. They were placed at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them. It impressed the crowd very much to see the deaf/mute talking, the crippled well, the lame walking around, and the blind seeing. So they honored the God of Israel.

Then they brought him someone who was deaf and speech-impaired, pleading with him to place his hand on them. He took the person away from the crowd, put his fingers into the person’s ears, and put saliva on his finger and touched their tongue. Then he looked up to the sky and sighed deeply, saying, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened up!”). Immediately the person could hear and speak normally. Jesus commanded them not to say a thing, but the more he did so, the more they spread the news. They were beyond awestruck and said, “Look at all the wonderful things he does! The deaf hear and the mute talk!”

When they arrived at Bethsaida, people brought a blind person to Jesus and begged him to touch him. Taking him by the hand, he led him outside of the village, where he put saliva on his eyes and placed his hands on him. And he asked, “Do you see anything?”

He looked up and said, “I see people as something like trees walking around.” So Jesus put his hands on the blind one’s eyes again, and the person could see normally; his vision was restored and he could see everything sharply. So Jesus sent him home with the warning, “Don’t go into the village.”

Jesus feeds four thousand

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I am moved with compassion for the crowd, because they’ve already been here with me for three days and have nothing to eat. But if I dismiss them without food, they might faint along the way.”

“Where are we supposed to get enough food to satisfy a crowd like this in such a desolate place?” his disciples asked.

“How many loaves to you have?” he asked.

“Seven,” they answered, “and a few small fish.”

Then Jesus had the crowd sit down on the ground. He took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks for them, broke them up, and handed the pieces to his disciples. Then the disciples passed them out to the crowd, and they all ate till they were full. The leftovers filled seven large baskets, even though the number of men was around four thousand, not counting the women and children. Then he dismissed the crowd and got into the boat, and he went to the area of Magadan.

The religious leaders seek a sign

The religious leaders came along to test Jesus, so they asked him to show them a miraculous sign from heaven. But instead he said, “If the sky is red in the evening, you say that the weather will be nice the next day. And if it’s red in the morning, you say that the weather will be bad. So why can’t you interpret the signs of the times? An evil and unfaithful generation looks for signs, but none will be given except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster for three days and three nights, so also the Human will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” Then he left them there and went away.

When his disciples arrived at the other side of the lake, they realized they had forgotten to get bread. And Jesus said to them, “Watch out for the yeast of the religious leaders!” So they talked it over among themselves and decided he was talking about them forgetting the bread.

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why are you talking about not having bread, you skeptics? Don’t you understand or remember what happened with the five loaves and the five thousand, and how many baskets full of leftovers you picked up? Or what about the seven loaves and the four thousand, and all the leftovers? So how can you possibly think that I was talking about bread when I said, ‘Watch out for the yeast of the religious leaders’?” Then it finally dawned on them that he wasn’t referring to literal yeast in bread but to the religious leaders’ teachings.

Jesus and Peter

When Jesus reached the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human is?”

“Some say John the Immerser,” they replied. “Others say Elijah, or maybe Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

“But who do you say I am?” Jesus asked.

“You are the Anointed One, the son of the living God!” declared Peter.

“You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah,” Jesus replied. “For this was not revealed to you by ordinary means, but by my Father in the heavens. I hereby declare that you are Peter, and it is upon this rock of revelation that I will build my Congregation, which will withstand all the assaults of Hades. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of the heavens, so whatever you restrain on earth will also be restrained in the heavens, and whatever you let loose on earth will also be let loose in the heavens.”

Then he told his disciples not to say a word about his being the Anointed One. And from then on he began to tell them that he would have to go into Jerusalem to suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders, then be killed yet arise the third day.

But Peter scolded him and said, “Master, this will never happen to you!”

“Get out of my way, Satan!” Jesus said sternly. “You are trying to trap me, because you’re thinking like people instead of God.”

The challenge of discipleship

Then Jesus said to his disciples and the crowd, “If anyone wants to follow me, they must completely renounce themselves, pick up their cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life on my account will find it. After all, what good is it to gain the whole world at the cost of your own life? Or what would anyone give in exchange for their life? The Human is going to come with his angels in the majesty of his Father, and he will reward each one according to what they have done. Anyone who wants to serve me should follow me; where I am is where my servant will also be. And whoever serves me will be honored by the Father. I can assure you that some standing here today will not experience death until they first see the Human coming in his kingdom. But if anyone in this generation of adulterers and scoundrels is ashamed of me and my words, the Human will be ashamed of that person when he comes.”

The Transfiguration

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John up into a high mountain alone. Then he transformed before their eyes; his face shone like the sun and his clothing became as white as the light, such as no launderer on earth could do. Then all of a sudden Moses and Elijah appeared! They were talking with him about his leaving the world, which was about to take place in Jerusalem.

Now Peter and the others had been in a deep sleep, but when they regained consciousness they saw Jesus’ majesty and the two men with him. After those two left, Peter blurted out, “Exalted One, it’s great to be here! We should put up three dwellings: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (he didn’t know what he was saying).

While he was still speaking, suddenly they were enveloped by a luminous cloud, and from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my dear son and I’m very pleased with him. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face-down on the ground and were utterly terrified. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up, but they saw no one except Jesus.

As they went down the mountain, Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Human had risen from the dead. His disciples kept the command, but they couldn’t agree among themselves what he had meant by rising from the dead. So they asked him, “What did the scripture scholars mean about Elijah having to come first?”

“Elijah does indeed come first,” he assured them, “and he is restoring everything. In fact, Elijah has already come, but they didn’t recognize him and treated him as they wished. So also must the Human be treated by them.” Then the disciples realized that he was talking about John the Immerser.

Trouble with demons

When they reached the other disciples they saw a large crowd around them, and they were debating the religious leaders. The crowd recognized Jesus immediately and were thrilled to see him, so they raced toward him and greeted him. Then he asked them what they were arguing about, and one person out of the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought them my son. He has a mute spirit, and whenever it seizes him it takes control and causes him to foam at the mouth and grind his teeth, and he is wasting away. I asked your disciples to throw it out but they couldn’t.”

Jesus replied, “Faithless generation! How long will I be with you? How long will I put up with you? Bring him to me.” So they brought him, and when the spirit saw Jesus it started right away to convulse the boy violently. It made him fall to the ground and roll around, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked the father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he replied. “On many occasions it has thrown him into the fire or into water to kill him. But if you can help us, have pity on us!”

“If I can?” asked Jesus. “Everything is possible to those who believe!”

Right away the boy’s father cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Then Jesus saw the crowd rushing toward him, so rebuked the unclean spirit: “Deaf and mute spirit, I command you to get out of him and never enter him again!” And with much screaming and convulsing it left, making the boy to appear dead; in fact, most of the people believed he was dead. But Jesus grasped him by the hand, and he awakened and stood up.

When Jesus entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?”

“This kind cannot be thrown out except with prayer,” he answered. “But mostly because of your lack of faith. I can assure you that if your faith were even as tiny as a mustard seed, you could order this mountain to move over there and it would! Nothing would be impossible for you.”

The greatest

Then he was approached by the mother of Zebedee’s sons, who brought them to him and knelt down to ask him something.

“What is it you want?” asked Jesus.

“Grant that these two sons of mine will sit beside you in your kingdom, one at the right and one at the left,” she said.

“Neither of you realize what you’re asking,” Jesus said to the brothers. “Can you drink from the same cup I must drink from?”

“Yes!” they said.

“Indeed you will!” Jesus responded. “But it isn’t up to me to say who will sit at my right and left. Those places are for the ones predetermined by my Father.”

While they were on their way to Capernaum, the disciples were arguing about something, and when they got to the house Jesus asked them what it was about. But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing over who was the greatest, since they were angry at the two brothers.

So Jesus sat down and called the Twelve to him and said, “The kings of other nations exercise mastery over them, and those wielding authority are called benefactors. But you must not be like that. The greatest among you must become like the least, and the leader like the assistant. The one who is less esteemed among you is actually more important. Whoever wants to be first will be last of all, and the servant to all.”

Then he had a child stand in front of them, whom he picked up and held in his arms. And he said to them, “Whoever accepts one of these little ones in my name is really accepting me, and whoever accepts me is really accepting the One who sent me. I can assure you that unless you change your attitude and become like one of these little ones, you will absolutely never enter into the kingdom of the heavens! So those who humble themselves to the level of this child are greater in the kingdom of the heavens. And those who accept such a child on my account are really accepting me.

“If anyone sets a trap for the least significant of those who trust me, it would be better if that person had a large millstone hung around their neck and were drowned the sea! And woe to this world full of such traps. Such things must be, but woe to the person who sets them up! So if your hand or foot becomes a trap for you, cut it off and throw it away! Better to enter life crippled or lame than to have both hands or feet but be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye becomes a trap for you, pluck it out and throw it away! Better to enter life with one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into the eternal fire. So see to it that you don’t scorn these lowly ones. For I tell you that their angels in the heavens are always in the presence of my Father.

“What do you think? If someone has a hundred sheep and one wanders off, won’t they leave the other ninety-nine on the hills and go out looking for it? And once they find it, I can assure you that they are happier about that one than the other ninety-nine that didn’t wander off! And so it is with your Father in the heavens; he does not want even one of these lowly ones to be lost.”

Paying taxes

Then those who collect the annual temple tax came up to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the tax?” And Peter replied, “Yes, of course.” But when they went inside, Jesus anticipated him and said, “What do you think, Simon? Who is it that the kings of the earth tax: their own people or foreigners?”

“Foreigners,” Simon answered.

“So then, the citizens are exempt,” Jesus replied. “But just so we don’t offend them, go to the sea and cast a line. Take the first fish you catch and open its mouth. Inside you will find a coin; use it to pay for my taxes and yours.”

For and against

Then John spoke up: “Teacher, we saw someone throwing out demons in your name and we stopped them, because they’re not one of us.”

But Jesus replied, “Don’t stop them, because no one who does a powerful deed in my name can turn right around and malign me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Whoever gives you a cup of water, just because you belong to the Anointed One, will certainly be paid their wages.”

Sin in the community

“If your brother or sister sins, go and confront them privately. If they listen to you, you have won them back. But if they don’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that ‘every charge is confirmed by two or three witnesses’. If they still don’t listen, tell it to the community, and if they don’t even listen to them, treat them as you would a foreigner or a tax contractor.

“I can assure you that whatever you restrict on earth will be restricted in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will be released in heaven. I will say it again: If just two or three of you agree on anything in the world you may ask about, it will be granted by my Father in the heavens. For where two or three have gathered on my account, there I am with them.”


Then Peter came up to him and asked, “Master, how many times can a sister or brother sin against me, and I still have to forgive them? Up to seven times?”

“Not only up to seven times, but seventy-seven times!” Jesus replied. “Be mindful of this: If your brother or sister does you wrong, rebuke them; and if they’re sorry, forgive them. Even if they do you wrong seven times in a day, and seven times they turn around and apologize, forgive them. This is how it will be with my Father in the heavens, so forgive your sisters and brothers from the heart.”

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