THE KING The Gospel of Mark retold Copyright ÂŠ 2009 FL Media All rights reserved This edition first published 2009 Written by Rosemary Endacott and illustrated by Terry Lim Art Direction by Atlas Associates Published by MediaServe www.mediaserve.org Printed in India ISBN 978 0 9534793 8 2
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ANOTHER BOOK OR ANOTHER WORLD?
THE KING THE KING THE KING THE KING KING THE THEKING KINGTHE THE KING THE KING THE KINGTHE KING THE THE KING KING THE KING THE KING THE KING THE KING THE KINGTHETHEKING KING THE KING
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Want to know a King? A real King? Like no other King you could ever imagine? Well stand by for a journey that will start the greatest adventure of your life… It began in a small Middle Eastern country where the people were ruled by one of the fiercest armies in the world—the Roman army. The Romans had invaded the tiny land of Israel. They planned to conquer the whole world—but little did they know that someone else had an even bigger plan.
God’s plan had been written in ancient books. God had chosen a time and a place for a King to arrive on earth. And it was right then and there in that tiny country, Israel. Things were tough under Roman occupation. Any opposition was brutally put down by Roman soldiers in strange-looking armour. And if you think the Romans wore mad clothes, check out John the Baptist. He was this guy who lived out in the desert. Word about him spread and lots of people went to see what he was up to. He was a real wild man and he wore some crazy clothes made of scratchy camel hair. And if you think that’s bad, wait until you hear what he ate.
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Locusts and honey.
Yuck! But John knew about God’s plan—he knew the King was coming. So he stayed out in the desert to get the people ready.
Ready for what?
Well, there were many slaves in the Roman Empire—people who were basically prisoners that had to serve their captors for no pay. What people didn’t realise is that even those that thought they were free were slaves to something. Even now, we’re slaves to ourselves if we miss out on what God wants for us. Missing God’s plan for our lives is called sin. God wants the best for us because he loves us. John knew that God had a special plan to help the people of his time—and us—get on the right track for their lives. He was sending his own Son, Jesus, the Saviour—the King!
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John told them someone special was coming and they had to get ready. Then he dunked them in the Jordan River. He called it baptism. They went in dirty and full of all the bad stuff in their lives and came out clean—not because of the water, but because of what it symbolised— God’s work in their hearts. People came from all over to see John and to hear what he said about the King and the Kingdom. “Hey! Listen! You haven’t seen anything yet!” John yelled. “The King’s coming! Don’t confuse me with him. I’m just his messenger. I’m not even fit to clean his shoes!” And then—the King turned up! But no one recognised him—except for John the Baptist.
Why? Because he didn’t look like a king. He looked like an ordinary man. Like everyone else. And he went over to John and asked to be baptised. John was shocked! “I should be baptised by you—not the other way around,” John told him. But the King insisted.
Then what? As the King went into the water something strange happened. God’s Holy Spirit came over him and then God said: “This is my Son. I love him and I’m really pleased with him.” God’s really awesome. There’s no one like him. He’s enormous—infinite, actually! In some mysterious way, God is three persons in one: There’s God the Father; there’s Jesus Christ, God’s Son (the King in this story); and then there’s the amazing Holy Spirit. They were all there when Jesus was baptised. In fact, God is always three persons at once.
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What kind of tests?
After that, the King knew it was time to start telling everyone about his Kingdom. But before he could do that, things got difficult. Although he was the King, he had to pass some tests.
Tests that you and I could never pass. He went off into a lonely place where only wild animals lived. He didn’t even take anything to eat. He stayed there for days and days. You see, God knew the King had arrived, John knew the King had arrived … but someone else knew, too.
God’s enemy—Satan. Satan was once one of God’s brightest angels—God’s special servants and messengers. But Satan was not content with his role. He wanted to be as powerful as God. He opposed God and was exiled, along with his followers, from Heaven.
God wants everyone to be free. I’m not just talking about freedom from the Romans, but something much deeper that only the King can fix—slavery to sin. That’s why God sent his Son, Jesus. His plan was to set everyone free.
ut Satan hates God and wants everyone to be slaves to bad thoughts, bad behaviour, and so on. Satan even tried to make the King a slave to bad thoughts. Out in that wild place he tempted the King to submit to his own needs and desires instead of following God’s plan. The King knew the only hope for real freedom comes by putting God first, other people second, and yourself last. It was difficult! But he won the challenge and passed Satan’s tests.
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Satan was seriously angry! He left the King alone and turned all his hate on John the Baptist, the guy from the desert.
How? John had upset one of the rulers, a man called Herod Antipas. This guy had married his brother’s wife, which was not allowed. John confronted him about this and Herod’s wife turned nasty. She got her daughter, Salome, to do a really sexy dance that she knew would please Herod. She knew his weakness for pretty girls. After she danced at his party, Herod said he’d give Salome anything she wanted—so Salome’s mother told her to ask for something terrible. The head of John the Baptist to be brought to him on a plate.
No! Did Herod do it?
Herod felt really bad. He liked John, who hadn’t been afraid to criticise him. John spoke the truth and Herod knew it. But he was already unpopular with the people and he didn’t want to look weak, so Herod had him executed.
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But the good news is that the King was still around and now things were heating up. A king needs followers, people who will learn his ways. And so Jesus chose carefully. Walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew. They were fishermen. “Come with me!” he shouted. “I’ll show you how to catch men!”
And did they?
Yes. They left their fishing nets and went off with the King. Further up the shore the King found two other brothers, James and John. He shouted the same thing to them and they left their father’s fishing business to join the King.
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A king has a kingdom. The problem was that most people were acting as if they were the kings of their own lives. They didn’t realise that they were actually slaves. That’s why God sent Jesus—to show people what kind of a Kingdom he had for them. That they could become free only by serving him.
What do you mean? When God’s Kingdom comes, things change. The King was altering everything around him. Sick people were being healed. People’s lives were being changed by Jesus’ words. Lots of people didn’t know that the King had come. They didn’t recognise him. But they did recognise the impact he was making. Jesus was in a town called Capernaum, and being Jewish, he kept Jewish customs. Once a week, on a special day they call the Sabbath, Jews go to a synagogue to learn about God’s ways. Jesus went along and taught the people. He was an amazing teacher! No one had ever heard anything like the things Jesus said. He taught with real authority—because he was the King. He’d brought the Kingdom with him! And this stirred up evil spirits that were affecting some people. You see, ordinary guys didn’t realise who Jesus was—but those evil spirits did. “Have you come to destroy us?” one spirit screamed at Jesus. “I know who you are! You’re the Holy One sent from God!”
Wow! What happened next?
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Something extraordinary happened. The spirit threw the man into a fit and then left him, because the King had arrived! Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kingdom had come and evil had to go. Not only was Jesus a compelling teacher but evil spirits could not stand up to him.
What else did Jesus do? He healed people. After he left the synagogue, he went to the house of his disciples Simon and Andrew. Simonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s motherin-law was ill with a fever. She was lying in bed, unable to do anything. But when Jesus went to her and held her hand, she immediately got better. In fact, she felt well enough to cook a meal for them all.
People heard what was happening, and by sunset a huge crowd had appeared. There were loads of sick people, and even some who were troubled by evil spirits.
What did Jesus do?
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He healed them all! Then the next day he got up before sunrise and went off to a quiet place to pray.
What do you mean? Jesus was God’s Son. He loved his Father and spent lots of time alone, talking to God. It’s what we call prayer.
No. He had a job to do, so he told
Did Jesus stay in Capernaum?
his followers, “We must travel to other places. I need to bring the Kingdom there as well. That’s why I came.” He travelled, teaching in synagogues and healing the sick. Once, a man with leprosy knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. In those days, people with leprosy were not allowed to live with healthy people because of the risk of spreading the disease. Jesus healed the man and told him to go to the priest to be examined, so that he could return to his community. But he wasn’t to tell anyone of his healing on the way. However, the man was so excited that he told everybody he saw! After that, even more people were desperate to find Jesus, and huge crowds appeared whenever he visited a town. So he tried to stay away from the towns—but still the crowds found him. One day, he returned to Capernaum, and once the news had spread that he’d arrived, the house where he was staying got so packed that there wasn’t room for even one more person. But some guys were really determined.…
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Four men arrived, carrying their paralysed friend on a mat. They were so desperate to get help that they dug a hole in the clay roof and lowered the sick man down in front of Jesus! “Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus said to the man.
What a strange thing to say.
Other people thought so too. Some teachers of religious law were hanging around and they muttered among themselves, “This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins.” Blasphemy was just about the most serious sin a Jew could commit. It means to dishonour the name of God. Those teachers were offended because they realised that Jesus was claiming to have God’s power.
Jesus heard what they were saying and asked them, “Why is it blasphemy? Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Get up and walk’? I’ll prove to you that I have authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then he turned to the sick man and said, “Stand up. Go home. You’re healed.” The man jumped up, pushed his way through the crowd, and left.
Wow! I bet they’d never seen anything like that! 11
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Exactly. But Jesus was stirring up more problems with those religious guys. One day, he met a tax collector called Matthew. “Come and join us,” Jesus suggested. Matthew did, and that night he held a dinner party for Jesus and his other friends.
How did that upset the religious types? Well, there were others there as well. Some were tax collectors. Some had a bad reputation. You see, all sorts of people wanted to be around Jesus. God’s Kingdom is for everyone, not just special people or people who seem to have it all together. The Pharisees were horrified. “Why does Jesus eat with such scum?” they said. When Jesus heard this, he answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor but sick people do. That’s why I’ve come. To help sinners—not those who think they’re good enough already.”
What’s a Pharisee?
A Pharisee followed a set of religious rules. Religious people love rules. But Jesus knew that it’s easier to keep rules than to love God and honour him with all your heart. This challenged the Pharisees. They pretended to be clean and holy, but refused to live up to God’s standards.
What do you mean? 12
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These guys had sets of rules governing their eating and drinking. They didn’t like the fact that Jesus’ followers didn’t follow these rules. Jesus could see through their angry words and criticism and into their hearts.
“You hypocrites!” he said. “Your worship is a farce. You replace God’s commands with your own teaching. You obey your own rules instead of God’s laws. You ignore your needy parents and say you can’t help them because you’ve given to God instead. Ridiculous!”
Strong words! How did the crowd like that?
They listened carefully. “In God’s Kingdom,” Jesus explained, “it’s not what you eat or drink that counts so much. It’s what you say and do.” He explained to his friends, “It’s your thought-life that dirties you. That’s where sexual sin, theft, murder, wickedness, greed, envy, vicious gossip, pride and foolishness begin. This is inside of you, not on the outside.”
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Jesus was the King and he was teaching people how to live in his Kingdom. The only way you can have a clean heart and a clean life is through Jesus. He came to make you acceptable to God. You can’t do it on your own, through following a set of rules—only through him. The Pharisees and the other religious types didn’t want to hear this and constantly created a fuss, criticising what Jesus did.
What do you mean?
Their law said you had to rest on the Sabbath. That meant you did no work—and the Pharisees had a very broad definition of what work was. One Sabbath, Jesus was in the Synagogue and saw a man with a deformed hand. Jesus knew those Pharisees were watching to see what he would do, so he turned the tables on them. He called to them and asked, “Is the Sabbath a day for doing good things or bad things?” No one dared answer. Then he told the man to stretch out his hand and immediately it was healed.
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Yes, but the Pharisees were so annoyed they went off to plot with others how to get rid of Jesus. He was really irritating them. Huge crowds followed him everywhere; people came from all over the country to see him. The King had brought his Kingdom, and with it came healing and miracles. Freedom. Not a set of religious rules. Even Jesus’ own family found it difficult to understand what was happening. By now, although there were many people following him, Jesus had chosen twelve men to be his constant companions. He taught them carefully, showing them how to live in the Kingdom and do Kingdom work. He gave them his authority. Often they’re called his “disciples,” meaning “students.”
Who were they?
Here’s the list: Simon (but Jesus gave him a new name, Peter) Philip Bartholomew John Matthew Andrew James haddaeus J T ames Simon the Zealot T homas
So what did these disciples learn?
and Judas Iscariot, who turned out to be a traitor, as we will discover.
The King brought teaching as well as healing. He used stories to make things easier to understand. Here’s one of them: A farmer went out to plant seed. As he scattered it across the ground, some fell on a footpath and birds came and ate it. Some seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The plant began to grow but wilted in the sun because its roots had no nourishment in such shallow soil. Some seed fell among thorns and weeds that choked the plant so that it produced no grain. But some seed landed in good, fertile soil and produced a huge crop—up to a hundred times as much as had been planted!
What does that mean? 15
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Jesus spoke about the story to his twelve disciples when he was alone with them. He explained:
A tiny mustard seed
“The farmer is the one who brings God’s message to people. Seed that falls on the footpath represents those who hear the message, but Satan comes at once and snatches it from them. The rocky soil represents those who hear the word and happily receive it, but their understanding doesn’t go deep and when problems arise, they wilt because they don’t really believe. The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the message, but who allow life’s worries and the need for material possessions to take over. They never produce a crop. But the seed that falls on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s message and therefore produce a huge harvest.” Jesus went on to describe the Kingdom being like a tiny mustard seed.
Yes, but it grows and becomes an enormous plant! It’s so huge that birds shelter and build nests in its branches. The same is true of faith. And the King’s disciples had the opportunity to find this out for themselves in a very practical way.
What happened? One evening, Jesus told them to get into a boat and cross the lake. Large crowds were still hanging around, so maybe he needed to have some time to himself. He must have been tired, because he fell asleep in the boat.
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They hadn’t got far when a fierce storm broke. Huge waves lashed over the sides of the boat, filling it with water. Jesus slept through it all! Screaming with terror, his disciples shook him awake: “Master, don’t you realise what’s happening? We’re going to drown!” Jesus awoke, turned to the water and wind and shouted out, “Be quiet!” Suddenly the wind stopped and everything grew calm.
“Why are you so afraid?” he asked them. “Don’t you have faith in me?” “Who is this man?” they wondered. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” Jesus was teaching them not to worry about anything but to have faith in God. You can’t achieve faith by yourself. But God’s word is like a seed—it has power to produce faith! Miracles happen when you put your faith into action. Jairus was someone who learned this.
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Jairus. He was an important man, the leader of a synagogue. His little daughter was dying, but he knew Jesus could heal her. “She’s about to die,” he told Jesus. “Please come and place your hands on her so she will live.”
Did he? Yes. Jesus went with Jairus—and the crowds followed close behind. In the crowd was a woman who had been very ill for twelve years with constant bleeding. Desperate to find a cure, she had spent all her money on doctors, but nothing had worked. She had no hope apart from Jesus, and so she pushed her way through the crowd until she was really close to him and touched the edge of his robe. She was thinking, “If I can just touch his clothing, I’ll be healed.”
Yes! When she touched Jesus’ robe the bleeding stopped, and she knew she’d been healed! Jesus immediately realised that healing power had gone out from him. He turned and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
The disciples replied, “There’s such a huge crowd—how can we tell who touched you?” Jesus stood still, and the poor woman was so frightened that she fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. She told him what she had done. “Daughter, your faith has made you well,” he said. “Go in peace. You’ve been healed.”
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While this was happening, messengers arrived from Jairus’ home to say that his daughter had died. Jesus told Jairus to continue to trust him in spite of this. Then he stopped the crowd from following him further—except for Peter, James and John.
When they reached Jairus’ house everyone was weeping and wailing. Jesus ignored it all and went inside. “What’s going on?” he asked. “The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” People laughed at him, so he sent them out of the house. Then he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the girl’s room. He held her hand and said, “Get up, little girl!” And she immediately stood up and walked around! Her parents were overwhelmed. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone what had happened and to give her something to eat.
You mean she was dead but Jesus brought her back to life?
Yes. Wow! What a miracle!
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Yes. It’s part of the Kingdom. Fear is the opposite of faith, and it can stop miracles from happening in your life. Whenever you begin to feel afraid, put your trust in the King.
So in this Kingdom life you need faith? Yes. Even Jesus wouldn’t do many miracles when he faced an atmosphere of unbelief.
What do you mean?
After the miracle with Jairus’ daughter, Jesus returned to Nazareth, his hometown. The next Sabbath he began teaching in the local synagogue, but many of those who heard him could not understand. “Where did he get all this wisdom and power to perform miracles?” they asked. “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Joseph and Mary. His brothers and sisters live right here among us.” They refused to believe him.
He said, “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own town and among his relatives.” And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles there, apart from a few healings.
What did Jesus do? What happened next?
Jesus went on and sent his disciples out under his authority. They were instructed to take nothing with them, not even an extra coat. “If they don’t welcome you in any village, don’t bother,” Jesus told them. “Just shake off its dust from your feet as you leave and go on. Leave it to its fate.”
Serious stuff. 8/30/2009 6:14:44 AM
Yes. The Kingdom is serious.
What did the disciples do?
They gave the message of the Kingdom, telling people to turn from their sinful ways, and they healed the sick and cast out evil spirits. Later, Jesus told all believers to do this.
But that will have to wait,
because so many other things happened—and the story has a surprise ending. Let’s carry on.… When the disciples returned from their travels Jesus took them off in a boat, just to have a rest. But still the crowds kept coming. Many people had heard that Jesus and the disciples were around, so they ran along the shore to meet them as they landed. They were lost, like sheep without a shepherd, and Jesus saw this and felt compassion for them. He continued teaching them about the Kingdom.
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Then in the afternoon, the disciples said, “It’s getting late. Why not send the crowds away into the villages to get something to eat?” “You feed them instead,” Jesus replied.
That’s exactly what the disciples said. “It would take a fortune to feed this crowd!”
“How much food do you have?” Jesus asked them. “Go and find out.” When they returned, they told him, “We’ve only got five loaves and two fish.”
Jesus told everyone to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred. He took the little food he had and praised God, thanking him for supplying the food. Then he broke the loaves into pieces and gave the food to the disciples to distribute to the people.
But there wasn’t enough.
Oh yes there was! They all ate as much as they wanted and then picked up twelve baskets of leftover food! They had more than enough. That’s another part of Kingdom life. When you trust God with whatever you have, he’ll bless you and meet all of your needs. Nothing’s impossible for God. He’s the Creator of heaven and earth. He’s not limited by the laws of nature.
Let me give you another example. Right after this, Jesus told his disciples to sail across the lake while he sent the people home. Then he went up into the hills to pray.
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During the early hours of the morning, the disciples got into difficulties. They were in serious trouble, rowing hard against the wind and waves. Jesus saw them and came over to them.
How do you mean?
I mean he walked on the water.
Impossible! The disciples saw him walking past and screamed, thinking he was a ghost. “Take heart! I am here!” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
Did they believe him? 23
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eter decided that he wanted some proof. He told Jesus that if it was really him, then he wanted to walk on the water too! “Come,” Jesus said. So Peter walked to Jesus over the waves!
Wow! Sounds scary.
That’s what Peter thought, once he looked around and realised how high the waves were! As soon as he stopped trusting Jesus, he started to sink. Jesus reached out and caught him, scolding him for his lack of faith.
By now, people everywhere were asking themselves who this Jesus really was. Wherever he went, people were healed. The deaf and dumb, the blind, the crippled. There was no illness or injury he couldn’t cure. One day Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They replied, “Some say you’re John the Baptist, back from the dead; others say you’re Elijah or one of the prophets.” “Who do you think I am?” Jesus asked them. Peter quickly said, “You’re the Messiah.”
What does that mean? It means “Anointed One.” In the first part of the Bible, a collection of books called the Old Testament, God promised to send a rescuer, someone who would put things right between God and man.
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Yes, but some called him the Messiah—it’s the same person. Peter had realised who Jesus was, and Jesus told him not to tell anyone.
Jesus knew that terrible things would happen and he’d be rejected by the religious leaders, the priests—lots of people, in fact.
But he did so many good things.
Sure, but remember God’s plan? His plan meant freedom, and for this a price had to be paid. Jesus knew all about that. He was the King, after all. He told the disciples that he would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life!
What? That’s crazy!
Peter thought so too.
He took Jesus to one side and told him that he shouldn’t speak like that.
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ut Jesus knew why he had come, and he turned to Peter and said, “You’re looking at things from a human point of view, not from God’s perspective.” Then he called the others over and told them: “If you want to be my followers you must forget your selfish ambitions and follow me closely. What’s more, if you try and keep your life, you’ll lose it. But if you surrender your life for my sake and the sake of the Kingdom, you’ll find true life.” He then asked, “What do you gain if you get the whole world but lose yourself in the process? Can anything be worth more than your very soul? If anyone is ashamed of me, then when I return with my Father’s glory and the angels, I will be ashamed of him!”
That’s tough, but I guess it’s true. Yes, following Jesus requires everything—but it’s the only way you’ll find true life. About a week later, Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain. They were all alone, and something incredible happened. As he stood there, Jesus’ appearance changed. His clothes became a dazzling white—far whiter than you could ever imagine. Then two men appeared—Elijah and Moses.
Who? 8/30/2009 6:14:48 AM
They’re mentioned in the Old Testament, and they were men who really knew God’s ways. Well, Peter didn’t know what to say, but he felt he had to say something. So he said, “This is wonderful! We’ll make three shelters for you right here.” But he was speaking nonsense.
Right. When you encounter the King and his Kingdom, words are simply not enough.
What happened next? Remember when Jesus was baptised?
ame kind of thing. A voice said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Wow! Then they looked around and the other two men had gone, and only Jesus was there. When they began to climb down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until he had risen from the dead.
What did he mean?
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They too were puzzled by that. But they didn’t have time to think much about it, because when they reached the bottom of the mountain there was something else for them to deal with.
There was a huge crowd, as usual, but this
time the other disciples were arguing with teachers of religious law. “What’s going on?” Jesus shouted. Someone cried out, “I want you to heal my son. He can’t speak because he’s possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. Whenever this spirit gets hold of him it throws him to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and become rigid. I asked your disciples to cast the evil spirit out, but they couldn’t do it.” “You faithless people!” Jesus said. “What will it take until you believe? Bring the boy to me.” So they did. And as soon as the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a violent fit. “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the father. “Since he was very young,” he replied. “Please do something if you can.” “What do you mean, if I can?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” “I believe,” the father replied, “but help me not to doubt!” Jesus rebuked the spirit and it screamed and threw the boy into another fit and left. The boy lay motionless. Some thought he was dead. But Jesus grabbed his hand and he stood up—healed!
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“Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” the disciples asked Jesus later. “That sort can only come out through prayer and fasting,” Jesus replied. They continued to travel through the region, and the whole time Jesus tried to avoid the crowds to spend time with his disciples.
Because he knew what he had to face.
But he was the King. He’d already passed all the tests. N
o, there was one final test that was so difficult that no one could do it unless they had been sent by God himself. Jesus tried to explain this to his disciples. He told them, “I will be betrayed. I’ll be killed, but three days later I’ll rise from the dead.”
I don’t understand.
Neither did they. And they didn’t like to ask him what he meant. Somehow it made them start arguing among themselves. On the way to the house where they were staying, they discussed which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus asked them what they’d been talking about, but they were embarrassed to say. So he sat down and called them over. “Listen,” he said, “Anyone who wants to be first must take last place. He must be the servant of all.”
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Then he brought a little child to stand near him. Taking the child in his arms, he explained, “Anyone who welcomes a child on my behalf welcomes me and welcomes my Father who sent me. You have to become like a child to enter the Kingdom.” Jesus continued, “If anyone causes one of these little ones to stumble it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a heavy stone around his neck!”
What did he mean? Jesus was dramatically describing the seriousness of sin. You have to attack and eradicate the problems in your life that prevent you from entering the Kingdom of God. He told his disciples that they had to be like salt.
Why salt? Salt was used to preserve food as well as flavour it. If salt loses its flavour, how do you make it salty again?
OK. So if you live in the Kingdom you’re like salt, keeping the world from going totally rotten. 30
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Yes. Jesus told his disciples how to live—to help others and lead them to the Kingdom. Because he was the King, Jesus knew what would happen. He spoke about the destruction of the Temple, the most magnificent building in Israel, where the Jews performed their most important religious ceremonies. Jesus told them that there would be wars and rumours of wars. He said there would be false Messiahs—false Kings—who would lead many astray. There would be earthquakes and famines and then it would be time to watch carefully. “This will just be the beginning,” he said. “Watch out! They’ll arrest you and accuse you of being my followers. But it will be your chance to tell them about me. When you have to stand trial, don’t worry about what to say. Just speak the words God gives you. The times will be terrible. Even family members will betray one another. Everyone will hate you because you belong to me, but those who endure to the end will be saved.” Jesus gave even more warnings, which you should check out for yourself.
Where should I look? In the Bible. That book is a manual for life in the Kingdom. Get hold of one fast!
What else did Jesus say about the future? 31
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Jesus warned them that as the horrible days draw to an end, the sun will grow dark and everything will be shaken. Then the King will appear with great power and glory and gather all his chosen ones from the farthest parts of the earth.
WHEN WILL THIs HappEN?
Jesus told them that no one knows the day or the hour except God the Father himself. So it’s important to stay alert and keep close to him. Meanwhile, Jesus knew what was about to happen to him. It was almost time for the Passover celebration.
It’s the time when Jewish people remember how, a long time before, God had saved them from the Egyptians and the terrible plagues that affected the Egyptian people. They had been slaves in Egypt and God had set them free. They would sacrifice a lamb as part of their celebration. During this season, the religious leaders and the priests had joined together and were looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus and get rid of him.
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You mean they were still after Yes, but they knew they could him? not do anything during Passover or there would be a riot.
Where was Jesus when all this was happening?
What a waste!
He was staying in a house in Bethany, a small town near Jerusalem. One supper time a woman came in with a jar of expensive perfume. She came over to Jesus and poured all the perfume over his head.
That’s what some of the people said. It was really expensive perfume. They even suggested she could have sold it and given the money to the poor. But Jesus had other ideas. “Leave her alone,” he said. “Why scold her for doing this? You will always have the poor among you, but I cannot be with you forever.”
What did he mean? He went on to say, “She has anointed my body for burial. This woman’s act will be talked about for years to come.”
Was he still convinced that he would die? 33
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Yes, and things were already happening. Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, had already met with the chief priests. He had been offered a reward for betraying Jesus.
Yes. Jesus and his disciples
One of the disciples? No!
were preparing for the Passover supper. He had sent two of them ahead into Jerusalem. “As you go into the city you’ll meet a man carrying a pitcher of water,” he told them. “He will meet you. Follow him, and when he goes into a house say, ‘Where is the guest room where the Teacher can eat the Passover meal with his disciples?’ He’ll lead you to an upstairs room where everything will be ready. Go ahead and prepare our supper there.” It happened just like that.
Jesus and his disciples celebrated
Passover, and during the meal Jesus told them that one of them would betray him.
You mean he knew what would happen?
But why didn’t he stop it?
It was all part of God’s 34
freedom plan, remember? Jesus had come to carry out God’s purposes.
Was this the final test?
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Yes. And everything went according to plan. While they ate, Jesus took the bread, and after he had thanked God he broke the bread and said, “This is my body.” Then he poured the wine and said, “This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the covenant between God and his people.”
How strange! I guess the disciples thought so, too. But no one said anything. It was only afterwards that they really understood what was happening. Jesus began to speak about what would happen that night. “All of you will desert me,” he announced. “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never leave you,” Peter responded.
“You will,” Jesus said, “You will. Tonight, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”
“Never!” cried Peter, and the others agreed. They went to an olive grove called Gethsemane. Jesus asked them to sit there while he went off to pray. He took Peter, James and John with him.
Were they the ones he took along before when he raised that dead girl? TheKingCS2.indd 35
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Yes, and he must have really trusted them because he told them how incredibly upset he was. He asked them to hang around and watch with him. Then he fell to the ground and began to pray, asking God that if it were possible the awful night ahead be avoided. Yet he knew that he had to submit himself to God’s will. “I want your will, not my own,” he cried out.
You mean he knew how terrible the final test would be? He knew he would die?
How awful! What did his friends do?
Nothing. They were asleep while Jesus was praying and crying out to his Father.
hen he got up, they were fast asleep. “Couldn’t you just stay awake and be with me for one hour?” he said. Then he went back and prayed some more. Again they fell asleep. Finally, the third time Jesus found them asleep again. “Still resting?” he said. “That’s enough! The time has come! I’m about to be betrayed.”
Then what happened? 8/30/2009 6:14:56 AM
As he said that, Judas appeared out of the darkness with a mob armed with clubs and swords. Judas had already told them that they would know who to arrest because he would greet him with a kiss. Judas went across to Jesus and kissed him, which was a customary greeting in those days. Immediately the soldiers pounced! Peter acted quickly. He grabbed a sword and chopped off the ear of the High Priest’s servant!
“Stop!” Jesus shouted. “Am I some kind of dangerous criminal that you come armed in this way to arrest me? I’ve been teaching every day in the Temple. Why didn’t you arrest me there? But this is happening to fulfil what the Scriptures say will happen.”
What are the Scriptures? They’re the ancient books we have in the Bible. Everything that happened to Jesus was foretold there.
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xactly as Jesus had predicted, all his disciples fled and left him alone. He was taken to the High Priest’s home where all his enemies had gathered to testify against him to have him put to death. Meanwhile, Peter had sneaked back and followed. He watched from a safe distance. There were all sorts of charges made against Jesus but not one of them made sense. In fact, they even contradicted each other. The High Priest was exasperated. “Well, aren’t you going to say anything?” he yelled at Jesus. But Jesus remained silent. Then the High Priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?” “I am,” Jesus said. “And you will see me sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power and coming back on the clouds of heaven!”
The High Priest didn’t think so. He was so angry he tore his robes and yelled, “What are we waiting for? This is blasphemy.” And he condemned Jesus to death. They spat at Jesus and punched him, but still he did not retaliate. They blindfolded him and began torturing him, laughing as they did.
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All this time Peter was in the courtyard below. He heard everything. One of the High Priest’s servants noticed him there and the girl asked him who he was. She looked at him closely. “I know you,” she said, “you’re one of those men who follows that Jesus.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Peter replied. As he hastily left, a rooster crowed. The girl followed him and again Peter denied ever knowing Jesus. Then some people came over and said, “You must be one of those guys from Galilee.” “I swear I don’t know what you mean,” Peter said. Just then the rooster crowed a second time and he remembered Jesus’ words. He broke down and wept.
That’s what Jesus said would happen. Could nothing be done? Jesus was going to die for no reason! 39
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Remember God’s plan? To bring freedom to everyone and bring the Kingdom to earth? Jesus had to go through with this. It was the only way sin could be paid for. You’ll see. The next day they took Jesus to the Roman governor, a man named Pilate. He asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
“Yes,” replied Jesus. Then the religious leaders went crazy, accusing him of all sorts of things.
What did Jesus say? Nothing.
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e said nothing, and Pilate was surprised as well. In fact, he asked Jesus to defend himself, but Jesus kept silent. Now, because it was the Passover, it was the custom for Pilate to release one prisoner—anyone the people wanted.
Great! I guess the crowds demanded Jesus’ release. N
o! The religious leaders stirred up the crowd and asked for the release of a convicted murderer called Barabbas!
ilate thought so too. He gave them another chance and asked the crowds what they wanted him to do with Jesus.
What! That’s crazy!
And…? They yelled back, “Crucify him!”
What does that mean?
This is awful! C
rucifixion was a terrible form of execution that the Romans had invented. They would nail a person’s hands and feet to a wooden cross. The victim would not be able to breathe while hanging there, so he would have to push himself up on the nails to get a breath. Eventually he would become too weak to do this and would suffocate to death. It was a horrible way to die. Pilate asked what crime Jesus had committed, but his question was drowned out by their angry shouting. So he had no option. He had to please the people. Barabbas was freed and Jesus was tortured with a lead-tipped whip and turned over to be crucified.
It gets worse. Jesus suffered terribly even before he was actually crucified. The soldiers made fun of him, dressing him in a king’s purple robe. Then they jammed a painful crown of huge thorns on his head and mockingly saluted him as a king. It went on for hours. They beat him, spit on him, and then led him away to be crucified.
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He went through all this? I can’t believe this was the great freedom plan!
It was—and still is. Listen! They brought Jesus to a hill called Golgotha, which means “Place of the Skull,” and they offered him wine drugged with myrrh as a painkiller, but Jesus refused it. Then they nailed him to the cross at nine o’clock in the morning. They fixed a sign above his head which said: “The King of the Jews.” People passing by laughed and jeered, saying, “Prove that you are the King—come down from the cross!” There were two criminals on each side of Jesus who were being crucified that day, and even they ridiculed him.
This is impossible! Is this the end?
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No! At noon suddenly everything went black. The whole area was covered in darkness. Then Jesus cried out, â&#x20AC;&#x153;My God, my God, why have you left me alone?â&#x20AC;? Then he gave one last breath and died. At that very moment, something strange happened.
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In the Temple there was a really thick curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. The High Priest was only allowed to enter this most Holy place once a year. As Jesus died, the curtain ripped from top to bottom!
Wow! Everyone could get in there!
Yes. Through Jesus’ death, everyone could come directly to God, without needing a priest as a go-between. As evening came, a man named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body so he could be buried properly. Soldiers checked the body to confirm that he was dead. Joseph wrapped the body in a burial cloth and placed it in a tomb carved out of a rock. Pilate ordered the soldiers to put a huge stone at the entrance because the religious leaders thought that some of Jesus’ followers might try and steal the body.
So that’s it. The end, right?
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Wrong! Two women saw where the tomb was. But the Sabbath was about to start, so they had to wait until the following evening before they could buy spices to put on Jesusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; body. At sunrise on the first day of the new week, they set off for the tomb with one of their friends.
But what about the heavy stone?
Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exactly what they were
wondering. But when they got to the tomb, it had already been rolled away!
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The women rushed in and saw that the body was gone! Instead, there was an angel wearing a white robe sitting in the tomb, and he said to them, “Don’t be so shocked! Jesus isn’t here! He’s been raised from the dead! Look! This is where his body lay. Go back and tell his disciples that Jesus is going ahead of them to Galilee. They’ll see him there, just as he said.”
The women ran off, terrified. Later that morning, one of them met Jesus and spoke with him! She ran off to tell the disciples, but no one believed her.
Of course. Who would? But Jesus was raised from the dead, like the angel had said. He appeared to the disciples again and again.
How? Two of his disciples were walking away from Jerusalem, into the country, and Jesus came and joined them. They didn’t recognise him at first—but when they realised who he was, they rushed back to tell the others.
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ater, Jesus appeared to the eleven remaining disciples as they were having a meal together. He asked them why they did not believe what had happened and told them, “Go into the whole world and tell the good news to everyone! Everyone who believes and is baptised will be saved, but anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.”
Wow! Jesus really rose from the dead!
Yes—that was God’s plan! Jesus came to set people free from sin and death. With his death and resurrection he opened the way for everyone to come to know God. Believe in him and your life will be transformed. You can say this prayer: Lord God, thank you for revealing yourself to me and showing me the truth about myself. Please forgive my sin. I am deeply sorry! You created heaven and earth. You created everything. Now I ask you to create in me a new life. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus—the King—to die for me and give me a new beginning. Today, I welcome you into my life. I want to live in your Kingdom and fulfil your plan for my life. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit as a Helper. Keep my eyes open to all you are doing. Keep my ears open to all you are saying. Keep my heart and mind focused on you.
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Now that you’ve prayed and entered the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, you need to learn how to live in that Kingdom every day of the week! Most important, develop your relationship with God, who is King of the Universe. You can do this by: Talking to him in prayer. You can share anything that you want with him—any time, anywhere. You always have access to him.
Reading the Bible—but be sure to ask the Holy Spirit to help and direct you. The Bible is more than a collection of old books. If you read it with the Holy Spirit, you will find guidance for every situation in life. Finding other people who are passionate about Jesus and are living in his Kingdom here on earth. You may find these people in a local church—but they can be anywhere.
Keep a thankful attitude, no matter what happens. Thank God for the gift of each day and remember he is with you always.
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