The Greatest Story – Part 12: Temptation

Jesus smiled as He heard His Father’s voice boom out from Heaven, oh how He missed hearing Him so clearly. He thanked John and waded out of the water as people stood with a look of wonderment upon the faces. Many pushed closer to touch Him and Jesus smiled, welcoming them to Him. When all the fuss died down He withdrew to the mountains nearby to pray and was then led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness.

For forty days and forty nights Jesus had fasted and prayed, today He felt as if all His strength evaporated and His parched lips reminded Him of how desperate He was for a drink. Although He felt physically weak His spirit remained steadfast and strong. The fact that Jesus could call upon Scripture had brought Him much comfort over the long days and nights. He knew that it was the words from the Psalms that had enabled Him to endure and in particular He had often called out for God to revive Him, just like the Psalmist had cried out:

“I’m bruised and broken, overwhelmed by it all;
breathe life into me again by your living word.” Psalm 119:107 (TPT)

As Jesus rolled over His weary head began to pound and He once again cried out for a refreshing. He could feel the sun beating down on Him causing further damage to His aching skin but He couldn’t find the strength to move. He tried to roll His head to the side but sharp rocks cut into His scalp. Jesus laid there and tried to pray through the pain and discomfort. As darkness began to creep over the land Jesus felt a change in the atmosphere and knew that something was shifting, as He slowly sat up He was surprised to see that He had company. The hooded figure remained standing over Him and Jesus tried to see who it was. The Accuser glared at Jesus and menacingly growled: ‘Are You really the Son of God?”, Satan bent down and spat the last word out and then continued: ‘IF You are then why don’t you tell these stones to become loaves of bread?’, he laughed as he kicked rocks towards Jesus. A few tumbled and hit Jesus’ knee which caused a shooting pain. Jesus calmly returned the menacing gaze and softly replied: ‘No! The Scriptures explain that man does not live on bread alone but lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Satan continued to sneer at Jesus and walked to the edge of the cliff, beckoning Jesus to join him. Jesus slowly pushed Himself up and stifled a groan as His freshly injured knee tried to take His weight. As Jesus looked out over Jerusalem He smiled, the Temple sparkled as the sun’s rays hit the golden carvings.  Satan turned to Jesus and indicated to the ground below ‘IF You’re truly the Son of God then jump off the cliff.’ Satan leaned in closer and sneered ‘the Scriptures say that God will order His angels to protect You.’, he looked down at Jesus’ injured leg and laughed ‘I thought the angels were meant to hold You up with their hands so that You wouldn’t even stub Your toe on a stone.’ Satan indicated to the ground again ‘jump!’. Jesus took a step back from the ledge and replied: ‘it is written that you must NOT test the Lord God.’

Satan quickly turned and climbed higher up the mountain, beckoning Jesus to follow. Jesus took a deep breath and slowly made His way higher. Near the peak of the mountain Satan stopped and Jesus joined him but at a distance, Jesus could feel His legs shaking and prayed for strength as the dark spots danced before His eyes trying to overtake Him and pull Him into a dark slumber. Satan turned to Jesus and smiled ‘I will give ALL of this to You, just one taste and You will see how intoxicating power can be!’ his hand made a grand sweeping gesture. Satan leaned in close to Jesus ‘just kneel down and worship me.’, he smirked and looked at Jesus with eager anticipation in his eyes. Jesus lifted His eyes and looked back into the Accuser’s face ‘leave me alone, get out of here! For the Scriptures say that we are to worship only the Lord God Almighty and serve only Him!’ Satan looked closely at Jesus’ face with delight, he could see that Jesus was struggling, but Jesus screamed out: ‘GO!’ and Satan quickly withdrew down the mountain. As soon as Satan was out of sight Jesus collapsed onto the ground, as He laid there He could feel the last of His energy leaving His body.

Jesus felt a cold cloth being pressed to His mouth and quickly tried to sit up, ‘shhh, it’s ok’ Jesus forced his tired gritty eyes to open and smiled as He took in the magnificent face of Michael. Jesus looked around and saw that Michael had brought his faithful warriors and breathed a sigh of relief as He took in the sight of many angels surrounding Him. He could feel hands of comfort tending to His injured knee, blistered feet and sunburnt face.

Michael handed Jesus manna and He grabbed it with gratitude ‘ah the food of angels.’, Michael smiled ‘yes but for some strange reason eating it 3 times a day for 40 years tends to make people grumpy’, Jesus laughed but then reflected with sadness on the Israelites in the wilderness, they had witnessed many astonishing miracles, but yet their hearts had quickly turned to rebellion and disobedience. God’s beloved and delivered people had been led by a cloud each day and a pillar of fire each night, but yet still they had doubted God’s presence amongst them. They had been given food, the very same food that Jesus now held in His hands, which had been delivered direct from the heavens, but yet still they had grumbled and complained doubting God as their perfect Provider. When Moses had struck the rock and water gushed forth surely that would have been an amazing sight to behold, but yet they took their fill and still mumbled and complained. When the Promise Land was within easy grasp fear and trepidation has arisen in their hearts, they still had not learnt that God is a mighty, fierce and faithful Warrior. Jesus allowed tears to flow as His heart ached, how He longed for all to know and truly believe that God IS faithful towards those who believe in Him.

Jesus sat up and broke the thin bread, He could smell the sweet coriander and as He placed it on His tongue the richness of honey revived Him immediately. Michael handed Jesus a jug of water and Jesus took great big gulping sips, ‘hey slow down’ Michael laughed, ‘I can’t have you getting all water logged on me’. Jesus laughed and put the jug down to have some more of the delicious manna.

As the stars came out Michael and Jesus talked late into the night, by the warmth of the fire Jesus slept soundly and awoke feeling strong and revived.

“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.” Hebrews 4:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

Notes:

The temptation of Jesus is found in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

You can read more about it at allaboutjesuschrist.org.

If you would like to read more about manna gotquestions.org has an interesting article.

Jesus, the only One

who deeply understands

our weaknesses

see Hebrews 4:15

The Greatest Story Part 11: John The Baptist

John smiled as he looked around his home, the inhabitable hostile environment had become a place of refuge for him. It was here in this dark cave, away from the crowds and family expectations, that he had been prepared for what he was about to embark on. He looked around with some sorrow in his heart for he knew that he would miss this place. As he prepared to leave he reflected upon the journey that had brought him to this place.

His wonderful and loving parents took great delight in telling him, every birthday, about his miraculous entry into the world. They had both given up hope of ever having children until a visit from an angel told his father, Zechariah, that his mother, Elizabeth, would soon conceive a boy and that he was to be called John (Jehovah is gracious), for God had heard their prayers and was now answering them. John’s mother would laugh each time his father humbly recalled how he doubted that it could happen. John’s mother would say it was wonderfully quiet when his father was unable to speak and then they would all smile and laugh.

When John had been presented at the temple his father was given the ability to speak and had prophesied over John:

‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has extended to us His amazing grace. He has visited and redeemed His people.
He has sent us a mighty Saviour, One who will rise up in strength and fight for us. The promise made to David has been fulfilled and the prophet’s words from long ago will now unfold. The covenant made with Abraham now is revealed, oh how merciful and faithful God is!

What a glorious day for now we will be saved from our enemies and those who despise us. We can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness we bow down to the only One who can save, may we serve Him faithfully for all of our days.

You, my precious son, will be called the prophet of the Most High and you will prepare the way for the great Redeemer. You will tell people how to find salvation and turn their hearts to repentance.
God’s tender mercy is extended to us and the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us. This Light will shine on those who sit in the darkness, pulling them from the shadow of death and guiding them along the path of perfect peace.’ (Luke 1:76-77 paraphrased)

John had memorised every word that his father had declared that day because each time he heard it something had stirred deep within him and now he knew it was time to act.

John’s appearance, clothes woven from course camel hair, and strange eating habits, wild honey and locusts, should have turned people away but his words struck at their hearts:

“Prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord Yahweh” Mark 1:3 (TPT)

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” Matthew 3:2 (NLT)

People flooded to him from Jerusalem, Judea and all over the Jordan Valley to listen to him speak. When people repented John would baptise then in the Jordan River. His following stirred the interests of the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they did not appreciate him calling them a ‘brood of snakes’; they were outraged that John did not respect their ties to Abraham and that he dared to even say that their lineage would not matter to God; they had almost dragged John away when he referred to them as being chaff and that God was ready to separate the chaff from the wheat, that God would then clean up the threshing floor and burn the chaff with an never-ending fire (Matthew 3:1-15).

They became so outraged that they tried to turn people away from listening to John, however, no matter how hard they tried people kept flooding in to hear John’s message, just as the prophet had foretold the messenger prepared the way:

“The Coming Day of Judgment: ‘Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Malachi 3:1 (NLT)

The people were stirred into a great excitement and expectation for John often referred to another that was coming. One who would be greater and more powerful, who would come and baptise them with the Holy Spirit:

“There is a man coming after me who is greater and a lot more powerful than I am. I’m not even worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his sandals. I’ve baptized you into water, but he will baptize you into the Spirit of Holiness!” Mark 1:1-8 (TPT)

Then suddenly the day arrived, John was baptising people and sharing the Good News when suddenly Jesus appeared. He waded into the water and walked up to John ‘hey cousin’, Jesus embraced John as the crowd stood watching. John embraced Jesus with tears in his eyes ‘oh it is good to see You.’

Jesus stepped back and said ‘please baptise me’

John looked at Him puzzled ‘but I need to be baptised by You’

Jesus smiled ‘it must be done, for we all have to be obedient to God and follow His commands.’

John’s heart filled with deep revelation and understanding, and he nodded. As John lowered Jesus into the water words flowed from his mouth with great reverence and awe ‘I baptise You in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’

As Jesus came up from the water He smiled at John, then stepped away a little and prayed. Suddenly the heavens opened, the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove and the voice of God declared:

“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me such delight and great joy.”

Notes:

The article Who Was John the Baptist? By Wayne Jackson is a fascinating read, if you’d like to know more about the amazing man here is the link: www.christiancourier.com

The baptism of Jesus can be found in Luke :21-22, Matthew 3:13-17 and Mark 1:9-11. See more details at BibleStudyTools.com.

The Greatest Story – Part 10: Pilgrimage

The years flew by, life In Galilee suited Joseph and Mary. Joseph set up a carpentry business and they welcomed more children into their family: James, Elizabeth, Joses, twin girls Joanna and Sapphira, Judas and Simon. Jesus proved to be a helpful big brother and Mary was grateful for His constant encouragement and help when He wasn’t studying or assisting Joseph. Elizabeth was just as sweet and kind as Mary’s cousin and become a second mother to the other children, even Jesus listened to her and James when given a stern look from his mother. Mary’s heart was full of love for her children and her life was busy but wonderful.

Each year Joseph and Mary had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover festival (Luke 2:41). Mary always loved the journey because it meant quality time with her family and friends. She always found that the eight-day festival was a time of refreshing and rest because there were many hands to help out with the children. As she prepared for the upcoming pilgrimage she smiled and rejoiced, this one felt extra special. Jesus in particular seemed to be cherishing this trip more than the others. Mary smiled as He raced in to wash up for dinner, He had been out helping Joseph deliver items and was covered in sawdust. ‘slow down’ she called out as He raced past and nearly toppled Simon. ‘sorry’ Jesus yelled back with a grin. Mary tried to look stern but her heart swelled with pride, Jesus was just always so excited about everything and He brought so much joy to her life. Joseph came in and Mary smiled as he was swamped by the children ‘all set?’, Joseph smiled ‘yes I’ve finished what I can and there is no rush for the rest of the items.’.

After a noisy dinner Mary and the children settled down to listen to Joseph retell the story of the first Passover. When he had finished Mary put the youngest children to bed, she came back into the kitchen to find Joseph and Jesus busily packing the last items as Elizabeth prepared the final food stores they would need. Mary looked around at all the items they had gathered, ‘you’d think after all these years we would be able to pack a bit lighter?’. Joseph laughed ‘yeah right’. When the final preparations had been made Mary collapsed into bed utterly exhausted, she wasn’t sure how she would fare on the long trek and prayed for a refreshing sleep.

Over the next few days the kilometres quickly clocked up and Mary discovered that the fresh air actually invigorated her, it probably had a lot to do with the wonderful conversations she was able to have. Each night she laid down feeling content and happy. There was something truly special about this trip, the closer they got the more convinced she became. On the outskirts of Jerusalem, the crowds increased and Mary kept a close eye on her children. Mary and Joseph would be staying with Rufus and Merry again and she was so excited about being able to catch up with her dear friends. Each year it was one of the highlights at the end of the long journey. The upstairs room was crowded with all of them squeezed in so Jesus and James insisted on sleeping in the hay with the animals. Mary laughed at Jesus’ request and took great delight in showing Him exactly where He had spent His first few nights. Mary stood there squeezing Jesus and re telling the tale of His birth, tears flowed freely as she recalled the shepherds and the young boy. Jesus was fascinated and listened to Mary retell the story as He stroked the sheep that had gathered around them. Making sure that the boys were comfortable Mary went in to help with dinner preparations.

The next few days passed in a euphoric blur, they days were busy and full. Mary was able to take the younger children home most afternoons so that they could all have a sleep and stay up late for the evening events. Jesus and His cousin John spent a lot of time together and Elizabeth and Mary were harassed regularly by their constant requests to go into the hillside. Most days the boys would escape before dawn to explore the woods nearby and Mary constantly prayed for their safety.

The days passed quickly, Joseph and Mary soon found themselves packing up to leave. As usual Jesus was off with John so Mary gathered her other children and began the long trek home. At camp the first night Mary made her way over the Elizabeth to check on Jesus, her stomach dropped when she saw that Jesus was not with them. John explained they he hadn’t seen Jesus all day. Mary raced back to Joseph with her heart hammering and her mouth uttering a prayer: ‘Oh God, I’m so sorry’. She rushed into Joseph’s arms crying and blubbering that Jesus was lost, ‘I’m sure He’s here, why don’t you check with your relatives that way and I’ll check over this way.’. Mary nodded numbly and stumbled in the direction Joseph had pointed her. By the time darkness fell over the camp Joseph and Mary realised that Jesus was most definitely NOT with them. Mary cried herself to sleep that night and they made plans to return and look for Him.

Rufus and Merry were surprised but delighted to see them return so soon but their celebration soon turned into concern when they heard the news that Jesus was missing. For 3 days Joseph and Mary exhausted themselves looking everywhere they could for Jesus and each night Mary fell into a fitful sleep. She awoke early each morning with the feelings of guilt and condemnation falling heavy upon her heart. Her mind was assaulted with constant questions: how could she have been so careless? Losing the Son of God, how could she ever be forgiven? What if something truly terrible had happened to Him?  Mary fretted that her 12 year-old son was somewhere strange, alone and afraid.  As the sun rose Mary drew upon God’s grace and mercy afresh and asked for help to find Jesus.

Joseph and Mary had checked everywhere they could think of when a cousin came running up to them ‘I’ve found Him’ he puffed and tugged them along to the temple. Mary wept with relief when she saw Jesus but was surprised to find Him surrounded by the religious leaders and her ears could hardly believe that Jesus was actually asking extremely in-depth questions. As Joseph and Mary made their way closer she could hear Jesus asking all sorts of questions and was amazed that the Rabbis were patiently answering. Mary could hear the murmuring from those close by ‘for a young man He seems so full of wisdom’, she looked around and could see that people were amazed by His knowledge. But then the relief in Mary’s heart quickly turned to anger, didn’t He understand that they had been frantic with worry! Why did He stay behind? As Mary got closer she called out: ‘Son, why have you done this to us? We’ve been frantic with worry and searching for you everywhere!’ Jesus looked at her and smiled ‘there was no need to search, you should have known I would be in my Father’s house.’ Mary looked at Joseph puzzled and troubled, what did He mean? Joseph shrugged and gave Jesus a hug and they made their way home. (Luke 2:43-50).

“As Jesus grew, so did his wisdom and maturity. The favor of men increased upon his life, for he was loved greatly by God.” Luke 2:52 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Notes:

Jesus’ brothers are mentioned in the Gospels (Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3) but his sisters aren’t mentioned by name. The book: Jesus’ Family Tree: Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Genealogy of Christ (Rose Publishing), suggests that there were at least seven children in the family. I researched for some girl’s names and found Yeshua in Context, I picked 2 from that list and decided that Mary’s close relationship with her cousin Elizabeth probably would have led her to choosing to name her first daughter Elizabeth.

More info can be found at Bible Info  or Chrsitianity.com.

Pilgrimage
A long journey
A quest
A devoted search

Following Jesus and learning about His wonderful ways is a lifelong journey.

Studying God’s Word and trying to live it out is a lifelong quest.

Getting to know the Holy Spirit is a devoted search that transforms us from glory to glory for all of our days.

Greatest Story – Part 6: Lasting Legacy

Joseph and Rufus left the house while it was still dark to attend a sunrise prayer meeting, their departure had stirred Mary slightly but when she had rolled over and snuggled under the covers the warmth had lulled her back to sleep. A little while later Jesus had awoken her as the first rays of light had appeared. Mary had enjoyed the glorious display of colours as she fed Jesus looking out over the rooftops. She sat and thanked God for the brand-new day and smiled as the dim light became orange and then red and finally gold. She marvelled at how the brilliant colours needed to be watched closely as they appeared for only a brief moment. Mary leaned her head against the wall and thanked God for the safety they had found, Joseph’s distant cousin Rufus had been an amazing host to them and Mary cherished her moments of chatting to Merry.

Jesus had a full belly just as Mary’s stomach made its discomfort known, she quickly changed Jesus and got herself dressed before going downstairs. Merry was already up and had breakfast almost ready “oh good morning, I was just about to bring breakfast to you.” Mary smiled and sat at the table, “thank you but you don’t have to wait on me, let me help today.”. Merry placed breakfast in from of her and gently took Jesus from her arms, “eat up and we can discuss the to do list shortly”. Once a hearty breakfast had been consumed Mary and Merry quickly passed the morning with chores and by midday the men had returned to enjoy lunch with them. Afterwards, as Jesus slept in Joseph’s arms, the 4 adults chatted about their family’s lines. Joseph talked in great detail about how the redemption and faithfulness of God overlooked so many faults.

It had been Adam and Eve who had first bore the deep grief of sin, their banishment from the garden of Eden brought a struggle into their lives that had almost broken them. Their precious firstborn son, Cain, had allowed anger and jealousy towards his brother Abel to overtake his heart resulting in murder. Adam and Eve were granted a new son, Seth, who then gave birth to Enosh, it was at this time people first began to worship the Lord by name (Genesis 4).

Enosh was followed by Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch (who lived in close fellowship with God), Methuselah, Lamech and Noah. It was in Noah’s time that sin ruled people’s hearts and all that they did was wicked and evil in the sight of the Lord but in amongst the horridness Noah found favour with God because he walked in close fellowship with the Lord that produced righteousness. God revealed a plan to Noah that would cleanse the earth of its wickedness, and God made a covenant with Noah that he and his family would live. Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, worked together to build an ark that had kept them safe during the flood that destroyed the earth and its inhabitants (Genesis 6 – 9).

Shem then became the father of Elam, who became the father of Arphaxed, who became the father of Shelah, who became the father of Eber, who became the father of Peleg. It was then that the people of the world were divined in different language groups. Peleg was followed by Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah and Abram (Genesis 11). The story of Abram and Sarai, who later became Abraham and Sarah, was often reflected upon by Joseph and his family because Abraham was considered not only their ancestor but the father of faith for all.  Abram had followed God’s instructions to leave Haran and head to the land of Canaan. It was beside the oak of Moreh that God promised he would give Abram the land of Canaan and numerous descendants.  The decades that had followed saw Abram and Sarai battled long periods of doubt and wrestle with the consequences of rushing the promises of God. But finally, after much wait, their long-awaited promised child Isaac was born and brought much delight and laughter to his parents (Genesis 12-21). Abraham prayed and carefully sought the right wife for his son Isaac and Rebekah brought much comfort to Isaac after the loss of his mother.  Rebekah gave birth to twins Esau and Jacob who were vastly different in personality and skills. Esau loved the outdoors and was a skilful hunter whereas Jacob had a quiet temperament and enjoyed being at home. Exhaustion and extreme hunger led to Esau giving away his firstborn rights for a simple bowl of stew! Thus Jacob, with also a little trickery by Rebekah, was elevated to the place of firstborn (Genesis 24-27).

Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps and urged his son Jacob to seek the right wife. It was between Beersheba and Haran that the Lord appeared to Jacob and confirmed the promise made to Abraham saying: “the land you’re on belongs to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth and spread out in all directions – to the west, east, north and south. In fact all families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. Do not fear for I will protect you wherever you go and once day bring you back to this land. I will never leave you and I will give you all that I have promised.”.

Joseph paused and looked around “it was there at Bethel that Jacob built the memorial pillar to become a place of worship. It was there that Jacob begun the tradition, that we follow now, to give a tenth of everything to the Lord.” (Genesis 28). Mary snuggled Jesus close to her chest and thanked God for her faithful ancestors and prayed that Jesus would influence the world around Him just as His ancestors had and leave a lasting legacy.

Rufus filled their cups with wine and continued where Joseph had left off. Poor Jacob fell in love with Rachel immediately, but after working for 7 hard years to earn her hand in marriage he was tricked into marrying her older sister Leah instead. Jacob was given Rachel but had been required to work another 7 years. Jacob prospered greatly through all his hard work and his father in law, Laban, saw his riches increase. Leah gave birth to Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah but it was quite some time before Rachel was able to conceive, finally giving birth to Joseph. (Genesis 29-30).

Jacob and his large family returned to his brother Esau and made peace, it was then that Jacob could return to Bethel and settle. Not only was Jacob given a place to reside but also a new name Israel because he would become the father of a great nation and kings would be among his descendants (Genesis 34-35). Rufus recalled with much sorrow and sadness in his voice the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers, it had overwhelmed them so much that murder stirred in their hearts. It was Reuben who had tried to reason with his brothers and suggested throwing Joseph down a cistern so that he could later come back and rescue him. However, when Reuben left the scheming brothers alone they sold Joseph as a slave and pretended that he had been killed. Jacob had grieved greatly for his son almost to the point of death. Whilst Joseph endured much hardship he was eventually rescued by finding favour with Pharaoh himself.  As Joseph’s years in Egypt had dragged on his brothers’ lives had continued as normal with them taking on wives and having children. When the famine hit hard Jacob urged his sons to go to Egypt for food. Joseph recognised his brothers immediately but they did not recognise him, after some testing he revealed himself to them and was able to save his whole family because of his high position. Joseph had declared to his brothers: “what you intended for harm God used for good and I’m able to preserve my family from this famine because of my position of favour”. Jacob had rejoiced greatly over seeing his precious son again and Joseph was able to meet his brother Benjamin (Genesis 37, 39-47).

Judah, the third in line, was elevated to become first and his son Perez (mother Tamar) carried on the family line (Genesis 29:35, 38, 46, 49; Micah 5:2 & Hebrews 7:8).

Followed by Hezron (Genesis 46:12),

Ram (1 Chronicles 2:9, Ruth 4:19),

Amminadab, Nahson (Numbers 1:7),

Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse (1 Chronicles 2:9-12),

and David who became King (1 Samuel 16).

Mary’s heart sparked at the mention of Kind David, she smiled as she recalled the many songs and Psalms she had sung since an early age. Mary spoke out about how David’s Psalms had touched her heart like none other and confessed that she often found great comfort in singing the songs he had written. The others nodded in agreement and Mary reflected about how David’s heart had been stained by adultery and murder. But then she smiled as she remembered and spoke about David’s redemption story, God’s grace had been extended mightily to David. Even to the point that a mighty wise king had followed when Solomon took the throne. Mary’s eyes filled with tears as she recalled the many kings that followed with great rebellion and idolatry in their hearts. It wasn’t until Zerubbabel, another relative that both Joseph and Mary shared, that righteousness came back into their family line. Zerubbabel had been a wise governor of Judah who had been filled with integrity when he returned from exile in Babylon, his heart had been set upon rebuilding the temple.

Mary’s line then followed with Rhesa, Joanan, Joda, Josek, Semein, Mattathias, Maath, Naggai, Esli, Nahum, Amos, Mattathias, Joseph, Jannai, Melki, Levi, Matthat and her father Heli (also know as Eli) (Luke 3:23-38).

Joseph recalled how his family line had spilt from Zerubbabel to Abihud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Akim, Elihud, Eleazar, Matthan and Jacob (Matthew 1:1-16).

With the hour now late they all made their way to bed. As Mary lay in the dark she cherished the conversation and pondered on the many mysteries that she had been taught. From the earliest moment there had been a promise that a woman’s seed would bear forth the Messiah, the Promised One, it had been one of the most puzzling mysterious that many had wrestled with. Many saw the man’s seed as the more powerful lineage so how could the messiah come from the woman’s line? Was it God’s redemption at work, Eve had corrupted Adam resulting in sin  and separation from God, was that why Mary was used to bear the Messiah? Was a simple woman the key to bridging the gap?

Mary’s weary brain simply couldn’t put all the pieces together, her eyes felt gritty and heavy but her heart was beating fast. As she took a few steadying breaths she tried to relax her body and eventually welcomed a deep peaceful sleep.

 

“… “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel. Then God said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants!” Genesis 35:10-11 NLT

God keeps His promises,

He is faithful for a thousand generations, 

and lavishes unfailing love

on those who love and obey Him.

Deuteronomy 7:9 & Psalm 105:8 

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9 NLT

“He always stands by his covenant— the commitment he made to a thousand generations.” Psalms 105:8 NLT

 

To read more about the women of the Bible Francine River’s has a Lineage of Grace series.

I found the book: ‘Jesus’ Family Tree : Seeing God’s Faithfulness in the Genealogy of Christ‘ by Rose Publishing a great resource for this blog.

The Greatest Story – Part 3: Faithfulness

Mary looked down into Jesus’ sleeping face and smiled. She was so grateful to have this moment of relative quiet to sit and enjoy her precious child. As she laid back and rested she let her mind wander. Mary’s face smiled softly as she recalled the moment she told her dear cousin Elizabeth the news. Mary had known that her cousin would understand the marvellous mysteries of God seeing as she had conceived a child after she had given up all hope. Mary laughed quietly as she recalled Elizabeth’s greeting, it had been unlike anything Mary had ever experienced before. Elizabeth had been truly glowing in her pregnant state and Mary had noticed that the pregnancy had also given Elizabeth a new vigour and enthusiasm for life. Elizabeth had declared that her own baby lept in her womb at seeing Mary’s approach and had boldly declared Mary blessed for her absolute trust in God’s promises. Mary recalled the song of praise that had burst out of her heart at Elizabeth’s greeting and softly sung it to her sleeping child:

Oh how my soul magnifies and exalts the Lord!

Oh how my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.

Oh how He has looked upon me with loving care, He did not care that I was so lowly or ill-prepared instead He has used me to bring life and love.

The generations to come will recall how blessed, happy and favoured by God I am, not because of any great statute in man’s eyes but because of God’s great grace.

Oh how I praise God for He who is mighty has done great things for me.

Oh how holy is God’s name, so worthy of all our praise.

Oh how mercy flows from one generation to the next for those who stand with awe and reverence before the Lord.

Oh how powerful His arm is, He quickly scatters the proud; He tears down unrighteous rulers from their thrones; and exult those with humble hearts.

Oh how He fills the hungry with good things.

Oh how faithful He is and He remembers His great promise to Abraham, YES faithfulness is my God’s nature.

How blessed will be those who trust in Him, how life-giving His reign will be.

(inspired by Luke 1:46-56 Amplified)

As Mary allowed the song to ring out in the small stable she was reminded of God’s faithfulness towards Abraham. His story was one that was often told because Abraham and Sarah’s story was a truly inspiring one. Mary smiled as she recalled the story of Isaac, the promised child who eventually was gifted when Abraham was around 100 years old and Sarah 90. As Mary reflected upon that divine miracle she was again reminded of her dear cousin Elizabeth who had a similar miracle occur, although she hadn’t been quite that old. Mary and Elizabeth had reflected on the similarities many times during her 3 month visit. Mary had raced to be with Elizabeth upon the news of her pregnancy and Mary had found great comfort as she had struggled with the news that she would become a mother in such an unusual way.

As Mary laid down to nap with her resting child she recalled the precious time that she had spent with Elizabeth. She had treasured the instruction and encouragement that Elizabeth had instilled in her and missed her terribly. Mary desperately longed to see her right now and allowed Elizabeth’s sweet face to lull her into a deep sleep. Mary awoke to the sound of rustling nearby and she was surprised to see a young boy sitting near her with a look of utter adoration upon his face. Mary wondered who he was and smiled at him as she gently cradled Jesus. The boy crept closer and gazed at her sleeping child. Mary smiled again and offered to hand Jesus to the boy but the young boy shook his head and just reached out a hand to gently touch Jesus instead. Mary noticed that the boy had a drum sitting next to him and watched smiling as he grabbed it and gently started playing. As Mary laid back in the straw Jesus kicked his arms and legs with great excitement, Mary laughed and the boy looked at her with tears streaming down his face.

‘Come they told me, a new born King to see.

Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the King.

So to honor Him when we come.

Little baby I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give the King.

Shall I play for you on my drum?

Mary nodded, the ox and lamb kept time.

I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him.

Then He smiled at me, me and my drum.’

After a few more moments his sweet song ended and he scurried away into the night. Mary laid back and treasured the little boy’s song in her heart, it seemed like such a fitting gift and one that she knew had the angels in heaven rejoicing over. Mary was reminded of King David and his ability to create such wonderful songs, as Mary thought back through the many to choose from she softly sung:

‘The Father says to His beloved Son: ‘Sit with Me at My right hand while I subdue every enemy. They will bow low before You and I make them a footstool for Your feet.

Come my beloved Son take the sceptre of strength and rule in Zion where Your Kingdom will have no end. Rule in the midst of Your enemies!

Oh my precious Son Your people will lovingly offer themselves to You, ready and willing to battle with You in the day of Your power. You will dwell in holiness from the womb until the very end. Forever You will be a priest of the highest order, One of great righteousness. I will be at Your right hand ready to crush the kings that rise against You.

My beloved Son execute judgement among the nations and shatter the strongholds of ruling powers. My Son drink from the flowing brook and be refreshed by My love. Know that in the end You will stand victorious!’ (Inspired by Psalm 110)

Mary lay back in the straw exhausted from her song but feeling refreshed in her spirit. She wondered how it could be possible for her precious son to help fulfil God’s promise to Abraham. Was Jesus to be like the other kings who take on hundreds of wives? Mary shuddered at the thought and sighed. Her weary brain was simply too tired to try and make sense out of any of this, as she laid back down she allowed the promise between God and Abraham to lull her back to sleep:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; Walk [habitually] before Me [with integrity, knowing that you are always in My presence], and be blameless and complete [in obedience to Me]. I will establish My covenant (everlasting promise) between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly [through your descendants].’ Then Abram fell on his face [in worship], and God spoke with him, saying, ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And [as a result] you shall be the father of many nations. No longer shall your name be Abram (exalted father), But your name shall be Abraham (father of a multitude); For I will make you the father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you’” Genesis 17:1-7 Amplified

Lauren Daigle – ‘Little Drummer Boy’- YouTube Lyric Video

Little Drummer Boy lyrics

Notes:

According to The Passion Translation Psalm 110 is related to Jesus Christ and is quoted more often than any other Old Testament passage. There is an article that looks at this in great depth by 500 Questions.

I also studied “Great People Of The Bible And How They Lived” The Reader’s Digest Association Inc. Printed in 1974 by John Sands Pty Ltd Halstead Press Division. Sydney, Australia.

The Greatest Story – Part 2: Immanuel

Mary’s exhausted body finally succumb to sleep but after only a few short hours she awoke with her heart racing. It took her a moment to remember where she was and as she tried to roll over a soft moan tumbled from her lips as her weary achy body made known its protest. Mary took a few depth breaths to calm her racing heart as she felt her sleeping baby next to her, she pushed herself up into one elbow and tried to stare at his beautiful face in the dim light. Jesus lay in a very unusual crib, a feeding trough, but he didn’t seem to mind as he slept soundly. Mary’s ear picked up strange voices mixed with Joseph’s voice and wondered what was going on. As if he had read her mind Joseph crept quietly to her side to check if she was awake “are you ok?”, Mary tried to sit up and Joseph rushed to assist her as she let out another moan of pain, Joseph’s face filled with concern “I’m so sorry that you’re stuck here in this uncomfortable place”, Mary caught her breath and replied: “it’s ok Joseph, you tried everything, at least we are warm and safe”. Joseph smiled and stroked Mary’s face “you’re really so special”, Mary smiled back at him “you’re pretty amazing yourself”. Their moment was interrupted by Jesus stirring and Joseph gently picked him up “I think someone else wants your attention also”. Mary smiled and reached out for her son. “I’ll grab you some food and then we have some unusual visitors that insist on seeing you and our son”, Mary looked at Joseph with curiosity but he was gone before she could ask for more detail. A few moments later Merry, the homeowner’s wife, came to check on Mary with some food, fresh water and more cloth for Jesus “did you manage some sleep”, Mary sighed “yes thank you and thank you again so much for your assistance I was really quite scared”. Merry smiled “I’m so pleased I could help. I’m sorry that this is the only space we have free at the moment.”. Mary smiled and replied: “I appreciate having somewhere warm and safe, thank you for your kindness.” The two women sat in silence as Mary ate and fed Jesus. Once Jesus had finished Merry helped Mary to change him into fresh swaddling and she rocked him as Mary laid back sipping her water. “I’m sorry that you can’t rest longer but as Joseph mentioned we have some very keen people who are insisting on seeing you and Jesus, is that ok?” Mary again was extremely curious but just smiled and nodded. Merry handed Jesus back to Mary and left to find Joseph. A few moments later Joseph returned with Rufus, the homeowner, and a group of men. The first man laid down a staff as he knelt next to Mary and she recognized it as a shepherd’s hook. Mary smiled and offered Jesus to the man but he just knelt with a look of awe upon his face. One by one the shepherds gathered around Mary and Jesus kneeling with strange looks on their faces. Finally one of them spoke “blessed Mary we thank you for allowing us to visit. We have quite an unusual tale to tell.” Mary’s eyebrows shot up and she noticed Joseph winking at her over their heads, as she nodded the shepherd continued: “we were out in the fields not too far away and it was just like any other night except one particular star seemed extraordinarily bright.” The man’s face lit up as he continued “then the most amazing thing happened an angel appeared and the brightness of the Lord God shone all around us. We were terribly afraid but the angel told us not to fear because he was bringing good news of great joy. He told us that we would find a newborn baby right here in Bethlehem, wrapped in strips of cloth lying in a manger. We of course wondered just what was so special about a new baby and it was as if the angel understood our thoughts because he explained that this baby is the One we have been waiting for, he is the Messiah!”
Mary’s eyes filled with tears at the shepherd’s words. Then all of them began to speak at once about how a choir of angels had filled the sky and one shepherd sung out the song he had heard:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)
The first shepherd managed to get the others to quieten down so that he could explain “when the choir of angels left us we packed up and rushed straight here. It was easy to find you as the bright star led us here!”. The crowd that had followed the shepherds listened with amazement and pressed closer to see the baby that they spoke about. Mary hugged Jesus tightly to her chest and smiled as she allowed their words to sink deeply into her heart.

As the shepherds and the crowd disbursed Mary lay back in the straw to unpack all that they had told her, eventually her exhausted eyes closed and she dreamt about the choir of angels. She awoke to another crowd of visitors, at the sight of the distinguished looking men Mary felt unprepared and dishevelled. The men approached and knelt beside Jesus with a look of absolute wonder in their eyes. As Mary sat up straighter one of the men explained how they had been studying and searching. Mary gasped as one man reminded her of Balaam’s prophecy that her family had often recited:
“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.” (Numbers 24:17 NKJV)
Another man quickly explained that they had been closely watching the skies over Bethlehem because of Micah’s prophecy:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.” (Micah 5:2 NKJV)
They explained how they had been watching the skies year after year and had seen the dramatic changes. They had enquired with King Herod about the new born king but he had seemed shocked and disturbed by their news. Joseph gave Mary a concerned look as they both felt uneasy at the mention of King Herod.
As the men explained how the star had appeared and moved to where Jesus lay a great excitement bubbled forth, “today we meet a great King and we have prepared gifts for him”. Each man brought forth a small chest and presented them to Mary, with shaking hands she opened them one by one to find gold, frankincense and myrrh. Tears of gratitude rolled down her face and she thanked them for their kind words and generous gifts. The men visited with Mary, Joseph and Jesus for a little while discussing in great detail their journey and observations and then rested nearby.
The next morning they bid farewell to Joseph as Mary and Jesus slept and explained that they would not return the way they had come because they had all had dreams that warned them to not return via King Herod. As Joseph thanked them again he wondered if Mary was strong enough to leave also because the Magi’s words had increased the unsettled feeling in Joseph’s heart.

“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)

Picture – Westminister Church PCA

Read the visit of the Wise Men in Matthew 2:1-12